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Abbott may kill more Australians than Putin

Australians are the third biggest group of casualties in the MH17 tragedy this week. Australia's leader, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, is already calling Mr Putin to account before the facts have even been confirmed.

The startling reality is, OECD research already suggests that Mr Abbott's own policies have the potential to kill more Australians.

Balancing a budget with sex work?

Tony Abbott has attracted worldwide ridicule for himself and our country (not for the first time of course) with his infamous wink incident this week.

In fact, people repeatedly sharing this incident on social media are not really adding much to the national debate. Anybody who's opinion actually matters already knew Tony Abbott is not fit to even lead a scout group, let alone a whole country.

Why I hope Craig Thomson avoids jail

Craig Thomson has finally been convicted of all those fraud charges that everybody has been talking about throughout the years of Rudd/Gillard Government.

It is worth remembering how Gillard deflected all the questions about Thomson:

"Everybody is innocent until proven guilty"

Well, unless you are a refugee or a coloured person (or both).

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Flesh From Beached Bottlenose Whales Slaughtered and Butchered Yesterday was Dumped at Sea Today by Faroese Whale Killers

Sea Shepherd - 6 hours 35 min ago
Flesh From Beached Bottlenose Whales Slaughtered and Butchered Yesterday was Dumped at Sea Today by Faroese Whale Killers

Sea Shepherd’s Drone Force Captures Images of Wasteful Dumping of Meat from these Rare Whales; Proves the Whalers Do Not Need to Continue Killing Cetaceans for Food

Discarded remnants of the bottlenose whale butcheringDiscarded remnants of the bottlenose whale butcheringOn the heels of yesterday’s horrific butchering of five rather rare Northern bottlenose whales who had beached themselves in the Faroe Islands, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has discovered that a good portion of flesh from these whales — meat that the Faroese whalers claim they eat — was today dumped back into the ocean for no apparent reason.

Upon learning that the whale meat was being dumped off a remote cliff, Sea Shepherd onshore volunteers sent up a drone to capture images and footage of the remains of these once living, sentient whales now reduced to a pile of flesh floating on the surface of the sea. Near the squarely butchered sheets of blubber floating in the water, a large fin sliced from one of the whales could be seen. As the team documented their find, a Faroese individual approached and dumped more meat over the cliff, and several additional people came by as well, only to immediately turn around and leave so as not to risk having their photo taken by Sea Shepherd while in the act of dumping their whale meat.

“There are only an estimated 10,000 Northern bottlenose whales left swimming the sea. It was tragic enough for five of them to strand, but they were unlucky enough to strand on the shores of the Ferocious Isles — where instead of any attempt at rescue, they were quickly slaughtered, butchered and their flesh thrown away as though mere garbage,” said Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson.

“Once again, the whale killers show a complete disregard for the lives of these majestic creatures. If they needed whale meat to survive, as they claim in their arguments for the brutal mass slaughter they call the “grind,” this meat would not have been discarded into the sea,” added Captain Watson.

The five bottlenose whales were found by fisherman early Thursday morning, stranded on the killing beach at Hvalba on the Faroese Island of Suduroy. Rather than make any attempt to save the pod, knife-wielding Faroese whale killers slaughtered and butchered the defenseless, stranded whales. Though Sea Shepherd volunteers were blocked from approaching the scene, they were able to document as the whales were butchered and their meat transported. According to reports, the whales were still alive when they were found, as the whalers severed the whales’ spinal cords to kill them before they were towed for butchering. The same method is used to kill pilot whales and other species in the Faroese grind hunts.

Faroese regulations allow for the killing of beached bottlenose whales only if they cannot be rescued and driven back out to sea. Sea Shepherd is consulting with an attorney and police to determine if the whalers have violated these regulations. It is unknown whether the whales could have been saved, but it appears that there were no attempts to try to do so.

Sea Shepherd condemns this heinous waste of life, as well as the “grindadrap” mass slaughter of pilot whales and dolphins. Sea Shepherd is calling on the Faroe Islands to end its outdated and cruel massacre of cetaceans.

Sea Shepherd has led the opposition against the slaughter of cetaceans in the Faroe Islands since the 1980s, and today our goal remains the same: to bring the archaic grind to a complete stop. Launched in June, Operation GrindStop 2014, is Sea Shepherd’s largest Faroe Islands campaign to date. The multi-national land- and sea-based campaign features hundreds of volunteers who will be present in the Faroe Islands over the course of four months to defend pilot whales and other species of small cetaceans from the brutal and archaic mass slaughter known as “grindadrap” or the “grind.” To date, no grinds have taken place while Sea Shepherd has patrolled the islands. Should a grind commence at any time during the campaign, Sea Shepherd volunteers are prepared to intervene to save our clients.

CALL TO ACTION: Sea Shepherd is seeking additional volunteers to join the team in the Faroe Islands for the last month of campaign. The deadline for campaign applications is September 10th at 5 pm EST. Anyone interested in volunteering should complete and submit the application found at this link: https://snab.wufoo.com/forms/grindstop-2014-onshore-crew-application/.

A discarded fin could be seen floating in the waterA discarded fin could be seen floating in the water

All that remained of the bottlenose whalesAll that remained of the bottlenose whales

The whale killers show a disregard for life, dumping the whale meatThe whale killers show a disregard for life, dumping the whale meat

Whale meat scattered in the waters of the Faroe IslandsWhale meat scattered in the waters of the Faroe Islands

Operation GrindStop Visit our
Operation GrindStop 2014
site for more information.
Categories: Community

Five Beached Bottlenose Whales Slaughtered by Whale Killers in the Faroe Islands

Sea Shepherd - 9 hours 41 min ago
Five Beached Bottlenose Whales Slaughtered by Whale Killers in the Faroe Islands Sea Shepherd Documented the Scene, as the Stranded Whales Were Butchered

Bottlenose whale heads in transportBottlenose whale heads in transportIn the early hours of yesterday morning, five bottlenose whales were found stranded on the Faroese island of Suduroy. In most places around the world, cetaceans who are stranded in shallow waters are given a helping hand by humans and ushered back out to sea. However, rather than make an attempt to rescue the beached pod, knife-wielding Faroese whalers killed and butchered the stranded, helpless whales, turning the bay to a sea of blood.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society — with a crew of offshore volunteers led by Sea Shepherd France and a team of onshore volunteers led by Sea Shepherd USA, all present in the Faroes to defend pilot whales from the brutal mass slaughter known as the Grind — could have helped in any efforts to save these whales from a needless death. Unfortunately, they were blocked from approaching the scene. The whales were found by fisherman around 5:30 am on the killing beach of Hvalba on Suduroy Island.

Sea Shepherd volunteers eventually got through the barriers and were able to take photographs and film as the whales were butchered onshore. According to reports, the whales were still alive when they were found, as the whalers severed the whales’ spinal cords to kill them before they were towed for butchering. The same method is used to kill pilot whales and other species in the Faroese grind hunts.

The shocking images and footage captured by Sea Shepherd show the brutality of the whale killers, who smiled as the whales were reduced to butchered meat and their enormous heads were lined up in bins. After the bodies were butchered, the heads were trucked to Torshavn for what is believed to be rendering, with Operation GrindStop volunteers following and filming the entire way.

The stranded whales were reduced to butchered meatThe stranded whales were reduced to butchered meat“The population of these rather rare Northern bottlenose whales is believed to be no more than 10,000. The loss of any of these vanishing whales is tragic,” said Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson. “If they could have been saved, to slaughter these whales in need was the ultimate betrayal and, frankly, nothing short of murder.”

Faroese regulations allow for the killing of beached bottlenose whales only if they cannot be rescued and driven back out to sea. Sea Shepherd is consulting with an attorney and police to determine if the whalers have violated these regulations.

Faroese locals have told Sea Shepherd that it is common for bottlenose whales to strand at Hvalba, and it is believed by some that ocean currents in the area could cause this to happen. It is also more difficult to rescue stranded whales of this size than it is for dolphins or pilot whales, and their organs can be crushed under their weight if the whales are in shallow waters for too long. We cannot be certain that the whales could be saved, but it appears that there were no attempts to do so.

Another possible cause of the stranding is seismic testing. Currently, extensive seismic testing is being conducted between the Shetland and Faroe Islands. Many species of marine mammals are vulnerable to the effects of such testing and sonar, but the family of beaked whales, of which the Northern bottlenose whale is a member, is particularly susceptible.

It is possible, due to the large number of bottlenose whale strandings that occur in this region and the current seismic testing, that there will be more strandings in the Faroe Islands. Sea Shepherd is calling for the Faroes to take a reasonable and compassionate route in response to any future strandings on their shores. In the case of any beached whales who could not be saved, a necropsy should be performed to determine the cause of death if possible. Everywhere in the world, it is standard that strandings are investigated – and seismic testing being conducted in the region should be a red flag.

Especially in the case of these Northern bottlenose whales, members of a vanishing population, to slaughter them for human consumption without any attempt at rescue – or even a necropsy – was shamefully irresponsible.

Sea Shepherd is ready and willing to offer assistance to the Faroese in any attempts made to save whales if a stranding should occur.

Sea Shepherd volunteers followed and documented as the meat was transportedSea Shepherd volunteers followed and documented as the meat was transportedSea Shepherd has led the opposition against the slaughter of cetaceans in the Faroe Islands since the 1980s, and today our goal remains the same: to bring the archaic grind to a complete stop. Launched in June, Operation GrindStop 2014, is Sea Shepherd’s largest Faroe Islands campaign to date. The multi-national land- and sea-based campaign features hundreds of volunteers who will be present in the Faroe Islands over the course of four months to defend pilot whales and other species of small cetaceans from the brutal and archaic mass slaughter known as “grindadrap” or the “grind.” To date, no grinds have taken place while Sea Shepherd has patrolled the islands. Should a grind commence at any time during the campaign, Sea Shepherd volunteers are prepared to intervene to save our clients.

Sea Shepherd is seeking additional volunteers to join the team in the Faroe Islands for the last month of campaign. The deadline for campaign applications is September 10th at 5 pm EST. If you are interested in volunteering, please complete and submit the application found at this link: https://snab.wufoo.com/forms/grindstop-2014-onshore-crew-application/

Operation GrindStop Visit our
Operation GrindStop 2014
site for more information.
Categories: Community

WA Government ignores their own science and now their own survey to carry out shark cull

Sea Shepherd - Fri, 29/08/2014 - 23:24
WA Government ignores their own science and now their own survey to carry out shark cull
  • WA Government withholds information from Federal Environment Minister
  • Marketforce survey made available

Tiger shark caught in drum lineTiger shark caught in drum line

Sea Shepherd knew that the WA Government ignored their commissioned report of 2012 by the Bond University, that stated that due to the environmental impacts of shark control activities, it is not recommended that either shark nets or drum-lines be introduced into WA. Baited drum-lines and shark nets do not guarantee that beaches are free of sharks of a size or species that pose a risk to humans.

However, what Sea Shepherd didn’t know was that the WA Government ignored their own community perceptions survey, which was part of a $968,334 contract awarded to Marketforce.

Jeff Hansen, Managing Director of Sea Shepherd Australia is utterly dismayed Premier Barnett’s conduct stating, “what is clear is that WA Premier Colin Barnett and the WA Government have omitted information that the public paid for presumably because the results of the survey do not meet its agenda to catch and kill sharks.”

PDFCommunity Perceptions Research – May 2013 by Marketforce, Metrix

Back in April 2013, the Marketforce survey found that the majority (over 80%) of Western Australians believed culling was not the answer (page 55). The survey also illustrated that the majority of Western Australians believe that the responsibility for ensuring beach safety against sharks, lies with the individual, not the Government. In fact, in relation to reduced beach usage, only two percent (2%) of the 565 metro survey respondents reported they used beaches less due to fear of shark attack – none of the 203 SW regional survey respondents mentioned sharks as a reason for using the beach/ocean less often (page 11).

Back in January 2014, when Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt granted the exemption to the WA Government to kill protected species, his reasons detailed, "substantial public concern about the safety of water based activities in WA", and that a "loss of confidence in water-based activities impacts on tourism and other leisure-based businesses impacting on the Australian economy, making this a matter of national significance.” However this Marketforce survey completely negates these statements by Minister Hunt, with 67% in the Perth metropolitan and 83% in the regions increasing or maintaining the frequency of beach use during the two years prior to the study, which was when there was a random cluster of shark incidents.

PDFFederal Minister Greg Hunt’s reasons for providing exemption

One might ask that given the Marketforce survey, how can Minister Hunt come up with these reasons above to grant an exemption? The answer is simple, that when the WA Government wrote to the Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, for an exemption from Federal environment laws to kill protected species, the Marketforce survey was withheld. Sea Shepherd can confirm that our Federal Environment Minister, Greg Hunt was not made aware of the Marketforce survey.

Several requests were made to the Department of Fisheries regarding the Community Perceptions Research, which strangely and coincidently is not available publicly, despite the public paying close to $1 million for this survey and a community engagement strategy to be undertaken.

However, Sea Shepherd has obtained a copy of the survey that the government previously provided to the press in mid-2013, before the survey report became “confidential.” (pdfLink).

“Given the results of the WA Governments own survey, the question must be posed to Premier Colin Barnett, who is this silent majority you keep referring to that support the killing of sharks?” Hansen asked.

“So if there is no science backing the cull, and the majority of Western Australians are against it, what justification does that WA Government have to continue with their shark cull?

Hawaii tried culling sharks for 18 years and it made no difference to shark related incidents. The science does not back the cull and the majority of Western Australians do not back the cull.

“The WA Government is ignoring the science, ignoring the publics wishes and it has withheld information from the Federal Environment Minister to bully ahead with its agenda to cull sharks”, said Jeff Hansen, Managing Director, Sea Shepherd Australia.

“Its time that the WA Government backed alternatives that assists with beach users safety without killing marine life. We don’t have to choose between the protecting human life or sharks, we can do both, with alternatives available today that actually work, because baited drum lines simply do not.”

*Email proving community perceptions survey is not publicly available. PDF

Categories: Community

Woe to the Poor Whales that Get Stranded on a Beach in the Ferocious Isles

Sea Shepherd - Thu, 28/08/2014 - 21:55
Woe to the Poor Whales that Get Stranded on a Beach in the Ferocious Isles

Commentary by Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson

Killers at work butchering the whalesKillers at work butchering the whalesLast night, five bottlenose whales (hyperoodon ampullatus) were stranded on the beach at Hvalba on the Faroese island of Suduroy. They were discovered this morning. Within minutes, bloodthirsty Faroese whalers were scrambling over the bodies like agitated maggots, to either kill them or cut them up.

We have determined through our documentation and inquiries that the whales were alive when discovered.

The whales could have been pulled back into the water and released; instead they were mercilessly killed and then towed to a nearby harbor to complete their butchery.

The evidence is clear that the whales were indeed alive when found, not only from observation but because the spinal cord on the whales was severed prior to them being towed to the harbor. If dead, there would have been no need for this particular cut, which the whalers brag about as being their “humane” way of killing a whale.

With our vessels we would have been in a position to rescue the whales by towing them back out to sea. The killers and the police prevented us from doing so.

Faroese regulations only allow the killing of bottlenose whales that have beached themselves and CANNOT be driven out to sea again.

Bottlenose whale heads lined up after butcheringBottlenose whale heads lined up after butcheringWe will be consulting with an attorney and with the police to investigate if charges can be brought against the killers for violation of the regulations pertaining to the beaching of bottlenose whales. The bet is they will have a veterinarian who will sign off that the whales could not be saved.

Long-term statistics indicate that the most frequent beachings are in the villages of Hvalba and Sandvík on Suðuroy.

The whales were discovered at 0530 hours (5:30am).

The beach is isolated and difficult to monitor and the weather and seas were nasty, but despite the conditions Sea Shepherd offshore volunteers were able to get the fast boat Loki to the harbor within 30 minutes, in time to film the whales being butchered. The killers were strutting about - all smiles along with the cops - the entire lot feeling proud and self-righteous that they had just destroyed five beautiful creatures without a modicum or remorse or regret.

The population of Northern bottlenose whales is thought to not number more than 10,000.

Beautiful blue waters of the Faroes turned red with the bloodBeautiful blue waters of the Faroes
turned red with the bloodThe Northern bottlenose whale is listed on Appendix II [8] of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) [9]. It is listed on Appendix II [8] as it has an unfavorable conservation status or would benefit significantly from international cooperation organized by tailored agreements.

In addition, the Northern bottlenose whale is covered by the Agreement on the Conservation of Small Cetaceans of the Baltic, North East Atlantic, Irish and North Seas (ASCOBANS) [10], and the Memorandum of Understanding Concerning the Conservation of the Manatee and Small Cetaceans of Western Africa and Macaronesia (Western African Aquatic Mammals MoU).

All great conservation news for the Northern Bottlenose dolphin, except if they are unlucky enough to be stranded on a beach within killing distance of the knife-wielding psychopaths of Suduroy.

Operation GrindStop Visit our
Operation GrindStop 2014
site for more information.
Categories: Community

Burkina Faso: Thomas Sankara inspires new generation of anti-government activists

Links International - Thu, 28/08/2014 - 15:49

Thomas Sankara meets Fidel Castro.

For more on Thomas Sankara, click HERE.

By Brian Petersen

August 15, 2014 -- Think Africa Press -- In 1987, Blaise Compaoré overthrew Sankara and took over the presidency. 27 years later, Sankara's ghost may be coming back to return the favour.

Thirty years ago, on August 4, 1984, the former French colony of the Upper Volta was re-baptised as "Burkina Faso" amidst a revolutionary process that proved to be one of the most inspiring, yet ultimately tragic, episodes of modern African history.

In 1983, the young Captain Thomas Sankara had come to power in a popularly supported coup d'état and − with broad support from leftist political parties, students, women and peasants − initiated a range of ambitious projects, including the country's name change, that aimed to make the country more self-reliant and free of corruption. Sankara also sought to decentralise and democratise power in order to facilitate more participatory forms of governance, though elections for national offices were never attempted.

read more

Categories: Community

David Mandel: Understanding the conflict in Ukraine

Links International - Thu, 28/08/2014 - 14:16

Ukraines' President Petro Poroshenko (second from left) greets US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal has published various left viewpoints on the political situation in Ukraine.

By David Mandel

August 24, 2014 -- The Bullet, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- The Ukrainian conflict, like most political phenomena, is multi-dimensional and highly complex. As such, it calls for a holistic – dialectical, if you wish – approach.

But to judge by US and NATO spokespersons and by their mass media, there is only one really decisive factor that explains everything: Russia's imperialism, Vladimir Putin's determination to dominate and further dismember the Ukraine as part of his plan to restore the Soviet empire. In this simplistic view, Ukraine, with benevolent support from the West, would be quite capable of dealing with its problems and would soon be on its way to becoming a prosperous, Western-style democracy.

read more

Categories: Community

Turnbull

Club Troppo - Thu, 28/08/2014 - 08:48

Following David’s excellent post on the NBN, a somewhat related aside.

Malcolm Turnbull was interviewed on AM yesterday about the NBN review, followed by a brief minuet around some current political dramas.

What a contrast. By comparison, his colleagues still seem be struggling with the basic craft of politics. And, for that matter, with the English language.

Categories: Community

Scotland: Independence without borders

Links International - Thu, 28/08/2014 - 05:07
hands up

"Scottish independence isn't about borders or flags, it's about people's lives and change" -- independence campaigner Cat Boyd argued as she presented the case for Yes at a meeting in the House of Commons.The meeting agreed with a resounding Yes vote.

By Hilary Wainwright

read more

Categories: Community

We suggest you don’t hit this bus

Daniel Bowen - Thu, 28/08/2014 - 01:07

This is an old pic, but a classic. I thought I’d lost it, but it showed-up while sorting through some old files on the computer.

I did once ask someone at Ventura about it — he said one of their staff had taken the photo, and from memory also said there had been no serious injuries — which means you don’t have to feel guilty if amused.

Old pic of an accident, car hit a Ventura bus advertising car insurance. From memory there were no serious injuries, so you can laugh guilt-free.

Categories: Community

Playing Fair with the Faroese

Sea Shepherd - Wed, 27/08/2014 - 22:36
Playing Fair with the Faroese

Commentary by Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson

Captain Paul Watson and Lamya Essemlali in the Faroes, 2011Captain Paul Watson and Lamya Essemlali in the Faroes, 2011Over the past two months, a few hundred Sea Shepherd volunteers have come to the Faroe Islands. It is not an easy place to reach and it is expensive to get there, and even more expensive to stay there. Yet these volunteers have come from more than thirty different nations at their own expense, all united by one common goal - and that is to stop the slaughter of pilot whales and dolphins in the Faroe Islands.

These volunteers have been described by some in the Faroe Islands as “invaders,” although they all entered through the proper legal channels at legal ports of entry.

It is however understandable that their arrival could provoke animosity in some citizens. The presence of Sea Shepherd volunteers brings unfavorable attention to the Faroe Islands and the images of blood-drenched men wading in blood-stained waters, stabbing and killing pilot whales, are deeply disturbing to people around the world. We have found that it is deeply disturbing to many people in the Faroe Islands as well.

Despite all the negativity, Sea Shepherd volunteers have met many Faroese people who do not support the killing and they have met some Faroese people who do support the killing yet are open to discussions about this thing they call the “Grind.”

Generally speaking the people of the Faroe Islands are polite and peaceful, and sometimes after meeting many of them it is even more difficult to understand how something as horrific as the Grindadrap can exist there.

The people we have met on the street and visited in their houses do not seem any different than anyone we meet elsewhere. They can be wonderfully kind and amazingly open to other points of view.

We have also been impressed with the fairness and the professionalism of the Faroese police. They do take the concerns of Sea Shepherd volunteers seriously and they do respond.

Case in point: Last weekend Sea Shepherd Spain volunteer, Sergio Toribio was assaulted on the island of Sandoy. The police immediately responded, an investigation was initiated, and the suspect was detained and is being held in pre-trial custody.

And as it turns out the man not only assaulted Sergio, but also has assaulted a Faroese man over another matter, and thus it seems it was an act of an angry individual that really had little to do with whale killing.

Yes, there are insults directed at Sea Shepherd volunteers and petty acts of vandalism against Sea Shepherd property but so far nothing aggressively violent. Many supporters of the whale killing seem content to unleash their anger in fabricating stories about Sea Shepherd volunteers stealing everything from toilet paper to beer - although none of it has a shred of evidence and there have been no complaints of theft to the police.

One volunteer who broke a cardinal Sea Shepherd rule about possession of drugs (marijuana) was arrested and deported and Sea Shepherd agreed with the police that as he committed a crime, it was proper to deport him. Of course this led to a flurry of accusations that Sea Shepherd volunteers are all drug addicts. However one indiscretion amongst some 300 volunteers is hardly the basis for a mass condemnation.

But we understand that it is human nature to do so. Many of our supporters made the mistake of condemning the Faroese for the act of a single individual who assaulted one of our volunteers.

I can honestly say that the atmosphere on the ground in the Faroes is far more civilized and safer than the times we opposed sealing in Canada. There, we were routinely attacked and often beaten, and the police and the Coast Guard made no pretense of impartiality. In fact we were sometimes beaten by the police and the Coast Guard. Amazingly, the former Canadian Fisheries Minister, Brian Tobin said that he understood the frustrations of Canadian sealers who resorted to violence against anti-sealing advocates.

I can honestly say that the police in the Faroes are far more objective and fair than the police in Japan, where dolphin defenders have been physically attacked in the presence of the police who did nothing, and where a Sea Shepherd volunteer was framed in an assault charge on the mere say-so of a Japanese citizen. He was found not guilty when the judge decided the accuser was simply not credible. He was released after two months in jail although the government had to afterwards pay compensation for a false arrest.

I myself have referred to the killers of the whales as psychopaths and that is an accusation I stand by. However it has been misunderstood by many that I made this accusation against all Faroese citizens. I did not.

Sea Shepherd volunteer in the FaroesSea Shepherd volunteer in the FaroesSea Shepherd does not and has never opposed people simply on the basis of their nationality, ethnicity, race or beliefs. We oppose the killing of marine wildlife, specifically on legal and ethical grounds.

It is our position that killing whales and dolphins is akin to murder. We believe it to be a highly unethical crime against nature and humanity. That is the sole reason we are in the Faroe Islands. When some Faroese people who opposed the killing came to us with a complaint that our logo incorporating the Faroese flag was something they found offensive, we responded by immediately redesigning the logo to remove the Faroese flag. We did not argue with them. We respected their concerns.

We understand that the entire issue of the Grind is highly emotional and that the support of the Grind has its roots deep in Faroese culture.

However we have no choice but to oppose it because of our dedication to our position of opposing the killing of all cetaceans worldwide by anyone, anywhere.

We do not discriminate in our opposition. We have opposed whaling and dolphin killing in Norway, Iceland, Japan (both in Japan and in the Southern Ocean), in Russia (the former Soviet Union), in Spain, Scotland, Australia, South Africa, the USA (the Makah whaling initiative that we stopped), Portugal, and the Faroes.

Sea Shepherd is not an American group. We are an international movement and each and every Sea Shepherd group is an independent entity united by a common cause. When told to go home, our answer is that the ocean is the life support system for all of humanity and therefore protecting bio-diversity in our Ocean is a part of our collective home.

There is also the mistaken impression held by some in the Faroes that I am the leader and organizer of GrindStop 2014. I am not.

The Sea Shepherd opposition to the Grind was initiated in 1983 by David McColl of Sea Shepherd Scotland. I did lead campaigns in 1985, 1986, 2000 and 2011. Lamya Essemlali of France led the campaign in 2010, and this year the campaign is being led by Lamya on the water and by Rosie Kunneke from South Africa as leader of the land-based volunteer team.

My role is simply to write commentaries.

We are not picking on the Faroe Islands as some critics have indicated. Presently we have active campaigns underway in Australia, Belgium, China, Ecuador (Galapagos) Italy, Japan, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Brazil, the USA (Oregon and Hawaii), Canada, Cape Verde and West Africa, and the Faroes.

Some of our supporters have been harsh in their comments about the Faroe Islands and some of these comments have been unfairly directed towards all Faroese. These comments, however, do not reflect the position of Sea Shepherd, for we do not oppose nor are we interested in opposing the Faroese for being Faroese. We oppose only the whale killers.

At the same time, we do not attribute the insults and threats directed at us from those who support the slaughter to all Faroese people. We know where they are coming from and thus they are irrelevant, just as those who insult the Faroese as a people are irrelevant.

Some argue that we bring shame and disgrace to the Faroes. We would argue that it is the whale killers who bring shame and disgrace to the Faroese people, and they will be doing more damage by bringing pro-whaling and pro-dolphin killing Japanese to the islands - and even more so if they allow them to participate in the slaughter.

We will of course seize on that as an opportunity to show that the Japanese who have been found guilty of illegal whaling by the International Court of Justice will be in an alliance with the Faroese whalers. And the images of Japanese dolphin killers alongside Faroese pilot whale butchers will be powerful indeed. However we hope that the Faroese whalers will not be silly enough to give us the opportunity to exploit such complicity. But if they do, we will.

And as for the arguments about numbers, questions about the humaneness of the slaughter, and cultural rights, etc. Well none of these are really relevant to Sea Shepherd. Both sides have opinions. The whalers say that there are plenty of whales. In our opinion they are endangered, in no small part because all life in our oceans is endangered by so many negative factors - from overfishing to pollution. The whalers say that the killing is humane. We do not think it is possible to humanely kill a whale, and besides, the method of killing is secondary to the killing itself. And as for culture, well cultures need to adapt or die and any cultural rite or ritual that is dependent upon cruelty and death should be tossed into the dustbin of humanity’s very shameful history.

Our crewmembers have met with many young people, especially at events like the Klaksvik Music Festival and have made many friends. Lamya Essemlali, the President of Sea Shepherd France, is trying to organize a soccer game between young Faroese people and young volunteers from Sea Shepherd.

The point of this article, however, is simply this: It is the position of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society that we oppose the slaughter of the pilot whales and dolphins in the Faroes by Faroese whale killers and we do so without prejudice. We hold no animosity towards the Faroese people and we believe that other than the Grind, the Faroese people enjoy a remarkably peaceful and admirable lifestyle. The country is exceptionally green and beautiful, and the oceans are pristine and blue - and will be even more so when the color red is permanently removed from the beaches and the water.

Keep the waters blue and the Faroes will be seen as a jewel of a nation where people may come to experience what I have experienced over the years – a country of profound natural beauty and fairytale majesty.

Operation GrindStop Visit our
Operation GrindStop 2014
site for more information.
Categories: Community

Seeing the broadband future

Club Troppo - Wed, 27/08/2014 - 16:51

The latest cost-benefit analysis of various Australian broadband proposals is out. It’s part of a report from an inquiry chaired by former Victorian Treasury head Mike Vertigan

And it says in essence that Australia’s expected growth in demand for bandwidth is big enough to make the NBN viable, but small enough to make the government’s alternative look better.

I would have expected to hear the report’s authors out there defending it, but Mike Vertigan has never been keen to put himself forward in the public debate. So today much of the media I saw has been dominated by critics, and they’ve mostly been saying that a useful cost-benefit analysis is impossible, so we should just build the NBN. Paul Budde was making the claim this morning on ABC Radio, and lesser-known experts such as Sydney Uni’s Kai Riemer have been saying the same thing.

This claim – that we can’t usefully analyse the NBN’s costs and benefits – is hooey.

We can’t do a precise cost-benefit analysis, given how much Internet use is likely to change over the next decade or two. And whatever analysis we do should be up-front about how much guesswork is involved. But cost-benefit analyses are not just helpful; they’re also inevitable. Indeed, everyone who says “we should just build it” actually is doing a cost-benefit analysis. Typically they’re just doing a really sloppy cost-benefit analysis in their head, and setting their median estimate of the benefits at, approximately, Unimaginably Huge.

And Unimaginably Huge is almost certainly an overstatement.

“We can’t begin to imagine what people could do with upload speeds on an industrial scale,” Riemer told News Limited.

But of course we can begin to imagine that. Because places like Japan and South Korea have had high-speed broadband in place, with high upload speeds, for years now. And as the report’s demand projections document sets out, nothing magical has happened.

comms-chambers-traffic-201408

At right is a graph showing broadband traffic in Australia, Japan and a few other countries. In the finest traditions of the Australian Internet, I stole it from the Vertigan report. Sorry, Mike.

You’ll notice that Australian traffic has been exploding recently. The explanation for that is, basically, video consumption: ABC iView, Apple TV, high-def  YouTube videos, people Chromecasting Game of Thrones, and so on. (It’s essentially the same story in Hong Kong, where per-capita demand is around 100GB/month – too big to fit on this graph.)

Malcolm Turnbull has been lampooned for claiming that broadband demand is mostly about movies and TV. But if you restrict your gaze to recent demand for raw bandwidth, he’s right.

And hardly anyone wants to say we should build the NBN so we can watch True Detectives or remastered Star Trek episodes, fun though that may be. So supporters keep talking about all the other fantastic advancements we’ll miss out on if we don’t build it.

Trouble is, most of the innovations we have come up with recently don’t use all that much bandwidth. Facebook and LinkedIn and Instagram are only medium-bandwidth even at their most intensive. Twitter and smart electricity grids are low-bandwidth. Networked games like Halo 3 use surprisingly little bandwidth too, with local hardware doing most of the work. And beyond a certain point, the speed with which you see Web pages has little to do with bandwidth; it’s mostly about server responsiveness and network latency.

Most projected e-health applications, including your latest x-rays, won’t use that much bandwidth either. Even fairly decent video-conferencing for education and medical consultations and business meetings uses perhaps 2 megabits per second. To the extent that something is limiting growth in the use of such technologies, that something is generally not bandwidth. (In my experience, the big problem is that many of these technologies remain hard for people to set up and use.)

And of course, if high-speed broadband was ready to work some new magic, we should already be able to see it at work somewhere today. Riemer’s claim that “we can’t begin to imagine” the technological future is a half-truth at best. As William Gibson wrote long ago: “the future is here; it is just unevenly distributed”. We can see the future for free in places like Hong Kong and Seoul and Tokyo, where high-speed broadband has been commonplace for the better part of a decade. We can see the future in Australia, too, because like most other developed countries we have had high-speed broadband for many years too – not everywhere, but certainly between CBDs, many inner-city areas, and the universities.

Japanese demand, in particular, has been growing quite slowly. To quote Andrew Odlyzko, perhaps the world’s leading analyst of Internet traffic: ”There have been many warnings of an impending ‘exaflood’ that would swamp networks. They have not taken place, and instead we have seen a deceleration in wireline Internet traffic growth rates.”

At the very least, the incremental benefits of super-high bandwidth for technologies like videoconferencing should now be showing up in communications between different parts of Seoul and Tokyo and Hong Kong, and between the Australian capital-city offices of major businesses and professional services firms. As best I can tell, it simply isn’t.

And that, ultimately, is what has cruelled the current case for the NBN.

[Long disclaimer, added based on previous experience making these arguments: No, I am not a practising Luddite. Yes, I use broadband – lots of it. I got my first broadband connection back in the previous century and have a houseful of Ethernet cable. I make most of my living helping businesses to make better use of Internet technologies. My own business runs on cloud-based systems such as Google Drive and uses a VoIP phone system. I send and receive large graphics files. I enjoy Team Fortress 2. Etc, etc.]

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Comment: Prospects for an anti-war/solidarity movement in Ukraine and Russia

Links International - Tue, 26/08/2014 - 15:35

Anti-war protest in Chernivtsi, western Ukraine, July 23, 2014. Signs read, "Bring our children back!" and "Stop the bloodshed!"

Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal has published various left viewpoints on the political situation in Ukraine. These do not necessarily represent the views of the publishers.

By Roger Annis

August 18, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In an article published on Left-East on August 10, Russian left-wing writer Ilya Budraitskis laments "there is no anti-war movement in Russia". His article is a rather bleak, despairing outlook on the prospects of organising against “war” in the border regions between Ukraine and Russia. He titles his article “Hope in a hopeless place”.

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More strife in the Top End as Maley SM resigns

The Northern Myth - Tue, 26/08/2014 - 00:09

“I’m currently a magistrate, I don’t know for how long.”

As I reported here they were the words embattled Northern Territory Stipendiary Magistrate Peter Maley used to describe his job prospects at a public event in Darwin two weekends ago. Last evening Maley resigned his appointment as magistrate after eleven months and apparently intends to return to private practise as a solicitor.

It has been a rough few days in NT political and legal circles. Just last Friday Deputy Chief Minister and Treasurer Dave Tollner resigned following gay slurs made to a staffer (and son of a fellow Minister) in a cabinet meeting. This morning the opposition is calling for Attorney-General John Elferink to also fall on his sword after the Maley affair.

Close friend and recipient of a $5,000.00 election donation from Maley, Elferink issued this statement:

“Tonight I was contacted by Magistrate Peter Maley who has tendered his resignation,” he said. ”He has also advised the Chief Magistrate of his decision.

“I would like to thank Mr Maley for his service to the people of the Northern Territory and congratulate him for building a reputation as a fair, astute and hard-working magistrate during the short time that he was on the bench.”

Since early June this year the NT Bar Association has been calling on the Country Liberal Party government to hold an independent inquiry into Maley’s conduct as a magistrate and his close connections to the CLP.

Elferink dismissed the Association’s plea with a few brief words, assuring the Association that he was “mindful” of the separation of powers and that he was “confident that the Court and Officers of the Court … are more than capable of promoting and protecting the independence of the judiciary” and that he would not hold any investigation.

The Association followed up with a further letter to Elferink in late June and another in mid-July, on neither occasion receiving a written response.

By early August the Association had had enough and published the correspondence between it and the Attorney-General in full.

In a covering Media Release on 7 August the Association said that it had:

… set out its concerns in relation to Mr Maley’s conduct since his appointment in September 2013,  including his apparent involvement with the Country Liberal Party as a director of Foundation 51 Pty Ltd and by handing out how to vote cards at the recent Blain by‐election.

“The established rules of judicial conduct require magistrates to cease involvement in politics after their appointment. It appears that Mr Maley has not done that,” said Mr John Lawrence SC, the Bar Association’s President.

“The public must have complete confidence in the independence of Territory magistrates. That confidence has been undermined by Mr Maley’s conduct which suggests an on‐going and close connection between Mr Maley and the Government.

The need for an independent inquiry is reinforced by the Attorney’s friendship with Mr Maley and the Attorney’s public statements which appear to support Mr Maley’s on‐going involvement in politics.”

The Bar Association wasn’t alone in calling for an inquiry into Maley’s conduct.

In early May this year Labor MLA Michael Gunner asked NT Chief Minister Adam Giles  about Maley’s directorship of “the CLP slush fund known as Foundation 51.” Gunner queried: “What message does this send Territorians about the administration of justice in the Northern Territory?”

Adam Giles responded that: ” … the good thing about this is democracy and freedom of speech. A magistrate in the Northern Territory is allowed to have a political opinion. What sort of a society are we living in? It is a fantastic society where a magistrate can have a political opinion and be a member of a political party.”

The following week Palmer United Party MLA Larisa Lee accused Maley of making threats and offering inducements in February 2014 to her in relation to her plans to leave the Country Liberal Party, from which he had resigned only the previous week.

Maley didn’t deny that he had held a conversation with Lee, saying “I emphatically deny any suggestion that I may have acted unethically or inappropriately at any time either personally or on behalf of the Country Liberal Party.” He invited Lee to “repeat the accusations outside parliament where parliamentary privilege cannot prevent legal proceedings being taken against her.”

As the legal affairs website Justinian noted, Maley’s comments begged the questions as to: “Why is a judicial officer ringing up a member of parliament, and were he in a position to sue would it be a nice look to bring a defamation action in the courts in his home jurisdiction?”

Over two days in mid-August the Labor opposition turned up the heat on Giles and Elferink over Maley’s conduct and the government’s failure to consider an inquiry. On 19 August they fired no less than 5 questions at Giles and Elferink in Question Time.

This response from Giles to a question from Gunner is typical of the tone of the government’s response.

Peter Maley has been quite public that he was a member of the CLP. We are not afraid to hide it or show it, We are proud of the fact we have a competent, able man as a member of the CLP , and he happens to be a magistrate.

And this.

I do not care if people [are] members of any party. If they are in the judiciary, if they are in the legal fraternity, wherever they are, this is the freedom and the rights we have in a democracy.

The NT News, reporting Maley’s resignation last night, said that:

The sudden resignation comes after the NT News put a series of questions to Mr Maley about events that occurred before he was appointed as a magistrate.

On October 17 2013 Labor MLA for Casuarina, Kon Vatskalis and Leader of the Labor opposition Delia Lawrie had the following exchange with Attorney-General Elferink in relation to the appointment of Maley a month earlier.

The NT Hansard records that exchange as follows:

Peter Maley – Appointment as Magistrate

Question Date: 10/17/2013

Member: Mr VATSKALIS

To: ATTORNEY-GENERAL

When Cabinet approved the appointment, were Cabinet members aware that Mr Maley had donated $5000 to your personal election campaign? Secondly, in the course of considering the approval of Mr Maley as a magistrate, did you at any stage discover that he had been the subject of adverse criticism concerning his suitability by a senior judicial officer? If so, can you confirm you have investigated the criticism and satisfied yourself that it has no foundation? Finally, can you please advise why the vacancy was filled without being advertised?

ANSWER

A point of order, Madam Speaker! If the member asked this question outside this House, he would have committed a criminal offence, an indictable offence. I seek your guidance in relation that matter.

Madam SPEAKER: I remind honourable members that freedom of speech is a closely guarded privilege, enforced since 1689. This great privilege ensures that members of the Assembly can undertake their role without fear of action being taken against them for matters raised in the Assembly. Such a privilege must always be exercised in a reasonable manner. I do not comment on the right of the member to speak freely. That is not in question. Leader of Government Business, the member for Casuarina did not state any specific court or legislation, so I deem that the question is in order at this point in time.

Mr ELFERINK: Madam Speaker, I do not doubt that the question is in order; however, section 121 of the Family Law Act is quite succinct in this area. The first question …

Ms LAWRIE: A point of order, Madam Speaker! The opposition made no reference to any court or any Commonwealth act.

Madam SPEAKER: I have just said that, Opposition Leader. Please be seated. Continue, minister.

Mr ELFERINK: The answer to the first question is, yes, I declared everything.

Ms Lawrie: To Cabinet?

Mr ELFERINK: Yes. Are you now going to say I have breached Cabinet confidentiality? Of course I declared it to Cabinet. The answer to the second question is that I will not engage in what I am being invited to engage in here with the members opposite. But I will say this; if a person, under that legislation, had been investigated or referred to by a court, then a professional body would have looked into it. The professional body in the Northern Territory is the Law Society of the Northern Territory, which was consulted in the process of this appointment. The answer to the third question is that when the advertising was done in December last year, it was for a two-year period, which was made clear in the advertisement. Therefore, it was still well within the 2-year period when that selection was made. But this seems to be typical of members opposite …

Ms Lawrie: Did you raise any of these matters with Cabinet?

Mr ELFERINK: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!

The Northern Myth contacted both Mr Elferink and Mr Maley for comment but neither responded prior to publication.

The NT Bar Association is expected to issue a statement later today.

Categories: Community

Home loan: some progress at last

Daniel Bowen - Mon, 25/08/2014 - 23:19

Here’s a graph of my home loan, which I got just over nine years ago.

The loan was approved in August 2005, but only took effect in October that year (the huge leap on the left).

Home loan balance, August 2005-August 2014

In the first year or so I was able to pay it down a bit. It only took me about 8 months to get the balance down to 95% of the initial loan. With interest burning up most of the payments, it took another 5 years to get down to 90%. This of course is why the graph looks jaggy — each month we go down a bit, and up a bit.

In the past few years I haven’t concentrated on paying it down further, but I do have a healthy working balance in an offset account. That combined with the current low interest rates have meant it’s taken under 3 years to move down from 90% to 85%.

The bank reckons the current forecast term is still 20 years and 3 months (gulp).

The nature of big loans is that the balance starts to drop faster the further you are into it, but one way of ensuring that would be to lock-in a fixed interest rate. The last time I tried this was precisely the wrong time — just before the Global Financial Crisis sent rates tumbling.

Still, rates are pretty low at the moment, so now might be a good time… though you can bet whichever way I go, the bank will win.

Categories: Community

The umbrella wrapper

Daniel Bowen - Sun, 24/08/2014 - 23:56

This is near the entrance to one of the local supermarkets.

I understand what it is — it wraps your umbrella in plastic — I just don’t understand why such a thing is needed.

Umbrella wrapper

While it’s nice to see them catering for pedestrians (since I’d assume few people coming from a parked car would bother with an umbrella), I have yet to see anybody actually use it.

Seems to me if you arrive with a wet umbrella, shaking it out before you come in is a better way of dealing with it. The dispenser is only at one of the two entrances in any case.

In fact, in a place where plastic bags are plentiful, I would have thought anybody arriving with an umbrella that they felt was so wet they had to wrap it up, would have had plenty of options without a special dispenser having to be provided.

Maybe I’m missing something.

Categories: Community

Marta Harnecker: New paths require a new culture on the left

Links International - Sun, 24/08/2014 - 08:27

Venezuela's president Nicolas Maduro with Marta Harnecker at the award ceremony.

For more by or about Marta Harnecker and her ideas, click HERE.

Speech given by Marta Harnecker on August 15, 2014, accepting the 2013 Liberator’s Prize for Critical Thought, awarded for her book, A World to Build: New Paths towards Twenty-first Century Socialism; translated by Federico Fuentes

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Caroline Lund: Reflections of a trade union militant and socialist

Links International - Sun, 24/08/2014 - 08:21

Caroline Lund at work.

By Barry Sheppard

August 25, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Caroline Lund was for many years a leader of the US Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and for some years of the Fourth International. She and I resigned from the SWP in 1988.

In 1992 she got a job at an automobile factory in Freemont, California, called New United Motors, Inc. (NUMMI). She became an activist in the plant and the United Auto Workers locally and nationally. In 1998, she began to publish a plant newsletter, The Barking Dog.

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Iraq, Syria: US-caused 'blowback' as violence escalates; Kurds resist ISIS

Links International - Sun, 24/08/2014 - 08:20

Kurdish fighters resist ISIS.

By Tony Iltis

August 24, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, a shorter version of this article first appeared in Green Left Weekly -- Since August 8, for the first time since officially ending its occupation at the end of 2011, the United States has been carrying out air strikes in Iraq.

The strikes were aimed at the extremely violent multinational terrorist group that was until recently known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but which renamed itself simply the "Islamic State" on June 29, to reflect that its ambitions are global. The group originally emerged in the aftermath of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

International gangs of Salafi Sunni Muslim fundamentalists have been a feature of world politics since the end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1989. To fight the Soviet occupation, the CIA, working with Saudi Arabia, had recruited a Salafi force from all over the world but having achieved this cut them loose. International groups of Salafi fighters began appearing wherever there was large-scale armed conflict in the Islamic world, while the mainly Saudi leadership of the network (prosaically named “the Base”, or Al Qaeda) engaged in escalating attacks against their former sponsor, the US, culminating in the 9/11 attacks.

Blowback

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Scotland's independence vote: 'For a modern democratic republic' -- Scottish Socialist Party

Links International - Sun, 24/08/2014 - 08:19

The Scottish Socialist Party pamphlet, For a Modern Democratic Republic, written by SSP national spokesperson Colin Fox (pictured above), highlights the need for an elected, representative and accountable head of state as part of Scotland’s constitution. The book is available from local SSP branches priced £3.99, and from its online shop for £5 (inc. p&p). Here is a taste of the pamphlet’s contents.

* * *

By Colin Fox, Scottish Socialist Party national co-spokesperson

August 26, 2014 -- Scottish Socialist Party, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

Is there anything more absurd than the hereditary principle? It is as absurd as the hereditary mathematician, or a hereditary poet laureate. The vanity and presumption of government from beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and indolent of tyrannies. – Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man (1792).

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