23 January 2016

Australia’s Day For Secrets, Flags And Cowards - John Pilger

On 26 January, one of the saddest days in human history will be celebrated in Australia. It will be “a day for families”, say the newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch. Flags will be dispensed at street corners and displayed on funny hats. People will say incessantly how proud they are.

For many, there is relief and gratitude. In my lifetime, non-indigenous Australia has changed from an Anglo-Irish society to one of the most ethnically diverse on earth. Those we used to call “New Australians” often choose 26 January, “Australia Day”, to be sworn in as citizens. The ceremonies can be touching. Watch the faces from the Middle East and understand why they clench their new flag.

It was sunrise on 26 January so many years ago when I stood with Indigenous and non Indigenous Australians and threw wreaths into Sydney Harbour. We had climbed down to one of the perfect sandy coves where others had stood as silhouettes, watching as the ships of Britain’s “First Fleet” dropped anchor on 26 January, 1788. This was the moment the only island continent on earth was taken from its inhabitants; the euphemism was “settled”. It was, wrote Henry Reynolds, one of few honest Australian historians, one of the greatest land grabs in world history. He described the slaughter that followed as “a whispering in our hearts”.

The original Australians are the oldest human presence. To the European invaders, they did not exist because their continent had been declared terra nullius: empty land. To justify this fiction, mass murder was ordained. In 1838, the Sydney Monitor reported: “It was resolved to exterminate the whole race of blacks in that quarter.” This referred to the Darug people who lived along the great Hawkesbury River, not far from Sydney. With remarkable ingenuity and without guns, they fought an epic resistance that remains almost a national secret. In a land littered with cenotaphs honouring Australia’s settler dead in mostly imperial wars, not one stands for those warriors who fought and fell defending Australia.

This truth has no place in the Australian consciousness. Among settler nations with indigenous populations, apart from a facile “apology” in 2008, only Australia has refused to come to terms with the shame of its colonial past. A Hollywood film, Soldier Blue, in 1970 famously inverted racial stereotypes and gave Americans a glimpse of the genocide in their own mythical “settlement”. Almost half a century later, it is fair to say an equivalent film would never be made in Australia.

In 2014, when my own film, Utopia, which told the story of the Australian genocide, sought a local distributor, I was advised by a luminary in the business: “No way I could distribute this. The audiences wouldn’t accept it.”

A scene from Utopia, the documentary produced by John Pilger. The scene is from a small Aboriginal called Irrultja, in the Utopia homelands.
A scene from Utopia, the documentary produced by John Pilger. The scene is from a small Aboriginal called Irrultja, in the Utopia homelands.
He was wrong – up to a point. When Utopia opened in Sydney* a few days before 26 January, under the stars on vacant land in an Aboriginal inner-city area known as The Block, more than 4,000 people came, the majority non-Indigenous. Many had travelled from right across the continent. Aboriginal leaders who had appeared in the film stood in front of the screen and spoke in “language”: their own.

Nothing like it had happened before. Yet, there was no press. For the wider community, it did not happen. Australia is a murdochracy, dominated by the ethos of a man who swapped his nationality for the Fox Network in the US.

The star Aboriginal AFL footballer Adam Goodes wrote movingly to the Sydney Morning Herald, demanding that “the silence is broken”. “Imagine,” he wrote, “watching a film that tells the truth about the terrible injustices committed against your people, a film that reveals how Europeans, and the governments that have run our country, have raped, killed and stolen from your people for their own benefit.

“Now imagine how it feels when the people who benefited most from those rapes, those killings and that theft – the people in whose name the oppression was done – turn away in disgust when someone seeks to expose it.”

Goodes himself had already broken a silence when he stood against racist abuse thrown at him and other Indigenous sportspeople. This courageous, talented man retired from football last year as if under a cloud – with, wrote one commentator, “the sporting nation divided about him”. In Australia, it is respectable to be “divided” on opposing racism.

On Australia Day 2016 – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people prefer Invasion Day or Survival Day – there will be no acknowledgement that Australia’s uniqueness is its first people, along with an ingrained colonial mentality that ought to be an abiding embarrassment in an independent nation. This mentality is expressed in a variety of ways, from unrelenting political grovelling at the knee of a rapacious United States to an almost casual contempt for Indigenous Australians, an echo of “kaffir”-abusing South Africans.

Apartheid runs through Australian society. Within a short flight from Sydney, Aboriginal people live the shortest of lives. Men are often dead before they reach 45. They die from Dickensian diseases, such as rheumatic heart disease. Children go blind from trachoma, and deaf from otitis media, diseases of poverty. A doctor told me, “I wanted to give a patient an anti-inflammatory for an infection that would have been preventable if living conditions were better, but I couldn’t treat her because she didn’t have enough food to eat and couldn’t ingest the tablets. I feel sometimes as if I’m dealing with similar conditions as the English working class of the beginning of the industrial revolution.”

The racism that allows this in one of the most privileged societies on earth runs deep. In the 1920s, a “Protector of Aborigines” oversaw the theft of mixed race children with the justification of “breeding out the colour”. Today, record numbers of Indigenous children are removed from their homes and many never see their families again. On 11 February, an inspiring group called Grandmothers Against Removals will lead a march on Federal Parliament in Canberra, demanding the return of the stolen children.

John Pilger, during shooting for the film Utopia. This picture was taken at Irrultja, a small community in the Utopia homelands in Central Australia.
John Pilger, during shooting for the film Utopia. This picture was taken at Irrultja, a small community in the Utopia homelands in Central Australia.
Australia is the envy of European governments now fencing in their once-open borders while beckoning fascism, as in Hungary. Refugees who dare set sail for Australia in overcrowded boats have long been treated as criminals, along with the “smugglers” whose hyped notoriety is used by the Australian media to distract from the immorality and criminality of their own government. The refugees are confined behind barbed wire on average for well over a year, some indefinitely, in barbaric conditions that have led to self-harm, murder, suicide and mental illness. Children have not been spared. An Australian Gulag run by sinister private security firms includes concentration camps on the remote Pacific islands of Manus and Nauru. People often have no idea when they might be freed, if at all.

The Australian military – whose derring-do is the subject of uncritical tomes that fill the shelves of airport bookstalls – has played an important part in “turning back the boats” of refugees fleeing wars, such as in Iraq, launched and prolonged by the Americans and their Australian mercenaries. No irony, let alone responsibility, is acknowledged in this cowardly role.

On this Australia Day, the “pride of the services” will be on display. This pride extends to the Australian Immigration Department, which commits people to its Gulag for “offshore processing”, often arbitrarily, leaving them to grieve and despair and rot. Last week it was announced that Immigration officials had spent $400,000 on medals which they will award their heroic selves. Put out more flags.

On January 26, Indigenous Australians and their supporters will march from The Block in Redfern, Sydney, to the Sydney Town Hall. The march will begin at 10 am.

On Thursday February 11, Grandmothers Against Removals will address a rally in Canberra. This will start at 12 noon at the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, then march to Parliament House.

* Note to readers: Chris Graham, the owner and editor of New Matilda, worked as an Associate Producer on John Pilger’s film Utopia.

newmatilda.com. 22 Jan 2016

21 January 2016

Australia's MP's all as dodgy as Clive Palmer?

Apparently the people are supposed to be represented by people they elect called Members of Parliament, so that they make laws that are for 'good governance' but of whom?

What the people see is a highly organised band of self serving people that put in place 'questionable' laws for the benefit of their financial interests or personal portfolios.

While the corporate media may focus on the single mother "dole cheat" and the Australian Tax Office (ATO) focuses on the tax evading ( for example) restaurateur, Australia's criminal elite are siphoning billions of dollars annually from the hard working 'Aussie Battler' tax payer.

This is not something that has just sprung up, it been going on for quite some time with no action from ( read supported by ) the 'authorities'. 

Australia's MP's are a dodgy lot, and what the best part about it is they are above the law.

Is it a conspiracy theory?

See how many MP's are in jail for fraud or any other crimes?

See how many convictions have 'stuck' to the MP's?

From the news.com.au article of 20 Jan 2016 of the headline:

Fears for civil unrest in New Caledonia over possible closure of Queensland Nickel refinery

Clive Palmer has blamed low nickel prices for Queensland Nickel’s crippling woes.
Lauren McMah with AAPnews.com.au
THERE are fears the collapse of Clive Palmer’s nickel empire could trigger civil unrest in New Caledonia, just weeks after its president personally warned the mining magnate of a potentially violent fallout. 
News that Mr Palmer’s flailing Queensland Nickel business had been sent into voluntary administration on Monday sent shock waves through the French overseas territory, which relies heavily on its nickel ore exports income — Mr Palmer is one of its top customers.

As anger mounts in Australia over the loss of 237 jobs from Queensland Nickel’s Yabulu refinery in Townsville, there is real concern a future closure or mothballing of the refinery will spark political unrest and violence in New Caledonia, where a quarter of all private sector employment relates to nickel exports.
“If Yabulu collapses, there would be dire consequences for the country as a whole,” an anonymous government agency source told The Guardian.

“The impact would be tremendous. It would possibly trigger some industrial conflict and social discontent. And the government would be in a difficult situation.”

New Caledonian president Philippe Germain personally warned Mr Palmer against closing his refinery at a meeting in November.

New Caledonia is one of the world’s biggest exporters of nickel ore, much of which is shipped to Townsville for processing by Queensland Nickel. Picture: Mike Hosken
New Caledonia is one of the world’s biggest exporters of nickel ore, much of which is shipped to Townsville for processing by Queensland Nickel. Picture: Mike HoskenSource:News Corp Australia

In a sworn affidavit, obtained by The Australian last month, Queensland Nickel managing director Clive Mensink said: “I am advised by Mr Palmer ... they expressed their concern as to whether Queensland Nickel would continue to buy ore and that the failure of Queensland Nickel to be in a position to do so would result in political unrest, violence and even closure of mines in New Caledonia, as Queensland Nickel has been the sole purchaser of laterite nickel ore for the last 20 years.”

Mr Mensink said there were about 500 people in New Caledonia working on the mines that sourced Queensland Nickel’s supply.

“These people would lose their jobs if Queensland Nickel stopped buying nickel from New Caledonia,” he said.

There is already tension in New Caledonia following Mr Germain’s refusal last year to grant export licences to independent local miners who wanted to sell laterite nickel ore to customers other than Queensland Nickel. The decision sparked protests and industrial blockades, The Guardian reported.

Workers leave the Queensland Nickel refinery in Townsville after being told they no longer had jobs.
Workers leave the Queensland Nickel refinery in Townsville after being told they no longer had jobs.Source:News Corp Australia

New Caledonia, about 1470km northeast of Brisbane, hosts about a quarter of the world’s known nickel deposits.

FTI Consulting said on Monday it had taken over administration of Queensland Nickel, which has reported debts of about $70 million.

The 237 refinery workers who lost their jobs are yet to hear if they’ll get their superannuation payments, but the administrators told the Australian Workers’ Union that Queensland Nickel doesn’t have the cash to payout workers’ entitlements.

The union’s secretary Ben Swan told the ABC the situation was a nightmare for workers.

“There are people who have made substantial commitments even in the last couple of months in terms of their livelihoods who are now going to be facing financial ruin,” he said.

There is also a cloud over the job security of a further 550 workers.

Mr Palmer has not spoken to the media since the administrators took over but has instead taken to Twitter, tweeting yesterday: “Labor and the Liberals should stop attacking Queensland Nickel and media should focuses (sic) on issues”.

 But Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who flew to Townsville for crisis talks and to meet affected workers, said Mr Palmer had a duty to tell his sacked workers if they’ll get their entitlements.

“Why he has let them down, and are they going to get their entitlements?” she told the Nine Network.

“It is simply not good enough for Mr Palmer and Queensland Nickel to sit by and not communicate with the workforce that has devoted their entire life to this company.”

Ms Palasczuzuk said her government was working on fast-tracking public works projects to create jobs for sacked workers.

But she denied she had ever offered Mr Palmer a loan to prop up his flailing business.

“It was never conceivable that we could give them a loan,” she said.

“The Federal Government has come out and said exactly the same thing.”

Palmer has duty to nickel workers: Palaszczuk

Mr Palmer has blamed poor nickel prices, which are at a 15-year-low, for the job losses.

He has also repeatedly defended his decision to use more than $20 million from Queensland Nickel to bankroll his Palmer United Party, saying he did it to campaign on issues for the greater good.

“In 2013, I could have received $15m as a dividend from QNI (Queensland Nickel),” he tweeted yesterday. “Instead it was donated to PUP which mandated a reduction in electricity prices”.

Mr Mensick insists the company will trade out of its current problems.

Annastacia Palaszczuk chairing the Working Queensland Cabinet Committee in Townsville. Picture: Jack Tran
Annastacia Palaszczuk chairing the Working Queensland Cabinet Committee in Townsville. Picture: Jack TranSource:News Corp Australia

19 January 2016

New survey finds ‘healthy’ smoothies are just as bad as a Big Mac

Lara Bingle with a Boost Juice, a company which has been flagged in a new health survey for its not-so-healthy smoothies.

Rebecca Sullivan news.com.au
HEALTH experts are warning Australians to be wary of store-bought smoothies, after a survey of 40 cold drinks found some contained more kilojoules than a Big Mac and more sugar than a bottle of soft drink. 
A survey from government-funded health program LiveLighter found smoothies and frappés from Boost Juice, Gloria Jeans and McDonald’s were some of the worst offenders.

To put the following numbers in context, the recommended daily kilojoule intake for adults is 8700kj and the World Health Organisation recommends we consume no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day.
Boost Juice’s ‘Brekkie to Go-Go Super smoothie’ contains 2560kj, 500kj more than a Big Mac (2060kj) and 18 teaspoons of sugar.

The ‘Protein Supreme’ smoothie from Boost’s Black Label range, which is marketed as “premium smoothies with an abundance of nutrition”, contains 2360kj and 12 teaspoons of sugar. The Gloria Jeans ‘Mango Fruzie’, marketed as ‘98 per cent fat free’, contains 31 teaspoons of sugar and 2150kj.

McDonald’s Large Bananaberry Bash smoothie is labelled ‘99 per cent fat free’, but contains 17 teaspoons of sugar.

“Food outlets use phrases like 97% ‘fat free’ or ‘dairy free’ to make their smoothies and frappés sound healthy, but with up to 31 teaspoons of sugar and as many kilojoules as a Big Mac, these drinks can actually do more harm than good,” LiveLighter’s Alison Ginn said in a statement.

“Like with soft drinks and other sugary drinks, regular consumption of frappés and smoothies can contribute to weight gain and a build up of toxic fat around your organs, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.”

To limit the damage caused by these drinks, Ms Ginn recommends choosing the smallest size drink available, asking for skim milk or sharing with a friend.

Following the release of the survey results, Gloria Jeans says it will no longer market its Fruzie range as 98 per cent fat free.

“In order to better represent the drinks to consumers in line with feedback from the community, we have removed this reference,” said Gloria Jeans in a statement to news.com.au.

“In line with our commitment to be open and transparent with our guests, Gloria Jean’s Coffees now displays the kilojoule content for each product on all menus across the country.”

A McDonald’s spokeswoman said kilojoule information is also displayed on its menu boards to help customers make “informed decisions” about what they order.

Boost Juice said some of its smoothies are designed to replace meals. “Unlike a fizzy drink which offers empty calories, these products contain important things like healthy fats, protein,
vitamins, fibre and minerals, which the LiveLighter research ignores,” it said in a statement.

“For example our Protein Supreme contains coconut water, banana, honey, coconut milk,
chia seeds, dates, muesli, cinnamon and whey protein powder. The sugar in the product is
mostly naturally occurring, from fructose and lactose.”

Nutritionist Dr Joanna McMillan says consumers shouldn’t be sucked in by terms used to market smoothies.
“Just because something says it’s gluten-free or dairy-free or fat free or natural, doesn’t make it healthy.

People get confused by those terms and some of the kilojoules in these things are off the charts,” she told news.com.au.

Dr McMillan says the healthiest smoothies are those made at home with mostly vegetables and a small amount of fruit to sweeten.

“If you’re going to buy a smoothie, look for the kilojoule count, look at the ingredients and don’t be bamboozled by trendy ingredients like coconut oil or coconut milk. They just add kilojoules,” she said.

Read more:

What happens to your body after eating a Big Mac
Recipes for healthy, supercharged smoothies
15 healthy summer meal options

news.com.au 14 Jan 2016

Another corporate whore selling her ass, to promote a product that is apparently unhealthier than McDonald's plastic food.

It's bad enough that McDonald's products (would never call it 'food') are laced with carcinogens, but to find other companies are producing products that are unhealthier is ... well .... refreshing. 

17 January 2016

Are speed cameras killing us? The stats say yes

Speed kills. Speed cameras save lives. We have heard it all before. But, two-hundred and forty-nine people people died in fatal traffic accidents on Victoria’s roads last year — a 2.5 per cent increase from 2013’s figure.

This is despite a record number of fixed and mobile speed cameras deployed on roads in Victoria and around Australia.

For years, the government has been claiming that speed cameras save lives and that speed is the greatest common factor in fatal car accidents.

But with road deaths on the rise, could it be that speed cameras actually don’t save lives and in fact are contributing to our road toll by breeding poor driving practises?

Since Saab introduced seat belts as standard in 1958, occupant safety has been improving every year, and the sedans, wagons, utes and SUVs we drive today are safer than ever. And safer cars will undoubtedly go further in reducing the road toll than speed cameras.

Speed cameras certainly have their place in society, but with the draconian enforcement of low-level speeding and covert tactics, such as hiding in bushes and unmarked mobile speed cameras (in Victoria, at least), more needs to be done.

The proof is in the numbers. People are still crashing, they are just safer doing so.

The TAC (Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission, which is responsible for paying benefits to people injured in road accidents) records the number of people injured in car accidents that require hospital stays of more than 14 days and hospital stays of fewer than 14 days.

The data set I interrogated was over an eight-year period from 2006 to 2013. The set of numbers included injuries involving a car or motorcycle and excluded pedestrian injuries. During this period, the number of registered vehicles in Victoria has increased by around 2.3% per year. The data shows that in 2006, 3535 people required hospital stays of fewer than 14 days in comparison to 2013, where 3558 people required hospital stays shorter than a fortnight. That’s an increase of less than 1 per cent.

Similarly, for the same period, in 2006 there were 629 people admitted to hospital for stays of more than 14 days, while in 2013 there were 632 people that required hospital stays of more than a fortnight, a similar increase of less than 1 per cent.

Now, compare those figures to fatalities over the same period. In 2006 there were 261 road fatalities in Victoria (excluding pedestrians), compared to 200 in 2013, a reduction of around 23 per cent.

This shows that while fatalities have decreased by a significant margin, we haven’t seen the same decrease in serious injuries requiring hospital stays, which cost Victorian road users $8.89 billion between 2003 and 2014 — mainly funded by vehicle registration fees. This supports the theory that while cars have become significantly safer, people are still making the wrong choices behind the wheel and driving poorly.

The other aspect of road policing that hasn’t seen a significant decrease is revenue from traffic fines. Prior to the 2011-2012 Victorian Budget, these figures were bundled into a general revenue from fines category. Public figures for revenue from speed cameras (fixed and mobile) are only available from 2010 onwards.

The figures show that revenue from speed cameras alone — on the spot police fines are not included in this figure — in 2010 was around $236 million. Fast forward to 2013 and that figures jumps a whopping $57 million to $293 million. Imagine ripping almost $300 million from government coffers; speed cameras have become like a drug addiction that governments can’t help but feed off.

Included below is a graph (click here to see larger version) that shows the relationship between hospital stays shorter than 14 days, longer than 14 days, fatalities and revenue from speed cameras. The graph shows that the increase in revenue from speed cameras isn’t commensurate with a reduction in hospital stays. Hospital stays of fewer than 14 days and more than 14 days during this period trended steady.

When asked about speed cameras and levels of enforcement, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Regulation told CarAdvice:

“Broadly speaking the rate of people being fined by cameras is not changing, but as the population grows, so too does the number of fines issued.

“The overall number of infringements issued annually is increasing as Victoria’s population grows and there are more cars on the road.

“Over 99 per cent of vehicles passing fixed cameras and over 98 per cent of vehicles passing mobile cameras comply with the speed limit.

“Fixed and mobile road safety cameras reduce speeds and cut road trauma because they are placed in high-risk or high-speed areas, areas with history of road trauma, or areas that will provide a road safety benefit.

“100 per cent of the money from camera fines is allocated to the Better Roads Victoria Trust Account. The funds from this account are used to improve road safety for all road users.”

Speed_Cameras_Victoria_Opinion_3With an enforcement focus skewed on speed, ask yourself this question: how many speed cameras did you travel through (whether it be a fixed or mobile one) in the past month? Now, ask yourself how many times were you stopped to be tested for drugs or alcohol over the same period?

Similarly, in the past 10 years, how many times did you undertake driver training to improve your skills?
The unfortunate reality of speed camera-biased enforcement can be demonstrated with the tragic death of pedestrian Anthony Parsons and husband and wife Savva and Ismini Menelaou, who were passengers in a Ford Falcon struck at the intersection of Warrigal and Dandenong roads in Oakleigh, Victoria last year.

Brazilian national Nei Lima DaCosta was high on ice and drove through one fixed speed camera at 30km/h over the speed limit minutes before careering through the intersection of Warrigal and Dandenong roads at 120km/h (40km/h over the speed limit) through another speed and red light camera. He killed three innocent people. These two cameras did nothing to help save the lives of three innocent people.

This particular example illustrates why so much more needs to be done on enforcing and dealing with poor driving, whether it be due to drugs, lack of skills or visible policing.

mobile-speed-cameraSpeed cameras alone will never be a useful immediate enforcement or protection tool against drivers excessively speeding, or people who don’t know how to drive to start with.

Those people that use the idiom “don’t speed and you won’t get caught” simply don’t understand the reality of driving safely. If I had the preference of watching the road or my speedometer, I know which one I would choose.

I’m of the firm belief that we need to overhaul driver training, begin properly blitzing drink and drug driving, along with scrapping low level speed enforcement. I would have no issue with being stopped twice a day for drug or alcohol testing if it meant impaired drivers were taken off the road more promptly.

We also need more transparency on where the money generated from speed cameras goes and where it should be spent.

caradvice.com.au 31 Jan 2015