Posted by: jkirkby8712 | December 24, 2011

Friday, 23 December 2011 – It’s quiet, at home, though not in town, while Julie reviews the world in 2011.

Made yet another ‘urgent’ call to the ‘Garden Bag’ people this morning  – my ‘garden bag’ [a paid garden refuse pick up service] was due to have been replaced last Tuesday, and despite numerous phone calls over the past couple of weeks, no one is bothering to reply. My work in the back garden has been put on hold, while I attempt to get this situation remedied. This has been a good ‘service’ in the past, so I have been somewhat disappointed at the lack of response to my attempts to speak to the business owners over recent days. Obviously not a good time of year to get any kind of trades people – am also trying to get somebody in the business of replacing windscreens [for Shirley’s car] to respond to a phone call!!  I mean, just how difficult is it to at least pick up a phone, even if you decided to ‘stop work’ before Christmas.  My opinion of the attitude of many trades people has not improved over the years – poor response, high charging however!!

By mid afternoon, I’d given up on the above phone calls – no-one got back to me! Simply pathetic service. If somebody’s ‘accountant’ acted in that manner they would end up in court over some trivial claim, but the ‘tradies’, they can get away with any attitude, because most people chasing them up, do so because they need a job done, which they can’t, or are not qualified to do!!  And the public complain about ‘monopolies in the media’!!!

Anyway, enough of that, let’s try and retain some Christmas ‘spirit’. Speaking of which, we don’t have one of the ‘real’ Christmas trees in the house this year – I have usually purchased them annually from the local Scouts, but when I suggested I would do so again to Susie, a couple of weeks ago, she wasn’t interested – too much ‘mess’ from pine needles, and effort in decorating, etc, etc!! Unexpected response but as she is the regular ‘decorator’ and always does a great job, I let it be! However, a few days ago, the small artificial tree which she has used in other parts of the house previously, suddenly appeared one night, decorated and all lit up, so we finally do have a little ‘tree’ on display this year, plus a few decorations around the lounge room area, and the Christmas spirit is back at 6 Fisher Court!

Now as someone who ‘lives with diabetes’, I noticed a recent item which claims that a ‘diabetes epidemic is on the rise’.  Here in Victoria, local communities are being asked to take urgent action, as new data reveals rates of diabetes have soared in the past ten years. Figures recently released by Diabetes Australia – Vic., show that 252,000 Victorians are now know to be living with diabetes [up from 2% of the Victorian population in 2001, to 4.5% this year], and this figure is increasing by 73 new cases each day.  At the international level, recently released data from the International Diabetes Foundation, confirms that the diabetes ‘pandemic’ continues to worsen – the number of people with diabetes in 2011, estimated at 366 million!!

DA-Vic’s CEO,  Greg Johnson was recently quoted as saying that ‘We are in the midst of a diabetes epidemic and it is imperative that local communities understand the impact and take action. Communities and local government can play an important role in prevention’. The number of Local Government Areas [LGAs] considered diabetes ‘hotspots’ has increased dramatically from only 1 in 2001 to 64 in 2011, presumably based on medical records. An area is designated a ‘hotspot’ when more than 4 per cent of it’s population has diabetes. One of the highest metro areas includes the City of Hume into which Sunbury falls, although we are located on the rural fringe of the municipality, so I think the bulk of the problem would be in the more urbanised parts of the municipality. Australian Medical Victorian President Dr Harry Hemley, called on doctors to be aware of the diabetes epidemic. He said “Doctors must be aware of the growing rates of diabetes in Victoria… is one of the most significant challenges that doctors face in the 21st century. Doctors in general practice need greater resources to better co-ordinate the complex, multidisciplinary care for people with diabetes in their practices”. As a side note, it will be 60 years in 2013, since the origin of Diabetes Australia – Vic was formed – in 1953, at a meeting at the Melbourne Town Hall which supplied the impetus to develop an association for people with diabetes that provided education, advocacy and support, together with things like regular holiday camps for families of diabetic children.  Of course, one possible reason for the vast increase in diabetic cases in the last decade, is that it is probably more in the public’s eye these days – in the past, many of the symptoms of diabetes, were probably put down to some other ailment. Today, our medical people, and the public generally, are more educated as to the signs, causes and treatment of the complaint!!

Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, Julie Bishop, submitted on her social media site this week, her reflections of  the world as it was in 2011. I found this a useful précis of some of the events of the past 12 months, particularly because there was, in my view anyway though some of her readers obviously cared to disagree,  no real negative political overseas towards the local scene or government policies in general, that we have come to expect from the Liberals over the past 18 months or so. So I decided that the nature of the contents were worthy of sharing on this page, as a reminder of some of major events [usually of a tragic nature, sadly], that occurred around the world over the past 12 months. And in including this, I note on today’s news from New Zealand, that country has faced more earthquakes in Christchurch today, the city so devastated earlier this year.

Meanwhile, from Julie Bishop:-

It was a year in which we hardly caught our breath’  –

According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2011 was the year of the Golden Rabbit, a year in which you are meant to catch your breath and calm your nerves. There were many events during this past year that tested that astrological prophecy to the limit.

Natural disasters such as the earthquake that struck Christchurch in February and the earthquake and tsunami that devastated coastal Japan in March captured the world’s attention with dramatic footage of the ravaged landscapes. Massive floods occurred in Pakistan, South-East Asia, Australia, South America and the United States. The impact of these events will influence the decisions of government and communities for many years as they struggle to find ways to prevent a repeat of the aftermath of these tragedies. The damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy plant, for example, has changed the dynamics of the global nuclear debate.

However, it is the actions of people during 2011 that will arguably have the biggest impact on world history.  The universal human desire to live in freedom erupted with a vengeance in the form of the pro democracy uprisings or “Arab Spring” beginning with the fall of the Tunisian regime in January. Civilian protests forced Egypt’s long-serving dictator Hosni Mubarak from office in February. After the strong results in support of Islamic parties in the November elections, there are concerns about the potential for a confrontation between the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the leaders of the Islamic parties including the Muslim Brotherhood. Events in Egypt are of particular importance because of that country’s peace treaty with Israel, the Suez Canal (through which about 8 per cent of global trade is carried) and its long-standing military links with the United States. Any Egyptian government more hostile to the West and to Israel would pose an enormous strategic challenge for the world, and particularly for Europe and North America.\ Protests erupted in Bahrain, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Syria and other nations throughout the Middle East and North Africa.  Libyan rebels supported by NATO airstrikes fought for months against the forces of Muammar Gaddafi and took control of the majority of the nation by late August.  Gaddafi was eventually killed in late October, ending a brutal reign that began with a military coup in 1969.

The ongoing violence in Syria has marginalised the regime of President Assad from even its strongest supporters and led to condemnation from and suspension from the Arab League. There have been ongoing reports of thousands killed, captured and tortured and detained indefinitely. Defections from the armed forces have increased the potential for full-blown civil war and there is currently no prospect of a breakthrough to end the cycle of violence that has gripped the country for months.  The short, medium and long-term implications of the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East are far from clear.

The War on Terror launched in the wake of the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington reached a beachhead with the killing of Osama bin Laden by United States Special Forces in May.  In recent days, the death of Kim Jong-il has created deep unease around the world about the transition to a new leader in his 28-year-old son Kim Jong-un.  The secretive Stalinist regime has launched unprovoked attacks on South Korea in recent years and there is grave concern that the new leader will repeat these provocations in an attempt to prove himself to North Korea’s military commanders 

Against this backdrop of instability, the slow-moving European sovereign debt crisis has continued to weigh heavily on global markets and the world economy.  There were repeated attempts to deal with the crisis by providing large bailout packages to various nations, but with the apparent effect of delaying what appears to be an inevitable crunch at some point in time.\ The struggling United States economy and doubts about the sustainability of China’s high growth rates have added to concerns about a recovery in the short term.

Australia has continued to make important contributions to the maintenance of global and regional peace and security with members of our armed forces working in dangerous and remote locations.  The largest contingent by far is the 1550 on deployment to Afghanistan, where we have sadly lost 32 soldiers since 2002.  Australia has 380 troops in East Timor, 80 in the Solomon Islands, 25 in Egypt’s Sinai region, 17 in South Sudan, 12 in Jerusalem and two in Iraq.

As we look back at the events of 2011 and then head into the flamboyant and tempestuous Year of the Dragon it is timely for us to remember those in our armed forces who are serving overseas in support of the enduring ideals that underpin our society.  Perhaps, as Sigmund Freud once said, “One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful”  [by Julie Bishop, Dec 2011]



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