Well said, Bert

Dreadful choice we have in this year’s election, but perhaps some things really are more dreadful than others. This morning in the Sun-Herald is a letter from Bert Candy.

The decision by the executive of the Liberal Party to give Cory Bernardi the top position on their Senate ticket in the forthcoming federal election – despite his speech asserting that there could be a link between homosexuality and bestiality, as well as his association with an extreme right American organisation (”Smoking Gun”, January 27) – says a great deal about the political leanings of the Liberal power brokers.

A person with these questionable views can hardly represent a modern Australian electorate and, by endorsing him again, the Liberal Party is guilty by association. With pundits indicating a Liberal landslide, it appears that the extreme right have the numbers.

Bert Candy Lemon Tree Passage

Here is the man concerned:

He is clearly on the right of Genghis Khan. The recent story about him, to which Bert refers, appears online as Abbott’s man under fire over extreme right lobbying.

TONY Abbott’s handpicked former parliamentary secretary Cory Bernardi has apparently breached strict rules by failing to declare his ties to a right-wing, pro-tobacco group fighting gun controls.

The organisation, the American Legislative Exchange Council, was involved in a High Court challenge against the Gillard government last year and has financial ties with big tobacco.

The US-based council is working with the National Rifle Association to block President Barack Obama’s guns crackdown after the Newtown school massacre. An ALEC member since 2009, Senator Bernardi was dumped as Mr Abbott’s personal parliamentary secretary in September after he made a speech to Parliament that warned against legislating for gay marriage on the grounds it could open a legal path to bestiality and polygamy….

To get some idea of what kind of fruitcakes and downright subversives Bernadi sleeps with see ALEC Exposed: The Koch Connection and Three States Pushing ALEC Bill to Require Teaching Climate Change Denial in Schools.

ALEC Celebrates Groundhog Day 2013

Groundhog Day is on Feb. 2 and fittingly, ALEC and its corporate patrons continue to sing the same tune, simultaneously promoting fracking, blockading a transition to renewable energy and pushing bills mandating teaching climate change denial on par with actual science.

"It’s the same old schtick every year, the guy comes out with a big old stick, raps on the door,"actor Bill Murray said in the classic film Groundhog Day. "They pull the little rat out, they talk to him, the rat talks back, then they tell us what’s gonna happen."

Replace "guy" with "corporate lobbyist" and "legislators" with "rats" and that’s ALEC in a nutshell, serving as a mere microcosm of the current American political system at-large.

And of Cory Bernadi’s idea of a mate and a good thing for Australia’s way of conducting business. And of where his brain really lives.

A person with these questionable views can hardly represent a modern Australian electorate and, by endorsing him again, the Liberal Party is guilty by association. With pundits indicating a Liberal landslide, it appears that the extreme right have the numbers.

No way, I say. Some things really can be worse than Julia.

And speaking of the Right, cop the things crawling out from under logs to greet the bouffanted boofhead from Holland.  And look closely at the group who invited him.  I see they have the obligatory Oz flag at the top and a quote from Mary Gilmore. I wonder if they realise she was a life-long Communist.  Mind you she is an under-rated poet who certainly deserves to be better known, as this poem (not on that site) shows:

Nationality

I have grown past hate and bitterness,
I see the world as one;
But though I can no longer hate,
My son is still my son.

All men at God’s round table sit,
and all men must be fed;
But this loaf in my hand,
This loaf is my son’s bread.

On that anti-Islam group’s site you will find Robert Spencer at al, pretty much as you would expect, but you also find this, which I reproduce exactly as it is:

Ayn Rand: The Collection.
Her book ‘Atlas Shruggs’ is considered by many in the International Counter-Jihad and Freedom Movement as foundational work for the relation between the free individual, the state and the collective society.

Surprise, surprise!

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They are all so sane and balanced, these people, are they not?

Meanwhile here are a couple of free eBooks from ANU that you could read as a way to ensure your own sanity.

Australia: Identity, Fear and Governance in the 21st Century, Edited by Juliet Pietsch and Haydn Aarons (November 2012).

The latter years of the first decade of the twenty-first century were characterised by an enormous amount of challenge and change to Australia and Australians. Australia’s part in these challenges and changes is borne of our domestic and global ties, our orientation towards ourselves and others, and an ever increasing awareness of the interdependency of our world. Challenges and changes such as terrorism, climate change, human rights, community breakdown, work and livelihood, and crime are not new but they take on new variations and impact on us in different ways in times such as these.

In this volume we consider these recent challenges and changes and how Australians themselves feel about them under three themes: identity, fear and governance. These themes suitably capture the concerns of Australians in times of such change. Identity is our sense of ourselves and how others see us. How is this affected by the increased presence of religious diversity, especially Islamic communities, and increased awareness of moral and political obligations towards Indigenous Australians? How is it affected by our curious but changing relationship with Asia? Fear is an emotional reaction to particular changes and challenges and produces particular responses from individuals, politicians, communities and nations alike; fear of crime, fear of terrorism and fear of change are all considered in this volume.

Multiculturalism and Integration — A Harmonious Relationship, Edited by the late Professor Michael Clyne and Dr James Jupp (July 2011).

Multiculturalism has been the official policy of all Australian governments (Commonwealth and State) since the 1970s. It has recently been criticised, both in Australia and elsewhere. Integration has been suggested as a better term and policy. Critics suggest it is a reversion to assimilation. However integration has not been rigorously defined and may simply be another form of multiculturalism, which the authors believe to have been vital in sustaining social harmony.

May help you counter the dogs’ breaths that are so noisome out there, and will no doubt get worse and skankier as the year goes on, God help us.

Inspiring people: true Aussies both

Two from last night’s Australian of the Year Award – with an eye to the future.

Young Australian of the Year 2013: Akram Azimi

"This bloke is a legend already," says one commenter.

Akram Azimi is a dedicated mentor to young Indigenous people.  Arriving in Australia 13 years ago from Afghanistan he went from being ‘an ostracised refugee kid with no prospects’ to becoming his school’s head boy. An outstanding student, he topped the tertiary entrance exam scores among his classmates. He’s now studying a triple major – law, science and arts – at the University of Western Australia. Intent on giving back to his adopted country, Akram uses his leadership and pastoral skills to help young people in remote and rural Western Australia.  In 2011 he co-founded a student-run initiative I am the other set up to raise awareness about Indigenous issues in universities. His philanthropic roles have included working with True Blue Dreaming, which helps disadvantaged remote Indigenous communities. For three years, Akram mentored young Indigenous people in the Looma community in the Kimberley region, and he has mentored primary school students in the small farming community of Wyalkatchem, in WA’s wheat belt. Akram is also mentoring a Special Olympics athlete to help raise community awareness of disability issues.

See also The Big Interview with Akram Azimi.

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Local Hero: Shane Phillips

REDFERN: According to the Sydney Morning Herald’s (Sydney) magazine, Shane Phillips of the Tribal Warrior Association is one of Sydney’s 100 most influential people writes Liesa Clague in the February 2012 edition of the South Sydney Herald.

It was an immense pleasure speaking to Shane about growing up in Redfern – what has inspired him with regards to his work now, and recalling, when he was young, the key events and people who have made him the leader he is today.

Shane (a Bundjalung, Wonnarua and Eora man) was born in Redfern, and grew up surrounded by role models such as Mum Shirl, Charlie Perkins, Joyce Clague, and other Aboriginal men and women who have contributed to the fight for equal opportunity, the right to be counted as part of the wider community and to help support Aboriginal people. Shane talked about the environment of Redfern in the ’70s and ’80s, which were “good times”.

Much has changed since then. Shane looks forward to new life for “working families” on The Block, better relationships with the police and among all people of good will in the community.

What inspires Shane is supporting his family and being true to them as well as doing the best he can for his community.

He believes that you need good work ethics and to follow through by doing the best job you can.

Shane started work at the age of 14, after being told by his Dad he had to work. The work experience for Shane was “tough but fair”, and he learnt a lot from the people he worked with and for. He learned there was value and pride in contributing to the greater good.

Shane recalls, when he was 14 years old, assisting another lad to break into a car. The other lad ran away but Shane was caught by police. He recalls that the police officer “kicked me up the bum” and “told me he didn’t want me being involved in any stealing again”. This event shaped Shane to realise that he did not want to do anything to get himself into trouble. “I respected that he gave me that chance – that he showed me that respect,” Shane said.

Being there for his family, maintaining humility and integrity, and developing programs that support young people in the community to achieve their goals are very important to Shane – more important than any accolades or awards.

Source: South Sydney Herald February 2012 www.southsydneyherald.com.au

See more from redwatch.

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See SBS video The Block for a profile of Shane.

Too hot to write…

Albion Park (Wollongong Airport) is on 44C right now and that – or more — is what I surely felt in one of the hottest winds I can remember as I walked from the bus to The Bates Motel.  The “official” temp for The Gong measured at Bellambi Point is always way below what we feel here in West Wollongong. 26.9 they say now for there.  They must have their thermometer in the fridge!

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Crown Street Mall at noon.

6:45 pm

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The view from my window ten minutes ago. Now I do believe I hear maybe a southerly wind!* 

It has been a day of records: the hottest in Sydney ever, and ditto for Wollongong where we reached 46C.

Sydney has experienced its hottest day on record, with temperatures passing 45 degrees across the greater city area.

The mercury hit 45.8 degrees Celsius at Observatory Hill at 2.55pm, 0.5 above Sydney’s previous hottest day in 1939.

Across greater Sydney, the hottest temperatures recorded were at Penrith (46.5C at 2.16pm), Camden (46.4C at 3.04pm), Richmond (46.4C at 3.01pm), Sydney Airport (46.4C at 2.32pm) and Bankstown (46.1C at 3.28pm).

* 9.30 pm – pretty weak old change so far though!

Flying Fox Dreaming–or nightmare?

A year ago I posted “Nightbats” on YouTube.

Well, they have certainly increased since then! See this story, and some excellent pictures, in The Illawarra Mercury.

A flourishing colony of flying foxes at Figtree is driving some businesses and residents batty. It is estimated that tens of thousands of grey-headed flying foxes have turned a patch of bushland just north of the freeway exit into their summer home.

"The smell is overwhelming and they gather at dusk in numbers that completely blacken the sky overhead," said Chris Caroutas from Figtree Cellars.

WIRES bat co-ordinator Sandra Leonard has called for patience, assuring people the flying foxes are crucial to forest regeneration and will move on once the bush food runs out.

But Mr Caroutas said numbers had been steadily increasing each year and so had the stench. "Customers are constantly commenting on the smell, which is not good if that’s the first thing they notice when they get out of their cars," he said.

It has been likened to cat urine, marijuana and lantana.

Hakan Karama from Star Kebab House described the bats as "annoying and smelly". "Customers are always complaining and it seems worse when it rains," he said.

Juliette Fox, an assistant at Pet Barn, said the squealing and flapping did not bother her. "Their numbers have definitely increased but that’s probably because they have been displaced from their natural habitat," she said.

Nearby resident Con Stefanou from London Drive estimates the bats have multiplied 10-fold over the past few years and believes such numbers are unhygienic…

Since I was going shopping at Figtree yesterday I thought I would call in on the bats as I walked by. And the numbers are indeed amazing, something my camera could not really capture.

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Australian poet Les Murray wrote a wonderful poem “The Flying Fox Dreaming” – “finger-winged night workers… Upside down all their days…” They are a significant element in Indigenous culture also, as in this painting by Jimmy Djilminy (2000).

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See also a site of questionable authenticity — but nonetheless it may please some – an attempt to do a tarot on indigenous symbols. Very New Age. There is a lot of that around. Nice art work though.

Who remembers the disgraceful Marlo Morgan and her bullshit exploiting Aboriginal Culture?

1996: Dr. John Stanton (Berndt Museum of Anthropology, WA) “said the book contained misleading and damaging information about Aboriginal people” [5]. He was not sure, he said, “whether the damage the book had done to the overseas image of Aboriginal culture, which was complex, diverse and vibrant, could be ever undone.” Morgan promised a written apology, which she actually never produced [6].

Not saying that Wildspeak site is totally doing a “Mutant Messages Down Under” shtick – but one does need to question such things.

This, however, is authentic:

Oh, and after photographing the bats I called in at The Hellenic Club and…

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BUFFET LUNCH
& DINNER
All you can eat with
a combination of
Traditional Greek
and Australian Cuisine

Mad pollies: cut, cut and cut again, and hang the consequences…

Let’s hope they have more brains than that, but I am not holding my breath.

From The Illawarra Mercury.

Illawarra’s multicultural services will be forced to take up the slack if multicultural program staff are lost in a Department of Education and Communities restructure.

NSW Teachers Federation regional organiser Nicole Calnan said the multicultural support positions were not included in a draft proposal of the restructure sent to department offices this month.

Under the restructure – part of the NSW government’s plan to save $1.7 billion in education spending – Illawarra schools will be absorbed into a super region and support jobs will be cut.

"There is no provision for ensuring that the current level of multicultural program support for schools will continue," Ms Calnan said.

"Under this realignment, the positions of multicultural/ESL [English as a second language] consultant, community information officer, regional multicultural support officer and ESL/refugee- teacher mentors won’t even exist."

Ms Calnan said the multicultural program staff performed several roles, from providing professional learning and support for ESL teachers to running multicultural and anti-racism programs in schools.

Earlier this week, the Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra (MCCI) convened a meeting of all CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities) representatives from the region.

MCCI general manager Terrie Leoleos said the loss of these valuable school roles would adversely affect the region’s already disadvantaged communities.

"The Education Department’s multicultural support program has played an intricate and important role across the state in supporting migrants, refugees and humanitarian entrants and settlements into this country, particularly in regional areas," Ms Leoleos said.

"Cutting positions like these … will be detrimental not only to those communities but it will put a lot of pressure on multicultural services, which are already stretched and will have to take up the shortfall."

The MCCI this week sent a letter to the Education Department asking that they do a comprehensive review and engage multicultural services and communities in the process.

A department spokesman said a revised model of the restructure would be available on Monday, with a final model to be released on December 21.

Having been an ESL teacher in the not too distant past, I know just how much I valued, indeed needed, the services that it appears may be about to become victims of small government ideology/bean counting. They operated on a shoestring even back in the late 90s and early 2000s, but I can’t begin to tell you how good they are! Consider, for example:

Refugee support programs

A refugee is a person who has fled his or her country and cannot return because of a well-founded fear of persecution due to their race, religion, nationality or membership of a particular social group.

In recent years, increasing numbers of young refugees, in particular refugees from Africa and the Middle East, have enrolled in government schools in both metropolitan and country areas of NSW. About 1,600 enrol each year. At any time approximately 12,000 refugee students are enrolled in NSW government schools.

These students come from a number of countries in Africa, including Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Kenya, Congo, Uganda, Nigeria, Eritrea, Ivory Coast and Burundi, as well as countries in Asia and the Middle East, in particular Afghanistan and Iraq.

Many refugee families have lived in protracted refugee situations before coming to Australia. Some students were born and have lived all their lives in refugee camps. All have experienced disrupted schooling. Some may have had very limited schooling and, as a result, have few or no first language literacy skills.

Many of the recently arrived refugees have high resettlement and educational needs and may need high levels of support. However, it is important to avoid over-generalisation as this is not the case with all refugees. Conclusions about a refugee student’s capabilities and needs should be reached through careful assessment over a period of time.

Traumatic experiences that refugee students encounter before they start school in Australia may impact considerably on their learning and behaviour at school. In some cases, post traumatic stress and poor health due to refugee experiences can lead to absences from school, or manifest in poor behaviour in the classroom.

The safety, security and support provided by schools are critical factors in ensuring the adjustment of refugee children and adolescents to life and schooling in Australia. Officers at Multicultural Programs Unit can assist regions in planning and delivering successful refugee support programs.

I am not directly familiar with what is happening in schools down here in the Illawarra, where I now live, but one may get an idea from school sites such as Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts.

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Images from a Wollongong High Powerpoint presentation.

Recent developments in our asylum seeker policy continue to depress me. Some consolation may be found in seeing fellow feeling among the Herald cartoonists lately.

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Nambawan Pikinini bilong Misis Kwin na Namba Two Misis Bilong Charles

…and other matters.

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Yes, we now have The Prince of Wales plus Duchess of Cornwall in the house… Believe they go to a horse race today.

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The first picture comes from and is linked to The Sydney Morning Herald, the second I ripped off the Prince’s own site. Hope I don’t get sent to the Tower of London for that. He is here as part of a Diamond Jubilee Commonwealth tour – his Mum having been more than a touch venturesome herself this year but deputing her Nambawan Pikinini to come to this part of the world on her behalf. A shame as I was rather looking forward to her arrival:

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Before arriving here the Royals were in Papua New Guinea – hence the Tok Pisin heading today. (The Duke of Edinburgh is apparently oldfella Pili-Pili him bilong Misis Kwin.” Love it!)

You may read a first-hand account from PNG: Having Dinner with Nambawan Pikinini bilong Misis Kwin na Namba Two Misis Bilong Charles. That blog leads to others from PNG – itself well worth the visit.

I like having C and C here. The older I get the fonder I am of the rather dotty monarchy we in Australia inhabit and the less likely to vote for a republic any time soon; I did vote for one at the turn of the century. It will seem very rude of me but I really do like NOT being American and our head of state NOT being a politician. I also don’t mind the best of the tradition and the world links history has given us. Keep it that way as long as possible, though it is hard to see the system lasting all the way to 2112…. Apparently the young and cool rather agree. No, you won’t find me joining Professor Flint’s mob though – not that desperate.

And as for Charles: he’s not as dim or useless as many think.

And while I am on eccentrics and conservatism – not that Charles is a textbook conservative – I did rather enjoy the (rerun) of Kitchen Cabinet with Barnaby Joyce last night. In fact Kitchen Cabinet is proving quite a treasure.

Last night too QandA went to Perth. An excellent episode, and a reminder that we really are locked too much into the Sydney-Melbourne-Canberra axis.

Promising Yum Cha at Steelers

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I dropped in for lunch yesterday and found that they were launching a new Yum Cha service and a much redecorated restaurant. Literally Day One! So there was a bit of confusion about when and how the food would appear, but when it did it was very tasty. Let’s hope they get into the Yum Cha groove very quickly and get lots of customers. I suspect there must be a minimum customer level to make Yum Cha viable.