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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Wednesday, 24 January 2007
Iemma spinning portal toxic emissions from M5 to fit election timetable: RAPS
Mood:  rushed
Topic: ecology

[received 23rd January 2007]


In an obvious politically-motivated move with the March elections fast approaching, the Premier has delayed plans to pump toxic fumes from the Bexley and Arncliffe portals until the installation of the proposed $50 million pilot filtration plant later this year.

RAPS has argued that the filtration plant will not be adequate enough to significantly dilute pollution pumped out of the portals, and local residents are naturally worried about being exposed to a lethal cocktail of particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and other toxins, if permission is given

The RTA plan, which is currently being assessed by Planning, is receiving criticism from NSW Health and CSIRO experts over possible health risks.

Congratulations to Minister Roozendaal on recent changes to P-driver regulations because of evidence presented to him - let's hope he does the same re the filtration trial!
On 16th June 2006, the Roads Minister Eric Roozendaal announced the NSW Government's air quality improvement plan for the M5 East tunnel. These improvements include :

+ Video identification of pollution causing heavy vehicles and the Clean Fleet Program.
This part of the project has been in operation for some time however. As of early November 2006, there have been 567 detections by the camera (including multiple detections of the same vehicles.) Although useful, it is clear that the detection effort will have little effect on the real problems of the tunnel. Even well tuned diesel engines emit harmful particles in their exhausts. The RTA plan only detects grossly bad polluters.

+ increased ventilations flows with an extra 12 fans.

The "increased ventilation flows" are an attempt to fix a long standing problem with the ventilation system in the east bound tunnel where trucks push the air more quickly than intended. The jet fans are used to overcome this.

+ a trial of filtration technology. This is what requires planning approval as hidden in the innocuous sounding "trial" is the proposal to use unfiltered portals emissions as a routine ventilation strategy to limit pollution in the tunnel by pumping it out of the portals. This allows more fresh air to be sucked in , diluting the pollution.
The fact sheet entitled "Modifications to the M5 East Motorway - Air quality improvement plan" with addendum, is actually the third attempt to produce a brochure which did not mislead the public by making inappropriate and misleading claims about the likely impact of the emissions. The RTA was forced to change what it had on its website originally. However, the current version, containing the addendum which is supposed to correct it, is still grossly misleading and compares life time risks with daily risks, without making that situation clear. See:

RAPS has made strong protests about this along with its recent submission to Planning. However no time frame for a decision has yet been given, nor have we been able to interview the Planning appointed expert assessing the project.
Approximately 2 million premature deaths a year world-wide are caused by air pollution, according to the World Health Organization. WHO is challenging international governments to reduce air pollution in their cities to improve public health substantially by reducing the incidence of respiratory and heart disorders and lung cancer, (for example by lowering particulate goals to 20mg per cubic metre). The NEMS for particulates in Australia is at present 50mg per cubic metre. There is no safe level for particulates.  See :

According to the RTA, the opening of the unfiltered Lane Cove Tunnel will cause traffic jams and confusion as motorists try to sort out the changes in the road system. There will be traffic jams on the harbour approaches in the morning and westbound section in the evening until motorists become used to  See:
http://www.smh.com.au/text/articles/2007/01/11/1168105115846.html  and

The M2 extension, approved post haste and with consultation a 'fait accompli', will now be minus a 5 kilometre stretch of cycleway between Lane Cove and Beecroft Roads. This change, approved by the government, will create an extra west-bound traffic lane.

A senior Toyota executive is reported as stating that the car industry was in danger of becoming "the new tobacco industry" and a recent parliamentary report names car exhaust fumes as the major contributor to up to 1400 death a year. See : "Go the green route", Sydney Morning Herald, 20-21 January, 2007

Last week Carl Scully announced he was quitting NSW parliament while congratulating himself for his work, especially in the road and tunnel building area. "I did it my way" he told the media during several interviews. But on ABC radio, a prominent spin doctor summed up what a lot of people have thought for a long time - Scully's assessment of himself is very much at variance with what others think of him.

The people affected by the toxins from the M5 East are not happy with the way he did it when he built a 4m tunnel complete with the world's worst practice ventilation system, neither are the people who will be affected by the toxins from the unfiltered Lane Cove Tunnel when it opens in a few weeks' time.

In RAPS' dealings with Carl Scully, we found him to be arrogant – a politician who inevitably dismissed community concerns as trivial in his determination to be known as the great road builder - and it was this arrogance which led him to believe his own spin even to the extent of lying to parliament once too many times that bought about his downfall.
Certainly, nothing to be proud of. when he looks back on his political career! See also Joe Hildebrand's views "Carl departs in a dense cloud of fertiliser" 15.01.07

 RAPS is an incorporated community group representing residents and workers affected by the M5 East tunnel, ventilation stack and portals. We meet on one Tuesday night of the month at Earlwood Bowling Club, Doris Ave Earlwood NSW, Australia. RAPS Inc is funded entirely by $10 membership fees and community donations and volunteer time.

We currently have significant costs, and need to build up funds for ongoing outlays such as public liability insurance well and professional advice and help. Please help us to keep going by sending a donation to:

PO Box 270 Earlwood NSW 2206 Australia Telephone: 061 02 9558 8863, 061 02 9573 0052, 061 02 9559 1278


RAPS Inc is a member of GASP, Groups Against Stack Pollution, a coalition of community groups with similar aims and objectives affected by similar stacks from around Sydney's Cross City and Lane Cove tunnels.


Our email list is maintained in confidence [refer website above]

Posted by editor at 10:19 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 24 January 2007 11:50 AM EADT
Howard reshuffle of Cabinet shows white supremacist tendencies, climate fear: Green MPs
Mood:  down
Topic: election Oz 2007

As predicted in another entry ex leader Beazley is not news, but the impending Howard reshuffle is. And so it has happened mid yesterday.

SAM editor's view is that the NSW election with contender Peter Debnam is a road test for Union Jack led white supremacism by the Howard led Coalition federally (which is why the much bigger Sydney Indymedia website, currently AWOL, amongst many other forums is an important counter balance and is needed asap).

Media release of Senator Kerry Nettle below amply evidences this stark reality. On the other hand Sydney's broad community is likely ready and equal to this evil agenda, and long may it be so:


Howard signals divisive election tactics with dropping of multiculturalism

Greens Multicultural Affairs Spokesperson Senator Kerry Nettle today  called on incoming Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews to publicly commit the government to supporting multiculturalism in Australia in the wake of multiculturalism being dropped from the title of his department.

"Multiculturalism has been a massively successful policy in Australia and Mr Andrews should acknowledge this and commit to supporting its objectives of respect, celebration of diversity and non-discrimination.

"The Greens also call on Mr Andrews to start his new job by ending the cruel practice on mandatory detention of asylum seekers and begin by bringing the 7 Burmese asylum seekers now on Nauru to Australia.

"As far as Senator Vanstone is concerned then, if the rumour of an overseas posting is true, perhaps a posting to Kabul, Afghanistan would be the most appropriate job the Prime Minister could offer her."

Contact - Jon Edwards 0428 xxx xxx

Senator Rachel Siewert Australian Greens Senator for WA

 Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Howard reshuffle prepares for Climate Election
The Prime Minister's portfolio reshuffle is a clear acknowledgement of the Government's faltering performance on the key election issues of climate change and water, industrial relations and immigration.

"It is clear that these areas are the major battlegrounds of the coming Federal election, and the Government knows it has been performing very poorly," said Australian Greens spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert

"Prime Minister Howard has missed a golden opportunity to establish a ministry of climate change to reflect the over-arching nature of the greatest threat to the nation. Dumping Ian Campbell is a sensible move and we hope that Malcolm Turnbull's promotion reflects a new appreciation for the importance of climate change.

"The Government's values are on open display this morning - 'multiculturalism' has been replaced with 'citizenship', reflecting an increasing emphasis on intolerance, exclusion and what is 'unAustralian'."

 "The most important Australian value is the right to a fair go, which went out the window with the introduction of Work Choices. Howard has had to appoint Joe Hockey to spin his disastrous IR agenda since Kevin Andrews' approach has clearly broken down."

"I wish the new Ministers well and hope this reshuffle reflects a change in the spirit of the Government, and not just an attempt to paper over the serious mistakes of the last few years."

Posted by editor at 7:26 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 24 January 2007 11:38 AM EADT
Tuesday, 23 January 2007
China says no space arms race (because it's about Iranian oil!)
Mood:  hug me
Topic: peace

SAM posted on the very scary demo of space military capacity by China by referring to the 'coincidence' of escalation of US military in the Persian Gulf with carrier USS Stenner mid January widely seen as a menacing of Iran, and China's oil dependence on Iran, here:

Saturday, 20 January 2007
China space missile warning to USA to protect their Iranian oil supply Mood:  blue Topic: peace
There is reportage from China Daily, Reuters, AP and The Australian referenced there.
What is strange with coverage of the latter up until yesterday at least is plenty of discussion of 'a space arms race' and importance of 'US military satellites'. But no mention of USS Stenner's recent menacing of Iran and China's need to defend its investment in Iranian oil in the US$ tens of billions.
This writer has no doubt that coincidences like that don't just happen. This story last Sunday ran in the Fairfax Sydney SunHerald p42 sourced to one Chris Buckley in Beijing
"China plays down fears/Missile test wasn't meant to spark arms race in space: Beijing"
referencing a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman who neither confirmed or denied the test itself but reitereated the principle of peace in space, and this:
"David Wright, of the Union of Concerned Scientists in Massachusetts, said the satellite pulverised by China could have broken into nearly 40,000 fragments from one to 10 centimetres wide - about half of which would stay in orbit for more than a decade."
SAM's editor says anyone who thinks this is all coincidence is is being duped by the Murdoch press: China are warning the USA off damaging their interests in Iran, and the newswires are carrying ongoing frictions between the USA and Iran eg
- the latter getting selective over who can obtain access from the IAEA nuke inspectors in the UN, and
- the US detaining Iranian diplomats in Iraq,
and on and on the power wrestle goes:
via google to Reuters here and New York Times
Rice warns firms Iran may face further sanctions - Reuters.uk - 21 Jan 2007
Iran complains to UN over diplomats' arrest -TV - Reuters - 20 Jan 2007
Debate Grows in Iran Over Nuclear Program - New York Times - 2 hours ago
Postscript #1
A local earth sister reader with an experienced world view of the peace movement writes in response to this topic string:
"Wow! Tom!!!!!!!
Maybe this is how 
[China] willstop the US from attacking Iran - to annex it to their bases on either side. Have you seen the maps of many US bases in both Iraq and Afghanistan? - none in Iran! psychic hugs - to help you over come the "blue" mood."

Postscript #2

This power struggle for political and military ascendancy in the Middle East between Iran and the USA is also revealed here within the hawks and doves of the USA administration, via this BBC story of then Secretary of State Powell trying unsuccessfully to promote diplomacy between the 2 countries in 2003:

 Washington 'snubbed Iran offer' 18th Jan 2007 at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6274147.stm

[worth quoting in full given the disaster in Iraq now:]

"Iran offered the US a package of concessions in 2003, but it was rejected, a senior former US official has told the BBC's Newsnight programme.

Tehran proposed ending support for Lebanese and Palestinian militant groups and helping to stabilise Iraq following the US-led invasion.

Offers, including making its nuclear programme more transparent, were conditional on the US ending hostility.

But Vice-President Dick Cheney's office rejected the plan, the official said.

The offers came in a letter, seen by Newsnight, which was unsigned but which the US state department apparently believed to have been approved by the highest authorities.

In return for its concessions, Tehran asked Washington to end its hostility, to end sanctions, and to disband the Iranian rebel group the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq and repatriate its members.

But as soon as it got to the White House, the old mantra of 'We don't talk to evil'... reasserted itself
Lawrence Wilkerson
Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had allowed the rebel group to base itself in Iraq, putting it under US power after the invasion.

One of the then Secretary of State Colin Powell's top aides told the BBC the state department was keen on the plan - but was over-ruled.

"We thought it was a very propitious moment to do that," Lawrence Wilkerson told Newsnight.

"But as soon as it got to the White House, and as soon as it got to the Vice-President's office, the old mantra of 'We don't talk to evil'... reasserted itself."

Observers say the Iranian offer as outlined nearly four years ago corresponds pretty closely to what Washington is demanding from Tehran now.

Since that time, Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah inflicted significant military losses on the major US ally in the region, Israel, in the 2006 conflict and is now claiming increased political power in Lebanon.

Palestinian militant group Hamas won power in parliamentary elections a year ago, opening a new chapter of conflict in Gaza and the West Bank.

The UN Security Council has imposed sanctions on Iran following its refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment programme.

Iran denies US accusations that its nuclear programme is designed to produce weapons. "

Posted by editor at 1:02 PM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 24 January 2007 11:25 AM EADT
Jarrah trips out to Seoul, DMZ, and Busan
Mood:  happy
Topic: world

Our correspondent Jarrah is doing an English teaching job in South Korea. He was a walks leader for Tassie Tigers before that. Here is his latest report arrived last Sunday:

hiya tom!
i've just spent 5 days travelling - went to Seoul and Busan...here's the guts of the journey...
my journey was wonderful  - I spent many, many hours walking around some absolutely amazing markets -  and I think I found (in Busan) the best market that I've ever been to! truly remarkable. You name the object and it was there and on sale! everything from food to cheap clothes to designer label (very expensive) stuff to movie theatres...literally anything and everything!

Seoul was incredible. One of the very few times in my life i've been to a truly HUGE city and been able to wander round. Seoul has a population of - this still spins me out - 22 million people! More than the whole continent of aus! Busan's not too far behind - i believe it's around 14 million....
I did a day trip to the DMZ (DeMilitarized Zone - the border between the North and the South) too. what a trippy place. fences EVERYWHERE (including for a great chunk of the Han River - both sides, triple layer 3m. high topped with razor wire and occupied guard posts every 200m. The river that runs out of the North flows into it and they've had a lot of NK agents trying it on....). The highlight was a walk down to the Infiltration Tunnel No. 3 - the crazy NK mob have built 4 of these things - that we're told about, anyway - all discovered between 1973 and 1991! trippy to say the least. It is 1.7km long and we got to walk to the place where it's blocked off by a 4" thick steel wall - almost 300m. into it. it's 75m. down and the 3rd deepest - No. 4 is 180m under the ground....weird. to say the least. didn't take many pics becaus it's so restricted. we were told where and when we could take them, and in what direction. the other trippy thing was that we weren't allowed off the roads - any of them - because there are 700 000 landmines which are unaccounted for....that is the closest i've ever been to a landmine, and quite strange because the night before i saw a pretty ordinary film with Angelina Jolie called "Beyond Borders". dunno if you've seen it - if you haven't i wouldn't worry - maybe have a look at IMDb for details - but the relevant thing is that there were stacks of landmines in that flick. hmmmm
the place that I stayed on my first night in Busan is called a Yudong or "love hotel" - usual clients are couples looking for somewhere very discrete! I moved up to the beach suburb of Haeundae the following day, to an international hostel. that night's place was fine and cheap as chips, but it was a bit small and there is absolutely NO view...felt pretty strange, too... 
the trip from Seoul to Busan was as good as I was hoping. I caught the Bullet train,  first class mind! and it was amazing! It got up to a maximum speed of 320k/hr at a couple of points - the video screen showed our pace all the time. Very much like an airplane really - even down to the headphone socket in the side of the seat!
the photos:
the first two are of a community garden in the coastal town of Busan. when i saw it i immediately thought of you and the remarkable conversation you had with the old chap about Simpson and his donkey! these gardens are all over the place, but this one particularly struck me as a great example with the high rise apartment buildings in the background. Most of the gardeners are older folk - it's not uncommon to see a 90-yr-old man, bent over double, ploughing his little plot and growing chillis, cabbages, carrots, shallots or something similar...
the third is the Han River. It's fenced because the river that flows out of the North empties into the Han which flows right through the centre of Seoul. Until 1991, they were constantly finding North Korean secret service agents swimming down the river to spy on Seoul, so the fenced 23 km. on either side. it's lit up like a christmas tree at night and there are occupied (by armed soldiers) sentry posts every 200 metres for the entire 23km.
the fourth is the KTX, or Bullet train.
the fifth is the Markets in Nompodong in Busan.  
hope you enjoy this!!!! love, light, peace and happiness, 

Postscript # 1:

hi! thanks!!! ...coming back at ya - I've managed to work out how to link your RSS to my blog...here's the URL for my place...
check it out...i've posted all my pics (well, the ones worth looking at anyway) there.....love, light, peace and happiness, jarrah

Posted by editor at 12:36 PM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 24 January 2007 6:43 AM EADT
Ban B-double truck scourge on NSW roads: Greens
Mood:  special
Topic: ecology

23 January 2007

Greens plan for no B-Doubles in NSW, more freight on rail

Greens MP and transport spokesperson, Lee Rhiannon met with North Coast Greens candidates in Grafton today to launch the Greens plan to shift freight transport back to rail and away from heavy trucks on our roads. The Greens policy would phase out B-Doubles and other heavy freight trucks from the Pacific Highway.

"The Greens are committed to banning B-Doubles from all NSW roads. We are working to phase out heavy freight trucks on the Pacific Highway by 2011. This is achievable if we expand rural freight lines", said Ms Rhiannon.

"Our communities are suffering because there are so many B-Double trucks on our roads. Putting more freight on rail would reduce the number of accidents and the amount of carbon emissions.

"At present about 350 B-Double trucks use the Pacific Highway each day and the Bureau of Transport & Regional Economics predicts that domestic freight movements will increase by 80% between 2000 – 2020.

"Communities along the Pacific Highway cannot sustain an extra 50,000 trucks on Australian roads by 2020, given that one road fatality in three involves an articulated truck.

"The Pacific Highway still needs an upgrade in many parts but these upgrades should not be used as an excuse to keep moving freight by truck.

"Big freight trucks put motorists and local residents under terrible stress, increase air pollution and cause many accidents on the North Coast.

"We need to boost our use of rural rail lines and coastal shipping to transport freight. Rail services need to be upgraded and maintained.

"The ALP and the Coalition are all talk and no action on this issue. The Iemma government has forced freight onto the Pacific Highway by subsidising truck registration and relegating rural rail lines around NSW to the rust-pile.

"Moving freight by rail is the cleaner, greener and safer option. Premier Iemma must rise to the challenge of cutting greenhouse gas emissions and restore the rural rail network in NSW," said Ms Rhiannon.

Posted by editor at 12:23 PM EADT
US Congress cut Big Oil tax subsidies: Greenpeace rejoice
Mood:  bright
Topic: globalWarming

Our local Spanish translator Amparo sends SAM this call out from Greenpeace USA dated 17th January 2007, which echoes the local scandal in Australia lately over inflated prices at the bowser as the price of a barrel of oil dips to US$50. Over to Greenpeace here:

Big Oil companies have been getting richer, making record-breaking profits, while your wallet has been getting lighter. Well, this is your chance to get even. In just 2 days, Congress will vote to cut the tax breaks that Big Oil has been enjoying for years. This means taking away BILLIONS of dollars in subsidies for the nation's leading oil companies, and YOU can make it a reality. Better yet, Congress would use that same money to invest in renewable energy that will help break our nation's addiction to oil once and for all.

Tell Congress to cut off profits for Big Oil.

Not only have you been paying more at the pump, but you've also been paying taxes that benefit oil companies. Now you can play Robin Hood by taking tax breaks from rich oil companies and investing in a clean energy revolution. This is the opportunity you've been waiting for! Please, take action now and pass this along to friends and family.


Kate Smolski
Clean Energy Campaigner

702 H Street, NW
Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20001
(800) 326-0959


[Then this celebration came through dated 21st January 2007 from Amparo forwarding the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups in the USA or PIRG]

Hi ,
In an amazing victory for our new energy future, the House of Representatives passed the C.L.E.A.N. Energy Act of 2007, taking millions of dollars in subsidies away from oil companies and investing it into renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.  Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work during this campaign!

Background - Oil Company Profits Continue to Skyrocket

Big oil companies are swimming in a sea of record-breaking profits while American consumers and taxpayers pay the price. In 2005, the world's biggest oil companies reported a combined $111 billion in profits. In the first three quarters of 2006 they reported more than $94 billion.

Some of the biggest oil company profits in 2005 were:
* ExxonMobil:  $36.1 billion
* Royal Dutch Shell: $25.3 billion
* BP: $22.3 billion
* ConocoPhillips: $13.5 billion
* Chevron Texaco $14.1 billion

Federal Handouts Lavish Billions on Oil and Gas Companies

Despite earning record profits, oil and gas companies continue to benefit from billions in handouts courtesy of American taxpayers. Between tax
incentives, below-market fees for drilling on public lands, research and development subsidies and accounting gimmicks, these companies will receive more than $31.6 billion from the federal government over the next five years.

Specifically, these handouts break down as follows:
* Tax breaks: $16 billion
* Research and development subsidies: $1.8 billion
* Below-market fees for drilling on public lands: $9.5 billion
* Accounting gimmicks: $4.3 billion
* Total: $31.6 billion

Some of most outrageous handouts to Big Oil allows companies drilling for oil and natural gas on public lands to pay below-market fees, or royalties, for the resources they extract.  Oil companies are currently slated to shortchange taxpayers by $9.5 billion over the next five years.

Another giveaway allows oil companies to write off the costs of oil drilling and refining.  Together, these giveaways total more than $4 billion over the next 5 years.


Anna Aurilio
U.S. PIRG Legislative Director

P.S. Thanks again for your support.  Please feel free to share this e-mail with your family and friends.


Posted by editor at 11:36 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 8 February 2007 8:12 AM EADT
Antony Loewenstein's 'Bloggers of the world unite' explains the 5th Estate
Mood:  cool
Topic: independent media

The 5th estate is this writer's term for the accountability and integrity tests that experienced blogging brings to the traditional 'free press' (but probably more accurately described as Big Media) known as the '4th estate', which in turn is defined by these other institutional power structures in Australia and most western countries:

3rd estate - Judiciary

2nd estate - Executive government

1st estate - Parliament

This was in Fairfax press on Jan 20-21st January 2007 and it's a good read.


Posted by editor at 11:24 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 January 2007 11:32 AM EADT
Leunig's philosophy of the world
Mood:  bright
Topic: peace

Some "pearls from Leunig" (the cartoonist in the Fairfax Press here with his own web page.

 Sent to SAM byStevie Bee who was also editor of Third Opinion alternative energy journal for roughly 20 years here in Sydney, and a graphic designer by trade. The first diagnosis on 'over stimulation' echoes the same comment of famous Everest climber Tim McCartney Snape regarding the exhaustion exhibited by much of western society:

Leunig on:

Over stimulation

"The individual is overwhelmed by the magnitude. We have embraced technology and economic systems that are just unfathomable and massive and all-powerful. I think television is a totally destructive and corrosive medium. People are living lives though television and films and the media rather than through their own lives. They are not living creatively. They are living reactively and passively all the time. We feel we need all this stimulation, but in fact we need very little.


"I suppose it dates back to an early childhood feeling that people weren't really saying what they were thinking. I think a lot of children grow up thinking, "Hang on, more is going on here, but people aren't saying it." I wanted to know what they really thought, what they were saying to themselves that they couldn't say out loud. People lie constantly, we all do. I think we suffer from the absence of the personal. When society lapses into the personal it gets all maudlin and inept and clumsy. Because we are not used to incorporating spontaneous, natural, truthful response."

Eternal Living

"There is a kind of letting go of the particularities of this time in which I live. You start to relate more to nature. You start to identify with all cultures and all humans. The problems of existence and this whole matter of living you start to see as having been essentially the same for the past 2000 years. You begin to feel for all things from all times and places so you are no longer a creature of these times as much as you used to be: concerned with the novelties of the moment. I have been shedding the technologies, the gadgets. I don't have a television. I cook with things I have always cooked with. I believe if you can move away from the time in which you live and allow yourself to be drawn to the eternal aspects of life, and the simple tools which simplify life, then you can almost move from this life automatically into what follows in another."


"You see a society that's provided for by television is a society that says it doesn't need too many parks or natural situations for children to play in because television will look after them. So I think we, we start to construct the shape of our cities and our suburbs is built around this fact that people can be taken care of, they can be plonked in a room and absorbed in this virtual reality and reality itself becomes kind of a little bit degraded. I have a sense that it is mad making somewhere. That the quality of attention we give to each other as humans is degraded and diminished eventually with the sustained cultural usage"

Childcare Cartoon

"I made that piece with the total compassion I feel for what I see as a sad drift in the nature of family life in modern society, and that its infants and children who are so vulnerable are being forced onto a kind of production line of life too early. I think play, and tenderness and slowness and safety are being taken away more and more. You see I was just representing the voiceless one, the child, as I understand it. My sympathy is with the mother and child both-I understand all the different reasons for putting babies into care. One of the functions of my work is simply to try and speak for the voiceless ones, and there are many voiceless people."


"My work is often therapeutic because I often give expression to this inner voice. For example, I might make a small piece about a person oppressed and ground down by tiredness. This life is actually very exhausting. It doesn't give humans much time to contemplate anything. We are not resting ourselves and there is the feeling we have got to keep working and pushing really hard. So I draw the person running and running and running-for no apparent reason. And suddenly I find that I have touched on something that is perhaps universal."


"At the very simplest, I think as Van Gogh said and St Francis would have said, we must find nature. Just to be in the presence of nature your feelings and 'little seedlings' start to awake. So if we disassociate ourselves from God we cut nature out, too. More and more we turn nature into a commodity, into eco-tourism. But we must integrate it into the way people live every day."


Posted by editor at 10:13 AM EADT
Our democracy is shedding thousands of voters: Greens
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: election Oz 2007

Lifted from crikey.com.au of 22nd January 07 :

3. Where have all the voters gone?

Greens electoral analyst, Stephen Luntz, writes:

Every day the population of Australia grows by about 700 people. Every two minutes there is an extra Australian. At least, that is, if you believe the Bureau of Statistics. But according to the Australian Electoral Commission the population of Australia is in decline.

In April 2005 there were 13,216,525 Australians on the electoral roll. In December 06 there were 13,174,866, a fall of around 41,000. If it had not been for a surge created by the Victorian state election the numbers would have been much lower.

In Victoria the numbers on the roll fell 32,000 or so over a 17-month period before rising about 67,000 at the end of the year.

Well Victoria is rustbelt territory, some people would have us know. What about booming WA? It seems the West is in decline as well, losing twenty thousand voters in 18 months.

The population of Australia has grown by about half a million in the last two years, but that hasn’t shown up on the electoral roll. Unless the situation gets fixed, come election day half a million Australians are going to miss out on their chance to vote.

The Victorian election appears to provide some good news – putting on those thousands of extra enrolments in three months as the election came round – who cares if people are not on the roll when there is nothing to vote for?

However, looking closer, things are actually even worse than they seem: 26,000 of those people added to the roll as a result of the election got added too late to vote. Mostly they are people who turned up at the polling booth, found they were not on the roll and filled out a form then.

There is a crumb of comfort that they will be ready for the federal election, but their equivalents in other states may not.

Even worse, a great many of the forty thousand who did get on the roll in Victoria in time to vote only did so because they had plenty of warning (fixed term elections) and could do so after the election campaign hit full swing.

At the federal election this year that won’t be the case. Changes to the law mean that anyone not on the roll has one day after the election is called to enrol. Not many will.

Half a million voters is 3,000 per seat. Enough to make a pretty sizeable difference to the election result one would think. Of course, if the voters who have been kicked off, and the new ones not added, were a random selection none of this would matter, except in a philosophical sense.

But if past experience is any guide the missing voters are not random – they’re young people who've just turned 18 and renters who have moved house (the two groups obviously overlap a bit). And both these groups are disproportionately likely to vote Labor and Green.

That doesn’t mean that the ALP can look forward to missing 3,000 votes per seat. But it does mean that, after preferences, a few hundred more votes are more likely to be missing from the Labor column than the Liberal.

Presumably the more astute Labor candidates are onto this, and are employing people to check that, in marginal seats at least, people are properly enrolled. But if you want to know why there is a high chance the Senate will stay in Liberal hands, no matter what happens in the House, it’s worth considering the collective impact of all the unenrolled voters. And asking a few searching questions of the Australian Electoral Commission.

Posted by editor at 10:09 AM EADT
ALP and Big Media's systemic exploitation of Iemma's children, moral cowardice on white supremacism
Mood:  sharp
Topic: election nsw 2007

Picture: A big media image from 2006 on the ascension of Morris Iemma to the fraught job of ex Premier Bob Carr.


The inspired West Wing tv series which I review here:


Thursday, 4 January 2007

West Wing tv series, bourgeoisie wank or worthy response to Ed Murrow's example?


last night carried this episode


"A Good Day" (first broadcast March 2 2005)


with argument over whether children deserve the vote because their world is being foreclosed on (environmentally and from discrimination over poverty levels versus older people), and they have effectively no voice. They get the brush off initially until the ‘Tubby Stickler for ethics in politics’, that is Toby Ziggler character is responsive to the policy depth of their case.


Pres Bartlett takes their question in front of the whole shrill National Press Gallery: ‘A vote for children is worth considering” he suggests to the media pack, and making the young lobbyist's dream come true.


Which calls up the whole issue of the character piece by Imre Salusinszky glossy article in the Weekend Australian magazine 20-21 Jan 2007 called


"Hey Dad


NSW Premier Morris Iemma promised his wife he’d be a hands-on father, but can he keep the voters happy as well?"


The 5 page glossy spread featured his 3 year old twin sons, older brother and sister, and loyal wife, similar to this picture:


But it’s systemic child exploitation. All senior politicians do it. John Anderson at his most vulnerable as Deputy PM and leader of the Nationals put his kids on the front page of The Australian newspaper some years ago .


Iemma and the ALP are doing it here. PM Howard does it on election night with his children on the podium most election nights. Kevin Rudd on election to leadership with kids on the beach. Senator Barnaby Joyce and gaggle in the precincts of The Senate. The innocence, the charm to warm the most cynical heart. But it's pure emotional blackmail and manipulation. You couldn't throw the parent of these kids out of work surely?


The children have no say over their image being used in the electoral process. They have nothing probitive to say about whether Iemma is good at his job or not. You don’t even need a licence to have children but this is somehow his great virtue?


This writer is not anti child by any stretch. 3 years on Bondi Beach Primary School P&C, uncle to a whole gaggle, fighting for intergenerational equity on the environment. But unlike the precocious character in the West Wing putting his argument to the Tubby Stickler character always concerned for ethics in politics, Iemma’s kids are window dressing aggrandisement of the parent.


A proud parent to be sure but the kids have no real informed free will in the matter. They are too young. It’s qualitatively no different to the child abuse of religious cults like Exclusive Brethren who think they own their children like little emotional slaves to promote their business political social and legal agendas.


It’s wrong. In fact its pretty evil. It’s a fraud on the voting public. Sure it’s relevant to Iemma’s ‘character’ that he has a healthy happy family, and sound partnership in life, but as a footnote, not the main deal. None of this goes on a job advert or in a resume. In fact it would be grounds for a legal action for discrimination if it was. And the Premier’s job is a job application like all other important jobs.


But there will be more with news of Packer's Women's Weekly running a spread on the Iemma domestics soon also.


Politicians are still allowed in our culture to parade morally perfect young children to cover their own flaws.


This disgusting systemic habit of exploitation carries over to other opportunistic behaviour: Take Iemma's moral cowardice on covert and overt white supremacism and conversely PM Howard's aggressive support for same.

In terms of the veil being lifted on latent white supremacism in our society encouraged and nurtured by divisive Howard govt with their fascist tendencies, Iemma wants to win the vote on March 24 in the euro dominated white middle class heartland. This is the game staked out by white euro elitist types like radio shouter Alan Jones.

So Iemma scorns the Big Day Out concert organisers’ common sense on discouraging tub thumping nationalism in their Sydney venue.

The Premier energetically attacks cleric Egyptian Australian Hilali for not being mainstream in his views and politics (though H actually is mainstream for opposing the Iraq war).

Hr attacks Aboriginal Magistrate OShane when the transcript of the case shows she runs a tight ship and is endorsed by 3 judges of the Judicial Commission.

Similarly Monarchist Howard exhorts the Australian Flag with its white supremacist Union Jack.

The thread in all this folks, is white supremacism, which is the unvarnished Pauline Hanson agenda: Some limited tolerance and patience of coloured folks but always, always white folks on top.

It's sometimes subtle, sometimes crude like Cronulla, it’s sometimes opportunistically plausible when ethnic gangs are exposed, but the unifying theme is ugly white supremacism when reallly the vast majority of the world is coffee coloured.

Iemma's moral cowardice is around the fact he is an Italian immigrant's son (as I am 1/8 Italian also via Calabria) and is acting more white than a UK pomme, in some kind of weird denial of his own ethnicity.

No multicultural themes of Italian heritage in Morris's election campaign that's for sure. Italian language, food, funny foreign dress or dance? Forget it. He's now an honourary white supremacist. Even though he is 1st generation Australian. That's the evil intolerance that Howard has nurtured with his federal budget influence in the culture wars. To appease the white picket fence of places like Epping in the seat of Bennelong. Go and have a look and feel the white supremacism pouring out of the manicured lawns.

I spent a busy month in the 2004 federal election working the Bennelong electorate and it becomes very clear how Howard is a product of this Old Australia. Very white bread, with pockets of ethnicity but absolutely no doubt who is 'in charge' and born to rule.

What a shame that Iemma is pandering to the same misconceived arrogance for purely careerist political motives. All at the expense of a happy harmonious healthy self respecting diverse society. I blame Howard mostly for soft pedalling on One Nation to begin with but everyone in society will have to make this choice to stand against the white supremacism of the Union Jack sooner or later. This writer condemns the pandering to Old Australia bigotry in a modern sophisticated world.

Coincidentally The West Wing 2nd episode  "La Palabra" last night also dealt with this very question via Latino presidential candidate Matt Santos character who retreats from ethnic related concerns, but gets it right by the end in a unity ticket with the white bread Californian governor, who takes the tolerant line on driving licences for illegals.

Good public policy is colour blind, bigotry is neither.

Posted by editor at 9:03 AM EADT
Updated: Tuesday, 23 January 2007 2:04 PM EADT

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