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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Wednesday, 11 April 2007
When will it be Our Media?: #1 report: Conference of international practitioners kicks off
Mood:  chatty
Topic: independent media

Picture: A t bottom Dr Juan Salazar main organiser of UWS ponders the opening plenary, with some of the local and jet lagged attendance. At top on right On the opening panel is UWS colleague Penny ODonnell (left) and Our Media veterans conferences 1 to 6, Clemencia Rodrigeuz and Alfonso Gumucio. Notice the strong Latin collaborative influence.

This is the first day report of a sceptical activist blogger at the OurMedia conference in Sydney starting proper on Tuesday 10th April 07 (written 11th April revisions 14th April): 

'Grey men' as pictured below, opened the OurMedia conference yesterday: Harsh but true. One was dean of Uni of Western Sydney Prof Wayne McKenna at right below. The venue was central Uni of Technology Sydney (UTS) in the CBD, after a film night on Monday at Sidetrack Theatre, Addison Rd Centre Marrickville (which we missed).

Picture: At right dean of UWS Prof Wayne McKenna. At left Dean of UTS Professor Theo Van Leeuwen (who surely is related to Hans Van Leeuwen formerly AFR journo, green media adviser to Lee Rhiannon MLC (Greens), then in the news as house hubby to the editor of Woman's Day). 


There was a wonderful attendance of some 70 overseas participants which is a real credit to main organiser Dr Juan Salazar of UWS. However it was not quite enough to overshadow the weak showing of the dynamic local community/alternative/grassroots media sector in Sydney itself, if not Australia, and therein lies a serious story.


Dr Juan, 10 years in Australia, from Chile has some reflection due on that. [We understand most but not all of the other conferences 1 to 5 had similar lack of local grassroots activists and has been more a gathering of expert practitioners/academics.]

Picture: Radio providers from Enga Provice in PNG with whom we had a friendly chat recalling a visit to the Kokoda area and Lae over 17 years ago (with obligatory bout of malaria - a real teacher).


This 'experts rather than diverse grassroots energy’ tone was dissipated a fair bit by the afternoon specialised sessions. Community media folks are by nature interactive and open and the workshops were an inspiration: Workshops attended by this writer included


- New Technology/Creative Commons intellectual property issues,

- Prisons radio

- Japanese FM in shopping centres,

- RRR here in Sydney, based in Ryde area.


We took 6 pages of notes during the day with many more angles to report, with perhaps the biggest one being one to one interview with dean McKenna re the future of free to air Sydney Channel 31 community tv


(our own contested community television tv station controversially taken over to boost educational programmes at Penrith campus at UWS, when it was already serving authentic local community media practitioners for 10 years prior to that). 

It is notable that Dr Salazar presenting as a 'high caste Latin' with all his suave humour and good looks is beholden to the UWS dean McKenna, even as he noted Our Media "should not just be about revenue." But why the poor turnout of local students to this high status event?

[Actually we found Dr Juan expressing very strong participatory democratic values as the conference wore on, which was a great antidote to this writer's initial cynicism.]

The key note address by self described 'aging' Prof John Downing, founder director of Global Media Research Center [sic] at Southern Illinois University in strong UK Queens English was a very impressive intellectual traverse. He also managed some serious ironies that seemed shocking to this 15 year community media practitioner:


-  he correctly sledged blogs as western english artefacts mostly but also praised their 100 to 500,000 potential audience reach. Mmm that's confusing if valid criticism, noting radio or mobile phone media dominates African and other mass audiences.


- Prof Downing teased out the undoubted language barriers in the sinews and muscle of dominant English vis a vis the other several billion non English speaking global brothers and sisters. Yet the Prof was a living example of English language excellence too, giving the keynote address and with great learning. Was he too good?


I found Prof Downing jarring to hear his view responding to the audience a fairly airy comfort with community media sector folks moving into over paid big media careers. His rationale sounded idealistic but frankly naive on my side of the school of hard knocks: 

Sure there is alot of truth in wanting decent people with moral credibility 'inside' (and I know one or two) to influence the often reptilian Big Media including the Govt's ABC here. But I would never read down the capacity of Big Media to capture and indeed sabatage their competitors in the community sector to sustain their big wages and revolving door into politicians' offices.



[The additional layer of irony, as I discovered, was that the Prof has an Afro American wife by the looks, and is a fluent Spanish speaker, so he probably didn't need to hear my 'snot nose' critique of his apparent self contradictory westernism. But I gave it to him anyway, no fear or favour in the plenary. The next day as I was conspicuously wolfing down morning tea muffin(s) having missed breakfast he caught my eye and suggested in passing just 'don't talk', which was very amusing and fair enough, and pretty unlikely Prof.]


After day one I thought, well, it's one thing for me to lay down the intellectual gauntlet as regards proud autonomous identity of the indy sector, to the builders of my own alternative, community and (mainstream) indigenous media sector, and quite another to prove we are worthy to run our own race.


The stage was set for day two with a bit of friction and worry in the mix.

Picture: At top -workshop explaining the shipping container project computer room in Jamaica as presented by local artist, and it seems globe trotter, Francesca Da Rimini.

Bottom image, at right in the background: Japanese interpreter translating record of this parallel session number 5 'New Techologies and Social Action', on left Andrew Lowenthal from  EngageMedia community sector version of YouTube with much more ethical revenue sharing IP model. (This bloke AL had all the acuity and charm of a latter day Predator aka Mike Cartlon (RIP) who invented IndyMedia for the world from here in Australia. We suggested to AL he must be channeling the Pred and this seemed quite e a spooky coincidence and 'responsibility' too.

Posted by editor at 9:55 AM NZT
Updated: Saturday, 14 April 2007 3:07 PM NZT
Monday, 9 April 2007
Australian Climbing Festival: Gorgeous, risk agreeable people on a full diet of personal exploration, friendship, humour
Mood:  lyrical
Topic: local news

They say lifting furniture burns a lot of fat for the image conscious in this world of mass media advertising assault. With obesity the subject of popular reality tv shows like The Biggest Loser , imagine lifing yourself over an 8 mile knife shaped ridge line in the High Sierras of California as sainted, elite climber Peter Croft described in his humble tones this weekend at the Australian Climbing Festival 2007  in the Blue Mountains. Indeed a great deal of the crowd were as slender as whippets and looked as strong as, well ... rock climbers.

Picture: Peter Croft (Canadian) with his quietly spoken, gentle style and humour appealed greatly to the crowd with applause at his ethic of "climbing for the right reasons" sitting on a ledge no shirt listening to nature, no other climber anywhere. Famous for shocking solo climbs, yet happy to admit backing off a derisory grade 8 unsafe rock, and honest about a rescue "not fun to talk about" for climbing too soon after "a long road trip to Yosemite". A great person who had the hard core audience stuck to their seat at the 'end' of the talk.


The crowd of 500 including hard men and gymnast women at this Easter weekend event were literally in awe of this wiry middle aged solo expert Croft of North America with a face like a map of the world’s cliffs. And the competition for most amazing living adventurer at the festival was strong as per this promotion last Friday in the Herald Cruise control the easy way to reach Blue Mountains 

 Picture: Don't try this at home: flying suits made famous by Glen Singleman and wife Heather Swan who were also featured on the ABC TV Australian Story :: Lovers Leap


No wonder the crowds came.


And imagine how this writer felt a country mile from the speakers' level and half a mile from most of the audience: Nervous, intimidated, inadequate but in the sum also inspired not least by the quiet humility of these worthy role models of a vibrant sub culture:Gorgeous lithe strong people, some with brats bouncing around on the safety mats under the sport climbing wall.


Other elite folks stood out at this 2 day festival like Garth Miller who apparently won a climbing competition (?), at least I heard the roar of the crowd next door. I was in a rival event, in this jam packed schedule, of Bolivian music culture and slide show by the Monasterio Brothers including serious mountaineering guide Dr Erik Monasterio. By the time I made it across it was all over.


Luckily I had already met locally based The Garth on the eve of the festival cradling his pudgy babe in arms (introduced by film maker Gary Caganoff also exhibiting at the festival who did some electrical work for our old factory lease in 2001 in Sydney). Miller is distinctively slender and wiry, medium height and again somewhat waifish like Croft. Perfect build for sticking on rock. Almost bird like. This was a body shape to be repeated: Timmy O'Neill (USA), even Malcolm Matheson aka HB (Australia) more chunky yet surprisingly compact, similarly Jonathan Clearwater of Sydney.


The festival website note of Miller:


"By 1998 he had a tick list including two 32 and a dozen 31 on sight including two in the same day, red pointed 33 in three tries and a v11 boulder problem flashed. At the time he was one of two people in the world to on sight at this level and still the only Australian to do so."

Picture: Garth Miller hams it up for the camera on the official website, compared to the doting father with baby in arms we met on the eve of the festival.

To understand these climbing grades compare a gold medal olympic pole vaulter, high jumper or floor gymnast. It's that good, or as one speaker noted "in other sports he'd be on a million dollar sponsorship but we climbers just do what we do" 


I asked Caganoff was he intimidated living up here in the mountains mixing with these top level climbers and adventurers. "No, more my peers. I don't do that much climbing now though. At Kendall [Kendal Mountain Film Festival in the UK] I was in the room with 30 Everest summiteers. Chris Bonnington and Doug Scott. They were my childhood heroes."


This sparked my memory of an already middle aged Doug Scott signing a poster of one of his Himalayan trips at a the ANU (Canberra) film club in about 1984, which I have dragged around with me for 23 years, creased and tatty but somehow just as grand as gritty DS himself who from memory crawled off  The Ogre for a week with two broken ankles after taking a 'Very Big Swing'.

Picture: Chamlang west of Makalu (Himalayas), photo by Doug Scott sold to the writer in 1984 at a fundraiser for his next expedition, note signature.

Although it was chilly, we were reminiscing in the relative safety of Katoomba in the Blue Mountains some 1017 m elevation and the Australian Climbing Festival was yet to begin. 

Picture: Clair and Adam Donoghue the dedicated calm partnership behind a successful team of vollies delivering a tourism booster for Katoomba, busy as ever the first morning of the festival. Both were acclaimed several times during the next two days for rebooting this 'every 2nd year' event from the 90's after an 8 year lay off.

Trucks and exhbibitors were industriously crowding into the local sports complex on this cold Friday night as prep for the next 2 days as tourists oblivious, enjoyed Echo Point and the cafe culture:

Picture: The usual  passive interactions of visitors to Katoomba at Echo Point, still quite satisfying to the foreign tourists who seemed very happy soaking up the cool high oxygen as children romped around excited, 20 year olds paraded, others  to retire to the warm cafes Paragon, Niagara or as here piano playing Isobar Cafe. The tea and pumpkin soup was a treat. Local sculpture at Echo Point reads "When I reached the lookout at echo point the light was thick and golden/ As if it had passed all day through a butterfly's dusty wing."

My problem however was this: Now that I've pursuaded the organisers to give me a free media pass to an otherwise modestly priced 2 day event ($100), how can I do justice in this blog report, to earn my keep as it were? How indeed to talk to these elite folks at all without blubbering like a fool? And they do have their jargon like Trad, Free and Sport climbing styles. Without realising it I found my answer by applying the climbers' axioms: Attention, focus, commit, accept, and there were a few others I forget now (via speaker Arno Ilgner ).

In other words adapt to your conditions in the now, which in my case were these press reports over the Easter Break on global warming which naturally related to the frozen alpine regions.

But first we were treated to a gracious and highly appreciated welcome to the country of the traditional Aboriginal owners by these Indigenous ladies who had some sly and amusing things to say about the extreme rock climbing ability of the festival participants:

Picture: Welcome to country. More information on the Indigenous of the Blue Mountains here.

Picture: Mountaineers and outdoor ventureres are likely excellent lay front line witnesses to global warming changes as their guide books and living memory reveal something is indeed on the move. This was borne out by personal observation of presenters Croft, Matheson and Monasterio.

Yep the planet is likely fucked, and the the climbing veterans just might have an opinion about the reality of that, and they DID, hardly needing any prompting as per this in the Sydney Morning Herald this same weekend: Window closing on planet's chances - Environment - smh.com.au:

Here are some of the comments we obtained, to paraphrase the conversations, here:

SAM. How do you react to reports like this in the local Sydney Morning Herald about rising snowline and less days snow cover, in your personal observation?

Peter Croft: It's true. You see it in the High Sierra in California. In Canada too the glaciers are retreating. In the [European] Alps classic ice climbs are disappearing, just not there anymore. Even places like the Eiger are bound together by the ice and they're unstable.

Q. So at your elite level, it's a topic of conversation amongst your peers?

Peter Croft: Yes it is. It's discussed at other mountain festivals too. It's crystal clear it's happening.


SAM. Dr Erik Monasterio yesterday was a little confronting in his talk, saying climbers exagerate low risk and under rate high risk. He gave the example of expert rock climbers shifting over to mountaineering lacking the right skills. Do you think global warming will increase objective risk and climbers will understand that? Erik even mentioned an example of a boulder coming loose and nearly killing him.

Malcolm Matheson aka HB: Yes, for sure. My friend Steve Monks [Wild and Rock Index - Issue 27] whose been a guide in the European Alps for 22 years says the Mattahorn is getting dangerous. 

I've been climbing for 28 years and never had an accident, and that's not to say I haven't experienced some dangerous situations or done some serious climbs.

Me: Yes, your record speaks volumes for properly analysing risk. Thanks for your time I can see your young daughter is ready to go. [5 year old in face paint getting towy for Dad to stop his work for a mo]

Picture: home grown excellence. Malcolm Matheson or "HB" a veteran and pioneer of innumerable climbing routes in Australia, and like other elite climbers unassuming and very self confident. Presents like the original 'cougar man' only compared with that funny advertising campaign here in Sydney HB is the real deal, no bullshit. A real master.

Dr Erik Monastario of Bolivia and mountain guide, mentioned above gave some worrying analysis in one presentation of expert climbers at grade 5 in mountaineering terms (very high) who were still experiencing catastrophic injury or death at 5-10% out of a limited sample of 50 subjects over 4 years suggesting that mountaineers even of high ability tend to make weak risk assessments exagerating low and under rating high risk. He gave the example of the 'safe' moderately sloping ramp to Mt Aspiring in NZ which killed 4 climbers in 2002-3.

He also gave the example of an unstable boulder that whisked past his nose in Bolivia leaving the burning smell of rock clashing on rock as an example of our warming climate. If mountaineers underestimate global warming induced instability this fatal or near fatal injury rate may increase:

Picture: Dr Erik Monasterio at right answers further earnest questions from climbers directly after his challenging talk.

Picture: The beautiful Mt Aspiring west face near Wanaka NZ south island, deceptively dangerous, just under 10,000 feet from a 6000 bottom step (climbed by this writer 1990). Image from Google Earth.

Picture: Peter Croft mesmerises the large audience, winning indelible respect from the audience.

Pictures: Collage of conference experiences including

- everest veteran Tim Macartney-Snape talk (bottom right) for World Expeditions,

- Blue Mountains Council supporting the event,

- garage sale for Australian Himalayan Foundation - giving something back (a charity for the Nepalese);

- Timmy O'Neill , a seriously good speed climber and veteran of El Capitan at Yosemite in the USA but also exceptionally ribald and hilarous comedy prankster, mixed with inspired compassion working with disabled climbers (brought the house down)

- Jonathan Clearwater  in front of Mountain Equipment stall, who presented on Epics and Ethics about a 5 day climb in Pakistan

- the beautiful climber woman across the crowd (inset)

- they funny guy on spring legs

- the jury rigged coffee cup when we didn't have access to Mama Java fair trade coffee

Several other events have not been reported. Like the sport climbing which was hugely popular, the slack line tightrope walk over the pool which attracted a big crowd, the food stalls, bar, lots of live music up to 10pm or so.

There were some glitches in such a big operation worth noting for next time. Some of the films were cutting edge productions eg Cannibals and Crampons but somehow the DVD's were not road tested on location in the exact equipment and some failed until polished or replaced for the 2nd day. Similarly a slide show on the second day was woefully out of sync which really vexed the presenter. But with these minor hiccups it was a satisfied crowd that bailed out on Sunday night having laughed for a full hour with Timmy O'Neill and then sat like stunned sponges soaking up the unique character that is Peter Croft even by comparison with other elite presenters, as much to do with his subtle personality as his gift for climbing.

On a positive environmental note at the festival we also met an old environmental colleague and climber from New Zealand, Brent Hoare living in Katoomba. Just as we are very concerned about global warming effect on climbing environments, he is working on a practical reversal of that problem regarding ethical refrigerants which seemed ironic given the cold nights up there. We promised to add some info to our festival report because that is exactly what catching up at such events is all about. Reconnecting, reskilling, new directions and contacts:

Brent writes today:

Sent: Monday, April 09, 2007 10:22 AM
Subject: NRTB info

Hi Tom,
Here's what I put out in advance of the NRTB launch, and some additional  info at the bottom. Great to catch up look forward to staying in touch. Hope the picture is usable.
Other websites to look at include www.nrtb.org.au , and for an international slant, www.mipiggs.org

Cheers!  Brent Hoare 0417 478268

In short his non profit group have a $2 million grant Feb 2007 from the Australian Government to promote safer hydrocarbon refrigerants in big business like Coles, Woolworths, Streets/Unilever, Roche to replace HCFC and HFC refrigerants which are up to 4000 times worse than CO2 for global warming. If memory serves Brent mentioned this about 14% of greenhouse emissions (in Australia?).

The NRTB is comprised of professional engineers, equipment designers and manufacturers which aims to promote the use of natural refrigerants. Bravo!
Clair Donoghue says the Australian Climbing Festival is planned as an every two years event as it was in the 1990's, so look out for it in 2009, it should be very good. And assuming it is to be held in the Blue Mountains again notice this shop on the way up to Katoomba from Sydney:

Also the last picture below should go to Malcolm Matheson who solo climbed El Capitan 3000 foot vertical rockface, and then spent the coldest night of his life in this perched platform structure at the summit hanging from a tree: 

Postscript #1: Sydney Morning Herald 19th April 07 UN rebuff for Britain on global warming with this quote at the end: "China has created artificial snow in Tibet after experts warned of melting glaciers in the Himalayas. The Tibetan meteorological station had created a fall of 2.2 millimetres, which accumulated to one centimetre, last week, about 4000 metres above sea level in northern Tibet, the Xinhua news agency said yesterday."

Postscript #2 A tengential article sympathetic to the above was in Good Weekend of Sydney Morning Herald p29 April 21 2007 called "Powder Keg" about an area on the border of Pakistan and India prone to avalanches, and very popular with elite skiers. There is no overt connection made with global warming threat but one wonders. It does capture the spirit of adventure, and misunderstanding objective danger, as written by expert sports reporter Jacquelin Magnay.

Postscript #3 Another related article in the Big Media: A ripping tale of Lincoln Hall's lucky escape with help from just below the summit of Everest in 2006 after suffering a brain oedema (brain swelling) shutting down most of his survival functions: "Left for dead", p18 April 28, 2007 The Good Weekend, Sydney Morning Herald.

The title refers to direction from base camp to abandon the immbolile speechless Hall putting his sherpas lives at risk as night approached. We at SAM wonder if one significant reason Hall got so much help at serious cost to other climbers when rediscovered next morning was at least in part because of his highly respected reputation, both as a climber and person i.e. good karma.

Postscript #4: We like to think at SAM we started an 'avalanche' of stories about the outdoor mountains scene in the Big Media, with our conference report above. Who really knows. Similar to the Lincoln Hall reference in postscript 3 see Fran Kelly ABC Radio National here recently: Radio National Breakfast - 2 May 2007 - Lincoln Hall

There definitely is a public interest in learning more about global warming from that adventurer perspective and so again here on SBS Dateline last week, and wow what beautiful photography:

Wed, May 2 2007

The Great Meltdown
Welcome to a special Dateline on what has to be the global topic of the moment - climate change, its true impact and what the heck do we do about it? Right now, our own increasingly dry and drought-ridden continent seems clear proof that something drastic is occurring with the world's climate
...more >
David Miliband Interview
This morning, Australian business and political leaders woke up to this full-page ad in the 'Financial Review' placed by five senior private sector economists
...more >
The Shrinking Alps
And now to Europe's snow-clad Alps - or to be more precise right now - Europe's normally snow-clad Alps
...more >

Posted by editor at 11:40 AM NZT
Updated: Friday, 4 May 2007 8:07 AM NZT
Sunday, 8 April 2007
Sunday political talkies: nasty khaki balancer against Rudd following rejection of govt minister Nelson
Mood:  lazy
Topic: election Oz 2007

Picture: Defence Minister Nelson a poser? First an ALP member, now Liberal, ear ring, no ear ring. Image lifted from http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/the-evolution-of-brendan-nelson/2005/12/22/1135032135726.html One thing for sure, the election fight is getting nasty even on Easter Sunday.

Author’s general introductory note (skip this if you know this regular weekly column):


This is not a well packaged story. It’s a contemporaneous traverse of the Sunday television free to air political talkies indicating the agenda of Establishment interests: Better to know ones rivals and allies  in Big Politics and Big Media. ]


Indeed it’s the tv version monitoring task similar to what Nelson Mandela refers to here in his book Long Walk to Freedom (1994, Abacus) written in Robben Island prison (where he was meant to die like other African resister chiefs of history in the 19C), at page 208


“..newspapers are only a shadow of reality; their information is important to a freedom fighter not because it reveals the truth, but because it discloses the biases and perceptions of both those who produce the paper and those who read it.”

Just substitute ‘Sunday tv political talkie shows’ for "newspapers" in the quote above.


For actual transcripts go to web sites quoted below except with Riley Diary on 7. And note transcripts don’t really give you the image content value.

10 Meet the Press 8-8.30 am

No broadcast for Easter break.



Transcript in due course www.ten.com.au/meetthepress 

7 Weekend Sunrise, 8.35-40 am Riley Diary

Humourous, quite edgy as usual. Real politics was 15 minutes earlier rebutting front pager Sunday Telegraph ANZAC beat up in desperate journo over reach: Rudd's insult to Vietnam veterans


‘Fashon theme’ but actually taking the p*ss at artificial photographic choreography of federal MP’s, leveraging the tv camera against print model work of Howard, Costello v Rudd, Garrett images. Hunt for Rudd October was perhaps the best punchline while Howard visited a navy ship. Fairly low key as per


Web page here but no transcript usually: http://www.seven.com.au/sunrise/weekend


Sunday 9

Embedded USA journo injury story, Bush regime propaganda ignoring the huge death rate of locals.


More propaganda from Australian soldiers. As if they have an objective appraisal of the overall situation in their paid up jobs.


Clue to the Big Media mugging of the ALP is Ch9 news vindicative ‘reportage’ as if a straight story of Vietnam Vets ‘outrage’ story front page Sunday Telegraph. [abc radio running it as a beat up on 7 am news this morning, as are 7 as they would].


Seems to be fed govt media strategy for the very damaging Defence Dept repudiation of their Minister Nelson late last week into Easter break as here: 

Nelson struggling with defence role: report

Nelson needs help in Defence Dept: think tank. 06/04/2007. ABC ...]

 Bottomless coffers send army adrift: report - National - theage.com.au



Ruddock with Laurie Oaks. 

Oaks leads in on IR, not khaki which seems significant he thinks the story is bogus? Ruddock interview: been there 34 years, definitely running. A curious line and a bad look for an old govt. Good q and a stoush over Hicks return, New Year’s Eve suggested, no contradiction. Tough argument about gag order. And profiting from story. Military Commission is not a ‘criminal offence’ in the relevant way. Ruddock says he has legal advice it is barred still. One wonders but probably right as MC’s are reconstituted. But not as per ‘MC of the date’ in the federal legislation.


Chubby Oaks looking fitter. Only a bit.


Bettina Arndt to replace Prue Goward.


Discussion of surrogacy law area.



And go to transcript.



Sunday show website here:



Insiders 2


No broadcast for East break. Home page is http://www.abc.net.au/insiders/

Posted by editor at 11:41 AM NZT
Updated: Sunday, 8 April 2007 12:13 PM NZT
Friday, 6 April 2007
South American speakers at Australian Climbing Festival
Mood:  special
Topic: local news

We have applied for a media pass to this event reported in the Sydney Morning Herald today:

Australian Climbing Festival 2007 - Home

to be held in Katoomba over the weekend.

Of special interest are the South American speakers from Bolivia:

Accidents, mortality and personality characteristics of climbers
Dr. Erik Monasterio (MB, ChB, FRANZCP, Senior Clinical Lecturer) is a medical doctor who has worked as a writer/ journalist, musician, adventurer and photographer. Erik's specialty training and work is in the area of forensic psychiatry. He has also been involved in research into the personality characteristics and accidents in mountaineers for over five years. Erik has been climbing and exploring in remote mountain and jungle regions for over fifteen years, he has climbed over forty new rock, ice and mixed routes, and guided in the Andes of South America, Alaska, New Zealand, the Himalaya and Europe. Erik has recently (2006) spent five months climbing in three continents. He has combined personal climbing experiences in remote and demanding environments with scientific research to develop a training approach to maximize performance under stress and in extreme environments.

There will be slide images and brief personal anecdotes of accidents to accompany this presentation. The findings of the research presented have been used in a current affairs television programme.

But the whole programme looks very special too. These references to foreign places, travel, natural beauty remind us of these great images sent to us recently by our Spanish translator Amparo Ilanos

Sent: Tuesday, April 03, 2007 9:44 AM
Subject: Fwd: FW: Fwd: Paisajes de Colombia,desde Palmira

Here are some images of Colombia beautiful places, unfortunately, due to the violence scarcely anyone dares to go, in a way they have been preserved because of the same reason. I have been to only one place of the ones shown here, Parque Tairona, in Santa Marta north of Colombia.
Amparo is our contact with this admirable civil society group in Columbia on environmental projects Clean Columbia help 1/06. The images she sends are here, with damn good climbing spots one expects but remember the warning too:


Posted by editor at 12:52 PM NZT
Updated: Friday, 6 April 2007 1:30 PM NZT
Thursday, 5 April 2007
Greens shove aside ALP patronage machine infecting the green ngo sector
Mood:  party time!
Topic: election nsw 2007

SAM shook the proverbial sandles of the craven peak environment group in NSW pandering to the corrupt Carr ALP government patronage machine in 2000 or so when we resigned from the executive committee of the NSW Nature Conservation Council having been elected twice to that 'august' body. They had pre emptively buckled to 20 year logging resource security for woodchipping while taking the govt's shill.

As this devastating report in the Herald pre election makes clear, via one conservative rival group WWF to the ALP hegemony in NSW, most green non government groups (ngos) were failing their duty on biodiversity conservation in spades, and I knew it in 2000 and expressed my disgust at the time. 7 years later the feeling still burns deep:

Revealed: legal land clearing's savage toll - Environment - Specials

This report of late Feb 2007 refers to half a million hectares cleared legally with a hundred million native critters dispatched let alone native flora 1998-2005 under the Carr government. Not even considering very significant illegal clearing.

The green ngo establishment didn't even have the guts to admit to themselves let alone the public how badly they were losing, which might possibly have galvanised a public backlash. As it was the Carr ALP were elected with an increased majority in 1999 and 2003 for my green movement failure to really bare witness. They just kept taking the hush and access money from the ALP ministers and their manipulators.

And there is a federal election dimension to this because then ACF president Peter Garrett was part of that hush machine in NSW. As was John Connor then executive officer of the NSW NCC now with the Climate Institute (patron Bob Carr) actively soliciting grant money from the same NSW Government.

As was Jeff Angel director of the Total Environment Centre because he had primary responsibility on the NSW Native Vegetation Committee reporting to the Resource & Conservation Assessment Council reporting direct to Cabinet Mnisters, from about 1997 onwards. Angel's duty was to blow the whistle on the government and their effective green light to panic clearing for the next 10 tragic years but it never really came. They strung him along for years and never delivered real enforcement of clearing controls.

Picture: Ian Cohen MLC (Greens) at an evocative Sculpture by the sea, Tamarama Beach

I rang Ian Cohen MLC (Greens) on the record today and asked him what role he thought Jeff Angel had played in the most recent election, in other words did he agree with our impression Angel had disappeared from sight?

Cohen qualified his answer saying he was not up for re election and did most of his electioneering in the country areas but yes was sympathetic to our suggestion the Greens had held most of the space in the electioneering on environmental policy matters in the general media. 

Cohen added the electoral laws contributed to that in that green ngos were prevented this time handing out at the polling booth so the Greens were expected to carry the responsibility and burden.

We at this news blog say thank God for that. And we have little doubt that our backgrounding about Angel had an effect over the last 2 years. As did that knockout WWF report late February 2007. Unlike 2003 we never saw a green brand on the ALP from Big Jeff in 2007. The ALP were reduced to tv adverts singing their own greenwash praise.

Indeed in late 2006  the NSW Govt were pretty cock sure Angel was under their thumb, as he was, even when he didn't have the wit to know it, as per this extraordinary exchange back in November last in NSW Parliament regarding good old door mat Jeff:



Page: 4347

Mr IAN COHEN: My question is directed to the Minister for Natural Resources, Minister for Primary Industries, and Minister for Mineral Resources. Does the Minister agree that the changes the Government forced through Parliament in relation to the invasive native species module of the Native Vegetation Regulations did not have the backing of Jeff Angel or his ministerial review committee? Why did the Minister claim, in answer to a question asked by me on 26 October, that he had that support? The report fails to set out adequately how the changes will improve or maintain environmental outcomes, which is the object of the Act, and three prominent environment organisations—Total Environment Centre, the Wilderness Society and World Wildlife Fund—have condemned the changes. Can the Minister explain how the broad-scale clearing of native vegetation followed by the planting of exotic species will benefit biodiversity? Is the Minister able to name a single species in New South Wales that will benefit from the changes, which essentially facilitate native habitat destruction?

The Hon. IAN MACDONALD: That was rhetoric of a ferocious kind! I say straight out to Mr Ian Cohen that the changes that the Government has put into effect will produce a very workable system that will benefit both producers and the environment. As to the other point in his question, during question time on 26 October there was considerable discussion about the Government's latest groundbreaking reforms to invasive native scrub [INS] management. These changes were based on the recommendations made by the INS review group, chaired by Dr Denis Saunders, which were subsequently endorsed by the independent Natural Resources Commission. I stated that Jeff Angel, in his capacity as a member of the native vegetation ministerial review group, made recommendations in relation to this matter. That is entirely correct. In its consolidated report of October 2006 the ministerial review committee recommended that the Government "consider the proposed amendments of the INS tool as advised by the relevant agencies and the NRC". That is entirely consistent with my statement. In fact, there was a unanimous recommendation by the ministerial review committee that the relevant committee consider the INS report. That is exactly what the New South Wales Government has done—in fact, we have endorsed the report.

The INS changes protect the environment while giving farmers a practical and flexible system within which to work and get on with the job of farming. The consolidated report is on the Department of Natural Resources web site. Mr Ian Cohen might try reading it to get a bit more information on the matter than he revealed in his rather limited question. The report endorses the New South Wales Government's native vegetation reforms and notes that the system is working. That is why Mr Ian Cohen is feeling so aggrieved. Despite all his scaremongering, stakeholders have come forward to note that the system is working. Instead of knocking the system, Mr Ian Cohen might try getting behind the reforms, reading the science and contributing to the debate.

Mr IAN COHEN: I ask a supplementary question. In a letter to Adam Badenoch, Mr Jeff Angel wrote:



"I would like a correction (below) from the Minister about his statement in Parliament yesterday that I and the MRC supported the Saunders INS recommendations.

What the hell did the Minister thinking he was doing?"



Surely the Minister for Natural Resources owes the man an apology.

The Hon. Don Harwin: Point of order: The question is clearly out of order. It is clearly not a supplementary question. It did not ask for the elucidation of any part of the Minister's answer. It just put extra information onto the record, plus it contained argument.

The PRESIDENT: Order! The question was not a supplementary question and is, therefore, out of order.


And then in 2003 ex Minister Craig Knowles refers to good guy Jeff as

 "Jeff Angel, who can only be regarded as a solid warrior for the environment, recognises that as a partnership we have had substantial success [on landclearing regulation]."

Remember this is all the while 1998 to 2006 panic clearing is going on, and still going on in NSW in 2007.

In fact we rang Wendy Frew to congratulate her for her article in the Herald referenced above pre 2007 election vote, with a sting in the tail to the effect of

'keep in mind Wendy the gist of your report was known and understood as it was happening and the guy entrusted with the whistle from 1997 on the peak govt committee was Jeff Angel, and he never did blow that whistle. You have to ask yourself why not?'

Now Ian Cohen MLC has reported this first ray of sunlight today for the thrashed regional bushland of NSW with this media release today. No wonder the Total Environment Centre listed the Green Party at the end of it's election grid. The better the Green Party do, the less duchessing and leverage for his ngo at the expense of the environment he was honour bound to protect. If Angel is not corrupt he is certainly guilty of something just as bad in this business - a dupe for Big Govt and Big Agri business land clearers:

Media Release   -   5 April 2007

Environment the winner in departmental restructure

Greens MLC and environment spokesperson Ian Cohen has applauded the NSW
government’s restructure of environmental, land use and water

“The establishment of a new Department of Environment and Climate
Change, along with the abolition of the Department of Natural Resources,
is to be commended. I am optimistic that the transfer of native
vegetation legislation to the environment portfolio is more likely to
see advances in ending illegal land clearing and the regulation of
private native forestry.” Mr Cohen said.

“I welcome the appointment of Phil Koperberg to the new environment
ministry and hope to have as productive a relationship with him as I did
with Bob Debus to ensure important advances in environmental protection.
The inclusion of Climate Change in the portfolio is an overdue but
welcome recognition that this is an overarching issue which affects all
facets of the environment.

“The relocation of marine reserve management and aquatic threatened
species from the Department of Primary Industries to the environment
portfolio is an important step and will hopefully bring about better
results in the conservation of marine habitats.

“Likewise, the transfer of environmental water management, coastal
and floodplain management from the Department of Natural Resources
should lift the standard of protection in those areas of environmental

“The departmental restructure is an excellent start, but Minister
Koperberg will have a huge job ahead of him to end illegal land clearing
and improve the management of water and vegetation in NSW. I look
forward to working co-operatively with him to achieve real progress in
these areas.” Mr Cohen said.

Further Information: Ian Cohen: 0409 989 466


Now that the election is over we see Angel back in the green policy market place on the issue de jour [PDF link on greenhouse targets] but really he has no business being there and should be run out of the policy business if it were legal to do so.

There are plenty of other examples of how the ALP corrupted the NSW green movement over the last 10 years, such as supporting the Lake Cowal Environmental Trust to greenwash a water guzzling cyanide gold mine, to the great alarm of people like ...Ian Cohen MLC (Greens) and other actually independent green ngo voices.


Picture: Idealist grassroots activists on schools roadshow Jan-Feb 2005, highlighting for instance the mine at Lake Cowal will be as deep as Centrepoint Tower is high. Were they betrayed back in Sydney?

This scandal was again brokered by ... that 'solid environmental warrior' Jeff Angel:

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


3rd Nov 06 - Lake Cowal cyanide gold mine chewing up farmers drought water, 20m water table drops to 50 m depth!


15/3/04...The dirty Lake Cowal cyanide gold mine trust terms discussed here in 'Lake Cowal and real politik of mining decisions under Carr govt' 

Indeed there are historicly sound reasons why such groups as North East Forest Alliance and Greenpeace have stayed out of membership of the Sydney based peak green groups, in particular the TEC/NCC/NPA complex of ALP lap puppies. The suspicion surely is that it involves selling one's soul like Peter Garrett is famously accused of doing now.

Postscript #1: Arrests made after mine protest turns ugly Sydney Morning Herald 9th April 2007

"Eighteen anti-gold mine activists have been charged following a protest in central NSW, which concluded with a man allegedly ransacking the protesters' campsite while armed with a knife.

The activists, who included members of the Wiradjuri people, Friends of the Earth and the Australian Student Environment Network [ASEN], were arrested about 1.30pm yesterday after allegedly breaching the perimeter of the Lake Cowal gold mine, which is run by the world's largest gold producer, Barrick.

They claim the mine's operations are environmentally damaging.

"Barrick ... is stripping NSW of its precious water resources, internationally significant wetlands and destroying Wiradjuri history and culture," ASEN's national convenor, Nicola Ison, said in a statement released by Friends of the Earth yesterday.

"Barrick is transporting over 6000 tonnes of cyanide annually from Gladstone, Queensland, to Lake Cowal, New South Wales, creating risk of spill and lethal contamination of waterways along the 1600 km transport route," Ms Ison said.

The activists were each charged with entering enclosed lands. They were granted conditional bail and are due to appear in West Wyalong Local Court on April 26.

Police said a 32-year-old man was arrested yesterday evening after allegedly driving into the protesters' campsite and damaging vehicles and tents.

He was charged with malicious damage, failing to undergo a breath analysis, stalking/intimidation, carry a knife in a public place, as well as driving offences.

He is expected to appear in Griffith Local Court this morning."

Posted by editor at 3:51 PM NZT
Updated: Monday, 9 April 2007 10:45 AM NZT
Get Up! Kick Ass ...for civil rights in Murdoch's The Australian today
Mood:  special
Topic: human rights

And we tips our hat to both Brett Solomon and their "170,000" online activist subscribers, and to The Australian editorial decision on placement in their newspaper today 5th April 2007:

Because a page 7 spread hits home more than say a page 6, 8 or 12. And yet there it was on page 7. That's quite a few more thousand$ in premium location, which tells you something about the Big Meeja displeasure with bogus gag orders on David Hicks, convicted of material support for terrorism. At this rate John Howard who appeared on 7.30 Report last night will be glad to leave politics. But let Get Up! tell it

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser also has a bit to say about the legal travesty here: Politics Overrides the Rule of Law

Perhaps of even more damaging significance for the Howard Government's re-election prospects is this economic criticism in the same edition of The Australian: Kevin Rudd: Howard ignores the big picture

Posted by editor at 1:34 PM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 5 April 2007 5:03 PM NZT
Political advertising in a modern city: Berlin Wall, Derry Northern Ireland, Santiago but not NSW?
Mood:  a-ok
Topic: independent media

When SAM's editor travelled around the world in 2002 we noticed even in shaky democracy of Chile they allowed a building size mural of Che on a main street.

Then in Berlin there was this moving artwork on that symbol of dictatorship the Berlin Wall, as below.

Yet the Blue Moutains council are getting a reputation for authoritarian officiousness when it comes to public political messages here in May 2006

Che mural removed! Condemn Blue Mountains Councils' censorship of art!

and according to abc radio this morning and no doubt elsewhere in the meeja over a Your Rights at Work poster http://www.rightsatwork.com.au/.

And we feel it's not just up there, but rather a creepy chill all over Howard's Australia:

Below are some enlarged posters of the Berlin Wall to read the text, and further below murals in fraught Northern Ireland city of civil rights demo in Derry/Londonderry, where they seem to cope. I've sneaked in some happy snaps at bottom left of Morocco market place and Gibraltar. All images taken 2002

And there is this poster below being sold in the main square in Santiago in 2002. Get the picture? Free speech is supported worldwide even in shaky democracies let alone NSW, Australia.


Posted by editor at 11:25 AM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 5 April 2007 1:04 PM NZT
Wednesday, 4 April 2007
Online activist media: decentralising or co opting political power, or both?
Mood:  not sure
Topic: independent media

The ‘Big Media’ as this blogger in the ‘5th estate’ likes to refer to, being the old established print tv and radio establishment, is a “cartel” say the new online media experts. Of course they are right.

The corporations with their big wages have fixed power in Big Politics and Big Media in a well worn revolving door. Naysayers, contrarians and downshifters pointing out the economic growth model has whiskers, that the emperor has no clothes, need not apply. The gate keepers will spot you a hundred miles away …. protect their big fat wage… their family well being … indeed the spoils of ecological warfare at the peak of the industrial/ technological/ information revolutions, right now in 2007.


One hopes the online activist media will not travel the same path as it's power grows.


Online activism at least will ameliorate this fix on democracy surely? The new breed of inheritors of 60ies radicalism free of the madness of legal and illegal drug cultures will seek to not only tune in, but also take over our media to implement progressive idealism, surely? Well maybe. Or maybe that in fact is a naive view of human nature.




Brett Solomon founder of Get Up (pictured inset at right above) says the goal of his “movement” of some 175,000 (?) email/web subscribers is a “progressive Australia … economic fairness, environmentally sustainable”. Just call Brett a Green or ALP Left I guess and amen to that.


"But what will he and Get Up do about the ALP support for expansion of uranium mining?", asked one older cynical questioner at this forum held today


 The Impacts and History of Internet Activism


Free lunchtime talk in Sydney CBD, On Wednesday 4th April from 12.30pm join Dr Matthew Arnison (www.active.org.au & www.indymedia.org co-founder) in conversation with Brett Solomon (Executive Director, www.GetUp.org.au ) & Tom Dawkins (Founder of www.vibewire.net) as they discuss the internet and its use as a tool to create a more democratic society.


From online activist planning, e-petitions and emails to MPs to citizen journalism this discussion will look at the effects of the internet on the Australian political landscape.


Brett Solomon states “New technology has given Australians a whole new way to influence the political and social landscape they operate in. Now it’s up to us all to use it to best effect.”

Dr Matthew Arnison sees online collaborations “like Wikipedia, YouTube and MySpace bubbling over with stories from the trivial to the profound. Yet Australian politics and government is still a top-down broadcast.” He asks “How do online activists affect mainstream politics?”

Tom Dawkins sees the internet as a space “with enormous democratic potential. By its very nature it’s a conversational rather than broadcast medium, and this opens up the opportunity for citizens to participate in this public space, express themselves on the issues that matter to them, tell stories and uncover issues ignored by the mainstream media, collaborate on campaigns, share information and better scrutinize political decision-makers.'


Media contact: Brett Solomon 9264 4037 or 0407 419 320 brett@getup.org.au

Tom Dawkins 0416 099 534 tom@vibewire.net Colleen Woods 9262 7300 or 0410 325 913 outreach@sydneymsa.com.au


So getting back to the question what will Brett do about the Labor Party embrace of uranium mining at their April Conference despite the clear problems with proliferation, waste, historical accidents and no doubt others? Well Brett answered by turning the question around JFK like – what are you going to do mate? I didn’t quite see his jaw jutting out but it might have been. And the clue to the real answer is here anyway:





To give Solomon his due he is a great speaker, diplomatic and strong. No doubt idealistic. But he appears captured too – he concedes he relies on rich folks specifically  people like Evan Thornley – rich entrepreneur and Upper House MP Victorian Parliament for the ALP. Also refer Evan Thornley - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


So Get Up literally today are promoting this worthy campaign and staying quite clear of nuke expansion issues so far:


----- Original Message -----

From: GetUp

To: xxxxxxx

Sent: Wednesday, April 04, 2007 10:37 AM

Subject: Don't let them stop you from voting


Dear friends,

It beggars belief, but this federal election tens of thousands of eligible Australians will be stopped from voting. Will you be one of them?

The Federal Government has passed extraordinary legislation that will close the rolls for new voters at 8pm, on the very night the election is officially called. In the last election, 83,000 first-time voters enrolled in the first week after the election was called. Hundreds of thousands more registered at their new address. But this time they won't get that chance - unless we act urgently.

That's why whether you're enroled to vote or not, there's a crucial role for you to play right now.
Click on the link below to demand this law be revoked, and help friends and family enrol correctly in the next two weeks - before new changes and extra red tape come into effect on April 16 making it even harder!


In Australia we never know what date to expect the federal election; it's up to the party in power to decide. Typically, the big announcement prompts tens of thousands of people, especially young, newly-eligible voters, to enrol that week. Hundreds of thousands more remember to register at their new address. It's been that way since Federation with no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

But this time if you're too busy or don't hear about the election in time, and you're not already correctly enrolled, you can't vote. Even if you're organised enough to get in early, new forms and ID requirements are about to come into effect on April 16 - making it that much harder for many Australians overseas or in rural areas to register. And if you've been overseas for more than 3 years and you're not on the roll, you're still not allowed to enrol from abroad.

The effect of this law - the Orwellian-inspired "Electoral Integrity Act" - is to stop people from voting. Our purpose is to fight back. We've made it easy to spread the word to ensure your friends and family are correctly enrolled before the polls slam shut: just use the note below to share this essential campaign with everyone you know, including Australians overseas!


Thanks for taking urgent action to spread the word,

The GetUp team

PS: GetUp has taken your calls for climate action directly to decision makers, at the weekend's National Climate Summit. We told leaders from politics, industry, science and the business community they have a mandate for bold action to fight global warming, and presented Kevin Rudd and Peter Garrett with our Action Agenda and 75,000-strong Climate Action Map petition. For details and photos,
click here.



So if Get Up arguably is packaging of existing blocks of political capital roughly of the centre left ALP/Green kind more or less but in a new form, what about the other online activist organisers?


Are they decentralising power with this thing called the net? Or are they equally politically constrained gatekeepers too?


The thesis we found most impressive was from the Vibe Wire speaker Tom Dawkins that the internet grew out of democratic pressure to side step the Big Media/Politics cartel, allowing for suppressed stories, suppressed voices, keeping stories alive that Big Media then pick up. He said it with conviction and for his youthful constituency who are always given the leftovers from older generations.

Our understanding of the internet bares this thesis out: The US military industrial complex may have invented it but the Chinese had something going 17 years ago in the non western masses to sidestep the dictatorship there. My housemate in the suburb of chilly Downer, in Canberra in 1990 the year I lived on $4,500 dollars while doing my Legal Workshop solicitor's accreditation prior to moving to Sydney later that year, surprised me with printouts of data from off the phone via his computer.

Picture: Ironically, cartoon in The Australian same day of the forum alluding to Kevin Rudd (as pictured above receiving climate change petition), planning to visit China and negotiate the way forward for that 1 billion plus population on global warming, given he is a gifted Mandarin speaker. Good politics on climate change but silence on nuclear expansion under ALP policy, including uranium exports to ...China - where its citizens were using the internet in 1990 to avoid their own govt dictatorship. It's a worry ...

WTF, I thought to myself. How can he do that? It’s not a fax. That was in the 12 months following the Tianamen Square massacre. My guess he was a democracy activist or sympathetic academic.

But when I went to the online activism forum above, 17 years later, and then went on my way I spent the next hour thinking about why everyone in the room got to ask their question except me, sitting in the back row notwithstanding. Here was a mini cartel of another kind. 

The explanations are deep and not that comfortable for the organisers or for me, which is of course why they didn't take my signal, the first hand up and the last one down, the clock run down on me. These net experts like their own comfort zone, just as Big Media do, not realising dissent is the essence of the democracy they are sworn to save.

[Not vexatious dissent, but considered rational concerns, as per the question in the postscript below which was censored from the forum.]

Online activism decentralising power? I wonder. It comes down to human nature, whatever the medium. In my old fashioned book learning English Literature course in year 12 high school I studied The Leopard by Giuseppe de Lampedusa and what a revelatory story it was. In one hallowed section it refers to the introduction of the new system of Parliamentary Democracy in Italy supposedly replacing the Royal system of nobless oblige but in reality opening the door to a nouveau rich who cared even less for the humble classes. There is a deeply disturbing section where 3 votes in the village to keep the Monarchy, out of 300 for change, are fraudulently altered. The essence of democracy namely dissent is murdered, in a seemingly trivial housekeeping way for the clean unanimity desired by the agents of change. The new powermongers.

So I was intrigued why I could not get to ask my question. The facilitator looked at me again and again but no banana. You see I have history with the online activist ‘establishment’: From Mike Carlton or Pred (RIP) who invented Sydney Indy Media (SIM) and fraudulently sought to co opt my share of a commercial lease at Turrella activist centre in 2003 after I gave them free rental space, forcing me into the NSW Supreme Court to get justice. And then the expose of one Stacy Scheff on the Sydney indymedia collective who tried in that same year to kill rival old community media Sydney City Hub that employed me, and spent the next 3 years or so it seemed doing her best to censor and smear me off the Sydney web news site. The whole grim power game is discussed here: Turrella centre

The irony was that my content was keeping that website alive until I finally generated my own www.sydneyalternativemedia.com/blog outlet here in January 2007 in frustration at their latest crash. Now I notice my post of 23rd March on the old SIM is still the 5th most recent local news story after 10 days.

4 new local stories in 10 days. No wonder I felt like I was keeping the thing alive with content. By comparison the Melbourne equivalent site www.melbourne.indymedia.org is much more vigorous. Seems others got the mesage too and have been skipping SIM. At least with my own blog I know my work is appreciated: Not in 10 years roughly of contributing to  Sydney IMC as a writer or otherwise can I recall any encouragement or support. Must have been a slow learner or unrealistically idealistic, but I've learned good and proper now.

So the point is even in so called decentralised open publishing there is on the one hand mindless unedited blatherings and on the other hand edgy genuinely independent yet confronting voices that get oppressed. Incompetence is far more acceptable than weighty critique of a defensive IMC reviewer.

We recall the episode of the West Wing tv series where the CJ character recalls the Heisenberg Principle whereby the act of observing changes that being observed. This is true for example the presence of a tv camera eggs on people to be melodramatic. Similarly there should be a word for powermongering inherent in the creation of a new facility for decentralised democracy. There is always a gate keeper clique effect for who is and isn’t allowed through the door at the margins: Voltaire may have said he would give his life to defend his rival's right to free speech, but it’s a very rare creator of an online facility that eschews new found status and influence not to even a few scores or seek the odd perk.

There is always a clique and always a powermongering gate keeper in any medium. It’s human nature. Even in the non profit community sector. Indeed the currency there is not money but influence and emotional violence are usually the tools of trade not profit or meritocracy. All of this came to me as I travelled home from the online activist forum like some latter day brooding Cassandra. I was grateful that one insightful chap from www.projectaustralia.org.au also noticed the apparent snub and offered me his brochure. But it would have taken way too long to explain all of this above.

These are tricks of access and patronage the old media are most expert at, and which I spend a lot of time exposing like the story about Tony Koch earlier today from The Australian smearing The Wilderness Society.

Another recent example was James Woodford in the Sydney Magazine http://thesydneymagazine.smh.com.au/ published by Fairfax 29th March 2007 and oddly related to the Koch atrocity in Big Media.


The cover itself of Peter Garrett was free big media PR for his sellout to the ALP of the environment movement opposition to uranium mining and forest destruction. The road to hell paved with good intentions. But the Woodford article is more subtle. Woodford has been blacklisted by this writer and perhaps a majority of the really independent green campaigners in NSW for a vicious piece he did against the Wilderness Society some years ago, because they upset his then government employed wife at NSW State Forests. A clear case of undeclared conflict of interest. As a result he may only be able to access those on the NSW ALP govt drip in some way.

His story at p56 about “unsung heroes” of the green movement presents people who are already in the sphere of ALP govt or so wishy washy it doesn’t matter. Take John Connor now employed by the Climate Institute with Bob Carr ex ALP Premier with a big history of woodchipping behind him as their patron and aligned to the Australia Institute on the ALP patronage drip. There is a Taronga Zoo employee, an ACF loyalist (group that produced Peter Garret as ALP Shadow minister), a govt catchment body, govt funded environment education person, a fishing industry person in favour of refuges which government supports but recreationalists don’t, and national parks advocate trained up by a govt agency. The so called ‘guardians’ are all worthies to some degree but also lap puppies.

My colleague Lynda Newnam of Botany Bay & Catchment Association, covering south/western half of Sydney, umbrella to 33 community groups opposing Port Botany expansion, and I laughed scornfully at the Woodford piece at the Fair Trade café in Glebe recently. Gary Blashke OAM and Bob Walsh come to mind as unsung heroes that Woodford should have looked at but they are ‘dangerous critics’ of the NSW ALP. We were there at the cafe to admire this grand wooden table in the form of a dangerous salty.

Yep, there sure are a lot of political crocodiles out there if you want to rock and roll online. Only today our former employer Lawrence Gibbons has threatened to contact our web server (copied fyi via Sydney Indymedia organiser Cameron Gregg) presumably to shut us down. Our server is based in the USA, ironically Gibbons also hails from,  where they tend to believe in free speech. I hope they continue to do so.


Postscript #1: Oh, and what was the question I wanted to ask? I dreamt of flying last night (echo of the auto belay at the climbing gym last Sunday, and very groovy) then remembered this omission from the report:

Question: Gore Vidal and Bob Carr were asked by Phillip Adams if online activism was electorally relevant. This was about 12 months ago on one of his shows. Carr was categorical that it was not, Vidal a little surprised by his friend said in the USA it definitely was. Do you think the difference in answers is merely due to time lag here, and what about the 75% of the population who may use the net but don't have tertiary education and don't even care to, and would never attend a forum like this? Was Bob Carr referring to these Daily Telegraph readers when dismissing 'the online activist classes'?

My answer: It is time lag only. Get Up etc proves Carr is wrong and why he was losing it by 2005, but equally the anti intellectual ill educated classes most likely don't use the net for politiking just as they don't listen to the abc, don't read the SMH, don't go to uni, and often hate stuck up elites even as they still rely on doctors, lawyers, computer technicians and all the other professionals as little as possible.

And experts like PM John Howard know it. Indeed the forum confirmed my answer and this blind spot of self awareness in the audience, by sharing an open joke about Miranda Devine, right wing reporter. They didn't  realise as they sledged Devine that she has successfully jumped from the Daily Terror to colonise a chunk of their preferred newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald just as Howard has partially colonised the working classes. So Evan Thornley MP (ALP), if ever you read this, have a good think about that electoral/technolgoical dynamic, (and thanks for the presentation by your 'gopher' Brett).

Posted by editor at 8:08 PM NZT
Updated: Thursday, 5 April 2007 3:10 PM NZT
Tony Koch of the The Australian sells out his acclaimed journalistic integrity with racist baiting of TWS?
Mood:  sharp
Topic: big media

Tony Koch is no “Journalist of the Year” if his latest feature is any guide.


But first some credit where it’s due: On p2 24th March 2007 of The Australian, which is known for its 4 page paid propaganda Special Advertising Reports for the resources industry, their paper lauds Koch like this


“Our man wins Journalist of the Year award”


“…Koch, a three-times Walkley award winner and legendary figure in Queensland journalism, won the $20,000 award sponsored by The Age newspaper for his exceptional coverage of the death of Mulrunji Doomadgee on Palm Island.”


That’s a big rap for Koch. But then consider this latest feature yesterday 3rd April 2007:


Rough passage | Features | The Australian


It’s about “Queensland's white environmental establishment has sidelined traditional owners in the quest to protect the wild rivers of Cape York, writes Tony Koch”


Trouble is it looks like a big fat resource industry lie by their mouthpiece The Australian using their most credible star reporter in a hard fought federal election year where Queensland is a big battle ground state.


Examples of the resource industry financial pumping of the viability of The Australian’s big fat pay packages can be found here:


Engineering & Resources/A Special Advertising Report 24-25 March 2007 – all 8 pages of it.


And then this is this one: Paydirt uranium conference A Special Advertising Report pages 38-39 March 19th 2007.


Get the picture: The Wilderness Society (TWS) in the story being baited as racist, is the arch enemy of the big dam, big land clearing, big uranium mining sector that pay for The Australian to keep the presses and the gravy train rolling. It’s all so blatant crude and pathetic. And essentially why democracy is broken in this country when it comes to ethical land use decisions for the little guys, not the corporation bonuses.

So what is the evidence? Well when you read the story at the link above you are impressed by the three courageous Aboriginal protesters against the might of the Qld Govt and white greenie establishment. Small but brave they win support from other local Aboriginal dignatories.


Trouble is the feature airbrushes these easily obtained statements on the web from leading Aboriginal voices who you might consider to be even more representative:


The Carpentaria Land Council and The Wilderness Society call for protection of Gulf of Carpentaria Wild Rivers in Queensland

The Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation
The Wilderness Society Queensland Inc

Media Release
23 June 2006


The Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation (CLCAC) and The Wilderness Society today called on the Queensland Government to honour its 2004 election commitment to protect the rivers of the Gulf region under its Wild Rivers initiative.


The CLCAC and The Wilderness Society have been lobbying the Government this week in the lead up to an important cabinet discussion next Monday, 26 June 2006, which will determine the future direction of the Wild Rivers initiative.


In recent weeks, mining interests and the National Party have called for the scrapping of proposals to protect several Gulf region rivers including the Gregory River and Settlement Creek.


CLCAC have consulted closely with all of the traditional owner groups - the majority of people affected by the proposed declarations. They have expressed their overwhelming support for the protection of their rivers.


Murrandoo Yanner, a Gangalidda traditional owner said, “Healthy rivers are the lifeblood of our people – everything depends on that. Water for drinking, fish for eating – we have to protect this for our children’s children. We’ve talked with the Government and we thought we were on the same page – we want the Settlement and Gregory Rivers declared – the Government shouldn’t cave in to the scare-mongering of those mining and agriculture mobs”.


The Wilderness Society has also called for immediate declaration of the four Gulf rivers. Larissa Cordner, wild rivers spokesperson, said, “The only thing that is required now is a Cabinet decision that accurately reflects the Government's election commitment – we expect these rivers to be protected”.


Anthony Esposito, The Wilderness Society Indigenous program manager, said, “The support of the traditional owners is essential to the success of the Wild Rivers initiative on the ground, and the Government has it. The Beattie Government should honour its election promise to protect the Gulf rivers and not bow to the outrageous demands of the Queensland Resources Council and the National Party”.

For more information, please contact:

Larissa Cordner
Wild Rivers Campaigner
Email Larissa Cordner
Workphone: 07 3846 1420
Fax: 07 3846 1620

[bold added]


What happened to Tony Koch’s reportage of other Black voices apart from the pro big industry ones?


As they say in South America, not every Indian is a good Indian, not every tree is a good tree. There are developer Blacks and conservationist Blacks just like white society, and you know what Tony Koch? It’s racist to suggest otherwise.


The clue to the deceit is in the reference to Noel Pearson of the Cape York Land Council calling for postponement of the protection decisions, and then the map with the story: The 4 wild rivers protected are not really part of Cape York. How unsurprising.


Declaration: This writer was employed as an advocate for The Wilderness Society in 1993-4 including their pioneering Land Rights Policy which strongly recognised the traditional owners of heritage land.


This included meeting with traditional owners here in NSW as well as land council representatives including the NSW Aboriginal Land Council in Parramatta, and at conferences convened by the Environmental Defenders Office.


Our law honours thesis in 1989 was entitled A Legal Foundation for Aboriginal Land Rights, and predicted the native title decision in 1992 of the High Court Mabo Case from precedents in South Africa, India, PNG, and Canada, as well as the writings of Henry Reynolds.

Posted by editor at 1:38 PM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 4 April 2007 2:05 PM NZT
Tuesday, 3 April 2007
Selective big media spin the Iranian hostage tit for tat?
Mood:  irritated
Topic: human rights

Item #1 via google: Date: 6th February 2007 BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Iran envoy 'abducted in Baghdad' 

Item # 2 via google Date: 6th Feb 2006 Iranian diplomat may have been arrested in Iraq - CNN.com

Item # 3 via google Date: March report of Jan 2007 kidnapping : Fate of Five Detained Iranians Unknown by Khody Akhavi, WASHINGTON - As the Western media turns its attention to the fate of 15 Britons detained for allegedly trespassing into Iranian waters over the weekend, the status of five Iranian officials captured in a U.S. military raid on a liaison office in northern Iraq on Jan. 11 remains a mystery. ......

Item #4 via google 1st April 2007 Bush calls for Iran to release British sailors - World - smh.com.au


SAM comment: No it's not an April Fools joke on consumers here. Like Orwell's 1984 we are meant to believe via western including Australian big media that the British sailors were taken hostage in a vacuum by those wicked Iranians, that in fact there is no history, only today's spin, and indeed the truth still to be written tomorrow!

Postscript #1 4th April 2007: The right wing Sydney Daily Telegraph page 28, offline at this time, carries a report from the UK The Spectator with headline "Sailors taken in revenge for raid" as implied by the above chronology of articles. How unsurprising.

Posted by editor at 12:14 PM NZT
Updated: Wednesday, 4 April 2007 1:10 PM NZT

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