Tuesday, 30 June 2009

A very happy 100th birthday for Florence


Sometimes the good news shines through at The Daily Examiner

This is the company the Rudd Government wants Australia to keep?

This Open Net Initiative map indicates countries which are known to censor their citizens access to the Internet:


This are the categories of Internet content they censor:

Free expression and media freedom

Political transformation and opposition parties

Political reform, legal reform, and governance

Militants, extremists, and separatists

Human rights

Foreign relations and military

Minority rights and ethnic content

Women's rights

Environmental issues

Economic development

Sensitive or controversial history, arts, and literature

Hate speech

Sex education and family planning

Public health

Gay/lesbian content

Pornography

Provocative attire

Dating

Gambling

Gaming

Alcohol and drugs

Minority faiths

Religious conversion, commentary, and criticism

Anonymizers and circumvention

Hacking

Blogging domains and blogging services

Web hosting sites and portals

Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP)

Free e-mail

Search engines

Translation

Multimedia sharing

P2P

Groups and social networking

Commercial sites

[Ronald Deibert, John Palfrey, Rafal Rohozinski, Jonathan Zittrain, eds., Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering, (Cambridge: MIT Press) 2008.]

Can Prime Minister Rudd guarantee that, if his government introduces mandatory national ISP-level filtering of the Australian Internet, no future federal government will expand this proposed filtering beyond the vague limits that Senator Conroy presently alludes to?

No, of couse he can't.

Chasing the winter sun.......


Car's loaded with the travelling chattels, mutt's in the passenger seat and I'm off chasing the sun into Bananaland for the next four weeks.
No phone, no newspapers, no Internetz - bliss!
I'm sure the blogosphere will continue to keep the balfastards honest while I'm away.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Some advice for Malcolm Turnbull

It's official, Malcolm Turnbull was run over by a little white ute with Queensland number plates


Image from The Brisbane Times

Federal Leader of the Opposition, Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, did a little political jay walking over the last fortnight and was skittled by a little white ute and a fake email.
His political standing has been shattered according to recent polls and this has given rise to these headlines and graphic:






























Turnbull weaker than when he began The Sydney Morning Herald



It is being reported that Malcolm Turnbull's response to this disaster is not to reassess his own leadership but to reshuffle his front bench.

Yes, the lack of good political judgment continues........

Update on Communications Minister Conroy's plan to censor the Australian Internet


If the Federal Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy gets his way and imposes a national mandatory ISP-level Internet filtering scheme on Australia, it won't just be the usual filtering software players who will be looking to make capital out of this censorship by encouraging function creep.

Perhaps this report on current day Iran gives some indication of who else might also want a piece of the commercial pie.

From the Wall Street Journal online 23 June 2009:

Interviews with technology experts in Iran and outside the country say Iranian efforts at monitoring Internet information go well beyond blocking access to Web sites or severing Internet connections.

Instead, in confronting the political turmoil that has consumed the country this past week, the Iranian government appears to be engaging in a practice often called deep packet inspection, which enables authorities to not only block communication but to monitor it to gather information about individuals, as well as alter it for disinformation purposes, according to these experts.

The monitoring capability was provided, at least in part, by a joint venture of Siemens AG, the German conglomerate, and Nokia Corp., the Finnish cellphone company, in the second half of 2008, Ben Roome, a spokesman for the joint venture, confirmed.

The "monitoring center," installed within the government's telecom monopoly, was part of a larger contract with Iran that included mobile-phone networking technology, Mr. Roome said.

"If you sell networks, you also, intrinsically, sell the capability to intercept any communication that runs over them," said Mr. Roome.

The sale of the equipment to Iran by the joint venture, called Nokia Siemens Networks, was previously reported last year by the editor of an Austrian information-technology Web site called Futurezone.

Meanwhile, this month a spokesperson for the Minister appears to have confirmed that video games suitable for adults will also be blocked online by ISPs under the national filtering scheme, as well as websites which offer downloadable versions or sell physical copies of these games.

Which according to The Orstrahyun means that the Rudd-Conroy filtering scheme will likely block eBay and Amazon.

Does Conroy realise just how many Australians of voting age make a bit of pin money using these sites? Has he even thought of the many in rural and regional areas who regularly use these sites to long distance shop?

Disquiet continues about the lack of defined goals for this proposed $44.5 million scheme.

What will probably be my favourite political quote of the year


From ABC TV Insiders on Sunday 28th June 2009:

"ANTHONY ALABANESE, LEADER OF THE HOUSE (LABOR):


The Member for Wentworth knows a dead cat when he sees one. But this one has got no bounce.

I could have sworn I was witnessing the ghost of Mark Latham. It was all there, Mr Speaker. It was all there. The jaw jutting out. All the fake aggression. All the machismo. All the "We're going well!"


Past 'sins' and present failures all rolled into 9 sentences and lobbed across the House of Reps chamber amid hoots of derisive laughter.
And not one word could Opposition Leader Big Mal Turnbull respond to with threats of kitten-based legal action.
No-one deserved it more.

Pic from Google Images

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Stephen Conroy nominated for UK Internet Villain Award

Image from LOLConroy
Click to enlarge

The UK Internet Industry Awards sponsored by ISPA will be announced at a gala black-tie event on 9 July 2009 in London.

The Australian Federal Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy has been nominated, but not for an Internet Hero award.
The award category he is included in is Internet Villain.

Internet Villain
The Internet Villain category recognises individuals or organisations that have upset the Internet industry and hampered its development - those who the industry loves to hate. The ISPA Council will select the shortlist and eventual winner of the Internet Villain award.


2009 Nominees
European Parliament - "For supporting an amendment to the Telecom Package on cookies which could yet bring the internet to a standstill"

President Nicolas Sarkozy - "For his continued commitment to the HADOPI law, which advocates a system of graduated response, despite repeated arguments suggesting the law is disproportionate from a number of important groups including the European Parliament"
Baroness Vadera - "For excluding a number of ISPs and Rights Holders in agreeing a Memorandum of Understanding that was exclusive and ineffective in progressing relations between the two industries"
Stephen Conroy and the Australian Government - "For continuing to promote network-level blocking despite significant national and international opposition"

A cooking tip that amuses...


Seen in a local book store:

I always cook with wine. Sometimes I even put a little in the food.

Michael Jackson: an urban myth in the making?


I happened to have had ABC News Radio on all of last Thursday night and most of Friday morning, so I heard the developing news on American singer Michael Jackson's death.
I was also connected to the Web for much of that time and there was no noticeable problems.
Therefore this headline has the distinct smell of an urban myth developing.
Web grinds to a halt after Michael Jackson dies.

GroceryChoice website yet to carry news of its own demise

The Rudd Government's GroceryChoice web site is to be axed.
A good idea which was doomed to fail because it lacked the enthusiastic participation of the big supermarket chains and so could only ever supply the bare bones of a compartitive shopping guide.
Even the tranfer of management to Choice could do little to change public perception that the site was a lemon, for the lead-in time was far too long for the promised upgrade which would allow consumers more information.
Maintaining its irrelevance to the last, the GroceryChoice website still hadn't posted a notice of its own death thirty-six hours later.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Annual Whale Census Day, Sunday 28 June 2009

If you are out and about on NSW beaches tomorrow or taking a boat out ocean fishing, keep watch for whales and note how many you see.

We are gearing up for another whale migration season and ORRCA will, of course, be conducting our annual Whale Census Day on Sunday June 28th. Many of you will be familiar with this activity and we really hope you’ll participate again this year. For those of you new to the game here’s what we do.
Groups of people gather at certain spots and headlands along the coast and spend the day counting the passing whales. All sorts of observations are recorded e.g. numbers, species, behaviour with all recorded on a form (which we supply).
The statistics are correlated and available to anyone with an interest in cetacean research; the state and federal authorities add our figures to their data on marine mammals and it all goes towards managing our ocean in a manner conducive to the well-being of marine life.
Apart from providing useful data it’s a terrific way to spend a winter Sunday. No special equipment is required, just a comfy seat, food + drink, warm clothing and, of course, a pen and observation sheet. A pair of binoculars is a great help as is a camera.
There are particular places that are used every year but if you would like to participate at your own favourite spot, that’s just fine. Just let us know where that might be. The count goes from 7:00am until 4:30pm but not everyone can manage a whole day; no matter – even a couple of hours will help.
Unfortunately due to this now being a national event, we can't list the all the viewing points on the website. If you are interested in taking part and would like to know of some great observation points near you, please contact us on (02) 9415 3333 or email orrca@orrca.org.au .

A bad case of the blues


Peter FitzSimons apologises to Alan Jones



Writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, Peter FitzSimons
admitted he did broadcaster Alan Jones wrong recently and apologised.

Apology

Last week, TFF had an intemperate rant at the successful radio broadcaster Alan Jones, asserting that he was wrong to misuse his position to constantly defend misbehaving sportspeople and others within his tight coterie, entirely irrespective of what the truth of any given matter was.

I even went further and named what I sincerely thought at the time was a comprehensive list of examples of those who had enjoyed his largesse: Darrell "Tricky" Trindall, Jacin Sinclair, Dean Capobianco, the Poo, Scott Miller, Julian O'Neill, Damien Martyn and myriad others …"

This was wrong, and I do sincerely apologise.

For, as so many readers reminded me, no such list could be complete without adding the names of Robbie Waterhouse and Andrew Kalajzich.

Kalajzich, seeing as you ask, was the most classic example of Jones misusing his power in this manner, barking that the Manly hotelier, who had his wife, Megan, murdered, was innocent - to the point that the State Government caved in and had his appeal heard, at enormous cost to taxpayers. This was only for the judge to decide that if there was a verdict beyond just "guilty" - as in, So Astonishingly Guilty It is Amazing That Anyone Could Doubt It - then he would have qualified for that, too.

For shame, Alan, for shame.

pic sourced from SMH

Shades of Charles and Cromwell in Macquarie Street this week


I didn't think that I would feel sympathy for the Rees Government, but even I was affronted by The Shooters Party's attempt to bail-up the government of the day with one of the worst environmental bills to come before a New South Wales parliament - a bill to allow the shooting of native animals in national parks and the further introduction of exotic and potentially feral species onto private land as well as removing peak body representation for indigenous communites.

The Shooters Party believed that because it could, it would give the Rees Government the option of passing its bill or seeing other government-sponsored bills blocked.

Tony Kelly may not have had as dramatic an impact on parliamentary proceedings as Oliver Cromwell and King Charles before him, but he was just as effective in bringing a democratic institution to its knees.

However, this is a two-edged sword the Rees Government is playing with here.
Sometimes it is better to take a political drubbing in seeing its own bills go down rather than undermine the very institution which allows for democratic government.

The Australian reports:

IN an unprecedented move, MPs have been locked out of the Upper House of NSW Parliament after the Government shut it down, causing chaos and confusion among members.

Upper House leader Tony Kelly walked out of the Legislative Council just before 1am (AEST) today, leaving 15 pieces of Government legislation unconsidered.

These included the vote on the Government's plans to privatise NSW Lotteries, which was likely to be defeated.

With no minister or parliamentary secretary present, president Peter Primrose closed down the Upper House until the "ringing of the long bell".

That long bell could ring at any time of the Government's choosing.

But it is unlikely to be heard until after the return from the winter recess on September 1, even though the Upper House was scheduled to sit today.

In protest, Liberal, Nationals, Greens and the one Independent MP arrived at the doors of the Legislative Council at 11am (AEST), only to find them locked.

It is believed to be the first time the Upper House has been shut down in such a manner since its inception in 1824.

"I've never seen a situation where a house has been shut down on a long bell for up to three months," Greens MP Ian Cohen said.

Opposition Leader in the Upper House Mike Gallacher said Mr Kelly all but ran out of the house when it appeared the Coalition would oppose moves to adjourn a day early for the winter break.

"By the time we turned around, in the blink of an eye Tony Kelly was not only gone from the house, he was gone from the Parliament," Mr Gallacher said.

"We couldn't find him, no one knew where he was.

"We're in limbo. The Parliament is effectively still sitting.

"We're just being denied access to the Parliament."

As the Upper House has not been adjourned, when Parliament does resume, Hansard will record the proceedings as having taken place on June 24.

NSW North Coast councils didn't make it into the 2009 winners circle at the National Awards for Local Government


2009 NATIONAL AWARDS FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT - CATEGORY WINNERS ANNOUNCED

Twenty one council and shire projects have been selected as Category Winners in the 2009 National Awards for Local Government....

Independent judging panels selected the winners across 11 award categories.

The 2009 Category Award winners came from every state in the Commonwealth, and included urban, regional, rural and remote councils.

The theme for this year's Awards is 'Local Government - Building Australian Communities'.

The 2009 Awards were open to all elected councils and shires around Australia.

The National Awards have been held annually since 1986 and are intended to highlight innovation in delivering infrastructure and services to local communities.

This year's Award categories encouraged innovation in infrastructure, health, natural resource development, environmental sustainability, Indigenous engagement and collaborative service delivery.

Since 1986, the Awards have helped councils to share good practice in order to find local solutions for community challenges.

Overall, 233 entries were received from local councils, making this year one of the more competitive awards in recent times.


National Awards winners here. Unfortunately this year no North Coast council made it into the winners circle.

Friday, 26 June 2009

"Get punched by Nat (Young)?"


After the pic of Angourie (above), which is a ripper, was posted on Kurungabaa by Kim Satchell, a sharp-witted Stu Nettle responded, "Tell us a story Satch! Don’t just leave us wondering. Was it as good as it looks? How’d your board go? You get many barrels? Get punched by Nat (Young)? C’mon brother!"

Nat ... a surfing legend?

Blistering barnacles, Mr. Editor!

Letter to The Daily Examiner editor, Peter Chapman, published on 25 June 2009.

The Clarence Valley takes it own temperature and declares it is fit and well despite global economic downturn. But will the good news continue?


Image: Google Images

Clarence Valley Council has released its upbeat June 2009 bi-annual Economic Monitor of this large Northern Rivers local government area.

Unfortunately, as communities along the Clarence Coast are heavily dependant on tourism income, increasingly rapid environmental change may well undercut this economic optimism.

This year coastal erosion is continuing to cause concern.


MANY beaches along the Clarence coast are off-limits today as king tides ravage the coastline.
Clarence Valley Council has declared most beach accessways too dangerous, ordering that barricades and closed signs be erected at beaches from Yamba to Wooli.
“This is about personal safety and people should not go past these points,” Clarence Valley Council deputy general manager Des Schroder said.
If people really have to go onto a beach, Mr Schroder said they should use the beach access points that were still open or use open beaches such as Main Beach in Yamba.
“You might have to drive to get to them but it's for your own safety,” he said.
“People should be really cautious about being on a beach.”
The dangerous beach conditions are the result of ongoing extensive beach erosion and a series of two-metre king tides this week.
The high tides have gouged steep cliff faces along some beaches and stripped sand from others to reveal bare rock shelfs.
The erosion has left many pedestrian and vehicle access points unstable and dangerous.
“People should stay away from all beach accesses until the seas have subsided and accesses have been repaired,” Mr Schroder said.

Only in Tassie......an explanation for mysterious crop circles

In scenically beautiful Tasmania they have found an explanation for those mysterious crop circles according to the The Mercury yesterday:
"WALLABIES are hopping into Tasmania's opium poppy fields and getting high.
The revelation has also solved what some growers say has spurred a campfire legend about mysterious crop circles which appear in the state's poppy paddocks. In true X-Files style, Attorney-General
Lara Giddings said yesterday the drugged-up wallabies had been found hopping around in circles squashing the poppies, creating the formations. The wallabies are increasingly entering the fields and eating the poppy heads. That causes them to get high and run around in turns creating "crop circles". "The one interesting bit that I found recently in one of my briefs on the poppy industry was that we have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles," Ms Giddings told a Budget Estimates hearing. "Then they crash. We see crop circles in the poppy industry from wallabies that are high." ......
Ms Giddings was answering questions about the security of Tasmanias poppy stocks, that are considered some of the safest in the world."

Thursday, 25 June 2009

The Malcolm Bligh Turnbull Narrative - abridged version


One version of the Turnbull narrative which may just survive into the future:

There once was a fairly ordinary Australian boy who grew into a young man rumoured to have a nasty temper and an inflated opinion of his own intellect.
His name was Malcolm Bligh Turnbull.
The young man first became a part of the fourth estate, but having a short employment attention span then entered the legal profession where many of his ilk flock, got himself a property so that he could style himself a country gentleman, flirted with authorship, became for a time a merchant banker and along the way made pots and pots of money (not always in a much admired fashion).
Not content with his lot he decided that he would very much like to be President of Australia and so helped mount a national campaign to dismantle the Australian Constitution and form a republic.
The now not so young political peacock saw this campaign fail in the face of contrary voter opinion and, being essentially both lazy and impatient decided that he would rather have a bird in hand such as the job then held by John Winston Howard - Prime Minister of Australia.
Having virtually brought himself Liberal Party pre-selection through sizable party donations and spent a barrow of cash on an election campaign in the Wentworth electorate in New South Wales, he won a seat in the Federal Parliament.
Utterly shocked that the Prime Minister and Cabinet did not immediately bow down before him and clear his path to the prime ministership or at least the treasurer's job, he not so graciously made do with being a parliamentary secretary and then Minister for the Environment and Water Resources.
As part of the Howard ministry he actively assisted the Coalition into the political wilderness in November 2007.
Since then he has been either trying to convince Coalition power brokers that only he can lead them back to victory in 2010 or fending off those who would like to replace him once he actually became Leader of the Liberal Party and Opposition.
To that end he has been rather busying playing at political theatre (a la Machiavelli's Prince, John Wilkes Booth or Burke & Hare depending on your particular point of view) and in consequence his nose has been growing soooo long that it will no longer fit though any door in The Lodge.
Enter Joseph Benedict Hockey........

'Typhoid Mary' Fielding goes too far

Struth, there's yet another idiot pollie fronting the teev this week!
Family First's leader and one and only member of the Australian parliament Senator Steve Fielding apparently not only thinks man-made global warming doesn't exist, he thinks the principles of viral transmission don't apply to his august person.
The obviously lobotomised senator has someone in his household he says has been diagnosed with swine flu, but is determined that even if he might be infectious himself he "doesn't want to take a sickie".
Yeah, nice one Stevo - go trotting through an air-conditioned workplace (open to the general public) dominated by older, sedentary men who would probably be more vulnerable to swine flu.
Look! See how quickly Steve can bring Parliament to its knees!
See how powerful Family First is!
Did we really vote this drongo in?

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Q: What's a 2830?



A: A dubbo, of course.



As reported yesterday, a couple of Dubbo Zoo inmates, oops that should read Dubbo City Councillors, who previously resided in the Clarence Valley, are making big impressions in the local government arena in central western NSW.

Richard Mutton (left) and Peter Bartley (right), who are councillors on Dubbo City Council, have done their level best to demonstrate how effectively the National Party performs.

At Monday night's meeting of council a motion, moved by Mutton, that Bartley had breached the council's code of conduct, should be counselled and should apologise to the council was carried.

So who are Mutton and Bartley?

1. Mutton

When Gerry Peacocke retired as the State National Member for Dubbo in 1999 a swing of 19.4% was required if the Nationals were to lose the safest seat in NSW. With its remarkable collective wisdom the Nationals saw fit to preselect Mutton as their candidate. The rest is history ... Mutton suffered a humiliating defeat and lost the seat to the independent Tony McGrane.

2. Bartley

Bartley is chairperson of the Nationals Dubbo electorate council.

Gee, the Nationals are a weird breed of cattle.

Godwin Grech, celebrity and other political trivia this week


I suppose it was inevitable - Federal Treasury Principal Advisor, Financial Systems Division, Godwin Grech, now has a FaceBook fan club and a Wikipedia entry.

Godwin is being widely discussed in the mainstream media and the blogosphere because of his testimony before a Senate inquiry last week.

However, the author of the FaceBook entry remains a bit of a mystery.

I'm rather inclined to suspect a Liberal party staffer organised the creation of this entry, after hearing Liberal Party MP and parliamentary attack dog Joe Hockey admit on ABC News Radio yesterday that he tried to contact Mr. Grech on Saturday to offer moral support.

Meanwhile according to the Commonwealth Hansard for the House of Representatives (using a quick word count) on the day that email was revealed as a fake, honourable members rose to use the word lie 9 times, lies 2 times, lied 22 times and liars 1 time.

At last the mystery is solved - the Nationals MP for Cowper can't read


It has been puzzling me as to why Federal Nationals MP for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker (as late as his appearance on Channel 10 State Focus on Sunday 21 June 2009) insists on repeating a false assertion that the Prime Minister had promised that individuals affected by northern NSW flooding in March 2009 would be eligible for a particular one-off Centrelink cash payment.

The mystery appears to have a really banal explanation.

It seems that Mr. Hartsuyker is in urgent need of a remedial reading course, because on 26 May 2009 he had incorrectly stated to The Belligen Shire Courier-Sun that these payments had been extended to families affected by March flooding:

Meanwhile, Federal MP Luke Hartsuyker yesterday welcomed the Prime Minister's announcement of one-off cash grants to assist those individuals, small businesses and primary producers affected by recent flooding. The Prime Minister announced in Parliament ton Monday that one-off cash payments of $1000 per adult and $400 per child would be provided to eligible families affected by the floods. These grants would also be extended to those families affected by flooding on March 31. "I welcome this additional assistance which is being provided to these flood affected victims. "I also thank the Prime Minister for belatedly acknowledging the impact the March 31 floods had on the Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, Nambucca and Clarence Valley local government areas. "It is nearly eight weeks since those floods and although the Government originally rejected a request for one-off cash payments, I know there are many families out there who will welcome this assistance. I understand this assistance will be administered by Centrelink. "

In the world according to Hartsuyker - he personally makes a big blunder but it is really Kevin Rudd's fault.

Has Big Mal finally lost his mojo?

As of yesterday arvo Big Mal Turnbull last posted a two year-old video on YouTube 4 days ago, hasn't uttered a tweet on Twitter since the 18th June, not really updated news on his personal website since the day before that, hasn't uploaded to Flickr since the 15th June, last posted a note on Facebook on the 25th May and last logged in to MySpace on 14th of May 2009.
Now caught in media headlights like some bemused marsupial, Mal can only bleat that it would be improper to reveal his sources when he has apparently been caught out in what looks suspiciously like a political plot to bring down the Prime Minister with the collusion of at least one public service mole sympathetic to the Liberal Party.
The Great Communicator is no more......


Pic: Australian Jewish News

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Dubbo City Council's emailgate - shades of Canberra?


Two former Clarence Valley residents, Peter Bartley (left) and Richard Mutton (right), have been players in Dubbo City Council's emailgate.

Bartley and Mutton are councillors on Dubbo City Council.


Dubbo’s Daily Liberal reported that Dubbo City Council voted to take action against Bartley for a breach of the council’s code of conduct and demand the councillor apologise.

Bartley was found in breach of the council’s Code of Conduct in a matter of confidentiality by a conduct review committee.

The conduct review committee was called in by Mayor Greg Matthews to investigate an email leaked to the Daily Liberal in January.

Cr Matthews was the author of the email about medical consulting rooms in North Street, Dubbo, at the height of the drama at the departure of doctors George Albert and Baghat Gerges from Dubbo.

Dubbo City Council and the conduct review committee asked the Daily Liberal to divulge its source, but it refused to do so.

The result of the conduct review committee went before councillors in a meeting that was originally intended to be a closed meeting, but went to a public hearing.

Cr Mutton moved that Cr Bartley had breached the code of conduct, should be counselled and should apologise to the council.

Cr Mutton said he did not appreciate having to move the motion but had been “extremely upset” when he heard of the leak and wrote to the mayor because he felt it was a code of conduct breach.

The motion also said that the council would not pursue legal advice on the potential breach of a section of the Local Government Act.

Bartley is a partner in a firm of Dubbo solicitors while Mutton is a psychologist. When they resided in the Clarence Valley Bartley had a legal practice in Maclean while Mutton was a school counsellor. Mutton was also an announcer on Grafton's radio station 2GF. In an even earlier life, "Swinging Dick" Mutton was station manager for Radio UNE in Armidale.

Faaaarck! It's raining again on the North Coast



The local paper carried this photo of Gulmarrad.
No one's using the flood word yet, but we're thinking it!

Digger
Maclean

Are you having a Wheatless Wednesday this week?

As has been pointed out before - markets do respond to consumer pressure.
With biotech giants like Monsanto constantly (and often successfully) lobbying government to support widespread introduction of genetically modified and perpetually patented seed, now is the time to think about how one might oppose these greedy multinationals.

One can urge the local supermarket to stock food types that are guaranteed to be GM free, one can avoid produce or products which originate with companies known to purchase GM ingredients and one can decide to actively boycott a cropping cereal into which Monsanto et al are attempting to introduce genetically modified seed.

So, anyone for a Wheatless Wednesday?


Statement of Australian, Canadian and US Farmer, Environmental and Consumer Organizations

June 1, 2009

Summary Statement:

In light of our existing experience with genetic engineering, and recognizing the global consumer rejection of genetically engineered wheat, we restate our definitive opposition to GE wheat and our commitment to stopping the commercialization of GE traits in our wheat crops. We are committed to working with farmers, civil society groups and Indigenous peoples across the globe as we travel the road towards global food sovereignty.

Statement in Full:

In the interest of reiterating the decisive global rejection of genetically engineered (GE) wheat, culminating in Monsanto's 2004 withdrawal of requests to the Canadian and U.S. governments for commercialization of their GE wheat; and in the interest of laying to rest the attempts by Monsanto and other biotechnology corporations to introduce genetically engineered wheat, the undersigned organizations issue the following joint statement:

1. Wheat is an ancient grain that is vital for meeting the nutritional needs of many societies and has deep religious significance in many cultures. Wheat is one of three staple crop plants (the other two are rice and maize) that account for two-thirds of the diet of the world's population. Over centuries of cultivation, farmers have developed a tremendous diversity of wheat varieties, many of which are adapted to the soil and climate conditions of certain regions of the world. These locally-bred varieties are critical to ensuring local food supplies during times of weather-related disasters. In Australia, Canada, and the US, farmers and public scientists have worked collectively with this diversity to develop varieties adapted to local conditions and suited to relevant markets. Multinational seed companies have played an insignificant role in fundamental wheat seed development in these countries or anywhere else in the world.

2. The remarkable achievements in wheat breeding that farmers and scientists have managed over generations have not involved genetic engineering or patenting. While farmers and conventional breeders continue to lead the way in innovation with wheat, there are currently no genetically engineered traits in the pipeline for wheat that promise basic agronomic improvements. In reality, the only GE trait in wheat for which approval has been sought is for tolerance to the herbicide glyphosate. This trait is not designed to increase yields, but to simplify herbicide application. Not only does this technology contribute nothing to feeding the world, genetic engineering is a direct threat to global food security. Genetic engineering can and does lead to contamination of seed varieties, and poses a decisive threat to organic farming and the production of crop varieties bred specifically for local conditions. Moreover, the introduction of GE wheat would put the wheat seed supply in the hands of a small number of multinational corporations, as has happened with the introduction of GE soybeans, GE corn and GE canola. During the recent food crisis, these companies used their oligopolistic positions to dramatically increase the price of seeds and agrochemicals. Farmers planting wheat in the Australia, Canada and the US were less affected by these price increases because they were free to save seeds and had access to public varieties. Monsanto, the world's largest producer of GE seeds, increased its profits by 120% in 2008. It should also be noted that since the introduction of GE crops in 1996, the number of people going hungry in the world has ballooned from an estimated 800 million to over 1 billion.

3. Rather than the area of wheat production decreasing due to competition from GE crops, a March 2009 Statistics Canada survey of farmers in western Canada found that farmers plan to increase acreage of wheat, barley and peas, crops for which there are no GE varieties and where plant breeding is primarily in the public sector. The survey also revealed that farmers intend to cut back on acres planted to canola seed, which is mainly GE in Canada, in order to decrease production costs. Additionally, there is no evidence to substantiate the claim that GE crop varieties increase yields.

4. Plant breeders and farmers have for too long narrowly focused on economies of scale and higher yields. This has resulted in higher input costs and lower net income for farmers. Higher yields have come at a high cost economically, as well as environmentally, because high yielding crops tend to require more fertilizers and chemical inputs. Improved crop quality is more likely than bigger yields to provide higher realized net incomes for farmers. Higher quality wheat can be achieved efficiently and accessibly through conventional plant breeding, and this is where support for research needs to be located.

5. Genetic engineering is a highly imprecise technology. GE crops are inadequately regulated by governments that rely on corporate data rather than public, peer reviewed science. Complex questions relating to the effects of GE crops on soil health, non-target insects, and human health remain understudied. Over 10 years of experience with GE crops has exposed a convincing record of high levels of irreversible contamination and corporate control over seeds as well as continued scientific uncertainty. Additionally, research from wheat organizations (Canadian Wheat Board and Australian Wheat Board) has indicated very strong market rejection of GE wheat. Commercial GE crops have so far been limited to crops used primarily for feed, oil and fibre and have thus not been subjected to national labelling requirements in many countries. GE wheat, however, would primarily be used for human consumption and food products derived from GE wheat would be labelled as GE in many countries across the world. Additionally, if GE wheat is released commercially, contamination would be inevitable and markets would view all wheat produced from these areas as GE unless proven to be non-GE. Farmers growing GE wheat will take on all of the responsibilities, costs and liabilities, with little available legal recourse to recover their losses.

6. Private seed companies are not investing in wheat research because of competition from strong public plant breeding programs and the desire and capacity of farmers to save wheat seeds from year to year. The main reason why seed companies want to introduce GE wheat is so that, by means of gene patents, they can stop farmers from saving seeds. The introduction of patents into wheat breeding will destroy the collective heritage of plant breeding for wheat and erode the strong public breeding programmes for wheat in the Canada, Australia and the US which have always generated impressive returns through minimal public investments and/or farmer contributions. Additionally, in February 2009, 26 top US corn scientists sent a statement to the US Environmental Protection Agency asserting that independent research is being thwarted by industry technology/stewardship agreements.

In light of our existing experience with genetic engineering, and recognizing the global consumer rejection of genetically engineered wheat, we restate our definitive opposition to GE wheat and our commitment to stopping the commercialization of GE traits in our wheat crops. We are committed to working with farmers, civil society groups and Indigenous peoples across the globe as we travel the road towards global food sovereignty.

Signed By:
National Farmers Union, Canada
Canadian Biotechnology Action Network
Union Paysanne, Canada
Union Biologique Paysanne, Canada
Réseau Québécois contre les OGM, Canada
Saskatchewan Organic Directorate, Canada
Network of Concerned Farmers, Australia
Organic Federation of Australia
Biological Farmers of Australia
Gene Ethics, Australia
Greenpeace
National Family Farm Coalition, USA
Western Organization of Resource Councils, USA
Center for Food Safety, USA
Organic Consumers Association, USA

Wheat photograph from Eat. Drink. Better.

Can the Minister for Censorship Stephen Conroy be returned to sender?


Wikipedia excerpt: Stephen Michael Conroy (born 18 January 1963 in Ely, Cambridgeshire, England, near Norwich) is an Australian politician and the current Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy in the Rudd Labor Government. He has been an Australian Labor Party member of the Australian Senate since May 1996, representing the state of Victoria.[1]

Which ever way you look at it.................


Hon. Malcolm B. Turnbull, Member for Wentworth,
Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia

Monday, 22 June 2009

Possum creates an Ozcar timeline and the House of Representatives censures Malcolm Turnbull


Possum Comitatus writing at Pollytics has created a primary political timeline for the OzCar furore engaging the attention of political tragics nationwide and nostalgic Coalition members of the Australian Parliament.

You'd have to be a lead poisoned crackhead to believe this.

This afternoon the House of Representatives has voted to pass a censure motion against the Federal Leader of the Opposition Malcolm Turnbull citing his reliance on that now notorious alleged email which pointed a finger at the probity of the Australian Prime Minister.

The Sydney Morning Herald has live coverage of Ute-Gate here.

Brave young Maree Jay takes on the ugly face of Australian journalism at The Daily Examiner



Hot on the heels of The Daily Examiner office at Yamba being broken into and what sounds like an amount of petty cash stolen, that newspaper attempted to run a crime wave scare concerning people of aboriginal appearance and allegedly low police numbers [The Daily Examiner, 11 June 2009].

Something that Grafton Police Chief Inspector Darren Spooner flatly denied as he happens to live in Yamba [The Daily Examiner, 13 June 2009,p5].

By 12 June 2009 this inchoate media beatup had quickly morphed into a generalised attack on the indigenous community of Yamba.

Now 22 year-old Maree Jay of Grafton has taken the newspaper's boastfully unrepentant editor to task for his judgmental, one-eyed, hearsay-ridden view of the Yaegl community.

Once again, Peter Chapman has added an editor's comment which reflects his inability to recognise his own journalistic shortcomings.

Ngaru Village

THIS is a formal complaint written to the people involved in the production and publishing of the story 'Yamba's Mission' (DEX, June 13).
This article is an example of social segregation and disinclusion. These are two words identified by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commissioner 2003 as contributors to a) the history of oppression of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait lslander people and b) the continuation of such abuse.
By publishing this story you are actively continuing that cycle. The 'Yamba community' is spoken to as if they are white, and the 'Aboriginal people'are not spoken to, they are spoken about.
It is 2009, I am 22 years old and the printing of this story made me feel sick in the bottom of my stomach.
I wonder how a story with the same stereotyping, ignorance, opportunism and the lack of factual research seen in stories published when my grandmother was 22 years old can be so destructively distributed throughout our community.
Did you ask anyone in the Aboriginal community anything about their life? No. You snuck in at 6.15 in the morning to rely on photos that give an out-of-context, sensationalised impression.
lf you were a Koori person, would you want to go into town with this story in the press?
Maree Jay,
GRAFTON.

EDITOR'S COMMENT;
The response from Maree Jay reflects indignation that someone would dare criticise Yamba's Ngaru Village.
Like us, you know that our story is based on fact, not on rumours.
Key details of what is happening at the village have been known to this paper for many months.
Rather than attack us, the question I put back to you is: As a concerned 22-year-old what have you done in the past few years to assist Ngaru Village and to help improve the living standards of the children who call the village home?
It would have been easy for this paper to have ignored Ngaru Village. We knew we would generate howls of protests like yours.
I don't apologise for taking the stance we have, in fact l would have been embarrassed if we
hadn't.


As the editor has not yet made one constructive suggestion or concrete offer of help, it is the height of hypocrisy on his part to suggest that another should be doing so.

Peter Chapman may not be embarrassed, but I wouldn't mind betting that there are a few reputable journalists who would be embarrassed by his amateurish existence.

FACT OR SQUEAKTGATE JOURNALISM?

** Transcript of a letter to the editor hand delivered to The Daily Examiner on 19 June 2009.

Sir,

FACT OR SQUEAKTGATE JOURNALISM?

Your arrogant response to 22 year old Maree Jay's letter "Ngaru Village" 18-6-09 claiming that your "story was based on fact" is as fictional as your sensationalistic journalism unable to distinguish between fact, opinion or hearsay in blind pursuit of profit.

An unidentified pilot who claimed to be able to see through the roofs of most of the homes is not fact but hearsay.

A photograph of a disused house cited for demolition is nothing more than a disused house cited for demolition.

Claims made by a former unidentified ambulance driver is not fact but hearsay.

Your claim of unidentified "young people running around the streets staging break and enters and smashing property --- on a daily basis" is not fact but your opinion that goes very close to defamation.
It does not appear to be corroborated by Chief Inspector Spooner nor does it link the residents of Ngaru Village with such alleged crimes.

And the report that a Queensland teenager has been charged with 11 offences including break and enter is not evidence that the elders of Ngaru Village are involved in such crimes.

"Where do these youths come from and who is guiding then through life----" is not a fact but a question that should have been answered by you as the investigative journalist.

Having read your squeakygate news report the only crime the elders of Ngaru Village seem to have committed is the crime of being poor.

Your uncorroborated sensationalism targeting the elders of Ngaru Village appears to be designed to sell newspapers and make a profit for yourself rather than help the elders of Ngaru Village.
In doing so you have made yourself vulnerable to a claim of defamation.

As the editor of the only daily news publication in the Clarence Valley, surely you have an obligation to provide a responsible news serve, accurate, impartial and with the utmost integrity.

RAY HUNT
Yamba




Guest Speak is a North Coast Voices segment allowing serious or satirical comment from NSW Northern Rivers residents. Email ncvguestpeak at live dot com dot au to submit comment for consideration.

North Coast Voices will be revealed for its ignorance according to the mainstream media!



This year The Daily Examiner of Grafton (which is the only local daily newspaper covering the Clarence Valley) marks 150 years of journalism and news reporting, so it is sad that the once proud newspaper was reduced to this last Saturday when the editor was criticized by James Patterson of Ramornie in a letter to the editor.

In part this is what Mr. Patterson said:

You deserve to come under attack for your articles on the Yamba village because, in your rush to get the story out, you delivered a piece low on research and fact and high on emotive journalism.
Your key story ran for a week to mainly justify your position.
A raised voice at 6.15am, a photo of a rundown building and a quote from a politician are not cold, hard facts that will convince people.

Peter Chapman's reply induced some mirth here at North Coast Voices when in part it stated:

EDITOR'S COMMENT: To every story there is a start and an end.
We have only just scratched the surface of the Ngaru Village story.
I refute your comments that it wasn't based on any hard facts.
It is unfortunate that many people in the community know about what is happening in the village yet very few if any, are prepared to put their name to the story.
Our information comes from impeccable sources and when the story is finished people who have criticised our stance will be revealed for their ignorance.

On Saturday The Daily Examiner also ran this story which, rumour has it, is a change of tone and emphasis brought on by the thought that ABC TV's Media Watch may be aware of Peter Chapman's recent over the top reporting on Ngaru Village.
A case of twice bitten, third time shy?

Clearing up a little Utilities Allowance confusion created by the Nationals

It seems that Nationals Senator for NSW Fiona Nash has been stirring the possum a bit according to Labor MP for Page Janelle Saffin in The Far North Coaster last Friday.
Apparently young Fi has been telling pensioners that their Centrelink Utilities Allowance has been scrapped.


Just to set the record straight here's Labor Senator Kim Carr informing the Senate of the new arrangements during the 17th June 2009 second reading of the bill which will increase pension payments:
"New pension and seniors supplements
The range of supplementary payments and allowances currently paid to pensioners will be simplified and made more flexible through the introduction of a new Pension Supplement.
This will help make pension payments easier to understand. Following the reforms, pensioners will receive two main payments: the base pension and the Pension Supplement.
This new Pension Supplement incorporates the value of the existing
GST Supplement, Pharmaceutical Allowance, Utilities Allowance and Telephone Allowance (at the higher internet rate). Increases of $2.49 a week for singles and $10.14 a week for couples combined will be paid on top of the value of existing allowances.
The Pension Supplement will be indexed in March and September each year in line with increases in the Consumer Price Index. It will be available only to people resident in Australia or temporarily overseas.
The Pension Supplement for a single pensioner will be around two-thirds, 66.33 per cent, of the Pension Supplement for a couple combined. This mirrors the new single to couple ratio established for pension rates.
At 20 September 2009, it is estimated the Pension Supplement will be worth up to $1,462.70 a year for singles (or $28.13 a week) and $2,199.60 a year for couples (or $42.30 a week). This is an estimate as the actual indexation increase is not yet known.
The Pension Supplement will be included in the pension payment rate and subject to income and assets testing. This means that, once the base pension rate is reduced to nil, the Pension Supplement will decrease until it reaches a minimum payment of an estimated $790.40 a year for singles (or $15.20 a week) and $1,190.80 a year for couples (or $22.90 a week). The payment a person receives will not fall below the minimum amount of the Pension Supplement until the person’s income or assets reach a level that would otherwise reduce their payment to nil.
The new Pension Supplement will provide pensioners with more flexibility in managing their own budgets.
From 20 September 2009, the Pension Supplement will be paid fortnightly, along with the base pension. From July 2010, pensioners will have the choice of receiving around half of the Pension Supplement in quarterly instalments. This flexible part of the Pension Supplement will be equal to the minimum payment of Pension Supplement.
Self-funded retirees will also benefit from these reforms. A new Seniors Supplement for holders of a Commonwealth Seniors Health Card will be introduced from 20 September 2009. The Seniors Supplement will replace the Seniors Concession Allowance and Telephone Allowance (at the higher internet rate) for eligible recipients. The Seniors Supplement will continue to be available as a quarterly payment and will be paid at the same rate as the minimum amount of the Pension Supplement. The Seniors Supplement for a single person will be 66.33 per cent of the Seniors Supplement for a couple combined.
In September 2009, the Seniors Supplement will be an estimated $790.40 a year for singles and $1,190.80 a year for couples.
Increases in the Pension Supplement minimum amount for couples combined and for singles will flow through to increases in the Seniors Supplement. This will mean pensioners cannot receive less supplement than eligible self-funded retirees."
The complete explanation can be found here.

Either Senator Nash was not in the Chamber at this time, was not listening if she was or she is taking a leaf out of Luke Hartsuyker's Little Book of Lies to Tell the Electorate.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

While Turnbull wouldn't reveal the exact content of that alleged email Rudd apparently wasn't so coy

Click image to enlarge

It has been extremely interesting watching the case of the alleged Ozcar email develop.

What has been a real eye opener is Leader of the Opposition Malcolm Turnbull's admission that he didn't have a copy of and indeed hadn't seen this email on which he based his call for the Prime Minister to resign.

According to journalist Glenn Milne writing in The Daily Telegraph today:
Mr Turnbull now says he has been relying on Mr Lewis's reports for his resignation calls on Mr Rudd and Mr Swan. He denied anyone in the Opposition wrote the email or sent it to Mr Lewis.

Presumably Rudd's staffers released the copy of a News Ltd email used by Bernard Keane in his Twitpic to put us out of our misery as to the exact wording of that phantom email.