You are all individuals! ... Monty Python's Life of Brian ...
Tim Blair has taken his Karl Rove style 'attack the left' rhetoric out for another spin with his 'pimp my ride' theme in his Saturday column here:
"Pimp my clapped-out ex-soviet, Afghan ride"
The idea in a nutshell is that the famous David Hicks, released from gaol after several years of high legal controversy over human rights abuse, is actually a beaten down 'old model car' hardly worth the time and investment of 'left wing' (read Fairfax, ABC, blogosphere) journalists. These folks are 'pimping the ride' which is a tv show about doing up old cars, like reality makeovers to lose weight, or get a cosmetic upgrade.
So much for explaining some one else's joke. It always loses something in translation. It's true Blair is genuinely funny as a right winger which is a rare quality on that side of politics.
But Blair's joke has a real cost and likely he is the biggest fool over the subject matter of David Hicks. How so?
1. No matter the merits or lack thereof of the character of chicken boner, kangaroo shooter, military adventurer, heterosexual (as below) Hicks he is and has always been an Australian citizen. What value?
After 5 years with no fair legal process Australians across the political spectrum were disgusted, not least in the hands of a longstanding ally who appeared to debase their own constitutional guarantee of human rights:
So Blair is insulting all Australian citizens who felt that degree of solidarity if they were to get in trouble abroad, or to put it another way, Blair is insulting all those readers to their face. That damages the News Ltd brand in the market. Blair may not have noticed but his political crutch in this respect, John Howard, was resoundingly rejected by the voters on Nov 24th.
There is a truth in group dynamics that Blair completely misconceives: When someone stuffs up and everyone knows it, everyone watches to see if the punishment is proportionate and merciful. If it is, everyone, not just the transgressor takes comfort from that and reassurance that they are safe in such a community dynamic, because down the track being frail humans, it may be the shoe on their foot one day. It may be their turn. They need to have faith in the system to feel safe themselves, regardless of Hicks.
Because the greater truth is that no one is perfect, and no doubt Tim Blair as well. What skeletons he must have.
To bully the wrongdoer excessively might attract a gang of jackals for the melodramatic entertainment in the short term like children in a playground fight, but even the cruel barrackers are ever more insecure in themselves. It's a system based on fear, not truth. On pain, not love. And that in the end means less readers for Blair's paper to avoid his ugly sadism.
2. The rival reporters Blair likes to sledge were essentially champions for the rule of law. Settled law. Not make it up as you go law like Gitmo and the military commissions. That's the slippery slide to fascism. Blair comes across as a fascist. Australians don't like fascists, even funny ones. We fought the whole second world war to destroy fascism as a philosophy, but interestingly that didn't stop the CIA adopting NAZI intelligence officers as POWs to learn their techniques, according to a 1997 Discovery Channel 3 hour documentary called CIA Secrets (e.g. Marrickville Library). Blair is on the wrong side of history. Indeed he conspicuously avoids for his satire any mention of the CIA film footage of torture that has been so controversial these last several weeks. Cute selectivity that by BlairT.
3. Sour grapes. Fairfax got a 3 day scoop on News Ltd e.g. Blair's own paper, with picture of David and father Terry Hicks in a public park in Adelaide published Jan 1st 2008:
The symbolic significance of this in the international media industry is 'large'. This is the great Rupert Murdoch's home town no less where his career at the top of the News Limited multinational behemoth started, and they missed the picture story. Gazumped by the loathed Fairfax. With the tabloids, in the words of journo Paul Barry, so called "news driven" to be beaten by days let alone hours to the story really is professionally embarrassing. No wonder Blair is trying to pick a fight to change the focus. But it's a figleaf really. News Ltd dropped the ball in the silly season, a bit like Howard did in the election. In short BlairT is a loser.
4. The second last sentence allegedly quotes David Hicks in a letter in his young 20ies with a crude reference to sex he wants to have when he gets back. Written perhaps when he found himself dominated by male company in far flung places 8 years ago before he got a Muslim religious experience. Such crudities are spoken in every footy dressing shed every Saturday across the land, not that we ever felt comfortable about that even as a teenager.
So where did Blair get the letter to quote? Is it satire or real? Why the bottom of the fourth column? [The real answer is found in the postscript #1 below: Editor 10th Jan 2008] Could it be because it reveals a back channel of political, illegal leaking by the security industry to Blair in News Ltd, like the infamous leak of the Wilkie documents to Andrew Bolt at sister paper HeraldSun in Melbourne?
[actually Blair looks to be in the clear on this, says its from an article in the Bulletin 2006 i.e. open source: Ed Jan 10th 2008. We withdraw any speculative imputations about big Tim in this respect.]
Journalists in general need to be cautious these days in light of the Haneef Case farce re political (arguably) illegal leaking by security industry/media complex forcing other sections of the media to take their discipline, with a real journalist Hedley Thomas taking a Walkley Award based on the real transcript in the Haneef case.
Postscript #1 10th January 2008
As suggested by some moderate and some more rabid contributors in the comment section, responding to our point 4 above, the phrase attributed to David Hicks as a direct quote from one of his private letters, we are told has been in the public domain since a Bulletin article of 2006. Indeed we are told by no less than Tim Blair who rang this morning 10/1/08 to politely request a correction, as is his (legal) right. To his credit requesting not a deletion but a correction (strike through was his suggestion).
You will notice we generously employed the use of questions marks to speculate as to the legal or illegal sourcing of the Hicks letter/quote. In that sense we think it was a legally safe speculation in print. We are happy to say Tim Blair is in the clear assuming the Bulletin story exists which we do. We accept prima facie his position the quote was tucked away in his 4th column because it was in fact old news. We are told the Bulletin story is linked by reference on the Tim Blair blog page itself now in rebuttal. Does this put the Bulletin in the clear as to their source? The subtext seems to be his old flat mate, pen pal sold them to The Bulletin when she saw her own book opportunity close down. Quite a betrayal if that was the source but also says ASIO took the letters which leaves open which source, with flat mate as a false trail? What for instance does this mean:
Those seeking to tap the original material written by Hicks and kept over the years by Fletcher will now have to seek the co--operation of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).
About 18 months ago, ASIO officers came to Fletcher's house and, she says, politely but firmly told her: "You give us what we want or we will just have to pull your house apart and take it." They took the originals.
"They took the originals." Cute eh? Did flat mate Fletcher have copies which she sold as implied by quotes all through the story? Did ASIO vet and approve the Bulletin story? Did indeed the Bulletin "seek the cooperation" of ASIO. Did ASIO effectively play politics in green lighting their publication?
Curiously, the story in The Bulletin has no byline, which is suggestive of 1. fear of official retribution for an individual journo, or 2 fear of getting caught doing ASIO's dirty work. No byline on serious stories effectively puts the imprimatur of the whole publication on the line saying, you go the story you go the whole business.
Is Tim Blair an accessory after the fact to republishing via open source political postures in support of ASIO/security services/Howard Govt regime blackening of Hicks name under the Howard regime? Indeed the Bulletin reference in context by Hicks wanting sex is said to be light hearted, black humour after 4 years in gaol. Not much of a thought crime really.
Suffice to say the to and fro does underlie the general interest to avoid even by way of mere suggestion here on SAM the intense legal and political consequences that may go with political leaking of national security information (eg Bolt/Wilkie of 2004, Haneef 2007-08). Mr Haneef and his lawyers, Hedly Thomas and his paper The Australian have to a significant degree shut down such PR trickery that seems to have festered under PM Howard.
..................Postscript #2 10th Jan 08
We spoke again to Tim Blair to note our adjustments in light of his feedback, and his position is The Bulletin where he used to work got the letters from the flatmate not ASIO as implied by the extensive quoting of the flatmate. Blair implies its not national security but other trivial information about Hicks. He didn't know there was no byline on the story (which there isn't on the web version) and said he had worked for 20 years as a journo.
We say it's not altogether clear what is and isn't trivial national security information regarding Hicks. We say this still leaves the situation quite ambiguous as to whether ASIO did provide the letters to The Bulletin as opposed to the interview of flatmate, and in any case whether ASIO approved of the article being published, or vetted it. We just don't know. Maybe The Bulletin might help us? Assuming of course that it wasn't Blair's own story from when he worked there. That would be too much duplicity.
Nor do we blame Blair in terms of free speech for using as much open source as he can to push his barrow. We could hardly complain about that here even if on the other side of the political fence.
Postscript #3 10th Jan 2008
The editor of the Bulletin advises their Sept 06 story was by Bernard Lagan, its an oversight not being on the webpage, that the letters were provided by the flatmate Louise Fletcher, and there was no role by ASIO in any of this.either vetting or approving. That's a lid on this thread I would say.
For more photos from actions in Canada
1998-2008 Lake Cowal scandal in Central NSW,$6M slush fund for select green groups, cyanide leaching for gold, pit as deep as Centrepoint Tower is high. Globally on average 79 tonnes of waste is produced for every ounce of gold. More info and links here
One imagines with rainfall reaching south eastern Australia now that we might expect to see beautiful natural scenes of vibrant ecology at Lake Cowal in central NSW. Well we would except that a huge cyanide gold mine was officially approved by the Carr Govt in 1999, and eventually opened in late 2006 after a slump in the gold price caused a delay. Here are some of the wonders of Lake Cowal when it last had rainfall in the mid 1990ies:
Diversity of life at the mouth of Bland Creek, Lake Cowal's inflow.
Lake Cowal viewed from Wamboyne Mountain, showing lignum beds.
One imagines the cyanide will not be much good for rare and beautiful critters like this:
The rare Freckled Duck, a frequent inhabitant of Lake Cowal.
The rare and beautiful Superb Parrot lives in the woodlands surrounding Lake Cowal.
But it's not just the locals who get upset about the cyanide. It comes from the big city of Sydney and likely is a serious safety concern here too:
Concerned citizens have gathered at Chullora in western Sydney to protest against the multinational mining company Barrick Gold.
The protest was part of an International Day of Action against the company.
Barrick Gold has mines across the globe, including North and South America, Africa and Australia.
Protestors gathered at the entrance to transport company, Pacific National, on Dasea street, to blockade trucks carrying cyanide to Barrick's mine at Lake Cowal.
"Cyanide Watch" organiser, Graeme Dunstan, says he wants to know how much cyanide is being transported on Sydney roads.
"We want communities to know about the possible threat from a cyanide spill to their public health and water ways," he said.
Mr Dunstan says the maker of the cyanide, Orica, the transporter Pacific National, and the New South Wales Planning Minister are withholding information about how much cyanide is being trucked around the state.
"If the government won't tell us how much cyanide is being carried, if the carrier Pacific National say they can't tell us, and Orica are refusing to tell us, how are we going to find out?" he said.
"If they won't tell us, we're going to ask the truck drivers direct. We'll stand in front of the trucks and demand to know."
"We're going to make sure they become visible, we are going to drag them into accountability."
But Barrick Gold says it is committed to ensuring that the environment and local communities are protected.
The company's community relations manager, Bill Shallvey, says strict safety precautions are in place to prevent spillages and accidents.
"The company has always been open about how much cyanide is being transported to site. These figures appear on our Environment Impact Statement," he said.
"These figures state there are in excess of 6,000 of cyanide tonnes per annum for the Lake Cowal project."
"Barrick is the first mine globally that has been certified under the International Cyanide Management Code. And we also choose to buy our cyanide off Orica, which is also a signatory to that code."
"And that code is actually voluntary. It involves the safe transport, manufacturing, handling of materials, emergency response planning and community consultation."
Mr Shallvey says Mr Dunstan's claim that Barrick Gold is withholding information is unfounded.
"We don't hide these things," he said.
"I don't think Mr Dunstan has anything better to do, and he misleads a lot of young people that don't know any better. Mr Dunstan encourages these people to trespass on site and do things that are very dangerous."
more images here at savelakecowal.org
Picture above Wiradjuri Elders Neville "Chappy" Williams (third from left) and Ron Gardner (back to camera in wheelchair) in tense negotiations with Barrick's Steve Robinson (fourth from left) while other Barrick staff and protestors look on. Barrick Gold office foyer, Perth Western Australia 11 July 2007.
Photo: Jane Morrison
Picture above Neville "Chappy" Williams, Wiradjuri Traditional Owner addressing protestors outside the Wiradjuri Condobolin Corporation (WCC)'s office, Condobolin, Saturday 7 April 2007. Barrick Gold funds the WCC through a secret agreement that the majority of the Wiradjuri Nation
has not authorised. Photo: Jane Morrison
Lake Cowal is the sacred land of the Aboriginal Wiradjuri people. Neville Williams from the 'Save Lake Cowal' campaign:
"Lake Cowal, it's part of the Wiradjuri nation, it's a dreaming place. We are part of the land since time begun, the natural way."
The land surrounding Lake Cowal has a rich cultural heritage according to Williams, who travelled the area with his grandfather in the 1940s and 50s.
"It is filled with marked trees, very old trees, shields and all sorts of sacred objects," he says. "The area is very, very rich in Aboriginal artefacts and cultural objects; stone axes, very small blades and microlits are still being found at Lake Cowal. I see it as ludicrous that in the Land and Environmental Court the judges said at various times that the crown owns the artefacts. Well, let me tell you that the Crown doesn't own the artefacts, we inherited them, they were made by our old people and they belong to us."
The land is also regarded as sacred for the Wiradjuri nation because, as explained by Williams, a huge Aboriginal massacre occurred at Lake Cowal in the late 1800s.
"Marshall law was enforced on my people, by mountain settlers, when killing Aboriginals wasn't murder," says Williams.
Williams believes the drilling at the open-cut gold mine is drilling into the spirits of the Wiradjuri ancestors.
"If I smashed my way into a cathedral, tipped the alter over, pushed the priest out of the way and grabbed the bible and tore a heap of chapters out I would be arrested," says Williams. "I feel that the Government and the mining company have absolutely no regard for our culture."
Picture above: Protesters at the Lake Cowal gold mining site. PHOTO: Natalie Kent 2004
We at SAM strongly believe in this campaign having raised several thousand dollars to bring a cyanide mining expert from the United States for legal evidence to tackle the similarly wrong headed Timbarra gold mine around 1999/2000.
However a select group of favoured green groups have preferred to 'work with' the mining company in a blatant greenwashing exercise involving big dollars to these craven green groups:
"The current members of the Foundation include the Total Environment Centre, National Parks Association, Nature Conservation Council and Barrick Australia Limited. The Lake Cowal Foundation is managed by a Board of Directors represented by five Directors including two environmental NGO representatives, a local landholder representing the Bland Shire Community, one independent scientist and a representative from Barrick."at http://lakecowalfoundation.org.au/index.cfm?objectid=9F3C510A-91EB-7705-7630C4979809223D
The Sydney Daily Telegraph exposed the terms of the greenwashing Trust fund in June1997 via admirable reportage of Simon Benson (on or about 9 June 1997) in
“$6m for greens in mine deal”. “Green MP Ian Cohen, who has campaigned against the mine on the basis it may leach cyanide from waste ponds into wetlands, was outraged at the deal, as were the local environment groups.”
The extract from the Telegraph article reads:
“THE LAKE COWAL ENVIRONMENTAL TRUST”
‘Provided that construction of the Cowal Gold Mine is commenced, North agrees to make the following donations:
(a) $100,000 per year during the construction period and the production life of the mine;
(b) up to $100,000 per year during the production life of the mine to match dollar for dollar monies that are donated to the Trust from other sources.'
How much money have these select green groups obtained and how has it been spent over the last 10 years? If construction and operation only since 2004 due to delay around a slump in the gold price, and finally opened by Premier Iemma in late 2006, we are already talking 4 x $100K = $400,000 to trusty select green groups, not counting any dollar for dollar matching of donations from other sources (govt? public?) by the miners, with an eventual limit of $6 million from the miners. Has any environmental benefit really accrued? Or was it a grotesque sell out as suspected by many people?
The spin from one big hungry green group for this juicy deal with the mining industry is here:
“At Lake Cowal, approval for North's deep open-cut gold mine intruding into a section of the lake came after a second Commission of Inquiry was conducted to evaluate a revised proposal with lesser cyanide levels; power lines relocated away from bird flight paths; and other modifications. The initial development application was rejected as unacceptable by Premier Carr in a decision announced during the 1996 Brisbane Ramsar Convention meeting, fulfilling a promise to Milo Dunphy shortly before his death (see also NPJ August 1999).
“In this, as in so many other ventures, the influential drivers for mine approval were the potential profits for the company itself and those who wanted to boost a local economy in decline. However, lateral thinkers in the company, the unions and the environment movement proposed exploring the possibility for common ground should the mine get the go-ahead.
“This led to the adoption of a Memorandum of Understanding (NPA is one of the signatories) to establish an Environmental Trust, aimed at improving conservation management and protection of significant wetland values. This move is probably a first, reflecting a generational change of approach from the mining industry, and could serve as a pilot.
"While no compensation for loss of wetland integrity, it nevertheless is intended to ensure some of the mining profits contribute to longterm environmental benefits alongside the economic ones. These include protection of important remaining wetland values, native vegetation and associated natural and Aboriginal heritage values around Lake Cowal; and potentially to help offset the threats of salinity, due to past clearing and changed water regimes associated with irrigation and dryland farming.
“Many will be watching to see whether the hoped-for outcomes will be achieved over time as people, and possibly even mine ownership, changes.”
Anne Reeves NPA Journal , October 1999
If pressed these select green groups on the drip will say they opposed the cyanide mine at Lake Cowal in the mid 1990ies and this is almost certainly true. But we don't recall any such campaigning by these groups in the late1990ies once they fell under the influence of Jeff Angel: They took the money over the heads of the local opposition and regional green movement and especially Traditional Owners and nascent Green Party all under the guidance of Jeff Angel as new sole director of the Total Environment Centre. That's the truth of the matter.
Aboriginal Traditional Owners oppose the mine at Lake Cowal outright, most notably spokesperson Neville Williams, as do most ethical green organisations:
From: "benny zable" To: [independent green groups]Sent: Thursday, November 09, 2006 10:37 PM Subject: Re: Lake Cowal Foundation
> Dear Ruth [Rosenhek Rainforest Information Centre] and Jane
> Thank you for sending me this!
> I am am outraged by this finding. I had no idea about this agreement. This
> is a big betrayal. We need some sort of liason between us and the Total
> Environment Centre and Co. This is not OK to have a Total Environment Centre
> making such deals, that compets with Uncle Chappy, Friends of the Earth, the
> Rainforest Information Centre and other environmental groups who have put
> resources and time to protest to expose and act on what is clearly an abuse
> of Aboriginal heritage and environmental degredation. To set up a foundation
> for Lake Cowal preservation first and formost needs the permission and
> endorsement from Uncle Chappy let alone to make a monetry deal.
> Have they held discussions with Uncle Chappy?
> Who where the parties that authorised these deals?
> How long has this foundation been in operation?
> Are they aware of our ongoing campaign?
> I will raise this with folks at the Rainbow Chai Tent on Sunday.
> We need some explenations. There is also some rumors of a sell out by the
> Total Environment Centre on the Anvil Hill mine . Is this true? What are
> the facts?
> We need transperancy and acountability in the environmental movement.
> What about a conference with all the players associated with the Lake Cowal
> campaign including those on the front line?
> Benny Zable
>>From: Ruth Rosenhek <
>>To: [independent green groups]
>>Subject: Re: Lake Cowal Foundation
>>Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2006 19:12:08 +1100
>>my gawd, what a farce! Check out this paragraph:
>><<The COI found that the project could be developed and operated in a
>>manner that was compatible with the environmental values of Lake Cowal. The
>>Cowal Gold Mine was met with some opposition from Environmental groups and
>>organizations. After considerable consultation with these groups, a
>>Memorandum of Understanding was signed and the Lake Cowal Foundation (LCF),
>>a not for profit Environmental Trust was established in June 2000 with the
>>objective of protecting and enhancing the natural environment in the Lake
>>Cowal region. The Lake Cowal Foundation is primarily sponsored through a
>>negotiated royalty from the Cowal Gold Project, for the life of the gold
>>project. During the operational life of the mine, payments exceeding $2
>>million are expected to be made to the Lake Cowal Foundation.>>
>>Sure, we need to respond but there is so much to respond to!
>>for the Earth
>>At 12:01 PM +1100 9/11/06, Jane Morrison wrote:
>>>I thought you might like to know that the Lake Cowal Foundation has a
>>>website and is calling for donations to "conserve the lake"!!
How did this disgraceful state of affairs of financial compromise of the green movement come about? We submit the chronology occurred like this, not least the handover of control of the Total Environment Centre from Milo Dunphy to trusty Jeff Angel in 1997:
Thursday, 16 August 2007 Is Jeff Angel an ALP collaborator in environmental destruction?
Traditional Owner Neville Williams had a very significant interim legal win in early November 2004 at the link below and his campaign continues with much support as per the links below:
* 29/09/06 Opposition to the "Official" opening of Lake Cowal Gold Mine.
More background with links for active public interest groups involved in the Lake Cowal issue and definitely on the side of goodness and light, in our humble opinion anyway ...
Also see the video produced by Rainforest Information Centre web link above and refer to this letter following from civil society groups to Barrick Gold multinational:
COALITION TO PROTECT LAKE COWAL
PO Box 368, Lismore, NSW 2480
61 (02) 66213294
Peter Munk, Chairman
Barrick Gold Corporation
Royal Bank Plaza -Suite 2700
Canada M5J 2J3
January 3, 2002
Dear Mr. Munk,
This letter is to officially inform you of our urgent request that the gold mining project planned for Lake Cowal, an area that is listed on the Register of the National Estate as well as the Directory of Important Wetlands, be immediately halted and that no further mining activities or related work occur now or in the future at the Lake Cowal site or surroundings.
The Coalition to Protect Lake Cowal -- Nature Conservation Council, Friends of the Earth - Australia, The NSW Greens, Mineral Policy Institute, Central West Branch of The Wilderness Society, Central West Environment Council, Rainforest Information Centre, Humane Society International and others -- aims to protect the Lake Cowal region against high risk extractive industries such as gold mining and to restore the land in and around the Lake to a healthy vibrant ecosystem.
It is unacceptable to risk cyanide spills, acid mine drainage and heavy metals, to name but
a few of the possible consequences, in this important listed area. A spill of cyanide laced wastewater could wipe out the entire wetland and related waterways. With the region being prone to floods, these sorts of risks are vastly increased.
In addition, the Coalition to Protect Lake Cowal supports the Aboriginal community of Condobolin who have declared their opposition to the Lake Cowal gold mine project. It is the Coalition's understanding that Homestake/Barrick and their predecessors have not properly consulted with many traditional owners from the region.
Homestake/Barrick should reconsider this undertaking. We believe that there are alternative means of revenue generation possible for this region that would benefit both land and people.
Many of the Coalition member groups have been involved in an extensive and successful campaign to shut down the Timbarra Gold Mine in Northern New South Wales. This mine was proclaimed to be of the highest environmental standards and yet is now seen to be a disgrace by the industry itself with a slumping heap leach pad and several overflows from ponds containing contaminated water.
The environmental and human rights record of Homestake/Barrick has already been marred by a number of infamous violations including the 1997 civil suit filed by the US Department of Justice, the State of South Dakota and the Cheyenne River Sioux against Homestake, the May 1998 spill of cyanide-laced tailings from the Homestake Mine into Whitewood Creek and current allegations against Barrick in Tanzania.
We urge you to work towards restoring your corporations' reputation by abandoning the Lake Cowal project forthwith. To proceed further would be to engage in a costly and long drawn out conflict with environmental defenders of NSW and Australia.
Clean water more precious than gold.
Please advise us of your decision at your soonest convenience.
the Coalition to Protect Lake Cowal
Friends of the Earth - Australia
Nature Conservation Council (Sydney)
Central West Branch TWS (Orange)
Mineral Policy Institute (Sydney)
The Greens NSW (Sydney)
Rainforest Information (Centre Lismore)
Central West Environment Council
Nimbin Environment Centre (Nimbin)
Humane Society International (Avalon, NSW)
Campaign website of the Save Lake Cowal Coalition involving Ruth Rosenhek of Rainforest Information Centre.
Lake Cowal threatened!!
Waterbirds fly at dusk, Lake Cowal, NSW, Australia.
Waterfowl, including the rare Freckled Duck.
Healthy lignum, waterbird nesting habitat, Lake Cowal.
Flooded lignum and canegrass, Lake Cowal, important wetland habitat.
Lake Cowal is a National Estate wetland of immense biological and cultural importance. It is a major habitat for migratory and nomadic waterbirds on a national scale, a sacred place for the Wiradjuri people, and a favoured destination for many outdoor enthusiasts.
Conservation organisations, both government and community, believe that the fragile ecology of this wetland is no place for a toxic mine.
Enjoy this photographic tour of Lake Cowal, then please visit the link provided below to participate in the email campaign.
Thousands of visitors have enjoyed Lake Cowal over the years.
Lake Cowal viewed from Wamboyne Mountain, showing lignum beds.
Pelicans by the flock hunting through the shallows of Lake Cowal.
Stormclouds over a flooded Lake Cowal.
Receding waters leave milfoil and river red gums.
Rufous Night Herons gather near their nesting colony in flooded Lake Cowal forest.
Sacred Ibis arrive to roost for the night, Lake Cowal.
Family of Great Crested Grebe on Lake Cowal, one of the multitude of waterbirds which raise their young on the lake.
Squadron of pelicans hunt in the river red gum flooded forest, Lake Cowal.
Flock of Straw-necked Ibis wheel on thermals above the nesting colony in Lake Cowal lignum.
Wandering Whistle Duck photographed at Lake Cowal, far from its northern habitats. The lake is a meeting place for nomadic waterbirds from all over Australia.
The rare Freckled Duck, a frequent inhabitant of Lake Cowal.
Male Blue-billed Ducks display during the breeding season, one of the rarer waterbird species which use Lake Cowal.
Yellow-billed Spoonbill catches prey by feel in its special bill.
White-necked or Pacific Heron hunts in old-growth river red gum flooded forest.
Great Egrets hunt in the wetland shallows, along with herons, ibis and spoonbills.
Nest and eggs of a Magpie Goose pair which nested on Lake Cowal in 1989. The lake supports unusual wildlife for its latitude.
The rare and beautiful Superb Parrot lives in the woodlands surrounding Lake Cowal.
Windmill in water shows the ephemeral nature of Lake Cowal, the wet and dry phases of which are both of ecological importance to the functioning of its ecosystem, and to agriculture and fisheries.
People as well as wildlife flock to the lake to enjoy its natural values. Campers at Lake Cowal.
A White-faced Heron preens to protect its wings while at peace in the productive shallows of Lake Cowal. Everyone needs to protect and care for their assets.
Sun rises over the waters of Lake Cowal - the dawning of another day across this timeless and priceless jewel of nature.
Sent: Thursday, January 03, 2008 10:16 AMSubject: [chipstop] “End woodchipping to stop climate change,” say conservationists“End woodchipping to stop climate change,” say conservationists
Conservationists are asking the new federal Government to stop native forest woodchipping as a way to avert climate change.
In a submission to the Garnaut Review, the Chipstop group has argued that forests are worth more as carbon sinks than they are as woodchips.
Spokesperson, Ms Harriett Swift says that now that Australia has ratified the Kyoto Protocol, there is potential for native forests to be protected as carbon offsets, as permitted under Article 3.4.
“Australia subsidises the protection of native forests in South East Asia while continuing to destroy its own forests.”
“In international forums such as the recent Bali conference, Australia will have far greater credibility if it protects its own native forests,” she says.
In SE NSW, the vast majority of trees logged end up as woodchips. In the Eden region, for example, approximately 95% of timber felled is woodchipped.
“As paper products, these have a life of two to three years.”
“Even manufactured wood products are mostly low value, short lived items such as pallets, which usually end up as landfill or are chipped as mulch within a very few years,” she says.
Forest destruction has been estimated to release hundreds of tonnes of CO2 equivalent into the atmosphere for every hectare logged, depending on the forest type.
“In addition, trucks delivering loads to the mill travel 14.5 million kilometres per year, generating a further 2 million tonnes of CO2 per year.”
“To make matters worse, in both NSW and Victoria, the native forest woodchipping industry is subsidised.”
“NSW revenue from pulpwood royalties is about $3.5 million less than the cost to Forests NSW of running its woodchipping operations.”
“Last year, VicForests returned a $17,000 loss to Victoria for the logging of native forests.”
“Other costs to the community from woodchipping include the loss of water quality and quantity, degradation of topsoils, damage to roads and other infrastructure. In addition, it is impossible to quantify the loss of wildlife and habitat.”
“In these circumstances, we believe it is reckless and absurd to continue native forest woodchipping, when forests are worth so much more as carbon sinks.”
“We also reject burning native forest wood to generate power for the same reasons,” Ms Swift said.
3 January 2008
02 64923267, 0414908997
Between 2,500 and 3,000 trees from SE NSW and East Gippsland are cut down every working day to supply the Eden chipmill
CHIPSTOP campaign against woodchipping the SE forests, 02-64923134, PO Box 797 Bega NSW 2550 Australia, http://www.chipstop.forests.org.au
The unions' scare campaign is hypocritical, because it's their own plans for the power industry that would drive up prices. In their submission to the Owen inquiry Unions NSW called for the phasing out of coal and gas-fired generation in favour of solar and wind. Given the high cost of renewable energy compared with existing plants, the unions' plans guarantee immediate higher prices.[bold added]
The Australian energy market is already highly competitive, and many customers of public utilities already choose private retailers.
The Government is not in a position to make the $2 billion-$3 billion investment to meet this competition without cutting back spending elsewhere.
Increasing private investment in the electricity sector is the best way to protect the jobs of existing employees and create new jobs as expansion and investment take place, while enabling the Government to get on with its core service delivery priorities.
But Costa is wrong. Power is an essential service with a natural monopoly and not suitable for privatisation if the public want to keep a sovereign govt that is not a wholly owned subsidiary of ruthless private corporations. Most people intuitively understand this.
This is why Carr failed in 1997 at his own ALP conference. But the lust of a Premier for a bucket of money is well understood hence we wrote back in February 2003 in a prescient way (or 4 years premature depending on how you look at it):
Yet the Iemma Govt can go a long way to finding the money in other places, and none better than the revenue currently being used to crank the financial viability of the native forest woodchipping industry. [And see postscript below re tollway subsidy in the Herald today.] Yes, that's right - the public plantation estate - which is simply an agricultural crop for most intents and purposes now. There is no real reason to keep it in public ownership provided there are decent and sensible environmental safeguards, of equal or better nature to farming generally. There is the added dimension of fire suppression for public safety but that's well within the wit of the private sector if only to protect their own asset. More on this very substantial asset here:
And here is a summary of the 'pre privatisation' policy setting of this ALP Govt to date from 2005, namely corporatisation:
We have been proposing the asset realization of the $1Billion public plantation estate for about 3 years now. The Green Party are against it for public ownership ideological reasons. Respected resource economist Judith Adjani (Clark) is against it for similar arguments of public sector govt capacity to reform manufacturing jobs and profits in the wood industry out of native forests. But they are both wrong in our humble view. How so?
One must appreciate the role of land baron political economics not simply clinical efficiencies of resource/manufacturing economics, because we don't live in such a rational world free of biased access or systemic bureaucratic corruption of the public estate.
The plantations which are profitable and dominate wood volumes are cranking the native forest sector which is loss making for clearance of same for more defacto and then inevitably official plantation and then privatised plantation. The public are being denied their plantation revenue profits today off public land, which revenue is (corruptly) diverted to the private native forest interests(truck owners, logging contractors, chipmill owners, Japanese corporations etc) and to justify wages of NSW Forestry bureaucrats. A real bootstraps financial exercise off the public natural estate helping to grow the spread of the essentially private plantation sector.
As the ex CEO of the huge dominating CSR at the Adjani/Clark book launch (Gleebooks) late 2007 pointed out politely, Adjani doesn't appreciate the land baron politics of this situation in native forest logging. But we do after 15 years of tackling the criminal sector: It's about privatising with creeping conversion the higher rainfall state forest areas over decades into higher profitability far more economically efficient treefarm estate, using public's own plantation revenue to destroy their remaining natural forest estate. This way they effectively get the public land and rainfall free, rather than pay for private tree farm development on existing private cleared land.
It's very cute and very corrupt promoted with truckloads of bogus science.
It's not about 'existing plantation versus native forest' models of wood production or differential product lines to market. The native forest loggers (union and industry) already agree with Adjani/Clark's well worn thesis that plantations are better for jobs, wood production volumes and profits. Only they don't want to switch over, they want all native forest cleared to treefarm, in a huge conversion project, slowly steadily over a decade or two. It's that big and cynical and greedy.
If we as the public and ethical government don't cut off the woodchipper's financial crank of loss making native forests (in their hands) they will all be converted to private plantation by a future govt and sold as inappropriate to the public sector. You mark my words. The only way to stop this dynamic responsibly is to remove the revenue of the public plantations from the corrupt NSW forestry agency in collusion with this conversion process. That is to effectively bankrupt NSW State Forestry and fold native forests into national parks as water, ecosystem and tourism asset, and leave the loggers to do their private tree farming within an environmentally decent regulatory framework on their own land just like other agriculture. In this respect tree farming is just like wheat.
The power industry privatisation political meltdown can similarly be avoided, of huge importance to the unions, the Greens and the public by providing crucial revenue to begin that reform process in clean green energy production. Costa's brown endless consumption growth vision for the energy sector must be rejected as ecologically insane. Rather the value of the plantations built up on the public estate over decades is realised but also hypothecated into a sustainable future for NSW. Yes it does mean loss of some public control of plantations. But it's worth it. More than that. It's the right thing for immediate damage control beyond academic economic theories of idealistic Adjani (I fully concede) this last 15 years to actually stop massive vandalism across South East Australia. Adjani's agenda for the 'best profile for reform of the manufacturing sector' within a public sector paradigm in the age of a high employment mining boom is not the priority for the environment. It's to stop such as this as soon as humanly possible to keep our carbon store, stop the systemic industry drying out of forests leading to intense bushfire and conservation generally:
....in South East NSW
Sent: Thursday, January 03, 2008 6:57 PMSubject: [chipstop] Maiden voyage breaks record
From Eden Magnet today:
03 January 2008 - 10:09AM
Maiden voyage breaks record
Bulk woodchip carrier, Silver Pegasus safely completed her maiden voyage to Eden on Thursday, December 27 after leaving the Ohshima shipping yard in Japan on December 14, 2007.
Arriving with a crew of 21, the 210-meter vessel, with a gross registered tonnage of 43,621 has the latest in navigation and cargo equipment on board.
The cost of the round trip from Japan to Australia is said to be more than $1.2 million.
Managing director of SEFE, Toshihiro Eguchi and his family, along with representatives from SVITZER and Twofold Bay harbour pilot Jo Clark, were invited to inspect the ship and witness the presentation of a commemorative plaque to master captain, Sin Sang Tae.
Discussing the year's sales, corporate affairs manager of South East Fibre Exports, Vince Phillips said the Silver Pegasus' shipment would break sales records.
"The load of about 46,000 ton will take us to another record sale,” Mr Phillips said.
"I think we have done a total of a million and sixty thousand for the 2007 calendar year... beating last year’s sales record by about ten thousand ton," Mr Phillips said.
Mr Phillips said that this year's record export volume was an unexpected result given wet weather during the year but production was boosted in volume by access to bushfire affected timber.
The planned export of plantation pine woodchips in coming years means SEFE expects to maintain these levels.
The Silver Pegasus is purpose built and has six holds each with a 10 tonne capacity.
A 9195-kilowatt engine gives her about 12 and a half thousand-horse power and a top speed of 14.2 knots.
Owned by NYK, an international shipping company, Silver Pegasus will be charted by South East Fibre Export to transport wood chip to the port of Muroran in Japan.
Between 2,500 and 3,000 trees from SE NSW and East Gippsland are cut down every working day to supply the Eden chipmill
CHIPSTOP campaign against woodchipping the SE forests, 02-64923134, PO Box 797 Bega NSW 2550 Australia, http://www.chipstop.forests.org.au..........................
Postscript #1 4th Jan 2008
It appears the Sydney Morning Herald has identified another many hundreds of million$ that can or should have been saved for critical infrastructure investment as reported here:
Toll bribe will cost $860m CASHBACK, the road toll subsidy on the M4 and M5 motorways, could be the most expensive broken election promise in NSW history. By the time the subsidy expires on the M4 in 2010, the total bill is forecast to have climbed to about $860 million.
And their cartoon correctly identifies the very dark shade of brown of Treasurer Costa in love with his endless growth economics much like John Howard ex PM:
Friday, January 4, 2008
Illustration: Alan Moir
The Big Media is rightly reporting terrible fatal unravelling of democracy in Kenya reinforcing the significance of a strong Australian Electoral Commission here in Australia Nov 24 federal election. Thank God for strong institutions who do their job. The unsung heroes of peace and stability. But we have major human rights concerns closer to home too:
What makes rebel leftists in Mindanao, Phillipines demand a 'revolutionary tax' and then bomb and destroy a mine majority owned by Xstrata? Is it cynicism learnt from their corporate capitalist masters, looking for their cut of the action, or do they have a social justice case?
It starts to look alot more than ideology or greed when in relation to the same controversy a local Catholic bishop is reportedly motivated to "lead some opposition to mine development, warning of environmental damage"?
Rebels raid gold mine | The Australian 3rd Jan 2008
[full copy cut and paste above]
Perhaps because it's happened before:
Xstrata is a quite a controversial mining multinational in recent Australian history too with its attempt to takeover uranium miner WMC which failed in 2005. Some interesting reference material about that here:
Big Media here:
Following little media here
Xstrata was deemed not fit to own WMC by most thinking Australians but it seems they are good enough to manage the environment in the Phillipines? Doubtful. They also dominate coal mining in NSW Hunter Valley, an activity that should be banned sooner rather than later if we want any world at all ie dangerous greenhouse gases:
Similarly what makes this dysfunction in PNG happen as reported in the same story tucked away in The Australian yesterday and no other press on our doorstep involving major Australian based companies?:
* A MAN has been killed in a gun battle between police and illegal miners near Barrick's giant Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea.
According to Enga Province Police Commander Michael Chare, the man was among a number of armed illegal miners searching for gold at the mine and was shot after the group opened fire, sparking a five-minute gun battle.
Hundreds of illegal miners risk injury and death each night to descend steep cliffs into the Porgera open pit to hunt for gold.
Additional reporting: Reuters, AAP [bold added]
in Rebels raid gold mine | The Australian p17 3rd Jan 2008
Let's not forget charming cyanide miner Barrick Gold on the home front too which is sucking the water table dry and vandalising Lake Cowal as here:
activist school educators 31 Jan to 14th Feb 2005 The cyanide mine at Lake Cowal as deep as Centrepoint Tower in Sydney
As much as the Big Media and corporate Australia want to quarantine such human rights, economic justice and environmental sustainability issues from local domestic press the reality is likely very connected. One imagines for instance many many willfully ignorant superannuation and other share market investors with their piece of the action in Xstrata, Glencore, and Barrick in their various corporate manifestations. The question becomes morally, what's the the difference between those shareholders and the gun toting leftists? Different tools?
So ... that was micro news blog year for SAM 2007. We are flat out consolidating our other website environmental reference material into SAM. Our annual page views* in a state and federal election year for this quite political micro indy community media service has been ... drum roll please:
After consolidation of our ecology action website into SAM underway here the figure rises some 19K (2005-07). This is a nice number I guess. A ton in cricket terms. But not very probitive of influence expressed through the device of first rough draft which may be adopted to some degree by big commerical media under huge time and employment pressure. We feel they do. Why? Because they now have the benefit of our broad professional and personal history to judge for themselves our credibility. Not least capacity for keyword search on Google right back to 1987 as a trademarks examiner once in the Canberra public service. And our substantial files reflecting 10 years or more of ngo history especially pre search engine. This also reassures us making for less defensive prose. It has also prompted an interest in our journlist grandfather we never met, namely Eric McLoughlin, who played quite a role in the Petrov Affair of the 1950ies..
And how does the editor feel? Well we need a flat top liquid crystal (LCD) display screen preferably 19in, but 17in would be fine, to save our eyes which every morning have a weepy quality from the cathode ray display (CRD) we have used all this year.
But overall we feel satisfied at having a constructive honest and ecological effect on other media and politics both, as practised here in Sydney Australia. The key to this is non profit, sole trader status but also hard won expertise (including legal survival skills). Secondly we feel we have much improved our writing and production values - which follows the discipline of the daily slog. But it all started with deciding to have a go supercharged with stubborn determination.
Also we feel the turning point in our creativity and God given insight was actually 18 months ago, pre SAM, when against all family tradition we went teatotal (50% coffee). What a dangerous drug it really is for sensitive intelligent types. A real downer and muddler even for our quite low consumption. More recently extraction of a troublesome molar, and exercise regime, has kicked us along again.
We also feel a regular inspiration still over engagement with the Big Media from our humble perch. They definitely feel our mosquito bite. And even to some degree a rapproachment. Similarly with the organisers of Sydney Indymedia which is much more interactive than SAM will ever be but also far more chaotic standards of content.
As far as paid advertising service goes it's been token so far and we haven't really figured this side of things out. But we are enthusiastic too, so maybe in 2008. We know enough that we have a saleable product. Also that this makes other minor media nervous. We know this will be the real focus of interest of many in the Big (and not) Media and indeed party politics/NGO all Working for the Man as wage slaves. Often the first and revealing question others ask (eg shadow AG NSW, former chief of NSW Nature Conservation Council) in terms of showing their own character is "Where does your money come from?".
It's a fair question in terms of integrity and independence (in 2007 it was grovel labour like gardening at a community centre, and street press delivery for a small indy company) but a sad one too in terms of actual purpose namely fair media and good governance not least ecological sustainability (eg downshifting). The question to us is about career rivalry when we strive for vocation. Having said that we rather like shelter and food in the fridge and basic utilities. After that we are just scared for the future not least dangerous climate.
And lastly for the quietly menacing gentleman from the Kangaroo Shooters industry group earlier this year (after we wrote here and here about potential lethal hydatid associated with offal to dogs to you) some free market research 3rd Jan 08 on the discounted product marked down from $7+ a kg Marrickville Woolworths to can't sell it $2.50:
* Previous monthly reader pageview figures for 2007 verified by screen shot (web host provider monthly pageview account details) posted on or about 4th day of the month found in this thread:
- November 10,220
- October - 9, 100
- Sept - 8,100 (roughly, no screenshot)
- August - 8,845
- July - 7475
- June - 9675
- May - 9, 059
- April - 12,087
- March - 6,684
- February - 5,372
- January 07 - 2800 (3rd Jan - 3rd Feb 07)
Director, Focus on the Global South
waldenbello [at] hotmail.com
Walden Bello is executive director of Focus on the Global South, professor of sociology and public administration at the University of the Philippines, and a fellow of the Transnational Institute. He is the author of numerous books on Asian issues and globalisation, including Dilemmas of Domination: the Unmaking of the American Empire (2005), The Anti-Development State: the political ecnonomy of permanent crisis in the Philippines (2004) and Deglobalisation: ideas for a new world economy (2004). His articles have appeared in numerous periodicals including Review of international Political Economy, Third World Quarterly, Foreign Policy, Race and Class, Le Monde Diplomatique, Le Monde, Guardian, Boston Globe, Far Eastern Economic Review, and La Jornada. He is currently a columnist for the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Foreign Policy in Focus.
He won South Korea's Suh Sang Don Prize in 2001, and in 2003 he was given the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, for "for outstanding efforts in educating civil society about the effects of corporate globalisation, and how alternatives to it can be implemented. " (See Walden's acceptance speech The Future in the Balance)
An academic as well as an activist, Bello obtained his PhD in sociology from Princeton University in the US in 1975 and has been a full professor at the University of the Philippines at Diliman since 1997. He has also served as visiting professor at the University of California at Los Angeles (2002), UC Irvine (2006), and UC Santa Barbara (2006). He also taught for four years, 1978-82, at UC Berkeley. He was Chancellor's Fellow at UC Irvine in 2004 and was awarded an honorary PhD by Panteion University in Athens, Greece, in 2005. Click here for full biography
Picture: A child enjoys the warm weather on Bondi Beach New Years Eve 2007
By Dr. Walden Bello
The gap between the urgent threat of global warming and the collective will to do something about it has never been greater. The recently concluded Conference on Climate Change in Bali was a grand opportunity to act. Instead, it was another missed opportunity. Unfortunately, the United States played a very negative role, standing in the way of consensus at every turn. And unfortunately, the rest of the world thought that seducing the US into a new agreement on climate action was top priority, resulting in a Bali Roadmap that was very sketchy.
A Roadmap to Anywhere
The US was brought back to the fold, but at the cost of excising from the final document--the so-called Bali Roadmap--any reference to the need for a 25 to 40 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2020 to keep the mean global temperature increase to 2.0 to 2.4 degrees Celsius in the 21st century.
Reference to quantitative figures was reduced to a footnote referring readers to some pages in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 Report which simply enumerate several climate stabilization scenarios. The alternative scenarios ranged from a 2.0 to 2.4 degree rise in temperature to a 4.9 to 6.1 degree increase. This prompted one civil society participant to remark that the "Bali roadmap is a roadmap to anywhere."
A few days after the new agreement was forged, many are now having doubts whether on balance, it was positive. Would it have been better to have simply let the US walk out, allowing the rest of the world to forge a strong agreement containing deep mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas emissions on the part of the developed countries? With a new US president with a new policy on climate change at the beginning of 2009, the US would have rejoined a process that would already be moving along with strong binding targets. As it is now, having been part of the Bali consensus, Bush administration negotiators, say skeptics, will be able to continue their obstructionist tactics to further water down global action throughout the negotiations in 2008.
One wonders what would have happened had Washington remained true to its ideological propensities and decided to stomp out of the room when the delegate from Papua New Guinea, releasing the conference’s pent up collective frustration, issued his now historic challenge: "We ask for your leadership and we seek your leadership. If you are not willing to lead, please get out of the way." As everyone now knows, after last-minute consultations with Washington, the American negotiator backed down from the US’s hard-line position on an Indian amendment seeking the conference’s understanding for the different capacities of developing countries to deal with climate change and said Washington "will go forward and join the consensus."
Weak Institutional Outcomes
The single-minded focus on getting Washington on board resulted in the dearth of hard obligations agreed upon at the meeting except for the deadline for the negotiating body, the "Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention," to have its work ready for adoption at the Conference of Parties in Copenhagen in 2009 (COP 15).
Many delegates also felt ambivalent about the institutional arrangements that were agreed upon after nearly two weeks of hard North-South negotiations.
o An Adaptation Fund was set up, but it was put under the administration of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) of the US-dominated World Bank. Moreover, the seed funds from the developed countries are expected to come to only between $18.6 million to US$37.2 million--sums which are deemed severely inadequate to support the emergency efforts to address the ongoing ravages of climate change in the small island states and others on the "frontlines" of climate change. Oxfam estimates that a minimum of US$50 billion a year will be needed to assist all developing countries adapt to climate change.
o A "strategic program" for technology development and transfer was also approved, again with troubling compromises. The developing countries had initially held out for the mechanism to be a designated a "facility" but finally had to agree to the watered-down characterization of the initiative as a "program" on account of US intransigence. Moreover, the program was also placed under the GEF with no firm levels of funding stated for an enterprise that is expected to cost hundreds of billions of dollars.
o The REDD (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) initiative pushed by host Indonesia and several other developing countries with large forests that are being cut down rapidly was adopted. The idea is to get the developed world to channel money to these countries, via aid or market mechanisms, to maintain these forests as carbon sinks. However, many climate activists fear that indigenous communities will simply be victimized by predatory private interests that will position themselves to become the main recipients of the funds raised.
Big Business Roars in
In this connection, Bali will be remembered as the climate change conference where business came in in a big way. A significant number of the side events focused on market solutions to the greenhouse gas (GHG) problem such as emissions trading arrangements. Under such schemes, GHG intensive countries can "offset" their emissions by paying non-GHG intensive countries to forego pollution-intensive activities, with the market serving as the mediator. Shell and other big-time polluters have been making the rounds touting the market as the prime solution to the climate crisis, a position that articulates well with the US position against mandatory emission cuts set by government.
Climate change activists have been appalled and stunned by the business takeover of the climate change discourse. According to them, the carbon market was originally a very minor part of the architecture of climate architecture, one that climate activists agreed to in order to get the US on board the Kyoto express. Well, the US did not get on board, and we are now stuck with carbon markets driving the process since the corporations have found that there is money to be made from climate change. Many climate activists worry that carbon trading will merely allow polluters in the North to keep on polluting while allowing private interests in the South to displace smallholders so they can set up unmonitored and unregulated tree plantations that are supposed to absorb carbon dioxide.
The Philippines at the Frontlines of Global Warming
The Philippines, we learned at Bali, is on the frontlines of climate change. In a study released at the meeting, the institute Germanwatch claimed that the Philippines was the country most negatively affected by climate-related disasters in 2006. Measured on a "climate risk index" derived from four indicators—total number of deaths, deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, absolute losses in millions of US$ purchasing power parity, and losses per unit of GDP—the Philippines topped North Korea, Indonesia, and Vietnam. When we talk about the people dying from the recent spate of supertyphoons like Millenio, let us be clear that we are talking about victims of climate change. When we talk about people being displaced or uprooted from their homes, we are talking about environmental refugees, as much refugees as people in Tuvalu and Bougainville who are forced to flee their lands on account of sea-level rise. We are no longer talking about the usual ravages of a normal typhoon season. We as a people are at the frontlines of global warming.
A National Response to Climate Change
The many dimensions of the climate crisis in the Philippines still need to be understood. We are sure, however, that many of the preemptive and adaptive measures needed to protect our people will cost billions of dollars. If what we saw in Bali is any indication, money on this scale is not likely to come from the North in the form of aid. We have to raise it from our own resources. Climate change is one more reason why we need to radically reduce the massive outflow of financial resources to our creditors and channeling it to solutions to national problems. More than ever, we must act to drastically write down the foreign debt.
Radically scaling down our debt is, however, but one aspect of a broader response. Let me conclude by saying that climate change is fast emerging as the greatest challenge to our generation, for even as we prepare for it, we must also make sure that our country develops so we can eliminate poverty. Poverty can never be a solution to the climate crisis. The ultimate solution is a pattern of development that is both sustainable and equitable. A transition to a low-growth, low-carbon economy where people’s standards of living have also risen is possible. But it will only be possible if equity is at the center of development. Thus climate change is both a crisis and an opportunity—an opportunity to overcome the structural obstacles to social equality and genuine democracy.
*Walden Bello is President of Freedom from Debt Coalition. He is also a Professor of Sociology at the University of the Philippines and senior analyst at the Bangkok-based research and advocacy institute Focus on the Global South. He attended the Bali Conference on Climate Change as a civil society participant.
Adrian Whitehead of local Melbourne based Zero Emissions Network in his final day blog writes:
The USA has been playing a spoiling role seeking to undermine any outcome of the conference.
They have been supported by Japan, while Australia is not helping because it wont agree with the 25-40% goals by 2020 despite the Liberal parties approval at home.
Canada was also been playing a spoiling role. There is now less than 24 hours to come up with a solution.
Met Greg Hunt, Liberal MP for Flinders. Had a chat about the change in the political position of the Liberal's i.e. support of the 25-40% target by 2020 and discussed the Zero Emission Now goal and handed him a lobbying kit.
The youth did an excellent speech and action in the main plenary (i will get the text) where over 100 youth stood up in support of "getting serious" on climate change.
I had a good hour long discussion to a number of Islanders and Islander activist Ken. They came around to the Zero Emission Now idea accepting the only change for their islands was the rapid reduction of atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions.
I ended up having a laugh with them describing how people (ACF/AYCC) will do a joint action with them and then propose a mainstream goal such as 25-40% by 2020 which will absolutely guarantee the destruction of their islands. I described this phenomena as part of the collective madness that seems to surround action on climate change.
I watch the last fossil of the day awards which was won by Canada because their Ministerial representative has "been so busy at the climate change negotiations to actual have the time to make it to the climate change negotiations".
USA came second for their undermining of the process and the quote from James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality,
"We will lead, the US will lead, and we will continue to lead, but leadership also requires others to fall in line and follow.".
Together they won the joint fossil of the year, which resulted in a performance of "anything you can do I can better" as they argued over the right to be the worst.
Youth Statement to the High-Level Plenary
My fellow human beings,
I am White Jones from the United States of America. I am Karmila Parakkasi from Indonesia. And I am Anna Keenan from Australia. We speak today as part of the global youth climate movement. Half the world's population is under 30, and will live with the decisions you make today.
Just last week, a young woman from Kiribati told us about her plight. Her island is only 2 meters above sea level, and as the land gets washed away, so does her people's livelihood and culture. I was filled with a deep sense of urgency, solidarity and perhaps most importantly, responsibility to speak and act. Her story moved me to tears and should move you to action.
How many stories do we need to hear before we wake up and take action? We have one climate, one future, and this is our last chance.
The science is clear. We call on you to acknowledge that climate change is not bounded by economics and politics, but by science. You can't negotiate with the laws of physics and chemistry.
The targets currently being discussed are not even close to protecting our future. Our best science shows clearly that 450 ppm of CO2-equivalent gives us a 50% chance of avoiding catastrophic and irreversible feedbacks in the climate.
I have a coin here. The flip of this coin represents gambling with our future. A 50/50 chance. *Flips coin* What's it going to be?
Our future is at stake. As climate change accelerates, and your decisions unfold, we will look back at this moment, this conference. History will judge whether you did enough to give us a planet worth living in.
The time for excuses is over. We need you to acknowledge that solving climate change will require a just transition to eliminate fossil fuels within our lifetimes.
Developed countries must mitigate now and assist those without the same financial resources. Deforestation must be addressed with strong consideration for local and indigenous communities.
The climate emergency is our best and possibly last opportunity to create a global consciousness. We are inspired by those of you taking true leadership, both at home and internationally. We are ashamed of the countries who are delaying action in this UN process and who are actively compromising our future.
We cannot wait any longer. If you lead us on the wrong path, we have no time to find our way back and undo your decisions. The potential effects will be devastating and indiscriminant.
Youth around the world are rising to the challenge. As emerging leaders, we are mobilizing the public, building powerful movements, and forging international coalitions.
But all this won't be enough without strong action from you. We have put our trust in you. We need a Bali Breakthrough -- now.
As you make these decisions, take a moment to reflect on why you are here.
Are you here as only a delegate? Or are you also here as a mom or dad, an aunt or uncle, a brother or sister? Are you here for us, your children?
This is not a political choice – rather, a moral imperative, and a requirement for human life. We are already inheriting the consequences of your choices. The world is watching, the youth are rising. Join us.
Picture: Supporters of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto carry her coffin. Photo: AFP
"Improbably, 2007 may prove to be the year that the politics of terror passed into history. At least the status quo points us hesitantly in that direction. Of course, one bomb would rapidly change all that. As I say, nothing is inevitable.
Waleed Aly is a lecturer in politics at Monash University. He is the author of People Like Us: How Arrogance is Dividing Islam and the West (Picador) in Domestic issues return to spotlight | The Australian 27 Dec 2007, p10
There's nothing very funny about murderous fanaticism. It's not really a fit subject for satire either from T shirts indicative of an immature carefree or frivolous attitude as here spotted at Bondi 27th Dec 2007:
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto will likely symbolise for the Western world everything they despise about misogynist religious and political fanaticism.
We awoke intending to write on David Hicks cross referencing Waleed Aly above noticing some threads of a potential trend. But his prescient comment last paragraph changes all that. Our intention was to acknowledge the story wrap on Hicks on 7.30 Report last night which was quite fair but with one view - questioning Leigh Sales objectivity on what Hicks represents: Framing questions for Hicks on his security threat, but not the long history of CIA sponsored torture and grotesque human rights abuse from as far back as El Salvador? Who could forget this searing fictionalised critique of craven pampered western journalists lying for Uncle Sam in the face of death squads sponsored by same Uncle Sam?
Or does Ms Sales really lack objectivity? Many will say no sympathy is needed, especially after this assassination of an international figure.
We presume Hicks was desperate to get out of Afghanistan after the WTC 2001 horror but for what future purpose is her question and even louder today.
For idealistic bloggers we want to believe the prison is full of innocent people. It's in our nature. And presumbaly a small percent really are and this keeps us going in terms of faith in our mission of truth and justice.
But the murder of the brilliant rich ambitious Bhutto and her 16 supporters will turn politics on a 20c piece again. The reports are here:
Bhutto assassinated, Pakistan opposition leader killed in gun and bomb attack after a rally in the city of Rawalpindi.
Anyone who watched reportage of the 10+ hours long procession 18th Oct 07 of hyper rich Benazir Bhutto from the Karachi airport to the resultant suicide bombing in late October 07 killing over 100 people, as reported in amazing clarity by Mark Davis of SBS Dateline, would know she or her security or both had failed to address the danger.
Tuesday, 30th October,2007 BENAZIR BHUTTO'S DEADLY RETURN Previously: Mark Davis was just metres away as two explosions ripped through former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s motorcade in Karachi, killing at least 125 people and injuring hundreds more.
And notice this quote from Davis's report:
As she heads to the plane the most notable absences are the British and American politicians who had apparently pledged to travel in with her. It seems they now have other engagements. But there is no shortage of people keen to share this journey with her.
And the very frightening expose' of the chronology of that day back in October which suggests an almost reckless disregard for suicide infiltratration over the strident warnings of the Musharaf (dictoratorship) govt:
After years of anticipating this homecoming, Benazir Bhutto and her party have just 10 hours left before this day will be torn apart. Meanwhile, the close security plan swings into action. The VIP lounge gives her an opportunity to quietly compose her thoughts and meet some dignitaries before the day begins, a respite from the crowds and chaos that she will soon have to face. As the converted bus that will carry her though the streets of Karachi departs, the first 30 metres is the fastest it will travel all day. The Bhutto bus inches its way through the crowd on its 2Okm journey to her home. By nightfall, four hours later, it had barely left the airport precinct. In the streets ahead of the convoy, more crowds are gathering to catch a glimpse of Bhutto.
It was coming up to 11:00pm, 9 hours since she landed, when I managed to scramble aboard the bus.
REPORTER: How much longer before we get there?
WOMAN: Another 8 or 9 more hours minimum.
REPORTER: How long does this trip normally take from the airport?
WOMAN: About half an hour, maybe 40 if traffic is bad.
Now with less than an hour to go before the first blast, I find an exuberant Rehman Malik.
Radio National with Steve Kinane in the chair suggests she was shot dead yesterday when standing up in her car through a roof space to wave to a crowd of supporters. If true this echoes the quite reckless lack of security back in October 07.
One can't help thinking that life is cheap in this sixth most populous country with 159M people.