Tag Archives: australia

No Illusions Podcast #50 – Aboriginal Suicide

I wonder how many of you are, like me, feeling terrible about the indigenous affairs situation in Australia.

Gundjeihmi hand stencil

Gundjeihmi hand stencil

My guest today is Justin O’Brien, Executive Officer of the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (www.mirarr.net). The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) represents the Mirarr traditional owners of the Ranger uranium mine area, the site of the proposed Jabiluka uranium mine, much of Kakadu National Park and parts of Western Arnhem Land. They are the royalty receiving entity for the Ranger uranium mine and intimately associated with the political and social advancement of Indigenous rights.

We talk about some of the factors relating to indigenous youth suicide and the general need for more non-indigenous Australians to spend time with our indigenous citizens so we can better understand their situation.

 

Tagged , , ,

Suicide of young Aboriginal Australians at epidemic rate.

Young Aborigines are four times more likely to commit suicide than non-indigenous Australians. Experts and aboriginal elders believe a variety of reasons drive aboriginal youth to suicide, including a disconnection from traditional culture and land.

In Western Australia’s Kimberley region suicide has reached epidemic proportions, with one suicide every week on average since the end of December 2011.

(via AlJazeera)

Tagged , ,

More Catholic Cover-Ups Revealed In Australia

Four Corners has revealed more Australia Catholic Church rape cover-ups. 

George Pell is in denial, as usual. Of course we cannot trust the Catholic Church to investigate its own misdoings because covering up their crimes is part of the culture of the organisation.

Paul Kennedy nails it:

So what will change?

Who will stand up for these children, raped and then tortured by silence and denial?

Do not expect the Catholic Church hierarchy to alter its time-honoured global policies.

As I discussed with Dr. Wayne Chamley from Broken Rites back in 2009, if any other organisation had systematically covered up child rape for decades, the government would throw the book at it. Why does the Catholic Church get special treatment from Australian politicians? Are they *that* scared of losing the Catholic vote? We need a Royal Commission like Ireland.

 

Tagged , ,

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.

Tagged ,

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?

Tagged ,

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.

Tagged ,

Let’s Ban Anonymous Comments!

As the power elite continue to struggle to re-gain control of an increasingly rabid populace, we will continue to see all manner of bizarre suggestions. From Senator Conroy’s “Filter The Internet” initiative here in Australia to this one from New York:

Legislation is pending in Albany that would make illegal anonymous online commenting, City & State tweeted this morning. Looks like Wired was among the first to report on the measure.

The bill’s backers, according to the mag, want to curtail “mean-spirited and baseless political attacks” and “spotlight on cyberbullies by forcing them to reveal their identity.”

Image

The legislation would make New York-based websites, such as blogs and newspapers, “remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post.”

via Disinformation: Everything You Know Is Wrong.

Personally I’ve always been more than happy to attach my name to my online opinions (which is why my ID is always “cameronreilly”), but I can fully understand why some people would like to be more cautious – people like Bradley Manning, etc. In this current era of “Kill The Whistleblower”, we need to provide anonymous avenues for concerned citizens to leak what they know about the workings of the power elite. And, of course, it stands to reason that the elite will want to destroy those avenues as much as they can.

Personally I don’t think they are going to succeed. For every website they shut down, for every piece of pseudo-fascist legislation they erect, there will be one hundred tools and channels invented by people like Assange that route around the control mechanisms.

Tagged ,

Get Back Up

 

Aaron Sorkin, writer of THE WEST WING, THE SOCIAL NETWORK and the upcoming biopic on Steve Jobs, recently gave the Commencement address at Syracuse University.

The text is, surprisingly for a man of his talents, mostly blech – work hard, stay off drugs – but here’s a few lines that really resonated with me:

Every once in a while, you’ll succeed.  Most of the time you’ll fail, and most of the time the circumstances will be well beyond your control. How you live matters. You’re going to fall down, but the world doesn’t care how many times you fall down, as long as it’s one fewer than the number of times you get back up.

As some of you know, the start-up I spent the last two years of my life building (Perdomo Cigars Australia) just went belly-up. Not because it was a bad business – it was doing quite well – but because the other guy involved in the business was involved in ANOTHER business that closed down and because of a whole bunch of things I won’t bore you with, it dragged the cigar business down with it.

In times like that, it’s easy to kick yourself for a bunch of reasons – like getting involved with the wrong people, not trusting your gut (or your wife) when it/she tells you “this guy doesn’t know what he’s doing” – but that doesn’t help. Hindsight is great later on when you are doing a post-game analysis of the lessons learned. But the most important thing you need to remember when the shit hits the fan and your life cracks is GET BACK UP.

I’ve got two questions I always ask myself when things go bad.

1. What does this situation enable me to do that I couldn’t do before? 

2. How can I turn this situation to my advantage? 

I’ve found that these two questions quickly re-program my brain in times of drama to think about the upsides and not worry about the downsides (or about how the downsides came to happen in the first place). There’s time for analysis later.

Tagged

What Is Fracking?

This video posted today by Get Up! got me thinking about “fracking”.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYd5_u6ehlA]

What is this “fracking” that I’ve been hearing so much about lately? It’s something I’ve been meaning to pay more attention to.

According to this excellent site put together by the ABC, “fracking” is short for “hydraulic fracturing”. It’s all about “coal seam gas” (CSG) or “coalbed methane” as it’s known outside of Australia. CSG is methane gas that’s trapped deep down in the earth under layers of coal. The objective is to drill down into the layers that contain the CSG and bring it up to the surface. Mining CSG is a fairly recent phenomenon and there are lots of environmental concerns about how it is extracted, the amount of water the process requires and what happens to the water afterwards. It is estimated there will be 40,000 coal seam gas wells in Australia – mostly in QLD.

So what is “fracking”? According to the ABC:

In the process known as ‘fracking’, a mix of water and chemicals is pumped at high pressure down the well and into the coal seam. This process creates a network of cracks in the coal, releasing the gas and water trapped inside it. Not all wells need to be fractured. In some places, the coal is permeable, meaning it already has lots of natural cracks. In others, gas companies drill horizontally into the coal seam as an alternative to fracturing.

So is that a good thing or a bad thing? The answer is – we don’t know. There is a lot of debate between the various interested parties. The CSG industry claims the water that is extracted during the process will be available for irrigation but first it will have to be decontaminated and that’s a costly process. The environmentalists and farmers (nice to see them on the same side for once) are worried about the effect this entrance of this water will have on our water ecology. The bottom line is that this is a new industry that the mining companies are rushing into and I’m betting the majority of Australians have given little thought about what the long-term effect is likely to be on the country. A lot of money is likely to be made by a relatively small number of companies in the next couple of decades – but what will the long-term cost be to the country? To the farming industry? To the health of the people? As water is already a precious commodity in Australia, it’s something that needs serious debate and discussion before the government just hands out CSG licenses.

Tagged

Seth MacFarlane To Bring Back COSMOS!

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this news!

I’m a huge fan of the original COSMOS series by Carl Sagan. It had a huge impact on me as a kid when it first aired on TV in Australia and these days I own a copy of the series on DVD. Sagan paved the way for people like Brian Greene and Neil DeGrasse Tyson and for podcasts like Radio Lab and SGU.

We desperately need the younger generation to truly understand and appreciate science and the power of the scientific method. Hopefully Seth (who I’m also, of course, a huge fan of) can make this happen, although FOX seems like a very strange network to try to get it up on. He obviously has a good relationship with them, but c’mon – the network of O’Reilly, Glen Beck, Roger Ailes and the network who killed Firefly? Are they really going to get on board with promoting science?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2d13CBSef8]

(Source: Universe Today)

Tagged , , , , ,