Summer, Occupy Wall St, Julian Assange, Rafael Nadal, Tony the Tiger, WSPA Bear News, Bipartisanship, Climate Change, Coal Seam Gas, A Lion Called Christian and Julie & Julia
November 18, 2011
SUMMER: I have been in Perth and the photograph (above) is of the beach at Scarborough, opposite my hotel. Tempting as the water looks there have been several recent shark attacks on Perth beaches. I always say I haven’t been in the sea since seeing Jaws, now many years ago – and it is virtually true. The Australian native flowers in Perth gardens and parks, and at home in Bundeena, have been especially beautiful and already the temperatures are quite hot. Apologies to everyone going into winter!
OCCUPY WALL STREET: I was away and missed the most recent Sydney Occupy Wall Street rally. Responses by the police removing ostensibly peaceful protesters from their sites everywhere are getting more heavy-handed. There is an attitude “OK you have made your point, now go home”. Sorry, but I don’t think it is going to work like that. I don’t know if the Sydney group has set up a new camp. Their absence of “leadership” and specific objectives is quite fascinating, and the organic growth of the movement still seems to be gaining momentum. They have certainly made the world – and presumably politicians – take notice.
JULIAN ASSANGE: Australia does not seem to be assisting this Australian citizen in any way and I imagine Julian will appeal after losing his High Court battle in the UK against his extradition to Sweden. I’ve been looking up some of the economic and political websites and blogs mentioned at the Occupy rally or by WikiLeaks sympathisers. Most have been very informative, but some are quite scary. I try not to be into conspiracy theories but then again I think I’m often very naive. Fascinating and enigmatic as Julian is, I’ve only read edited sections of his “unauthorised autobiography” in newspapers.
RAFA: While Julian may have disowned his autobiography, Rafael Nadal said he hadn’t even read his own “autobiography”! I found it very interesting. The exceptional natural abilities, mental and physical toughness, and the unavoidable discipline and hard work required to make a sports star. Then there are other factors like luck, the other competitors (Federer ahead of him, and Djokovic emerging behind him), and the ever present risk of injury. Rafa is very tough mentally and can exclude all superfluous thoughts – like losing the last point. He is surrounded by a very good team and family. He has an effective if prickly relationship with his coach his Uncle Tony, who has taunted him as a “Mummy’s boy”. Every morning, no matter how late to bed, Rafa is on the court , or in the gym. I’m looking forward to the Australian Open in Melbourne in January – Rafa was injured last year.
TONY THE TIGER: The victory in his court case has been the best news. I have been trying to ascertain from the ALDF if he is still in his cage at the Truck Stop, and I fear he is. What will the “owner” do with Tony, and can he appeal the decision? Who will decide Tony’s subsequent future? The ALDF and Dee de Santis will keep us informed hopefully.
BIPARTISANSHIP: In Australia we have political bipartisanship only about “hot” and often difficult issues. Aboriginal issues are often bipartisan, with both parties at the moment supporting an ill conceived and uninvited “intervention” in remote Aboriginal communities some of which are admittedly facing seemingly insurmountable social problems. It suits both political parties to acquiesce with each other in these failed policies.
Because of our alliance with the US, both parties also agree over war, with our involvement in Afghanistan (and Iraq). However 72% of Australians want our troops to come home – 32 Australian deaths in Afghanistan, and the last few have been killed by rogue Afghans from troops they have been “mentoring”.
Obama has just whizzed through Australia charming everyone and now we are to have American troops stationed here in a few years in northern Australia. Obama is trying to extricate America from the Middle East, and has committed America to the Asia-Pacific region and its growing economic opportunities. Does this enhance Australia’s security or make us more of a target? How will China, who has been keeping the Australian economy afloat, react to this? The move has been interpreted as an attempt to “contain” China, and we have been reminded “Chinese strategic missiles can reach Australia”.
Israel is also a bipartisan issue and our government was one of only 14 countries that recently voted against Palestine’s admission to UNESCO. Although 107 countries supported Palestinian membership, the move has been described as “detrimental to the peace process”. What “peace process” one may ask? The US is now refusing to pay their $60 million contribution to UNESCO. Israel as a punishment is withholding at least $US100 million in tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority and fast-tracking new settlement development. It was refreshing to hear just how frustrated Obama really is with Netanyahu.
I wish there was a humane bipartisanship in Australia over asylum seekers and refugees rather than the blatant “race to the bottom” playing to the worst and most uncharitable instincts in the Australian population. There have been yet more recent drownings in an unsafe boat setting off from Indonesia.
Up to 30 Indonesian children, who were possibly unwitting crew members on these “people-smuggler boats”, are languishing in our jails, while our media is hysterical over a 14 year old Australian busted for buying marijuana and boasting about it in Bali.
CLIMATE CHANGE: Australia’s Clean Energy Bill has passed the Senate. Al Gore sent a message:
“With this vote, the world has turned a pivotal corner in the collective effort to solve the climate crisis… Today we celebrate. Tomorrow, we do everything we can to ensure that this legislation is successful.”
Rupert Murdoch has assumed Chairmanship of News Ltd in Australia, and appointed a new CEO. I was amused to read in his The Australian, that a prominent US physicist and global-warming sceptic in trying to disprove climate scientists were wrong, discovered that they were right – temperatures were rising rapidly. However, true to form, another report in the newspaper found “an international statesman” who described international carbon trading as “halfway between a fantasy and a fraud”.
The US Department of Energy has calculated the global output of carbon dioxide has jumped by the biggest amount on record, and a draft UN report finds that man-made climate change has boosted the frequency or intensity of floods, cyclones, wildfires, heat waves etc., and this is likely to increase.
As I have previously mentioned, China is acting on climate change and their emissions, but they are also being forced into action because their air is so polluted. I remember the sky was brown in Shanghai when I was there just before their EXPO in 2010.
Our own inimitable Cardinal Pell says it is “immoral” to spend money attempting to prevent climate change. I would say future generations will say it was “immoral” to do nothing about it.
CSG: Both coal seam gas and liquefied natural gas are expected to benefit in the short term from the price on carbon, because they generally emit fewer greenhouse gases than coal and at present they are cheaper than solar, wind or geothermal power. There are 4,000 coal seam gas wells sunk in Queensland already, and plans for as many as 40,000 more! However the technique used (known as “fracking”) apparently caused a small earthquake in the UK recently, and the long term effects on water tables through this process and the use of chemicals etc., are still unknown.
In Queensland, dredging in ports to facilitate CSG export facilities is endangering The Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area ecosystem. You can show your concern by signing this GetUp! petition.
MINING: The Government is still trying to implement a Mining Tax against great opposition from most of the millionaire miners. Apparently most companies pay as little as 14% taxation, and 83% of the companies are foreign-owned. Shamefully, Canada is selling vast amounts of asbestos to countries like India for cheap (and possibly life-threatening) housing (Foreign Correspondent 8 Nov ABC). The Australian Government seems to be about to overturn our ban on uranium sales to India which was based on the fact that India is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. This has been a long running impediment in our relationship with India who, despite what happened in Fukushima, Japan, is aiming at a total of 65 nuclear reactors.
RHINOS: As I have previously blogged African elephants are in an “extinction vortex”. Africa’s Western Black Rhino, however, has been declared extinct and other sub-species may also be facing extinction. Read more in this LA Times article.
A LION CALLED CHRISTIAN: I send a copy of the book or DVD of A Lion Called Christian to any children’s hospitals I read about and I received a letter back from one saying that Christian’s story was proving to be effective “distractive therapy” – an expression I hadn’t heard before. I’m so pleased to think this can sometimes help those children facing often dire medical procedures or futures.
The books are available in digital versions and I have included links below. I’m sort of surprised that Christian’s story continues to inspire people – except his life was so exceptional!
BLOGGING: I finally caught up with the film Julie & Julia which I enjoyed despite Meryl Streep’s no doubt good impersonation of Julia Child’s voice. I was interested in the blogging – Julie was at it day by day, which I am not, and much more personal. I don’t want to inflict on you my daily feelings, mood swings and neuroses. Over a two or three week period what I want to comment on emerges – even if some of it is quite dated by then. Blogging offers all of us the chance to express what we feel about the world, as many of us feel a certain impotence. I’ve let you know I’ve had a life after owning a lion when I was young, and had a career in Aboriginal art which I have found fascinating. In a blog I’m able to talk about other things that I find important or that interest me and I like the way it ends up a sort of diary.
Primarily, however, I hope the blog is a valuable global noticeboard about anyone doing interesting work or campaigning in relation to conservation and animal rights and welfare issues. This very much also depends on your contributions. If we together have helped in any way to free Tony the Tiger, for example, I think that is just wonderful.
I get many more emails than “comments” on the blog – perhaps many of you are rather like me and prefer a one-on-one communication, rather than a more public discourse.
MISC STATS: nearly 4000 protesters dead in Syria so far (and thousands of defecting Syrian soldiers joining the protests); 800 million Facebook users; Justin Bieber’s over 2 billion hits on YouTube overtaking Lady Gaga (his voice is breaking); 7 billion people in the world and 30 million millionaires; Chinese artist Ai Weiwei accused of owing $2.27 million in back taxes ( people are throwing money over his wall); 500 have died in the floods in Thailand; George Soros’ accurate prediction that the deal to fix the Eurozone/Greek financial crisis would last between 1 and 30 days – it lasted 4 days (good luck to the new governments in Greece and Italy); Brazil overtakes the UK as the world’s 6th biggest economy; Australia judged the second best country to live in after Norway!
I’m reading and loving The Colony: A History of Early Sydney by Grace Karskens, uncomfortably watching The Slap on TV, loved k.d.lang’s great voice at her concert, and I was in awe and humbled in the presence of many of Picasso’s own Picassos at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.