Posted by: jkirkby8712 | November 30, 2011

Wednesday, 30th November 2011 – a few issues of interest brought to my attention which I wish to share!

I noticed a news report this morning that the only daughter of Russian dictator, Stalin, had died in the US at the age of 85. She apparently died in relative obscurity and poverty after years of wanderings. She suffered from shifting fortunes, name changes, various short lived marriages. Born Svetlana Stalina in 1926, she could never rid herself of the shadow of her father, and wherever she went in the world, considered herself a ‘political prisoner of her father’s name’.  One of her early ‘loves’ at the age of 17, was banished to a labour camp in Siberia by a disapproving Stalin. She lost most of her privileges after Stalin’s death. She would spent the rest of her life in various parts of world, alternatively denouncing the Soviet Union, or then in turn the West, depending on where she was at the time.  A bio of the woman would probably make interesting reading!

I also was interested in another article about the Welsh singer, Charlotte Church [now, 25 years of age]. I think I purchased her first two CDs, when she was aged about 12/13 in 1999/2000 [in fact one of those cds was a birthday gift from an ‘internet friend’ of the time, from Blaney, in New South Wales]. This story dealt with Church being supposedly pressured into wavering a 100,000 Pound fee [at the age of 13 then !!!!] to sing at Rupert Murdoch’s 3rd wedding  – apparently she was advised to agree because Murdoch was ‘a very, very powerful man’! Of course there were claims and counter-claims to that ‘claim’, but Charlotte Church certainly had some other interesting points to make about Murdoch in a recent appearance at a media standards enquiry. She described at one point, the Murdoch newspapers as being amongst the worst offenders at harassing her, and amongst other things, described the ‘massive psychological effect’ of a News of the World story in 2005 that her father was having an affair and her mother had attempted suicide. She said ‘I just hated the fact that my parents, who had never being in this industry, were being exposed and vilified in this fashion’. From what we have read and seen over the past year or so, it seems that type of incident barely scratches the surface of some of the tactics portions of the media get up to, in their search for a ‘story’.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Federal Election crept on us here in Australia last week – and I only noticed well after the event that  Prime Minister John Key’s National Party had been returned for a second term of office, and in the process, increasing it’s vote by 48.1%, the best result for any party in 60 years, with the number of opposition Labour members reduced from 43 to just 34 seats. A consequence has just seen the resignation of both  the Labour leader & his deputy from those roles.  New Zealand have had a year of mixed fortunes, beginning with the mine disaster of 12 months ago, and then the Wellington earthquake at the beginning of 2011. It seems as though the government response to events of that nature was sufficient to retain the public’s confidence in their rulers!

On another aspect, recent correspondence from the GetUp organisation, points to yet another decision or proposal that seems to be gaining momentum outside of Parliament sitting times. This week, the Federal Government’s Murray Darling Basin Authority released a draft report that recommends only an extra 2750 billion litres of water be returned to the Murray  River, not even meeting the 3000-4000 billion litres the Government’s own process said was required to ensure the river survives only a year ago – and far less than leading scientists have recommended.   To counter this, GetUp points to the fact, that they now have a powerful ally in the action their movement is taking to protect the Murray Darling. Few political leaders understand what’s happening in the Murray Darling Basin better than Jay Weatherill. He’s the Premier of South Australia, where our most important river system ends. He’s written a message to GetUp members explaining the situation. The Premier’s message summarises the despair that scientists, environmentalists and sustainable farmers are feeling right now. The results of the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) process are being slammed by experts including the CSIRO.

GetUp is quick to point out that the proposal is far from a done deal, because as Water Minister Tony Burke can fix it. With the Federal Government focused on assessing community reaction before delivering the final report, GetUp is urging members and supporters to make their voices heard, and tell Minister Burke to ensure the next version of the plan will deliver what it takes to save the River. As the Premier says in his letter, “it’s not a choice between producing food and having a healthy river. We need a healthy river and sustainable food production’, and we need to ask Tony Burke to put science before politics.  We were told that was the basis behind the carbon pricing decision – hopefully a similar outlook can be determined in this case. While personally, the Murray Darling system has no direct affect on myself, it is a major ‘food bowl’ area of Australia, and down the track there must be affects of some nature for all of us, if this project is not handled properly.

And then there’s a little generally unknown part of Tasmania, also under threat, and again, Minister Burke is been called upon to protect it –  because  ‘It’s little known outside of Tasmania. A place of sweeping beaches, temperate rainforest, sand dunes and pristine river systems; along with more than 60 species of threatened, rare or endangered animals – including a certain famous devil, the world’s largest freshwater crustacean and Australia’s largest eagle. It’s the Tarkine Rainforest: a living, breathing relic of Earth’s original super continent, Gondwanaland, and the second largest intact stretch of rainforest in the world. But if we’re not vocal, it will soon be home to some of Tasmania’s newest open cut mines’.

A chance for some of those kind of issues to be raised at the coming weekend’s ALP [Labour] Annual Conference, but they will probably be overshadowed by other items on the national agenda, for example, that long running subject of refugees. The Government is moving to adopt the changes to refugee and asylum seeker policy that groups like ‘A Just Australia’ have been pushing for years. Asylum seekers, including those arriving by boat, will be issued with bridging visas to live in the community while their claims for asylum are assessed. However, the Malaysia deal is still government policy and the excision legislation remains in place. This topic is likely to be hotly debated by those in the government who still want to push for the Malaysian solution. As ‘A Just Australia’ says in a recent communication,  ‘We need all the help we can get to make this new community-based policy work – we’ve worked too hard to let it fall victim to political division and media hysteria.  Community processing will work with strong political leadership in every community’. As a supporter of that work, I sincerely hope that this new change in policy direction by the Federal Government [despite the fact it was forced upon them] is proceeded with, and we start to treat these refugees and asylum seekers with a little more care and humanity than has occurred in Australia over the past decade or so. The two remaining main concerns over Australia’s asylum policy continue to be

  • the refugee swap agreement with Malaysia is still government policy and doesn’t address the real issue – the lack of protection in our region
  • the excision legislation remains in place which leaves the door open to the resumption of offshore processing

 

Meanwhile, this was a bit of a worrying report for us Carlton fans, on the Blues website tonight –  Carlton captain Chris Judd has had precautionary scans on his right shoulder after suffering an injury during pre-season training.  Chris will see his specialist tomorrow for a review to decide what, if any, intervention will be required.  The Carlton medical team and Chris decided it was best to take this action now to ensure, no matter what the outcome of the review, that Chris will be available for the 2012 AFL season.

And let us finish this rather newsy contribution today, with a little bit of humor – while many of you might have seen it before, I decided I’d like to share it in any case.  And here’s to lifelong, understanding friends and wonderful lunches !!!!

“A group of girlfriends, all age 40, discussed where they should meet for lunch.  Finally it was agreed that they would meet at the Ocean View restaurant  because the waiters there were handsome, with tight pants and nice bums.
 
Ten  years later, at age 50, the friends once again discussed where they should  meet for lunch. Finally it was agreed that they would meet at the Ocean  View restaurant because the food was good and the wine selection was  excellent.
 
Ten years later, at age 60, the friends again  discussed where they should meet for lunch. Finally it was agreed that  they would meet at the Ocean View restaurant because they could dine in  peace and quiet and the restaurant had a beautiful view of the ocean. 
 
Ten years later, at age 70, the friends discussed where they  should meet for lunch. Finally it was agreed that they would meet at the  Ocean View restaurant because the restaurant was wheelchair accessible and  had an elevator.
 
Ten years later, at age 80, the friends  discussed where they should meet for lunch. Finally it was agreed that  they would meet at the Ocean View restaurant because they had never been  there before”.
 
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