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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Sunday, 7 January 2007
Debnam targets ALP slush fund where it hurts?
Mood:  d'oh
Topic: election nsw 2007

The state election skirmishing is hotting up as reported here previously in the ecology topic list at:


'Dioxin in Sydney Harbour is much bigger than a quick and dirty $40M fix?' index.blog?topic_id=1083693


Today's press carries veteran Alex Mitchell on the choreography of the election debate here: Deep-seated differences create a debate debacle


But what really caught this writer's eye was this story in Fairfax about the abuse of taxpayer's money yesterday:


 Leaflet on water drips with spin: Opposition

 in a rerun of the Carr ALP green tinted advertising strategy in 1999 about 'saving forests and jobs'.


(In fact 1 million tonnes of woodchips was shipped off from NSW out of natural forests in 2006 by the same ALP govt, as per every year since their 1999 advertising eg refer http://www.forests.org.au/chipstop).


This is in a long line of fraud policy performance on the environment by the Carr now Iemma ALP NSW govt documented here:


Carr alp dodges 1999-2003


and here


Carr dodges 95-99


and here


Lake Cowal Scandal in Central NSW, cyanide leaching for gold


and here


Nov 06 - Alarm of independent greens over miner 'Environment Foundation' pay off to badly compromised 'peak' greens


This writer can't quite recall the green tinged abuse of tax dollars in govt adverts in the 2003 NSW election but it's a well worn path now, and at Coalition Federal government level too abusing taxpayer funds as a party political slush fund.

In truth money politics has broken democracy in Australia as we sleep walk to dangerous climate change. That's why both ALP and Coalition get away with this corruption.


This quote from the article seems quite worthy:


"The Opposition Leader, Peter Debnam, has promised to legislate if he wins office to get the Labor Party to pay back the money [$1.25M plus $4M?] for the advertisements."


in Leaflet on water drips with spin: Opposition Sydney Morning Herald 6/1/07


Will Debnam keep that promise if he wins? That's a very big IF.


Posted by editor at 8:10 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 7 January 2007 9:04 AM EADT
Plastic: What's in it, and is it safe?
Mood:  sharp
Topic: zero waste

Lyndall McCormack of Padstow, a waste reduction activist writes with this confronting story

Plastic: What's in it, and is it safe?
January 2, 2007

By Romana King, CBC News

We bathe with it, clean with it, play with it and eat off it. Plastic. It's a petroleum engineer's dream and a product manufacturer's best friend. It allows for lighter, tougher and better packaging and provides cheaper options for gifts and merchandise.

Yet, the very substance that revolutionized consumer goods may actually be harming us.

Plastic is raising concerns among researchers that in some forms it may be toxic and dangerous - not only to the environment but also to human health. While it's everywhere in modern society, there are options for those who want to minimize the use of plastic.


While plastics haven't been definitively linked with health problems, studies show the prevalence in our bodies of chemicals used in plastic and the correlation between these chemicals and health issues.

One study, released in June by Environmental Defence, a national advocacy group, tested a sample of Canadian children and parents for the preponderance of 68 chemicals, all found in consumer products. The findings showed that on average the participants' bodies contained levels of 70 per cent of these contaminants. What's worse is that children had higher levels than their parents.

According to Kathleen Cooper, senior researcher at the Toronto-based Environmental Law Association, plastic itself is not the problem. It's some of the material used to make plastic that is harmful.

"Manufacturers all over the world use chemicals that soften, stabilize and create malleable plastic products. These chemicals contain phthalates and other dioxins that are known endocrine disruptors," Cooper said.

Add in toxic metals, such as lead, which is used for colour, stabilization and as a flame-retardant.

Lax regulations

"The use of these chemicals is totally unregulated internationally," Cooper said. "So even if there is a voluntary agreement in domestic markets, the cheap stuff from developing countries or export processing zones makes it on to our shelves and into our homes."

Among the more worrying materials for contaminate leaching is PVC (polyvinyl chloride), commonly referred to as vinyl. The chemicals leached during the PVC lifecycle include mercury, dioxins and phthalates. PVC is used in numerous consumer products, including adhesives, detergents, lubricating oils, solvents, automotive plastics, plastic clothing, personal-care products (such as soap, shampoo, deodorants, fragrances, hair spray, nail polish), as well as toys and building materials.

Organizations including the U.S.-based National Toxicology Program, the Environmental Protection Agency, the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health agree that vinyl is one of only 52 chemicals/compounds designated as a confirmed human carcinogen. As a result, many groups, including Greenpeace, Children's Health and Environmental Coalition (CHEC) and the US-based Center for Health, Environment and Justice (CHEJ) advocate a restriction or prohibition of PVC in all consumer products including toys, building materials and packaging.

Even though numerous studies, including a 2003 Center for Disease Control research report that documented human exposure to 116 chemicals, show heightened levels of toxins in people linked to PVC exposure, governmental and industry regulation in North America is minimal at best.

In the past decade there has been only one voluntary withdrawal issued in North America for toys containing one specific phthalate. In contrast is the European Union's responSE: Seven years ago the EU banned six separate phthalates in children's toys, and it continues to review and amend its list.

"Ultimately, governments have a responsibility to regulate things that impact people's health," says Brian McCarry, department head of chemistry at McMaster University and an expert on environmental contaminants. "The European Union is by far ahead in this capacity; they are more prepared to step in and use precautionary principles."

Consumer responsibility

In the absence of government controls, many advocacy groups are calling on consumers to get involved. Particularly, Cooper said, since the current method of regulation allows trade to trump health.

"People need to get upset about this. It has to be consumers voting with their wallets; consumers expressing concern," Cooper said.

By demanding alternatives - through letter-writing campaigns and purchasing power - consumers are creating a market for less toxic, more sustainable products. While the number of products made of toxic PVC can seem overwhelming, there are alternatives as the number of viable, natural and non-chlorinated plastic substitutes in the market grows.

Labels and packaging

At present, labelling laws do not require manufacturers to list all toxins used in the creation of their product. However, there are easy ways to recognize a PVC-based toy or produCT: Look for the three-arrow "recycling" symbol with the number 3 or the initials PVC, which indicates polyvinyl chloride. If neither symbol is present, then call the manufacturer's question/comment line (usually a toll-free 800 number) listed on the package or label.

Another clue to look for is the use of malleable or soft plastic. This can be found in toys, but also on clothing, bed linens and packaging. Read the labels and when in doubt, opt for a different product.


For those concerned about what's in toys but unable to do extensive research on what they contain due to the holiday-buying rush, pick toy manufacturers who opt for non-PVC-based plastic. These brands incluDE: Chicco, Evenflo, Gerber, International Playthings (including Primetime and Early Start), Lego, Sassy, Thomas and Tiny Love. According to Greenpeace's Toy Report Card, Discovery Toys and Manhattan Baby also provide an extensive selection of PVC-free toys, but some products do still contain it.

Another alternative is to purchase toys made from organic cotton or certified sustainable wood. Companies that specialize in these fibres incluDE: Brio, Lamaze, Melissa & Doug, Thomas and Woodkits, to name a few.

Alternatives to PVC

While avoiding all plastics is advised by some, it is not always practical. Thankfully, not all plastics are created equal.

Look for other plastics that are considered less harmful, such as #1 PETE, #2 HDPE, #4 LDPE and #5 PP. While these plastics also leach chemicals, studies suggest that their level of toxicity is not as great as with PVC products.

Here are some suggestions for ways to avoid plastic this holiday season:


a.. Choose refillable containers. Glass, for example, can be re-used for food storage.
b.. Choose packaging that's made from truly recyclable materiaLS: paper, glass, metal cans. (Purchasing recycled paper products completes the recycling loop, too.)
c.. Buy in bulk, whenever possible. It's the least-packaged option.
d.. For wrapped foods, choose butcher paper, waxed paper or cellulose bags.
e.. Bring cloth bags when you go shopping, rather than using PVC-based plastic bags.
f.. Choose things made from #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE) whenever plastic cannot be avoided. These are the most commonly recycled plastics.
g.. Avoid plastics that aren't readily recyclabLE: #3 (PVC), #4 (LDPE), #5 (PP), #6 (PS), #7 (often polycarbonate).
h.. Avoid single-use, disposable packaging.
Other tips
a.. Bring your own non-plastic container to salad bars, yogurt shops, etc. - any place you'd otherwise be served food in plastic containers.
b.. Avoid plastic cutlery and dinnerware. Use stainless steel utensils and look for recycled paper products.
c.. Microwave foods and drinks in oven-proof glass or ceramic dishes with lids. Never let plastic wrap touch food while in the microwave, as this is one way chemicals are suspected of leaching from plastic into food.
d.. When purchasing cling-wrapped foods from the supermarket or deli, slice off a thin layer where the food came into contact with the plastic and store the rest in a glass or ceramic container, or in non-PVC cling wrap.

remote Posted by editor at 7:48 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 7 January 2007 9:06 AM EADT
It's all going to happen in the next 5 years: native Ecuadorian
Mood:  cheeky
Topic: local news

The editor took a cycle (not the bike in this image) down to the Glebe Point Rd cafes yesterday, saving petrol and parking headaches, improving the cardio-respiratory health, to check out the really beautiful people you don’t read about in the press: Glebe Market – too much fun on a Saturday silly season holiday.


A superb café called Fair Trade was surprisingly calm as I chewed through the Sydney Morning Herald for story lines, tea, coffee, toast (as reported here:




It's the kind of cafe you could find Nick Possum 




drinking cider in. 


I read about kids falling out of the sky to be caught by public heroes, and other kids tragically hanging to death in a copy cat of YouTube judicial murder of Saddam: No doubt as unsympathetic a case as you will ever find, yet proving why the death penalty is stupid for degrading humanity generally. In true form Saddam with the aid of the Western puppet Iraqi government unintentionally manages to kill a few more on the way out.


As I read on a toddler exclaims “…. and toast too, and toast too?” which sounded fine to me. Another toddler grimaced and whimpered at the sight of the amazing carved crocodile coffee table to strains of pater “It’s okay, it’s not real”. Obviously not a Bindi Irwin fan yet.


Time to kick on to the market. This fine young woman in blue was collecting for the UNHCR, that is refugees, more here http://www.unhcr.org.au/























To assuage my guilt and relative poverty I explained I sent my money direct to Clean Up Columbia:


Clean Columbia help 1/06


And before that to a so far winning Chilean campaign:


Patagonia project


Phew! We agreed her short term approach and my long term approach were complimentary regarding tens of millions of greenhouse refugees. For the record she told me no photographs were allowed by her employer. Curiously the collector for admirable Medicines San Frontiers




said the same. Big media causing trouble again?


Into the stalls and the crowd of indeed beautiful young adults. John Fogarty CD in concert. Not today. Flick through a book on pre Columbian art, Hieronymus Bosch etc and a good chat about medieval history with the stallholder. Onto another curious one about Russian spies and of course Pilger but not today. We are deep in bobo i.e. bourgeoisie bohemian territory already when I chat with a 2nd stall guy who sells me 30 Van Gogh postcards for $5. He also has the ‘2 disc special edition of the original Wages of Fear, and Clooney/Kidman’s The Peacemaker DVDs for $5 each. Choice again, with a mean side serving of West Wing tv series etc analysis.


Another stall and another book I can’t resist: Sydney's Mark Aarons et al‘The secret war against the Jews’ with Spycatcher’s Peter Wright on the dust jacket. This will test my own politics I reckon.


A circuit around the alluring clothes racks, chat with the stylish recycled bling table, the stick button shop, and then wow, I see a dream and for a second we stare into eachother's eyes (Gene Wilder’s The Woman in Red springs to inadequate mind, in light green  actually, fair complexion and long straight reddish hair. What does Mark Knopfler sing – “made me feel 19 again”. Yep, that’s Glebe Market with not a Paris Hilton or Nicole within cooee.


A sweet south American folk song at a craft stall lingers so I ask the indigenous Ecudorian player what’s it about: Disturbingly he explains it’s of an older man in love with a younger woman in Spanish thankfully. We chat about politics. He tells me natives were being castrated in the jungle up to 30 years ago, and killed for $40 a head. No warning, just wham, let me have it unvarnished and oh so real. Our western comfort zone is so fake. 


I tell him about the very scary Herald story on climate change: “It’s all going to happen in the next 5 years” he says “I tell you, I know. I am having dreams about it every night.” We shake on that sad thought.


A delicious falafel roll (garlic sauce with a dash of chilli) fair value at $6.50 eaten next to this sign which reads "Land clearing/It's tearing NSW apart" courtesy The Wilderness Society, God bless 'em:

A chat on the phone to my disabled vollie Carol and I am about to “cut a track” as they say when I spot a book through the wire fence ‘Touching the void’ by Joe Simpson. Must have it for the pictures alone – a true record of a dissolving reality.


Declaration: The Glebe Market advertises with the Alternative Media Group which employs the editor of this otherwise independent www.sydneyalternativemedia.com/blog


Posted by editor at 7:18 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 7 January 2007 9:31 AM EADT
Saturday, 6 January 2007
Terrorists won't kill Sydney's real estate market, but global warming will
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: globalWarming

All the press in Sydney today, and the lead story on ABC 7pm tv news are awash with the 5 odd rocket launchers that are allegedly in the hands of local terrorists. The leading coverage has been in the Fairfax press, as here:

Stolen launchers 'target N-plant'

Five stolen Australian Army rocket launchers are in the hands of a home-grown terrorist group, say police.

The American Express building in the CBD as well as Lucas Heights Nuclear Reactor in outer suburban Sydney are mentioned as targets.

This writer through community newspaper distribution over the last several years can vouch for the suspiciously high security in the vicinity of the American Express building. Similarly there are two other places at least in inner Sydney we are aware of with similarly curious increase in security: The extra police nearby, the rubbish bins removed, the official staff scanning patrons entry and exit. That kind of thing. And not the most obvious places like the Sydney Opera House or Harbour Bridge.

As for Lucas Heights Reactor, recently replaced at enormous and wasteful cost, as an avowed anti nuclear person the delivery vehicle for Alternative Media press carries this poster:










Some experts are quoted today saying the reactor has such thick concrete a rocket would never get through. The problem with this advice is most never would have believed the twin towers could collapse on Sept 11 2001 in New York either. Secondly even a military dunce can envision multiple rocket strikes onto an already weakened concrete shell etc etc.

As the guy running the climbing gym at Tempe commented today as he scanned his newspaper "this is a real worry". What are the odds most of Sydney who aren't too busy having holidays will be thinking exactly the same thing with consequent broad political impact? National security credentials of the federal government are indeed being "questioned".

But the Fairfax SMH press excelled itself for scaring the bejesus out of it's readers today on another front: Errorism is one thing of perhaps limited if extreme impact (absent reactor meltdowns), but dangerous climate change on the other hand will almost certainly finish Sydney and sooner than people realise the way things are going now.

The full page feature

 Cold comfort in climate change

spilling onto a second page, quoting eminent scientists like James Hansen of NASA, was if anything worse than terrorist rocket launchers or even radioactive plumes. Curiously the article is last on their web index of national news but it was alot more prominent in the weekend paper version and for good reason too. 

An early quote is indeed chilling:

"Chemical analyses of the tiny bubbles of air in Greenland ice cores establish that the last ice age started to teeter about 14,700 years ago. As it gathered momentum, melt-water poured into the oceans, raising levels by half a metre or more each decade. The sea moved inland like a slow tsunami at a rate of up to 450 metres a year."

[bold added]

Another quote just as serious:

"[James Hansen of NASA] concludes in an article in Climatic Change on the storing of heat in the oceans that "any increase in global temperature beyond 1 degree could trigger runaway melting of the world's icesheets". Shrinking ice means less sunlight gets reflected and more gets absorbed, exacerbating the problem of warming. "Even 1 degree additional warming may be highly undesirable; 2 to 3 degrees is clearly a different planet," he says.

The first act looks to have played out in the Arctic Circle this northern summer, when large freshwater lakes formed on the Greenland icesheet and then drained away to the depths. Fred Pearce, writing in Britain's The Guardian, records how scientists observed, within hours of the lakes forming, that the vast icesheets rose up, as if floating on water, and slid towards the ocean. The Penn State University glaciologist Richard Alley commented: "We used to think that it would take 10,000 years for melting at the surface of an icesheet to penetrate down to the bottom. Now we know it doesn't take 10,000 years; it takes 10 seconds."

Pearce says: "This highlights why scientists are panicky about the sheer speed and violence with which climate change could take hold. They are realising that their old ideas about gradual change - the smooth lines on graphs showing warming and sea-level rise and gradually shifting weather patterns - are not how the world's climate system works." (New research on the Ross Ice Shelf reveals that collapses over the past 3 million years have taken place very rapidly, with sea levels rising by between 7 and 17 metres.)

The quickening pace of that understanding is proving daunting to climate-change science watchers (but not, it would seem, the politicians).

Hansen stresses the urgency of the policy response. "I think we have a very brief window of opportunity to deal with climate change … no longer than a decade," he said last year.

If he is right we now have nine years at most, and there has been no let-up in emissions growth since then. And the latest UN conference on climate change could not even agree on a timetable for vital decisions on curbing emissions."

[bold added]

Yet in October last Fairfax was running on it's front page a graphic claiming only a 1 metre rise by 2100 here


in a story called "Our vanishing future" on page 1 that had all of Sydney talking, but were they misled into false mild concern?

The opening text is here under the following image of a token, highly manageable, 1 metre sea rise:











[Caption] "Now and then … the Herald's digital projection of how the approach to Spit Bridge might look by the next century."

Our vanishing future

Wendy Frew
October 30, 2006
THIS is a picture of Sydney's future. Rising sea levels will submerge or threaten billions of dollars worth of property, both public and private, by 2100. 
Based on conservative projections of the effects of climate change, scientific modelling done for the Herald by University of Sydney researchers show many waterfront areas, including the Spit Bridge, Manly ferry terminal and Nielsen Park, are at risk from a sea level rise of less than a metre." [bold added]

This writer lampooned the 1 metre figure at the time (on the currently defunct Sydney Indymedia website) as bogus and more like "7 metres" and this view is corroborated by Fairfax themselves today. Seems the Fairfax earlier version of reality is already redundant. By the above equation in the revised version of reality 6th January 2006 we are talking at least 4.5 metres sea rise by 2100 at 1/2 a metre a decade. That will kill Sydney as we know it in 94 years time, but it will also kill the property economy NOW.

How so? Well who is taking out 30 year mortgages on flood prone land for the rest of their lives? That's how sensitive the issue really is - the economic and political impacts now.

Funny revision too by Fairfax because their own science writer at least countenances a 6 metre sea rise back in August 2006 as here:


But how could this sea rise happen so soon and so dramatically stuffing the plans of so many economists and politicians and industrialists and their triumphant western capitalist system? A quote in today's article gives the answer so it is worth repeating from above:

"We used to think that it would take 10,000 years for melting at the surface of an icesheet to penetrate down to the bottom. Now we know it doesn't take 10,000 years; it takes 10 seconds."

It's those damn crevasses, like the one that swallowed up and killed Australian Mountaineer Sue Fear earlier this year: The melted water gurgles to the bottom of the ice shelf and loosens and floats the ice into the ocean much faster than anyone realised. In short dangerous climate change.


On a lighter note, and everthing is lighter than the end of civilisation as we know it, the press today had some silly season uplifting stories:

- Two guys in New York apparently caught, like a football, a toddler falling from a high balcony and saved the lucky child's life.

- Another hero in New York jumped onto the train tracks and saved a man suffering an epileptic fit, with both retrieved from under the train's 2nd or so carriage intact, and despite the electrified third rail. Go figure.

- A fiesty goat that counter attacked the knife man, was duly called George after the US President and spared from slaughter in a middle eastern country.

- The 'G team' from Australia won the World University Debating championships. Really. Doesn't auger well for Teams A to F or Oxford and Cambridge teams does it? Or perhaps they are just the champs they are now truly acknowledged to be: Meet the G whizzes who beat the rest of the world

- There was even a big feature story in Fairfax on ethical reasons to bail out the world's poor by author/professor Peter Singer called "Hey buddy, you can spare a few billion" (not online). Which raises the whole question of a global rich tax for the poor.

- a guy called Dave Evans who dumped ACDC to join a band called Rabbit in 1974 and thus made way for Bon Scott, will do a tribute to Bon (who got this writer through an at times mind numbing double uni degree with the anthem "It's a long way to the top".) RIP Bon Scott: www.bonscottconcert.com.au

- last but not least the blonde airheads were in force in the gossip pages but not this snippet: My source who sells bling at the Roscoe St market stalls at Bondi says Paris Hilton was given a sarong from another stall down there and wore it for a whole day recently. Seems usually she is paid $1000s to change 4 times a day to model designer rubbish, so this is considered quite a retail coup. Go figure. Meanwhile the dear and highly intelligent Nicole Kidman of The Interpreter etc is still being harrassed by stupid "paps".

Posted by editor at 10:43 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007 7:06 AM EADT
PM Howard wins 'most embarrassing' Australian in 2006: FHM Magazine
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: big media


A contributor has emailed us this 'strange but true' story in the NZ Herald of 3rd January 07 based on a Reuters report which perhaps is equal parts summer silly season, and real politik sledging as the tide turns on W Bush Presidency with the Democrats taking ostensible control of both houses of Congress in the USA as here:

"The Democrats are back: Pelosi opens a new era in Washington"

as reported 6th January 2007 in the UK Independent here:


The story on so called embarrassing Howard relies on the 'impeccable popular culture source' ahem, that is FHM magazine which is a porn glossy published by Emap in 15 countries and is said to be "the biggest selling men's magazine in Australia & New Zealand" (refer below), based on a blokey survey of a very big sample of 10,000 readers:

The NZ Herald story runs as follows:

Howard voted most embarrassing Aussie

Wednesday January 03, 2007

SYDNEY - Australian Prime Minister John Howard may be popular with voters, winning four elections in 10 years, but he has been voted the nation's most embarrassing Aussie in a survey of 10,000 readers of a major men's magazine.

The 2006 "Bloke Awards" in the latest FHM magazine ranged from best real and fake boobs, best beer, movie and punch, biggest sook and most embarrassing Australian.

Howard, who is often ridiculed by cartoonists and comedians for his diminutive stature and bushy eyebrows, picked up most embarrassing Aussie for 2006, narrowly ahead of recently retired Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe.

Thorpe is regularly lampooned by Australian media for his "metrosexual" fashion style.

Biggest sook went to Australian drug smuggler Schapelle Corby, who is serving a 20-year sentence in a Bali jail after being caught with a surf bag stuffed with marijuana. She claims she was set up by corrupt airport baggage handlers.

Best punch went to Australian rugby league forward Willie Mason for his "king hit" on British player Stuart Fielden, which left Fielden so concussed he reportedly forgot his mother was dead and had to be reminded by team mates.

And best beer went to Crown Lager, the country's original premium beer launched in 1953 to celebrate the coronation of Britain's Queen Elizabeth, who is also Australia's monarch.




The low brow fleshy flavour of FHM is here:


A run down on publisher Emap, an international media company, is here:


 FHM is described thus:

"FHM is the biggest selling men's magazine in Australia & New Zealand. Every issue, FHM offers the best fashion and grooming pages, plus sections dedicated to health, sports, motoring, relationships, alcohol, IT, gadgets, games and all the latest in book, film and music reviews.

The worlds fastest growing men's lifestyle magazine, published in over 15 countries. Each month, we follow a simple philosophy, if it's not funny, sexy or useful, you won't find it in FHM. But you will be guaranteed to be entertained, whether it's an exclusive photo of Jennifer Lopez or Anna Kournikova, or how to add spark to your home brew, you'll find it in FHM.

You can get 12 copies of this esteemed publication for only $79 apparently.
Here is the FHM advert at PBL's ninemsn site run by James Packer's PBL Ltd, usually seen as Howard loyalists, today:


Our view this sledge of Howard by the swinger and rich playboy crowd probably won't hurt him in the beltway church going seats, or with women voters either. 

SAM's editor can't remember too many political adverts this last 10 years promoting Howard's Crown Lager swilling, punching rugger style, as he manipulated the latest IT gadget with a blonde airhead on his arm. This survey might reinforce FHM readers self image as cool and free living but it won't bother so called Mr Average John Howard's grip on power in Australia.

But the tidal shift in the US Congress probably will.

Posted by editor at 7:36 AM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 6 January 2007 8:52 AM EADT
Friday, 5 January 2007
Oz uranium deal with China a big mistake say Greens
Mood:  blue
Topic: nuke threats

Press release follows

Selling uranium to China a mistake

5 January 2007

Australian Greens Senator Kerry Nettle said the federal government's
decision to permit the sale of Australian uranium to China was a mistake
which will fuel regional insecurity and that Prime Minister John Howard
will bear responsibility for the consequences.

The government today announced that Australia and China have ratified an
agreement to permit the sale of Australian uranium, from as early as
this year.

"Selling uranium to China is a mistake with potentially catastrophic
consequences", Senator Nettle said.

"Prime Minister Howard has ignored serious concerns in paving the way
for Australian uranium sales to China and he will bear responsibility
for the consequences.

"A report by federal parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties
on the bilateral agreement to permit this trade last month highlighted
serious shortcomings in safeguards, including deficiencies in the
international inspection regime and the ability to ensure our uranium is
not misused.

"The world doesn't need more uranium and nuclear power. Australia should
be developing and selling clean and safe renewable energy technology to
China, not adding to regional instability.

"The Greens call on Foreign Minister Downer to rule out selling uranium
to India, which is not a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation

Contact: Max Phillips 0414 ... ....

Posted by editor at 8:30 PM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007 7:05 AM EADT
Little Terns nesting on site of planned port terminal at Botany Bay
Mood:  crushed out
Topic: ecology
Please pass this on to any bird watchers you know.  Little Terns are nesting at Penrhyn Spit - right where the new port terminal will be built.  There are eggs and chicks and National Parks has fenced off the area.  Please lend your support by coming down (with binos) to take a look (at a distance) and alert other users of the area of how important this event is.
Lynda Newnam

remote Posted by editor at 8:00 PM EADT
Updated: Friday, 5 January 2007 8:15 PM EADT
Sovereignty Day event by original Australians, January 26th 2007
Mood:  special
Topic: indigenous
[This following is an amalgam of two emails from world renowned street artist Benny Zable with the final version of the artwork. Thanks Benny, we think it's just about perfect: editor]
Sent: Friday, January 05, 2007 [11.30 PM]
Subject: Sovereignty Day POSTER Jan 26th-27th Tent Embassy

Enclosed is the new [Sovereignty] Day poster authorised by Michael Anderson Aboriginal. The new poster extends an invitation to stay there at the Tent Embassy till Tuesday, February 6th, to prepare actions for the opening of Parliament 2007.
It has been stressed that drugs and alcohol not be brought onto the site and to support and respect the Aboriginal agenda.

Benny Zable

[In a third email received from ever humble expert Zable: 'This final copy was crafted with Isabel Coe [Wiradjuri woman, co founder Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra 30 years ago]. Franklin Scarf did the art work actually. Between a whole lot of us this became the final copy. The credits are to a whole lot of people stumblin around in our isolation to attempt to get it right. My part was speaking with different people listening to criticisms and to eventually come up with this.' Yours Benny Zable]

Posted by editor at 7:35 PM EADT
Updated: Saturday, 6 January 2007 9:11 AM EADT
Dioxin in Sydney Harbour is much bigger than a quick and dirty $40M fix?
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: ecology

Talk of fixing the dioxin problem in Sydney Harbour surfaced again on ABC 702 radio this morning, and here:

 Toxic harbour to cost $40m - NEWS.com.au - 10 hours ago

Opposition Leader Debnam mentioned his clean up policy. This echoes a smaller $20M policy from memory of ex Premier Bob Carr trailed around for nearly a decade, as limited and ineffective as he was for the 5 years leading up to and since the so called Green Olympics in 2000 sited at Homebush Bay which Greenpeace in the end only gave 'a bronze medal' for greenology.

[Indeed both the ALP and Coalition Parties in NSW seem to be engaging in early skirmishs prior to the election in late March 2007 to establish their moral credentials on more general concerns of the environment as above,  and similarly the big Githubal Aboriginal Land Use deal with our Indigenous on the front page The Australian (News Ltd) 2nd January:

Deal struck on native Eden - Githabul win rights to national parks Graham Lloyd (subscriber material),

That is until the really big electoral policies of economy, health, education, transport etc are rolled out.]

An extensive track of the mainstream reporting of the dioxin issue is contained here on the SAM editor's ecology action home page:

"Sydney’s dioxin time bomb reflects an Olympic sized missed opportunity":
Sydney Harbour dioxin -  

The traverse of media coverage of the 10 years and longer embarrassing history of the dioxin issue was posted researched early in 2006 and posted by this writer becaue the NSW govt had to close fishing in Sydney Harbour in early 2006 because of real injury to professional fishers:

Sydney Harbour and fishing – overview and facts about dioxins


especially this media release:

"Media Release 24 January 2006 – Temporary closure of commercial fishing in Sydney Harbour (partly superceded)"

also reported here by insightful reporter Jonathan Harley at the time http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2006/s1555375.htm

Sometime just prior to Christmas 2006 the abc tv nightly news helpfully reported for the state government fishing on the ocean eastern side of the Bridge was officially okay again to some degree: More here  http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/sydney-harbour-closure

and especially here:

Media release 9 Dec 06 - New Dietary Advice for Anglers is Catch of the Day

based on early study of results of fish species caught on that side.

But the problem in Homebush waters and land was always west of the Bridge anyway. The area doesn't make this horror list of the world's worst pollution hotspots:

World's 10 Worst Pollution Spots http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/oct2006/2006-10-18-02.asp

But don't be misled. Most of the dioxin is still there capped with clean fill on the land side, and still in the mud on the water side at risk of disturbance from say passing River Cats (the wash is known to damage river banks) or bad weather. Even a chunky $40 million, better than Carr's $20M promise, using limited technology will only put a dent in the century of industrial legacy. The resolution will probably cost hundreds of millions of dollars and no one is promising that.

So the dioxin in Sydney Harbour and the fish probably isn't going away in our lifetime.

Posted by editor at 9:38 AM EADT
Updated: Friday, 5 January 2007 7:32 PM EADT
Sir Laurence Street really the corruption reformer wanted by many in the Doomadgee wrongful death case, after AWB comments?
Mood:  sad
Topic: indigenous

The editor noted with interest on AM quality ABC news




this morning respected semi retired lawyer Sir Laurence Street of NSW has been appointed by the Queensland government in the terribly tragic case of the death of an Aboriginal man, Mulrunji Doomadgee, 36 in 2004 at Palm Island from horrific internal injuries. There has been huge community backlash since then. The story is also carried here




A little research will show Sir Laurence




was asked in March 2006 what he thought of the highly limited terms of reference (TOR) of the Royal Commission like Cole Inquiry of the now infamous scandal over the Australian Wheat Board bribery of now dead Saddam government in Iraq:


"SIR LAURENCE STREET, FORMER ROYAL COMMISSIONER" There is always a temptation when one is a royal commissioner to think, "Well, look, I'll clean up all of this." And one thing I'll suggest to the Government. I'll do this I'll do that. I'm not going to be specific, but we all can recollect a royal commission that got way, way out beyond its original terms of reference, as the commissioner followed various rabbits down various burrows. That's not what a royal commission is about. A royal commission is a specific - or a commission such as this in the federal arena - is a commission to inquire into a particular topic and report back to executive government.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Sir Lawrence Street is one of Australia's most respected legal minds and he's no stranger to royal commissions himself.

SIR LAURENCE STREET: I don't criticise politicians for one moment. I've done high-profile political inquiries myself. That's the political arena is the political arena. The arena is the fourth estate in which you and your colleagues function, Mr Brissenden is another. But the judicial arena, or the judicial arena such as an inquiry such as this, although it's not an adjudicative function, is something which is apart and has to be ruthlessly protected by the integrity of the commissioner to ensure that he or she doesn't find themselves pushed out beyond what is the proper scope of their terms of reference."


and a moment later in the same interveiw:


"MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Veterans like Sir Laurence Street agree the position for Cole is difficult, but he simply has to play it straight.

SIR LAURENCE STREET: His duty is to carry out the inquiry as it is laid down in the terms of reference. He's not the guardian of all aspects of public interest associated with this topic. He's been given a specific task and his duty is to get on with that task and make his report. I may say a duty that he's discharging with admiral balance and, as one would expect, integrity. He's a judge of enormous stature, of shining integrity and he's doing I think a very praiseworthy job in a difficult political climate."


The full interveiw is here: Australian Broadcasting Corporation TV PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT LOCATION: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2006/s1604156.htm

Broadcast: 29/03/2006 Cole inquiry lacks powers: Opposition Reporter: Michael Brissenden


Street who it is fair to say is a bastion of the legal establishment in NSW for many decades said that the TOR have to be limited otherwise the AWB inquiry could grow like topsy as per a certain Royal Commission held in Australia in the 1980's.


If memory serves this writer, a junior solicitor here in NSW, thinks Sir Laurence is almost certainly referring to the hugely significant anti corruption Fitzgerald Inquiry in Qld in the 1980's. This is the same Fitzgerald Inquiry that Premier Peter Beatie appears to have obliquely referred to at times as ‘a lawyers picnic’ for becoming very expensive and possibly endless: There is one very serious veiw of history that the Fitz RC was moving from the corrupt Bjelke Peterson government of the National Party to the entrenched corruption in the Qld ALP but never got the chance. Topsy indeed.


Nor is this writer so naive about the legal and moral issues in the tragedy of every single premature Indigenous death. At one time in my life I was effectively a surrogate father figure to a 5 year old Aboriginal lad called Jimari for six months and I worry about his future most days of my life. I have also met a gifted Aboriginal artist friend of my sister called Glen from Palm Island with teeth missing from the frightening violence in that community. On another occassion at an environmental stall held at a peace rally in Belmore Park, Sydney CBD, on Palm Sunday many years ago a drunken Aboriginal young man stole all my Jabiluka stickers and started handing them out: Maybe I should have accepted this situation as paying the rent but when challenged for 'this disrespect to the Gundjehmi elders campaign on Jabiluka' given the stickers were a fundraising project against a uranium mine, he grabbed a stick and started to break it as if to stab me with the pointed end. He wanted my blood. When I took it off him he complained that he was 'homeless' and so it was my fault. But I didn't make him drunk at 11 am in the morning, nor are most Aboriginal People drinkers. Far more in the white community. In 1989 I completed my honours thesis 'A legal foundation for Aboriginal Rights' predicting the famous Mabo High Cout decision 3 years later. Once I got my car window broken while donating books to the Redfern Community centre. The undercover cops watched the whole thing as I negotiated to get my address book back.


Indeed respected lawyer Andrew Boe has been involved in the Doomadgee controversy as here March 2005




and here up to late 2006




and notes the complex social problems at Palm Island leading to violence in too many situations. So what share of responsibility of the policeman Chris Hurley in this death? I don't know. The facts and the coroner's findings are highly relevant of course. It's a matter for professionals and family much closer to the facts of the tragedy. Only this writer lacks confidence in Sir Laurence being quite the corruption fighting reformer others, especially in the Aboriginal community, might be hoping for. On the other hand Sir Street may do well in brokering a quasi legal resolution with the family and community stakeholders. Maybe. Here's hoping.


Postscript #1

Minimalist lawyer Street to shut down Doomadgee case file as predicted?
by Tom McLoughlin solicitor Monday January 15, 2007 at 03:32 PM

As predicted and advised to [Melbourne Indymedia website]  readers perhaps a week ago, this breaking news report on Sydney Daily Telegraph says it all: 'Not open ended', and 'not taking any new evidence'

As I understand it Noel Pearson Aboriginal lawyer of Cape York and national figure wrote in The Australian around 6th January that it was imperative that whoever takes on reviewing this file be able to look at new evidence or new information.

At least as I recall it on the Lavartus Prodeo web blog I read yesterday.

Here we have Street who in one interview on 7.30 Report

1. criticised the famous Fitzgerald corruption inquiry 'for chasing every rabbit down every hole' and

2. commended the cautious narrow rigour (my words) of the Cole AWB as if to bless its limits

also now stating it's going to be a 1 week flash in the pan job after 2 to 3 years of full on controversy over the death in custody riots and national controversy as per Telegraph report below.

Well here is something very interesting I noticed: The heat on the Beattie govt really increased when National President of the ALP prominent Aboriginal man Warren Mundine started hitting the airwaves a few weeks back saying its not good enough after the DPP appeared to cancel out the Coroner.

Warren Mundine is pretty quiet now. But guess what: The big articles that broke the story about the largely but not entirely symbolic and big Githabul native title successful land use agreement with the NSW ALP government over Christmas New Year involved the one and same Warren Mundine. Warren has had a big victory on indigenous rights as "chief executive of NSW Native Title Services, which funded the claim, [and] told the ABC that the deal is a watershed.

"It gives an opportunity for that community to have lands returned. It gives an opportunity for that community to have an economic base as well as a cultural base to operate from" said Mr Mundine"

In The Epoch Times Jan 3-9 2007 quoting AAP.

I'm sure Warren Mundine is more than capable of covering two big items of indigenous controversy at once, but I sure hope he is not trading one State ALP indigenous issue for another State ALP win on Black rights, all in the ALP family so to speak?

Sure is an interesting coincidence. Qld side of the border has not cooperated in the Githabul land use agreement. I wonder what that means?

Street's report looks like a hopeless avenue for the Palm Island Aboriginal community on the basis of this article posted at midday at News Ltd (and notice the spin about Sir Street being an ex WW2 veteran as if this could possibly be relevant. Is this undue vanity?)


Palm Island report 'due soon'

January 15, 2007 12:00

THE man appointed to review Palm Island's controversial death in custody case says he expects to finalise his report in as little as a week.

Sir Laurence Street will arrive in Brisbane from Sydney this afternoon, before flying out to the north Queensland island tomorrow to get a "feel" for where Mulrunji Doomadgee died in November 2004.

The respected former NSW chief justice was appointed earlier this month to review the Director of Public Prosecution's (DPP) decision not to charge Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley over Mulrunji's death in custody in 2004. Leanne Clare's ruling came despite a coroner finding the officer was responsible for Mulrunji's death.

Sir Laurence said he would take his senior counsel assisting, a barrister and crown law officers with him on a "three or four" hour trip to Palm Island.

The WWII veteran said his visit came after working "virtually full-time" on the matter since receiving the files last Monday.

"It's a matter which should be finished within a matter of a week or so," Sir Laurence said today.

"It's not open-ended. I have the material. It's a question of our team evaluating it."

Sir Laurence will visit the site of Mulrunji's death in the island's watchhouse, which was later burnt down in a riot.

He stressed he would not be collecting any evidence during the trip.

"I won't be receiving any information or interviewing anybody," Sir Laurence said.

"All the information is already in the documents that have been gathered by the coroner and by the DPP.

"I'm going over to enlarge my understanding (of what happened)."

Sir Laurence said that included rejecting any attempt by Mulrunji's family to provide him with further information.

"It's not within my province to do so. In any event, there's no purpose in doing so because there's exhausted material already gathered by the coroner and by the DPP," he said.

Sir Laurence will return to Brisbane on Wednesday before flying back to Sydney to continue reviewing the case.

Postscript #2

Death is the final silence, Sir Laurence
by Tom McLoughlin Wednesday January 17, 2007 at 02:06 AM

Even Laurence Street had the self knowledge to hesitate on camera on late SBS tv news tonight at the death of the critical 24 year old witness who swung from a noose and died in the last 24 hours.

The witness that likely had more to say but Sir Street said was irrelevant to his review because they were not taking any 'new evidence'.

Perhaps the dead man agreed that silence was indeed his future fate, and there indeed is nothing more silent than DEATH.

The report below is at


timed at midday Tues 16th January 07

with Sir Street referring to his 'coincidental' visit. Trouble it seems related not coincidental.

My belief is Street's visit and the form and shape of his investigation could well have influenced the deceased Bramwell that he wasn't going to be listened to yet again. He was 'nothing' yet again, to a legal system, and broader Australian society, and he'd had enough of it and us, and in particular the 'Street Review'.

Sir  Street made it very clear he was not even going to talk to Bramwell as per reports in the last day or two in the general press, and echoed here on Melb IMC

Doomadgee co-arrested found hanged

By Dave Donaghy

January 16, 2007 12:00
Article from: AAP

A WITNESS in the Mulrunji Doomadgee death-in-custody case has been found hanged on Palm Island.

The discovery coincided with the arrival on Palm Island of New South Wales chief justice Sir Laurence Street', who is reviewing the Queensland Director of Public Prosecution's (DPP) decision not to charge Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley over Mulrunji's death in custody in November 2004.

When he arrived on the island today Sir Laurence learned that Patrick Bramwell, who was arrested alongside Mulrunji, had committed suicide on the north Queensland island overnight.

"There's maybe even more point in me coming here on a day like this because it's very tragic," Sir Laurence said.

Mr Bramwell was arrested by police for swearing on November 19, 2004, just before Mulrunji was arrested for the same offence.

The two men, who knew each other, were taken to the watchhouse in the same paddy wagon.

Mulrunji later died from injuries deputy state coroner Christine Clements found had been caused by Snr Sgt Hurley during a scuffle at the police watchhouse.

Sir Laurence visited the site of Mulrunji's death and the local council during his brief visit to the island, 60km northeast of Townsville.

He expects to finish his report soon and the State Government has promised to release the results when parliament resumes next month.

However, Acting Premier Anna Bligh has said if Sir Laurence made a finding against Snr Sgt Hurley, the report would not be tabled in the parliament until after the matter went to court "to ensure that nothing in the report jeopardised the success or otherwise of the prosecution".

Ms Bligh said Mr Bramwell's death was a "tragic incident" but declined to comment further for cultural reasons.

"The death of a young person is always a tragedy," she said.

[You can say that again, and tragic for the administration of justice in the whole state of Qld.]

Posted by editor at 9:09 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2007 2:35 PM EADT

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