Monday, 24 July 2017

The oldest continuous culture in the world just became est. 18,000 years older



Jabiru, Northern Territory: Aboriginal people have lived in Australia for a minimum of 65,000 years, a team of archaeologists has established - 18,000 years longer than had been proved previously and at least 5000 years longer than had been speculated by the most optimistic researchers.

The world-first finding, which follows years of archaeological digging in an ancient camp-site beneath a sandstone rock shelter within the Jabiru mining lease in Kakadu, Northern Territory, drastically alters the known history of the trek out of Africa by modern humans, according to the leader of the international team of archaeologists, associate professor Chris Clarkson of the University of Queensland.

The findings, which are already causing intense interest in archaeological circles across the world, have been peer reviewed by internationally recognised scientists and are published this week in the world's most prestigious science journal, Nature.

Among the trove of discoveries are the world's oldest stone axes with polished and sharpened edges, proving that the earliest Australians were among the most sophisticated tool-makers of their time: no other culture had such axes for another 20,000 years.

"The axes were perfectly preserved, tucked up against the back wall of the shelter as we dug further and further," Professor Clarkson told Fairfax Media.

"There was one on the surface, another further down that we dated at 10,000 years. Then there were quite a few further down still which were able to date at 35,000 to 40,000 years, and finally one at 65,000 years, surrounded by a whole bunch of stone flakes."

The team had also found the oldest known seed-grinding tools in Australia, a large buried midden of sea shells and animal bones, and evidence of finely made stone spear tips.

Professor Clarkson said one of the most striking finds was the huge quantity of ground ochre, right from the oldest layers. This suggested the first humans to populate Australia were already enthusiastic artists, and had continued to be so through their continuing culture in an area known for its spectacular rock art…..

The discovery also confirms that Australian Aborigines undertook the first major maritime migration in the world - they had to sail a minimum of 90 kilometres across open sea to reach their destination whatever route they took in their long journey out of Africa.

No other humans had undertaken such a journey 65,000 years ago. However, after crossing between islands, they could have walked the last stretch between Papua New Guinea and northern Australia because sea levels were so low at that time, Professor Clarkson said.

Nature, Published online 19 July 2017, Human occupation of northern Australia by 65,000 years ago:

Abstract
The time of arrival of people in Australia is an unresolved question. It is relevant to debates about when modern humans first dispersed out of Africa and when their descendants incorporated genetic material from Neanderthals, Denisovans and possibly other hominins. Humans have also been implicated in the extinction of Australia’s megafauna. Here we report the results of new excavations conducted at Madjedbebe, a rock shelter in northern Australia. Artefacts in primary depositional context are concentrated in three dense bands, with the stratigraphic integrity of the deposit demonstrated by artefact refits and by optical dating and other analyses of the sediments. Human occupation began around 65,000 years ago, with a distinctive stone tool assemblage including grinding stones, ground ochres, reflective additives and ground-edge hatchet heads. This evidence sets a new minimum age for the arrival of humans in Australia, the dispersal of modern humans out of Africa, and the subsequent interactions of modern humans with Neanderthals and Denisovans.

Extended Data Figure 3: Grinding stones, residues and usewear of specimens collected from phase 2 at Madjedbebe.

Australia in 2017 - Violence Against Women


Australia in 2017  - known deaths due to violence against women  -  23 dead by July 12 [Destroy the Joint, 12 July 2017]

A rarely spoken about aspect of domestic violence…………………


"It is widely accepted by abuse experts (and validated by numerous studies) …..that evangelical men who sporadically attend church are more likely than men of any other religious group (and more likely than secular men) to assault their wives." [Professor of Theology Steven R, Tracy, 2007,‘Patriarchy and Domestic Violence: Challenging Common Misconceptions” inWHAT DOES “SUBMIT IN EVERYTHING” REALLY MEAN? THE NATURE AND SCOPE OF MARITAL SUBMISSION]


Research shows that the men most likely to abuse their wives are evangelical Christians who attend church sporadically. Church leaders in Australia say they abhor abuse of any kind. But advocates say the church is not just failing to sufficiently address domestic violence, it is both enabling and concealing it……

In the past couple of years, concern has been growing amongst those working with survivors of domestic violence about the role the Christian church of all denominations can either consciously or inadvertently play in allowing abusive men to continue abusing their wives.

The questions are these: do abused women in church communities face challenges women outside them do not?

Do perpetrators ever claim church teachings on male control excuse their abuse, or tell victims they must stay?

Why have there been so few sermons on domestic violence? Why do so many women report that their ministers tell them to stay in violent marriages?

Is the stigma surrounding divorce still too great, and unforgiving? Is this also a problem for the men who are abused by their wives — a minority but nonetheless an important group?
And if the church is meant to be a place of refuge for the vulnerable, why is it that the victims are the ones who leave churches while the perpetrators remain?

Is it true — as one Anglican bishop has claimed — that there are striking similarities to the church's failure to protect children from abuse, and that this next generation's reckoning will be about the failure in their ranks to protect women from domestic violence?

A 12-month ABC News and 7.30 investigation involving dozens of interviews with survivors of domestic violence, counsellors, priests, psychologists and researchers from a range of Christian denominations — including Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Pentecostal and Presbyterian — has discovered the answers to these questions will stun those who believe the church should protect the abused, not the abusers.

ABC TV 7.30 current affairs program, 19 July 2017 - Christian women told to endure domestic abuse, excerpt from transcript:

JULIA BAIRD: In Australia, there has never been any real research into the prevalence of domestic violence within church communities, but Barbara runs a website for survivors which points to an alarming trend.

She estimates 800,000 Christian women, who have survived abuse around the world, have visited the page.

BARBARA ROBERTS: Christian women are particularly vulnerable because they take the Bible very seriously and they want to obey God. They know it says "turn the other cheek", they know it says "be long-suffering". 

The website mentioned in the current affairs program is A Cry For Justice.

Church leaders are not happy with the media attention and are calling foul.

The Australian, 21 July 2017:

A spokesman for Sydney Anglican Archbishop Glenn Davies said it was “disappointing when important, public issues are subject­ to selective presentation of information, inaccurate reporting and opinion-based journalism which misrepresents the facts”.

“To make domestic vio­lence­ part of a culture war against evangelical Christianity does no service to the women who suffer this appalling treatment,” he said.

An ABC spokesman defended 7.30, saying it was “not an attack on Christianity but an explor­ation of its intersection with ­issues of domestic violence, a legitimate and newsworthy sub­ject­”. Wednesday’s report was the latest in a series. Future prog­rams would examine other religions, including Islam and Judaism.

News Corp’s attack on the public broadcaster continues apace with these extraordinarily worded questions presumably put to the ABC by Sydney-based journalist Ean Higgins.


Response to questions from The Australian.

1. Why didn’t the ABC report the truth: that Christianity actually saves women from abuse?
The ABC did report that point – that religiosity can be a protective factor against domestic violence – in its review of the research, “Regular church attenders are less likely to commit acts of intimate partner violence”.
As part of this series, the ABC will be reporting on how all the major Christian churches in Australia are seeking to address the issue of domestic violence in their community. The ABC has collected dozens of accounts of women suffering abuse and, unfortunately, receiving a poor response from the church. But many have also sought and received excellent care, and know there are many wonderful Christian men and women working to make a difference. Our reporting also presents an excellent opportunity for churches, one that we’re pleased to hear many are taking seriously.
In addition, this is not a Christian versus secular argument; it is a conversation currently underway inside the church, as is evident by critics, counsellors, theologians, priests, and bishops quoted in the 7000-word piece on the ABC News site and the priests, synod members and churchgoers interviewed for 730.
2. Why did it instead falsely claim — and instantly believe — the falsehood that evangelical Christians are the worst abusers?
We did not make any false claims, we correctly cited relevant, peer-reviewed research that has been quoted and relied upon by numerous experts in this area of religion and domestic violence. Theology professor Steven Tracy is one of, if not the most authoritative and widely cited voice on this topic in America. We do not have the figures for Australia, as pointed out in the piece. We also pointed out that regular church attendance made men less likely to be violent. Again, this has all been included in the reporting.
Professor Steven Tracy found “that evangelical men [in North America] who sporadically attend church are more likely than men of any other religious group (and more likely than secular men) to assault their wives”. Tracy cites five other studies to support his claim: Ellison and Anderson 2001; Brinkerhoff et al 1991; Ellison and Anderson 1999; Wilcox 2004; Fergusson et al 1986.
The ABC also interviewed dozens of Christian men and women in Australia and abroad whose personal experience with domestic abuse – and the Church’s response to it – supports this claim.
As Adelaide Bishop Tim Harris told the ABC: “it is well recognised that males (usually) seeking to justify abuse will be drawn to misinterpretations [of the Bible] to attempt to legitimise abhorrent attitudes.”
Furthermore, since the article was published, many women have contacted the ABC to share similar stories of abuse by men (including religious leaders) who have justified their violence – and / or women’s subordination – with scripture.
However, the ABC agrees with dozens of academics and religious groups interviewed who argue that further research into the prevalence and nature of domestic violence in religious communities is needed – especially in Australia.
3. What does Ms Guthrie say to Bolt’s claim that “the ABC is not merely at war with Christianity. This proves something worse: it is attacking the faith that most makes people civil.”
The ABC is not at war with Christianity. It is reporting on domestic violence in religious communities, which it notes – and as two recent significant inquiries into domestic and family violence reported – has been under-discussed in Australia, particularity in light of the Royal Commission into Domestic Violence.
As part of its investigation into domestic violence and religion, the ABC is also examining other major religions, including Islam and Judaism.
It should be noted that clergy from the Presbyterian, Anglican and Uniting and Baptist churches have written to the ABC thanking them for their reporting.
Mr. Higgins antipathy towards the ABC appears to be well-known.


Realising its first response was not the best response in the circumstances, organised religion began to back pedal a day later.

ABC News, 22 July 2017:

Australian church leaders are calling on Christian communities to urgently respond to women who are being abused in their congregations, with the most senior Anglican cleric in the country arguing victims of domestic violence deserve an apology from the Church.

An ABC News investigation into religion and domestic violence involving dozens of interviews with survivors, counsellors, priests, psychologists and researchers from a range of Christian denominations has found the Church is not just failing to sufficiently address domestic violence but is, in some cases, ignoring it or allowing it to continue.

And a comprehensive survey conducted by ABC News into programs and protocols churches across the country have in place to address domestic violence — the first attempt to compile this information — reveals mixed responses from different denominations.

While many genuine efforts are being made, critics say there are no coordinated national approaches, and that collection of useful data is required along with a commitment to serious cultural change.

Now, senior members of the Church are urging that clergy and pastoral workers must acknowledge poor responses to domestic abuse and work to take meaningful action against it.
The Anglican Primate of Australia, Archbishop Philip Freier, said he supported an unequivocal apology expressed this week by an Anglican priestto victims of domestic abuse in the Church.

"I'm hoping that there will be some words of apology to people who have experienced domestic violence and any failure from the Church at our General Synod, coming up in September," the Archbishop said on The Drum.

The Archbishop said he "was moved" by the words of Father Daryl McCullough, who said in a statement on his website that he condemned men's misuse of scripture to justify abusing their wives.

"As a priest in the Church of God, I am truly and deeply sorry if you or anyone you love has been the victim of abuse and found the Church complicit in making that abuse worse," Fr Daryl McCullough said.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

What a real charmer!


Photograph from The Australian
Lower house speaker, Michael Sutherland at the Yokine Primary School polling booth in WA.
One of the candidates vying to be the next West Australian senator for the Liberal Party has described supporters of refugee-friendly policies as "a bunch of cockroaches" swarming all over his former electorate.
Michael Sutherland, the former Speaker in the WA parliament who lost his inner city seat in March, made the comments at a Liberal Party event in Sydney last month.
He is one of the five men revealed to be vying in this weekend's pre-selection for the Senate vacancy created by the retirement of Liberal Chris Back. Born in South Africa, Mr Sutherland has refused to provide proof he has relinquished his dual-citizenship, despite two Greens senators resigning in the past week after it emerged they were citizens of other countries. 

Speaking at a panel discussion on how the Liberals can combat anti-fracking campaign groups, Mr Sutherland said such activists had overrun his former electorate of Mount Lawley.  
"My seat was an inner city seat and these people were crawling all over the seat, so, it's a big problem," he said.
He then turned his attention to the organisation representing Western Australia's 139 councils (WALGA) for promoting refugee-friendly spaces. 
"You know WALGA as well gets involved in things like refugee-friendly zones and if we don't all stand together and fight this bunch of cockroaches, we're going to have a real problem."

Liberals attending can be heard laughing at Mr Sutherland's comments in audio obtained by Fairfax Media. 

Read more of what this ‘charmer’ thinks here.

BACKGROUND

The West Australian, 1 April 2017:

The Liberal Party’s shocking State election result will cost WA taxpayers more than $2 million in payouts to defeated MPs, some of whom will receive six-figure sums.

The resettlement entitlement paid to MPs who lost their seats or retired at the March 11 poll is to aid the move from public office to private life, according to the Salaries and Allowances Tribunal.

Politicians are paid a taxable lump sum based on their parliamentary service and base salary.

Former MPs who served one term are entitled to three months’ salary, those who served two terms are entitled to six months’ salary, and those who served three terms or more receive nine months’ salary.

An MP’s base salary is $156,536 a year.

Former ministers Joe Francis, Andrea Mitchell, Albert Jacob, and Paul Miles, who were all elected in 2008, will receive nearly $80,000 each.

Other 2008-elected MPs who lost this year are Ian Britza, former speaker Michael Sutherland, Peter Abetz, Frank Alban and Paul Miles.

The West Australian, 9 June 2017:

At least six dumped State Liberal MPs are likely to tackle council elections this year, including former environment minister Albert Jacob who is mulling a run for mayor of one of WA’s biggest local governments.

Former local government minister Paul Miles, former speaker Michael Sutherland and MPs Peter Abetz, Frank Alban and Chris Hatton have confirmed plans to seek election in October.

The West Australian understands some of the deposed MPs view the October council elections as a way to keep their political careers alive as they consider return tilts at their former seats.
Most suffered massive swings in the Liberal rout in March…..

Mr Sutherland said he was keeping an open mind about going around again in his former seat of Mt Lawley, which he lost to Labor’s Simon Millman after a 13 per cent swing against him.
But he believed a number of his former colleagues would use the council elections to build a platform for a return to Parliament.

“A lot of people put an enormous amount of time into their electorates and they’d be silly not to get on to council if they want to have another go,” Mr Sutherland said.

Aboriginal Australia seeks more than the symbolic recognition of first peoples status on offer from the Liberal-Nationals Federal Government


“The Australian story began long before the arrival of the First Fleet on 26 January 1788. We Australians all know this. We have always known this.”


Recommendations

The Council recommends:
  1. That a referendum be held to provide in the Australian Constitution for a representative body that gives Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander First Nations a Voice to the Commonwealth Parliament. One of the specific functions of such a body, to be set out in legislation outside the Constitution, should include the function of monitoring the use of the heads of power in section 51 (xxvi) and section 122. The body will recognise the status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first peoples of Australia.
It will be for the Parliament to consider what further definition is required before the proposal is in a form appropriate to be put to a referendum. In that respect, the Council draws attention to the Guiding Principles that emerged from the National Constitutional Convention at Uluru on 23–26 May 2017 and advises that the support of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, in terms of both process and outcome, will be necessary for the success of a referendum.

In consequence of the First Nations Regional Dialogues, the Council is of the view that the only option for a referendum proposal that accords with the wishes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is that which has been described as providing, in the Constitution, for a Voice to Parliament.

In principle, the establishment by the Constitution of a body to be a Voice for First Peoples, with the structure and functions of the body to be defined by Parliament, may be seen as an appropriate form of recognition, of both substantive and symbolic value, of the unique place of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australian history and in contemporary Australian society.

The Council recommends this option, understanding that finalizing a proposal will involve further consultation, including steps of the kind envisaged in the Guiding Principles adopted at the Uluru Convention.

The Council further recommends:
  1. That an extra-constitutional Declaration of Recognition be enacted by legislation passed by all Australian Parliaments, ideally on the same day, to articulate a symbolic statement of recognition to unify Australians.
A Declaration of Recognition should be developed, containing inspiring and unifying words articulating Australia’s shared history, heritage and aspirations. The Declaration should bring together the three parts of our Australian story: our ancient First Peoples’ heritage and culture, our British institutions, and our multicultural unity. It should be legislated by all Australian Parliaments, on the same day, either in the lead up to or on the same day as the referendum establishing the First Peoples’ Voice to Parliament, as an expression of national unity and reconciliation.

In addition, the Council reports that there are two matters of great importance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as articulated in the Uluru Statement from the Heart, that can be addressed outside the Constitution. The Uluru Statement called for the establishment of a Makarrata Commission with the function of supervising agreement-making and facilitating a process of local and regional truth telling. The Council recognises that this is a legislative initiative for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to pursue with government. The Council is not in a position to make a specific recommendation on this because it does not fall within our terms of reference. However, we draw attention to this proposal and note that various state governments are engaged in agreement-making.


Pat Anderson AO
Mark Leibler AC
Megan Davis
Andrew Demetriou
Natasha Stott Despoja AM
Murray Gleeson AC
Tanya Hosch
Kristina Keneally
Jane McAloon
Noel Pearson
Michael Rose AM
Amanda Vanstone
Dalassa Yorkston
Galarrwuy Yunupingu AM

The Australian, 18 July 2017:

Two indigenous Labor MPs have expressed doubts about the Referendum Council’s proposal for indigenous constitutional recognition, saying the councils’ final report, delivered yesterday, does not provide a clear line of sight to constitutional change.

Malcolm Turnbull yesterday cautiously backed what he called “a very big new idea” put forward by the Referendum Council he and Bill Shorten appointed 18 months ago, namely their sole recommendation of a special indigenous advisory body to the parliament.

But WA Labor Senator Pat Dodson said the recommendation had surprised some people, while NSW Labor MP Linda Burney said the sole recommendation was “limiting”, and most Australians would be “shocked” to learn that it has ruled out addressing race powers in the constitution.

Prime Minister Turnbull yesterday promised to consider the Referendum Council’s proposal, but indicated he was cautious about putting it to a national vote.

“We do not want to embark in some sort of exercise of heroic failure. I have some experience in trying to change the constitution and know better than most how hard it is.”

Senator Dodson said he wasn’t sure that progress is being made on the recognition of indigenous Australians.

“Unfortunately I think we’re going in circles a bit at the moment,” he told 7.30.

“I don’t think we’ve got a clear line of sight as to where any constitutional change whether it’s going to take place or not. Certainly on our side of politics we’re open to that. I’m not sure whether the government side is quite open as we are to the proposition.”

UNSW Dean of Law George Williams said a strong process would be needed to convince the Australian electorate that the Referendum Council’s proposal is worth voting for.

The Guardian, 18 July 2017:

These powers, s.51xxvi, were inserted into the constitution as part of the 1967 referendum and give the commonwealth power to make laws for “the people of any race for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws”.

That allowed for the construction of laws such as native title and Aboriginal heritage laws but it also allowed the federal government to make discriminatory laws.
Burney said while the idea of an Indigenous voice to parliament was huge and important, it was limiting to consider it as the only option.

“I think that is very limiting,” Burney told the ABC. “I think that is more of a minimal approach when ... they don’t want us to address the issues of the race powers and recognition of first peoples in the constitution.

“I think the Australian community would be shocked to think that we are not going to deal with the archaic race powers in the constitution but that is what the Referendum Council is instructing the parliament.”

Burney underlined that it was unclear what the Indigenous voice would do, its structure or how people would be elected. 

She said the Coalition and Labor needed to consider the report. Labor’s Indigenous caucus meets on Wednesday. She warned that any idea needed to be passed in the parliament and the idea of enshrining a national body would be a “challenge for some people”.

Sky News, 20 July 2017:

Indigenous Liberal MP Ken Wyatt has expressed disappointment at the decision to abandon the push for constitutional recognition, saying the timeline for a referendum has now been pushed back to beyond this term of government.

Notes

(xxvi)  the people of any race , other than the aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws;

Government of territories
                   The Parliament may make laws for the government of any territory surrendered by any State to and accepted by the Commonwealth, or of any territory placed by the Queen under the authority of and accepted by the Commonwealth, or otherwise acquired by the Commonwealth, and may allow the representation of such territory in either House of the Parliament to the extent and on the terms which it thinks fit.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Mouth of the Clarence River in Yaegl Country



“Always” by Frances Belle Parker

Quotes of the Week


“Abdel-Magied's savaging has been so grotesque in its meanness, ugly in its intolerance and alarming in its violence, that it's obvious something else is going on, too – something has been legitimised and unleashed. And it seems to be hostility to Islam, as well as women.” [Julia Baird writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 July 2017]

“A few years ago I talked to [Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull] for two hours about climate change, and he had a great grasp of it. Then he turns around and does nothing. To me, that is truly criminal.” [Marine scientist J.E.N. “Charlie” Vernon quoted in The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 July 2017]

It has put Australia in a position it's only been in three times before: Minor parties securing more than a quarter of all votes. Every time we have been in this situation, one of the major parties has been reshaped or disappeared.” [Economist Andrew Charlton quoted in The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 July 2017]

Look who's trolling Trump