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sydney alternative media - non-profit community independent trustworthy
Thursday, 4 February 2010
Pray tell Penberthy how MySchool reveals bad apple teacher?
Mood:  incredulous
Topic: big media

Picture: This screenshot in 2005 suggests David Penberthy's posture as honest broker on MySchool issues is a bit strained.



We wrote recently of 'foolish' big media and big politics parading their non sequiturs on the value or not of the new My School website. We used the example of a 135 million strong yet frivolous Youtube posting to prove high web hit rate is not probative of serious content. The specific Youtube 'Charlie bit my finger' was indeed cute and a celebration of humanity but entirely frivolous.

News Corp golden web-ster  David Penberthy who runs Punch (or is that Punchy?) was paraded in two page press feature yesterday in the Sydney Daily Telegraph print version, with a sledge on the teacher unions: In short the union is just protecting dud teachers is the claim.

Worth unpacking this assertion to show how poor Penberthy's arithmetic must be.

How can a single school average over say a 1000 student school show which teacher is dodgy? The proposition is a non starter - because it's 'a school' appraisal not an individual teacher assessment. Indeed it's not even a school assessment, it's a student assessment in all their diversity and systemic disadvantages.

A global number for all students in a school to measure a single teacher? Mmm. So much for the 3Rs and basic mathematics.

All Penberthy is parading is the ideology of his anti union News Corp employer.

Posted by editor at 9:31 AM EADT
Updated: Thursday, 4 February 2010 1:01 PM EADT
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
TWS green group growing pains a sign of success rather than 'turmoil'?
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: aust govt


It seems The Wilderness Society here in Australia has a high class problem.

Their membership via online and street recruitment programme is not 45,000 as per recent press reportage but a whopping 70,000 according to a chat with a street rep yesterday. That's a high class problem, reminiscent in another context of the business restructuring and growing pains of Flight Centre business, which if we recall our Media Monitors reader analyst days, was going from a bus tour business to a major travel company in every shopping centre back in the 70ies and 80ies (?).

A 'save TWS' internal rhetoric with meeting in a town hall in Melbourne later this month seems to be more about who gets to serve the soup so to speak in terms of the Little Red Hen fable. One recalls the fable - where all the work is done by the Little Red Hen (including great stress and burnout?) to make the soup, and then every other barnyard animal wants to help manage the soup afterwards.

I bet the straggly mob of red neck Peter Spencer supporters outside federal parliament yesterday would like a 70,000 strong membership base - only in this case to help save the Kimberley, Cape York, Tas and other forests in Australia, including redgum forests in NSW.

Posted by editor at 7:39 AM EADT
Updated: Wednesday, 3 February 2010 8:47 AM EADT
Monday, 1 February 2010
Eastern Suburbs Greens ramp up Tamarama gully issue
Mood:  loud
Topic: ecology


Rally to save Tamarama Gully

Guest speaker: Jack Mundey, Green bans leader

What: Rally to protect and expand Tamarama Gully
Pre event photo opportunity: Lee Rhiannon, Jack Mundey and Greens
Waverley Councillors at the gully

The Greens are organising a public rally to send a message to Waverley
Council to:
· Protect and expand Tamarama Gully
· Restore the creek and waterfall
· Increase public access
· Rehabilitate the Indigenous heritage

The Greens Waverley councillors have been working to have Council
purchase 362 and 364 Birrell St and incorporate the land into the park
and to have the Birrell St 'road' in the Gully closed.  This will help
save the waterfall and the Gully's unique Indigenous history.

Greens NSW MP and local resident Lee Rhiannon said, "The Tamarama gully
has been called the Cinderella of the Eastern Suburbs beaches *
nestled between the far more well-groomed Bondi and Bronte beaches.

"The time is ripe for this Gully, with its rich and complex heritage,
to be restored and returned to public hands.

"The government, working with Waverley Council, has a unique
opportunity to reverse the sins of the past which have been imposed on
this once magical gully.

Greens Councillor Prue Cancian said, "The community and the Greens are
urging Council to purchase the properties to help return this iconic
gully to local residents.

"We have a real opportunity now to gift Tamarama a deeper reputation
than 'Glamarama'.

"The Waverley area is already short on public open space, but
development in the gully threatens to rob more of this from local

Posted by editor at 12:11 PM EADT
Famous final legal victory against Gunns so called defamation case
Mood:  special
Topic: legal

One wonders if the misdirected defamation case allegedly a cynical SLAPP - strategic law suit against public participation - is also a cause for ethical complaints against lawyers for Gunns?

A statement we received recently by Adam Burling, originally of NSW (Wollongong if memory serves), then Tasmania, and known to have worked in Senator Bob Brown's office in The Greens party


Friday, 29 January 2010

Gunns20 defendants victorious – Gunns to pay $155,000

“This is a humiliating defeat for Gunns Ltd. The result is a victory not only for me but also for free speech and the Tasmanian forest campaign,” said Adam Burling, Defendant #1

“The Gunns20 case has come to an abrupt and embarrassing end for Gunns just days before trial.  Tasmanian logging giant, Gunns Ltd, has agreed to our demands and dropped the case against defendants, paying us $155,088.00,” said Adam Burling

“After 5 years of litigation based on lies, I have been vindicated today. This billion dollar logging company has been forced to dump their multi-million dollar case against a small environment centre and three individuals. This is an absolute and complete win for us,” said Mr Burling

Together with this settlement Gunns have paid defendants over $1.3 million in settlements and costs awards. At Gunns 2009 AGM it was revealed Gunns’ costs were $2.8million.


Posted by editor at 11:39 AM EADT
Blockade 'in rainforest' near Ulladulla NSW south coast today
Mood:  energetic
Topic: ecology

News over the intertubes of a protest action today about NSW Govt forest destruction with these pictures:



          2010 - the Year of Biodiversity Destruction

Conservationists have stopped logging today in Compartment 63 of South
Brooman State Forest, between Ulladulla and Batemans Bay and are calling
on the NSW Premier to halt logging.  The conservationists state Forests
NSW are logging rainforest in the compartment and destroying threatened
species habitat.  The conservationists have tied three machines to a tree
sit forty metres above the ground.

An assurance was given to the community with the signing of the Regional
Forest Agreements that Forests NSW would ensure damage to threatened
species habitat is mitigated, yet the evidence of habitat destruction in
Compartment 62 and 63, that were earmarked for protection by the
community, clearly shows the law is not being implemented.  Spotted-tailed
Quolls are escaping to nearby private properties as their habitat is being
destroyed, which is particularly alarming as Forests NSW pre-logging fauna
surveys failed to identify these animals as being present in the area.

"Forests NSW are breaching native forest management strategies and
wilfully ignoring their own legislated regulations," said Lisa Stone from
South East Forest Rescue.  "This action draws attention to the fact that
human induced climate change is the greatest threat to life on earth

Today's deadline to the Copenhagen Accord saw nations come forward with
their final emissions reduction targets.  Australia has confirmed its
submission of a mere five per cent cut of 2000 emission levels by 2020.
The failure of the Rudd government to deliver any meaningful protection to
Australian native forests, by refusing to submit a specific target, let
alone a higher target, means they are committing a self-defeating

The International Panel on Climate Change has identified that around 50%
of the total mitigation potential of greenhouse gas emissions could be
reached by limiting emissions from deforestation.  Given the amount of
emissions calculated it would seem that one way Australia could easily
limit it's GHGs is by ending native forest logging.

"The protection of our native forests is of urgent national and
international importance in times of global climate chaos," said Tony
Whan, also from South East Forest Rescue. "Forests NSW have admitted they
are rorting the Regional Forest Agreements in the latest Standing
Committees 'Return of the Ark ' Report, by saying the 20-year wood supply
commitments to industry are framed so 'long-term (i.e. 100-200 years)
sustainable yield is not exceeded', which means they are logging a hundred
or two hundred years worth of trees in twenty years, and yet the public is
told time and again that this is sustainable."

The governmental practice of decrying developing countries' illegal
logging while sanctioning illegal logging in Australia has not gone
unnoticed by the rest of the world.  Australia is only now, slowly, coming
in from the cold.  After eleven years of ridicule from international
quarters the government has the chance to gain international respect if
the right decisions are made.

The US submitted their own goal to the Accord, pledging to cut emissions
"in the range of 17 per cent" of 2005 levels, with plans to reach a 30 per
cent cut by 2025.

"We are sending a clear message to the NSW and Federal Governments that
they must fulfil their international obligations on climate change by
protecting their remaining carbon sinks," said Ms Stone.  "Forests NSW
have fudged the books when it comes to reporting their greenhouse gas
emissions.  We call on the State and Federal Governments to prove that
political will is not extinct and put an end to native forest logging, for
us and our children's future."

For more info please ring Lisa or Tony on 0428 640 271.

Posted by editor at 11:16 AM EADT
Big Media, big pollie foolish My School non sequiturs abound
Mood:  lazy
Topic: aust govt


Glenn Milne and others laud the fact the My School website has received 9 million hits as if that proves anything. A giant non sequitur. What was that about the bigger the lie, the easier to sell?

Almost certainly a big proportion of viewers of the My School site are ex students looking at how their old school comes out, not least to see if they have been defamed?

Certainly the big media/press notion that high circulation is by definition in the public interest or sound policy is a classic non sequitur.

One only need mention false nude pictures of a candidate in the last Qld state election to know high sales does not make for valid information. Or cars slowing to look at a car wreck. Or high rating YouTubes: Look at the multi million popular postings. Some of it wonderful. Much of it junk and or deliberately frivolous like the 135 million monster above. And frivolous is a word PM Rudd might be careful about given all the accusations of shallow talk.

And PM Rudd is gambling My School is not junk by calling for an expansion of the site. Or maybe that is to fix the junk before the audience twig?

Posted by editor at 11:09 AM EADT
Coalition still 'poisoning the creek' in Cape York to shift big agri to the North?
Mood:  sharp
Topic: aust govt

Tony Abbott, now opposition leader served in a government with former Deputy PM Tim Fischer.

Fischer famously promised bucketloads of native title extinguishment in 1996 and 1997 after the High Court of Australia Wik Case decision in favour of tradional owners. The HCA being our highest precedent court. The Fischer plan was to breach the Racial Discrimination Act which the Howard Govt did.

Fischer's sticht was about country grace and pastoral courtesy. Two minute Tim was his nickname for brief visits to numerous places in his big electorate around Narrandera in rural and regional NSW. He famously hailed from a property at "Boree Ck". He even leveraged a diplomatic post to the Vatican under the current Rudd Govt.

Here is a map from Google Earth showing proximity of Boree Ck to Narrandera:


But the same Google service doesn't provide a location of the nearby Poisoned Waterhole Ck we noticed the first time on a road trip years ago. Interestingly it sends the searcher to the local Narrandera council, perhaps to guard the stories? But here is a photograph from the Roads & Traffic Authority:  


And they claim the name refers to dingo pests being poisoned in 1880 [bold added]:

The encroachment of Europeans onto Wiradjuri land brought conflict and between 1839 and 1841 a series of incidents along 100 kilometres of the Murrumbidgee centring on Narrandera became known as the "Wiradjuri wars". Aborigines took cattle and speared stockmen in retaliation for atrocities committed by settlers and loss of traditional fishing grounds and significant sites. Many of the Wiradjuri peoples were killed at Hulong in 1840 and at Murdering Island in 1841. Whilst it has been speculated that Poisoned Waterholes Creek's name stems from the poisoning of Aborigines by settlers, it seems that the majority of the Narrungdera were broken by the Murdering Island massacre. According to Gammage, a more likely explanation for the name is that it was associated with the poisoning of dingos, which became troublesome around the creek in the 1880s, forced into the area by closer settlement. (Regional Histories, 1996, p. 132; Gammage, 1986, p. 238)

at http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/index.cgi?action=heritage.show&id=4309617

That's the first time we've heard Aboriginal people in effect called pest species dingoes because that's not the story from the Wiradjuri/Narrungdera (bold added):



Fragments of a heritage

On the peaceful Murrumbidgee near Narrandera there are two places with names hinting at a bloody past. One is poisoned Waterholes Creek and the other is Massacre Island.

The traditions of these places are recorded in the Murrumbidgee volume of Wiradjuri Places. In 1995 Ossie Ingram recalled an account given to him by an old man in the 1930s of what had happened there a century before.

Near Buckingbong homestead several groups of Aboriginal families used to camp. The station owner poured drums of poison into a big waterhole called Green Swamp and many people died. Other families heard about this and cleared out to a place called Duck Bend. They camped on the island but a boundary rider spotted smoke from the kangaroo grass there and reported it to the boss. The station boss got the men together and they rode to the bend of the river where the island was, and they shot the whole group except for one man.

The one survivor got a reed into his mouth and used it to breathe while he swam down the river with it. He bypassed all the places that he knew and finally collapsed at Benerembah station. The station owner’s daughter cared for him until he recovered, fell in love with him and married him.

Too romantic to be believed? Strange things happened on the frontiers of settlement. Neville Lyons of Narrandera gives another version of the same tale about Poisoned Waterholes Creek. No contemporary record has come to light, but the Aboriginal oral tradition is very strong. In western NSW the 1830s was a period of frontier violence and Aboriginal resistance called “The Wiradjuri War”.

Wiradjuri Places consists of three volumes which describe in vivid detail the surviving fragments of the Aboriginal heritage of the three great river basins of the area: Murrumbidgee, the Lachlan and the Macquarie.

Dr Kabaila uses his skills to research and record the Aboriginal heritage of the vast Wiradjuri language region which includes much of inland central NSW. Personal recollections are contributed by a large number of members of the Aboriginal community. Emeritus Professor Isabel McBryde is the technical referee for the work.

I was born in the centre of Wiradjuri country at Orange, and I have lived much of my life in the area. Yet these books record an Australian history, an Australian culture, that I scarcely knew existed. The author presents us with the published record of a massive fieldwork study in what was the forgotten history of Australia. Every known Aboriginal settlement in the area has been mapped and recorded, artefacts sketched, oral traditions preserved, and photographs identified.

These books record a dark period in the Aboriginal history of NSW. Yet the record will be of inestimable value to future generations. "

at A.C.T. based website of Indigenous history here http://members.pcug.org.au/~amandak/belconnen.htm

So what has this all got to do with Cape York conservation of world heritage quality nature in the hands of the traditional owners there in the far north a long way from NSW? Well there was a 1996 Cape York land use agreement negotiated and promised $40M implementation funds with the great Rick Farley as mediator. An election promise broken by the Howard/Fischer/Abbott government, along with their bucket loads of extinguishment agenda.

Now as the Murray Darling big agri sector slowly dies it appears industry are determined to get into Cape York unspoilt rivers, and Kimberley on the WA side. The rival Queensland Govt (under the ALP)  in 2003 onwards moved to prevent a Howard Govt developer agenda in world heritage quality unprotected ares with their Wild Rivers legislation. Some Aboriginal leaders have been outraged by this cramping of their developer aspirations too by the State Govt. Just last Friday an NT Aboriginal leader offered support in the press saying  words to the effect of

'if the traditional owners want to cut down all the trees why shouldn't they given what the Europeans have done in the past?'

But this extreme position reveals the false choice being offered.

Fischer, Howard and Abbott could not have put it more clearly. They are still poisoning the rivers and creeks metaphorically speaking in Cape York when they could have chosen to support a world heritage and economic development negotiated agreement. But the Coalition national politicians prefered politicking and conflict because it serves their redneck agenda in the broader national debate. How shameful.

Many lives would have been saved and jobs created if that original negotiated agreement in 1996, reported here on SAM late last week, had been implemented. Green groups, Cattleman's Union together. 14 years later we are in an angry stalemate with accusations flying in all directions, not least politican Tony Abbott and his mates. A modern version of pure poison.


Perhaps Tim Fischer might consider taking confesssion there in the Vatican?

Posted by editor at 10:16 AM EADT
Sunday, 31 January 2010
Power plays in The Wilderness Society (Australia)
Mood:  quizzical
Topic: aust govt

 Picture (top) The author in office shirt and tie (centre) listens to Karenne Jurd, then national Director of The Wilderness Society outside NSW Parliament around 1994. (Bottom). $5000 banner opposite the Opera House erected by the author, others like Fiona McCrossin, Jules McMahon etc in 1994, with Milo Dunphy, Tricia Caswell, and this writer on a unity ticket to save native forests here rapdily being converted to dry schlerophyll regrowth.


Posted recently on this string in New Matilda here:


A lesson from history:

Karenne Jurd was national director of TWS in 1994 when a vote of no confidence was passed against her. I was at that national meeting as embattled NSW campaign coordinator for TWS. KJ didn’t like me much and indeed suggested she would "smash me" for some cultural infraction or other. But what people don’t recall is that PM Keating put the skids on her in The Bulletin conservative press because she attempted to save wet forest types across Australia. Not piecemeal. KJ had Judy Clark now Adjani socio economic analysis "homework" and the guts to take on the ALP cronies.

She had some weaknesses professionally but her national real politik analysis was right. Since then the logging industry has created a wildfire bonfire replacing wet with dry schlerophyll landscapes (an audit anyone?)… and they know it deep in their whispering heart. So why go to this? Because Alec Marr with similar broad uncompromising agenda in Tasmania and nationally also knows the truth of the ALP cynicism. Replacing him won’t change that reality. Alec no doubt pushed the button on Wild Rivers deal in Cape York against the Howard/Pearson alliance because he is so independent of both major parties.

The irony is that the main push against KJ came from the TWS Tas ‘boys’ including Alec. But they are all working in the same direction. The real opponents are the loggers and miner corporations and their govt toadies. Always have been, always will be. Back then the Tas TWS were also very fiesty and indy of the national body.


By the way Malcolm Turnbull was sniffing around TWS for cooperative project in the late 80ies - time that was out in national affairs.

We have written elsewhere that TWS really ought to consider a new name The Ecology Society, because of Indigenous sensitivities about 'wild' suggesting the toxic policy of terra nullius, which has never been the intent of the modern green movement. Indeed we have archived alot of our files and analysis under this term "ecology action" for seven years now. Here is  the unrelated forerunner in Sydney from August 1975 which might be about the time TWS was first formed after the Lake Peddar debacle:



Posted by editor at 11:28 AM EADT
Updated: Sunday, 31 January 2010 12:02 PM EADT
Pengo fan hits the metric tonne after a week of grovel
Mood:  energetic
Topic: local news



As previously reported here, Rod Day aka Dimmy, an Australian has the world record for arcade game Pengo, now available since 2004 as a PC game. Dimmy has 1M plus if you go to wikipdedia, and refer down the bottom of the listing.

Adding to the difficulty is keyboard directional keys instead of a retro joystick from those 1980ies dissolute student days. Not sure if our chuckles are nostalgia or the current sport of the game.

After a week or so we have a score board of 50K plus, not counting all the crash and burn. With a top of 102K above (this morning listening to the news, Macca Australia All Over radio show - our version of Prairie Home Companion. Notice the speedo turns over at 100K but our top score really is 102K. Shoulders and hands have had a heavy workout offsetting swimming laps at the local pool to offset the screen time.

Posted by editor at 10:19 AM EADT
Friday, 29 January 2010
The real meaning of magic password for big business 'going forward'
Mood:  lazy
Topic: corporates


In another life we rubbed shoulders with corporate litigation lawyers. Then we read the business news for 2 years as a reader analyst for Media Monitors, particularly during the infamous tech wreck.

Tonight we saw in a forum on 7.30 Report (about population growth) Heather Ridout of the Australian Industry Group again drop in the membership password of her big corporate club, namely the words "going forward".

So what do these two words really mean apart from a coded declaration of membership of the corporate club? No doubt it is supposed to reveal a can do positive attitude. But the other side of that coin is problemmatic.

It has struck us  for a long time now it means -

'don't look back because that way involves complex issues of social and environmental accountability which will hamper momentum for future profits, at any cost.'


'don't look back, because reflection is a luxury economic winners can't afford because the guilt would be too great. It's climate change, it's sixth great wave of biodiversity extinctions, it's killers in suits making calculations about share price over people's survival.'

So big corporates 'go forward' to destroy the planet like  a cancer for some centuries now as per the thesis of the great documentary The Corporation.  



Posted by editor at 7:57 PM EADT
Updated: Friday, 29 January 2010 8:05 PM EADT

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