Clive Palmer On Asylum Seekers

Good ol’ Clive Palmer, who often sounds like he’s batshit crazy, actually made some sensible comments about Australia’s asylum seeker policy (another reason I’m embarrassed to be an Aussie these days).

Mining magnate Clive Palmer says the Federal Government should allow asylum seekers to fly to Australia to have their claims processed.

A political stalemate has gripped federal politics since two asylum seeker boats capsized, killing almost 100 people.

Mr Palmer does not support offshore processing, and says the current system puts asylum seekers in a difficult position.

He says even though many asylum seekers can afford plane fares, they are not allowed to fly so they turn to the riskier alternative of trying to reach Australia by boat.

“People who are in Indonesia and want to come to Australia cannot buy an airline ticket because the Australian Government stops them,” he told the ABC after the Liberal Party’s national conference.

“All that needs to happen is that the Government needs to stop telling airlines and other people not to give people safe transport.

“If they come down here and if they’re refugees, that’s one thing. If they haven’t got a legitimate claim, they can go right back on the plane the next day.”

(ABC News)

I don’t know who created this graphic, but it’s been doing the rounds on Facebook and it’s pretty damning.

The bottom line as far as I’m concerned is that we have a responsibility to accept genuine refugees, to make their travel to Australia fast and safe, and to process their claims for asylum quickly and efficiently once they are here.

For frak’s sake, people – we are one of the wealthiest countries per capita on the entire planet with the lowest population density to boot. What is WRONG with us? Why are we so mean and churlish? Why are we so selfish and scared?

I seriously think we, as a nation, are suffering from some kind of clinical depression. We have everything going for us and yet we seem to have lost our basic human decency. It’s just not acceptable.

Australian Aboriginals On “Bottom Rung”

Via @mikeb476:

A new international report has ranked the life circumstances of Aboriginal Australians at the “bottom rung” and warned that Aboriginal children are “23 times more likely” to face jail than non-Aboriginal children.

The report also notes that federal government programs still falling short to address extreme hardship within Aboriginal communities.

The London-based rights organisation, Minority Rights Group International, in its latest annual survey of Aboriginal communities globally and released in Bangkok, says Australian Aboriginal communities “occupy the bottom rung” of a range of social indicators.

Aboriginal Australians are also over-represented in the criminal justice system and are 14 times more likely to be sent to jail than non-Aboriginal people.

Read the full article here.

As Mike tweeted, it’s a “proud day for Australia”. I’m certainly not an expert on the challenges we face as a nation improving the living conditions of the original inhabitants of this country, but I’ve been trying for years to get my head around it. Recently I’ve been reading “The Politics Of Suffering” by Peter Sutton, an excellent primer, and I’ve tried to get a podcast series up and running on the subject for many years. The recent news that the government has extended the NT intervention for another decade is very disturbing, even though Sutton seems to have changed his mind on the original intervention by the Howard government and believes it was necessary to prevent further decline. I really don’t know enough about it, but it disturbs the hell out of me and I’m embarrassed as an Australian that the oldest civilisation on the planet is suffering like this on our watch. What disturbs me even more is when I talk to fellow Aussies about it and I get, more often than not, the impression that many of my country folk have just washed their hands of the issue and seem to believe our fellow citizens somehow deserve the situation so many of them are in. What does this say about us as a people?

How Did I Miss Mr. Deity – Season Four?

I can’t believe I missed the entire 4th season of Mr. Deity! What was I doing in 2010?

In case you missed it too, here’s the first episode. The rest are on the Mr. Deity YouTube channel. If you haven’t heard of the series before, it’s one of the funniest and most insightful takes on religion that I’ve ever seen.

I did an interview with Mr. Deity himself back in 2009, but it looks like the mp3 file has gone missing during one of my server crashes / moves. If anyone has a copy, please let me know!

Brilliant New Pilger Documentary Highlights The Lies We Are Told

John Pilger has a great new documentary called “The War You Don’t See” and it’s up on YouTube in its entirety. I highly recommend it, as a lot of the subject matter is what I’m covering in my new book “You Are Blind”. Pilger interviews a wide range of people, including Dan Rather and a plethora of journalists, about how the western media were accomplices in spreading lies and misinformation in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq. He also explains how this isn’t a new meme – the media have been spinning lies to justify war during the entire 20th century. We tend to think this happened back the “olden days” and doesn’t happen today but the opposite is actually true. It happens more now than ever – in the era of 24-hour news and media organisations with incredible wealth and concentrated power, the wool is pulled over our eyes more than ever. Of course, the lies don’t stop with the reasons we go to war – it’s much more widespread than that. We are fed corporate propaganda all day, every day, about every aspect of living in our so-called democracies. The propaganda isn’t just the stories we are told, it’s also about the absence of the stories we are NOT told. We may think we have a free media but when your media is owned by corporations with their own agenda – maintaining their own wealth and power – the stories we are told will always reflect the version of the truth that they want us to think.

Instead of watching more crap reality TV tonight, I suggest you watch this instead.

Christianity In Australia Nosedives

The 2011 Census results are out and of course the first section I opened up pertained to our religiosity as a nation.

First the good news:

The number of people reporting ‘No Religion’ also increased strongly, from 15% of the population in 2001 to 22% in 2011. This is most evident amongst younger people, with 28% of people aged 15-34 reporting they had no religious affiliation.

Three cheers for young people!

The Christians are continuing to lose ground steadily too:

There has been a long-term decrease in affiliation to Christianity from 96% in 1911 to 61% in 2011. In the past decade, the proportion of the population reporting an affiliation to a Christian religion decreased from 68% in 2001 to 61% in 2011.

If Christianity continues to lose 10% of its membership every decade, we will see it wiped out altogether in 50 years. The ACL’s days are numbered.

Unfortunately, the “no religion” answer doesn’t really give an accurate indication as to whether or not these people believe in other fluffy concepts like astrology, spirit guides or anything else that doesn’t fit neatly into traditional religions, so it’s hard to get a handle on whether or not we’re really getting smarter and more scientific, or if we’re just drifting away from monotheism.

News Corp’s Anti-Science Agenda

“Big Bang Theory a Bust” is the way News Corp is peddling this two-year old story about Roger Penrose’s “Conformal Cyclic Cosmology” model for explaining concentric circles of cosmic background radiation. Why run the story two years late? I have no idea. But it’s the headline that is the true story.

It’s obviously written by a sub-editor to a) be sensationalist and b) discredit science in the minds of the general public. I’ve already seen people in Facebook picking up the story and using it to start discussions about how science is equal to faith.

Very similar to the HeraldSun’s approach to the now-discredited neutrino experiments out of CERN last year.

Sensationalist and anti-science. Of course, any intelligent person understands that the scientific method is a process of refinement – one experiment or, in Penrose’s case, theory, in no way “upends” or “busts” anything, especially not time-tested theories such as the Big Bang or the speed of light being the speed limit for relativity.

But I’m pretty sure News Corp cares not about such things as accuracy. It’s about sensationalist yellow journalism and trying to discredit science. Why would they want to discredit science? Because it helps them rally the Christian Right vote. Fox News has turned itself into a profitable political power house in the USA by pandering to the Christian Right, anti-science demographic and it looks like News International wants to try the same trick here in Oz.

Afridi & Pollard – Spy Vs Spy

DrShakilAfridi

The U.S. government is upset about Pakistan’s recent sentencing of Dr Shakil Afridi – the man who helped them run a fake vaccination program in Abbottabad, Pakistan which allegedly led to the capture and summary execution of Osama bin Laden –  to 33 years in prison for  high treason. The recent escalation in drone attacks in Pakistan might be seen as a bid to punish Pakistan for conviction of Dr. Afridi as well as its reluctance to reopen NATO supply routes. (CMC)

Now Médecins Sans Frontières, the international medical aid charity, is claiming the CIA’s fake vaccination program has damaged the reputation of vaccination programs around the world and particularly polio vaccinations in Pakistan where people fear that the vaccinations are part of a U.S. conspiracy to render their children infertile.

Of course, American has nothing against throwing people in jail for life for treason – ask Jonathan Pollard, a Texan who is still in jail after receiving a life sentence in 1987 on charges of spying for America’s close ally, Israel, or Bradley Manning.

It’s the same old story – if you spy against us, you’re a traitor who deserves life in jail. If you spy for us, you’re a hero who deserves a medal.

Fairfax Board Wants To Influence Editorial Content

Jack Cowin

From the Business Spectator:

One of Gina Rinehart’s closest advisers has argued that the Fairfax Media board should have the right to influence the editorial direction of the company’s media outlets, especially if the actions were designed to increase Fairfax profits, according to a Fairfax report…..Channel Ten board member, and Hungry Jacks founder, Jack Cowin told ABC Radio that newspapers are a business, not a public service, and that preventing board members from influencing Fairfax newspapers “would be like Qantas not allowing its directors to talk about aeroplanes,” Fairfax reported.

via Fairfax board should be able to influence editorial content: Rinehart adviser | News | Business Spectator.

So much for even pretending to have “editorial independence” which has usually been an illusion anyway. Cowin (and we assume Rinehart) don’t want to pussyfoot about when it comes to telling any media assets they might have control over what to write about or how to write it. Hey – it’s a BUSINESS, dummy.

As if we needed reminding.

Meanwhile… for those of you who are Mad Men fans, here’s Enoch Light’s original version of “Autumn Leaves”, as sampled by RJD2 on his track “A Beautiful Mine” which is used as the Mad Men theme.

Chomsky: America’s Rank Hypocrisy — Why Is it Only an “Atrocity” When Other Countries Do It?

I’m about 20% of the way into my new writing project “You Are Blind” – a look at how propaganda works in a corporatocracy – and it’s going very well.

Meanwhile, OpEdNews has this excellent new article by Noam Chomsky.

He starts by quoting  international affairs scholar James Peck who states:

“In the history of human rights, the worst atrocities are always committed by somebody else, never us” — whoever “us” is.

Chomsky then presents a few recent examples of how the western media loves to focus on atrocities by “the bad guys”, such as Syria, while ignoring (or justifying) similar or worse atrocities committed by “our side”. Or they highlight China’s treatment of dissidents like Chen Guangcheng while ignoring 0r justifying American treatment of dissidents like Bradley Manning.

It’s all part of what I’m writing about in my book. We are programmed from birth by our governments, corporate media, corporate PR departments, the education system (co-financed by the government and the wealthy elite) and religions to believe that a certain set of truths are self-evident – and that this programming is so pervasive that we don’t even notice it.

don't ask, don't tell
don’t ask, don’t tell