Australia is in a bad place. Our unemployment rate and our cost of living are rising. Youth unemployment is over 20%, the highest since we began recording such statistics. Candobetter.net Editor: Australian law makes general strikes impossible. This is probably the next best thing. (CFMEU) Take a sign about what bugs you.
The United States has been gradually replacing its own military with military contractors to the degree now where they formed 50% of troops in Iraq and 70% of troops in Afghanistan deployed in its name. What happens to those business model troops when the US wants to wind down military activity in a particular place? They are private armies with power and money and the risk is that they will use it to extract a living, as in splintered Libya. The bigger risk is that they will form corporate military states in their own right - as ISIS pretends to. Professor Sean McFate spent some years - mostly in Africa - as a mercenary, largely because he was curious about this. "Mercenaries have always been there, where there is bloodshed going on. The times when whole armies of mercenary troops, or even personal regiments were bought and sold seemed to be long gone. But now, they are called Private Military Companies, and their popularity among the governments rises, with the US leading the trend of shopping at the market of force. Are we witnessing the end of the age of national armies? And why mercenaries are in such high demand these days? We put these questions to Professor Sean McFate, who once was a private military contractor himself." (Sophie Shevardnadze)
In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert discuss the impossible demand from the Greek voters that both austerity ends and that they remain in the euro as currently arranged. They also look at a parallel “future-tax” crypto currency as a possible answer to Greece’s problems. In the second half, Max interviews Liam Halligan, editor-at-large at BNE.eu and columnist at the Telegraph, about the latest on the unpayable debt crisis in Greece. Liam suggests a Grexit will happen but that Greece won’t be the first European nation to leave the euro.
"My question is: what is gained by delisting SBBs? Will the government be able to save some money on fox and cat control and will developers receive the green light to build houses in bandicoot habitat? We certainly have not been told everything. To declare SBBs safe because in one or two areas where fox control slightly increased their numbers is absolutely ridiculous. Take that money away and see what will happen." If readers want to make their voice heard on threatened species the address is species.consultation[at]environment.gov.au
Good to see men showing courage on behalf of women in Turkey!
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday mocked men who wear skirts, in an apparent jibe at activists who wore female clothes at the weekend in a protest supporting women's rights.
The U.S. military is causing devastation to the environment. Joseph Nevins writes in 2010 that "The U.S. military is the world’s single biggest consumer of fossil fuels, and the single entity most responsible for destabilizing the Earth’s climate." The article states ". . . the Pentagon devours about 330,000 barrels of oil per day (a barrel has 42 gallons), more than the vast majority of the world’s countries." The amount of oil used by your military machine is beyond belief, and each military vehicle also releases pollutants through the exhaust. Tanks, trucks, Humvees and other vehicles are not known for their fuel economy. Other fuel guzzlers are submarines, helicopters and fighter jets. Each military flight, whether involved in the transport of soldiers or in a combat mission, contributes more carbon into the atmosphere. Candobetter.net editor: Unfortunately the Australian government supports this US war machine. Earth Day is Wednesday April 22, 2015. These letters will be sent for that occasion but they seek to involve the public earlier in this campaign against war.
http://wombatawareness.com/2015/02/UPDATE 26-02-2015 - The millionaire bequest fell through! Brigitte and the wombats of South Australia are now facing a truly awful situation. She has set up a donation site in absolute desperation, no amount too small: https://www.chuffed.org/project/wombatssoontobehomeless and we hope our readers will spread this news. No-one else is helping the wombats in SA on a large scale and long term; wombats are starving, dying of mange and being killed by cars and farmers. As you know they are adorable and precious... and really worth saving. Thanks for any help.
People are becoming more aware of the contradictions in the dominant (official) rhetoric about Syria and foreign intervention on behalf of the rebels. People hope to find out the truth from women and ordinary people, because they know they cannot really trust the mainstream media or, unfortunately, various NGOs and political organisations. Inside, find a link to an interview with Agnes Mariam about about how Syrian women feel about Islamic fundamentalism, and about the very doubtful role of the UN, NGOs and Al Jazeera in this expanding conflict.
On Friday the 13th of February I attended the “Great Debate: To Collapse or Not to Collapse,” hosted by the Sustainable Living Festival at the Deakin Auditorium. The following Wednesday I attended a screening on the movie Cowspiracy, hosted by Animal Liberation Victoria, which explored the impact of industrial animal agriculture on the environment and the resistance from environmental groups to address the issue in a meaningful way.
Both events painted a grim picture of the environment and society if we don’t make considerable changes, however as in most events that prescribe change, they did a good job of focusing on particular issues whilst ignoring others. I have reflected considerably over the past week, and after summarising the two events I will share three points that I feel get overlooked by the environmental and social change movements. I believe these points must be acknowledged if we are to sustain the planet for successive generations.
Victoria's royal commission into family violence will focus on improving a system that is struggling to cope with the sheer volume of people who need help, the inquiry's head says.
Commissioner Marcia Neave said the year-long inquiry would examine how to better protect people, prevent violence and hold perpetrators to account.
Domestic violence is not the only thing in Victoria struggling with the "sheer volume of people" that need services.
(image:"20081123120727-violencia-de-genero" by Concha García Hernández - Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
Last year I did research into, and gave speeches about, the public health benefits of public open space. [See also, "Kelvin Thomson: Too few trees make high-density Coburg and Glenroy risky during heat waves"] My view about the importance of this is reinforced by recent statements in the Moreland Leader by University of Sydney Associate Professor Tonia Gray that research shows that neighbourhoods with more green spaces are much healthier and socially cohesive. She says, "Nature has a calming effect, it recalibrates your body. Australian kids spend an average of 52 hours a week in front of a screen but an average of 40 minutes outside". (Originally published at http://kelvinthomson.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/melbourne-heat-island-effect.html)
Age Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Ryan thinks that Treasurer Joe Hockey somehow deserves congratulations for suggesting that people's life expectancy may extend to 150 on the basis of some very speculative 'medical science'.  Futhermore, she's using this medical theory to jump on the moving retirement goal bandwagon. 
Is Susan Ryan, losing her marbles or simply doing what she has to to keep her job? Who do you know that you think is likely to live until they are 150 years old? And who do you know that wants to work until 70 or beyond? The value of elderly people is being sold out by the likes of Susan Ryan and Joe Hockey
Historically, this latest eruption of American militarism at the start of the 21st Century is akin to that of America opening the 20th Century by means of the U.S.-instigated Spanish-American War in 1898. Then the Republican administration of President William McKinley stole their colonial empire from Spain in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines; inflicted a near genocidal war against the Filipino people; while at the same time illegally annexing the Kingdom of Hawaii and subjecting the Native Hawaiian people (who call themselves the Kanaka Maoli) to near genocidal conditions. Additionally, McKinley’s military and colonial expansion into the Pacific was also designed to secure America’s economic exploitation of China pursuant to the euphemistic rubric of the “open door” policy. But over the next four decades America’s aggressive presence, policies, and practices in the “Pacific” would ineluctably pave the way for Japan’s attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 194l, and thus America’s precipitation into the ongoing Second World War. Today a century later the serial imperial aggressions launched and menaced by the Republican Bush Jr. administration and now the Democratic Obama administration are threatening to set off World War III.
"A classic case study of the conduct of US foreign policy as it relates to international law." Most Australians seem to get their opinions on world events from some well-known ABC, Murdoch and Fairfax commentators, and some newer ones sourced from corporate 'think tanks' like the Lowy Institute, and some questionably alternative sources like the Green Left Weekly, who all basically run the same line. If that is how you get your news, then you won't have any idea of what happened to Libya in 2011. To have any understanding of events in the Middle East, it is necessary to read much more widely. I came across this book recently and snapped it up because it was by an international US law professor who personally represented Mohamar Qadaffi in Libya's defense against the Lockerbie airplane bombing accusations and documented successive NATO attempts to draw Libya into war. Written very clearly, with a proper thesis, the book proved to be a fascinating and moving document of one man's attempt to represent his people honestly and truly and to synthesise a way forward for Muslims, men and women together, as a national participant in global affairs.
In a new stand-up special, "Russell Brand takes a very literal approach in explaining immigration, and further points out the absurdity of fearing others due to "imaginary geopolitical borders." Aren't we all just part of the same, mysterious, rotating sphere?" Huffington Post
Russell quite rightly points out the absurdity of being anti-immigration. The poor, or under privileged, or others simply seeking a better life may wish to move from one country to another. Nobody can reasonably oppose that basic aspiration; within reason.
But each country does have some role to play in managing the flow of people across its borders. Society, by definition, is the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community. If restricting migration flows serves the greater humanitarian good in both the emigration and immigration countries, then open minded due diligence in verifying that reality (or otherwise) will serve that greater good. Globalisation, in the Darwinian sense, is a planet-wrecker regardless of how it occurs.
February 18, 2015 (Ulson Gunnar - NEO) - US President Barack Obama previously commented on the Ukrainian conflict, claiming Russian President Vladimir Putin was speeding past all the "off ramps" offered by the US and its NATO military alliance to end the violence. And just as it appeared the US and the rest of NATO were about to take their own advice and use the Minsk accord as their own face-saving "off ramp," they've decided to put the pedal to the metal instead.
Australian mainstream media, including the public media, continue to report some critical world events in a dangerously one-sided manner, while the world increasingly risks a third world war. In this letter of complaint to the ABC, David Macilwain appeals to presenters Barbara Miller and Michael Brissenden to consider the multiple reports and perspective in all Russian media, and in many alternative internet fora, to better understand the nature of the powerplay in Ukraine, instead of uncritically reporting the slant on these matters given by western governments.
The US-Empire's present preeminent position of brutal global thug is a self-evident truth based on hard facts regarding the magnitudes of death and destruction; counted in millions of lives, millions of refugees, and nation-wide obliterations of civil infrastructure, not to mention annihilations of national and civil institutions. US crimes do not diminish the importance of injustices perpetrated by non-aligned regimes, but there is an obvious asymmetry of magnitudes that simply cannot be denied. (Article originally published here:
The internet provides the general public, almost anywhere, with access to contraceptive information which your local GP and well-trod academic paths have failed to provide. Here is a male contraceptive that provides months of temporary sterilisation to men. It only requires bathing the testes in hot water (46C or 116F) for 45 minutes a day for three weeks for six months infertility. Bathing in water of water at 43.3C or 110? produces at least four months of infertility. Longterm practice can apparently permanently reduce fertility. Voegeli's method was recommended and used in India in the 1940s by a Swiss doctor who ran her own hospital in India and advocated for the poor. Why have educated people lost this information? My reading leads me to surmise that this was (a) because it was recommended by a female doctor; (b) because you could not make money out of it (c) because it undercut commercial methods  (d) due to overvaluation of possible long-term effects in certain cases. All these concerns fail to take into consideration the dire situation of people in countries of high birth rates who do not have access to 'modern' and costly contraception. Note: This article has been retitled from "Simple Male Contraceptive - hot water" to "Revolutionary male contraceptive" because some readers thought it was a joke and, although the concept and practice is simple, this kind of simplicity is revolutionary today.
Tonight (14 February 2015) SBS TV news 1 made a terribly biased report of events in Donetsk (East Ukraine). In the most unprofessional manner they reported that a weapon had been launched onto a kindergarten playground in East Ukraine and they allowed people to think that this had been sent by the East Ukrainians fighting the Kiev government, although it was obvious they had no evidence of this. They then showed President Poroshenko insisting on television that Russia was supplying soldiers and arms to East Ukraine, however, as usual, he gave no details or evidence. He appears, as expected, to be undermining the Minsk attempts at peace, in an effort to please the United States. And Australian television is amplifying this propaganda. The video inside this article shows how things really are on the ground. It is extremely hard to find anyone East or West, who wants to fight for the Kiev Government against the East Ukranian independence efforts.
The interview inside between a BBC journalist, Jeremy Bowen BBC, and President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, is wonderfully calm, logical and informative despite the interviewer's many tendentious questions. Assad's analytical answers invite the viewer and journalist to logically evaluate reports which Australians are used to having presented emotively by anti-Assad forces. Assad's English syntax is sometimes unusual and the journalist at times fails to follow his statements and arguments. For instance, towards the end of the interview, Assad is asked if it is true that his government denied aid convoys access to areas held by the enemy. Assad's answer is that if they could stop aid convoys they would presumably be able to stop arms convoys. Since the areas are being bombed by 'rebels' continually, obviously they are unable to stop those arms. If his government were to stop any convoy, military interests would suggest it would be one bearing arms, not one bearing aid. Conversely, if the enemy fighters are able to import arms, then they should be able to import food. If so-called humanitarian organisations report that food is not arriving, but acknowledge that arms are, then the enemy is responsible for lack of food in a situation of well-armed violence.
Australian Federal MP Hon. Kelvin Thomson speaks in Parliament opposing the practice of "canned hunting" in Africa and specifies ways in which Australia can make this unattractive for Australian would-be "canned hunting" tourists.
Public banks in North Dakota, Germany and Switzerland have been shown to outperform their private counterparts. International private competitors have responded by pushing for regulations limiting the advantages of the public banking model, but public banking advocates are pushing back.
In November 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Bank of North Dakota (BND), the nation's only state-owned bank, "is more profitable than Goldman Sachs Group Inc., has a better credit rating than J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and hasn't seen profit growth drop since 2003." The article credited the shale oil boom; but as discussed earlier here, North Dakota was already reporting record profits in the spring of 2009, when every other state was in the red and the oil boom had not yet hit. The later increase in state deposits cannot explain the bank's stellar record either.
Pax Christi Victoria Inc. International Christian Peace Movement invites you to the first Agape of 2015. Sunday February 15 at Kildara, rear 39 Stanhope Street, East Malvern. Shared meal 1 p.m Meeting 2 p.m-4.00 p.m. Speaker will be Noor Huda Ismail, from Central Java, Indonesia, the founder and director of a grass root NGO called Yayasan Prasasti Perdamaian (Institute for International Peace Building in Indonesia). He describes himself " a terrorist's whisperer". His
connection to jihadism world went back to his childhood where he studied for 6 six years with Bali bombers in a pesantren (an Islamic boarding school) in Central Java. One of the founders of the school is Abu Bakar Ba'asyir who is now incarcerated in Nusakambangan (Indonesia's Alcatraz prison) for his involvement in Aceh Military training Camp in 2010.
He will speak on : "The Emergence of Groups of Violence in Indonesia in the Name of Islam and the Effort of Civil Society in Indonesia to Peacefully Fight this Toxic Ideology.”
Authors Note: The title was changed from "The End of the Age of Entitlement". Editor: Originally published on 2015-01-28 19:13:10 +1000, it has been republished today to bring it up to top of front page again, with the new title.
For those of you who are confused about what is happening vis a vis Ukraine in European negotiations with Russia and the US talking up weapons-supply with Kiev , Peter Lavelle's Crosstalk, "Saving Ukraine" on RT today came up with some useful analysis from guests Mary Dejevsky (Independent and Guardian, columnist, UK), Alexander Mercouris, (writer and analyst on legal affairs, London), and James Jatras, (former advisor to the US Senate Republican leadership). The issue was, "Will peace be given one last chance? The French president and German chancellor head to Moscow for talks to end Ukraine’s civil war. At the same time the US Secretary of State arrives in Kiev to arrange training and arms transfers. Which approach will prevail?"
It is troubling to hear reported today more allegations of fraud and rorting within Australia's migrant worker program, with the Immigration Department conducting a series of raids on a multinational firm working on major Australian mining and infrastructure projects.
The raids targeted the offices of Murphy Pipe & Civil (MPC), with documents and other material seized. The firm has allegedly assisted dozens of Irish workers to fraudulently obtain 457 temporary skilled and other visas.
Planning Backlash reports that there have been some discussions with the Assistant Treasurer about the continued flouting of the FIRB regulations that contain exploitive overseas investment in the local property market. These breaches are resulting in driving prices for housing up to the exclusion of locals, adding to a rapid demolition of housing stock for new 'MacMasions', adding unoccupied houses to our neighbourhoods and resulting in buying tours from overseas which exclude local buyers. Here is how you can help:
In 2010 I visited Queensland on several occasions to give speeches about rapid population growth, in Brisbane, on the Sunshine Coast, and at the Woodford Folk Festival. I encountered great unhappiness at the impact rapid population growth was having in Brisbane and South-East Queensland, and was not surprised when the Queensland Labor Government was defeated in 2012, although the scale of the defeat was remarkable. (Article republished from Kelvin Thomson's site: http://kelvinthomson.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/queensland-government-knocks-over.html
As if the development and construction of 590 Orrong Road isn't enough, residents at 'ground zero' are now facing compulsory acquisition of their homes. They need your help today. You will also be dismayed to learn that Victory Square is at risk of being yet another sports oval in an area so devoid of passive recreation space. When is enough enough?
Read all about it and take action. Originally published at https://orronggroup.wordpress.com/ as an article posted by Hootville, "Urgent: Council’s plan for parkland next to 590 Orrong Rd".