Recent blog entries

Spanish Ebola nurse: infected others in holiday swimming pool?

English news reports of Teresa Romero, the Spanish nurse infected with Ebola mention that she had been on holiday when she first started experiencing the symptoms of Ebola.

As most people know by now, a patient becomes infectious the moment that they start to exhibit symptoms.

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).


Naomi Klein: ‘Only mass social movements can save us’ from climate catastrophe

Links International - 0 sec ago
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate

By Naomi Klein
Alfred A. Knopf, 2014

Review by John Riddell

October 20, 2014 -- Climate and Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Despite endless conferences, treaties and solemn promises, greenhouse gas emissions have risen 61% since 1990, and the rate of increase is accelerating. As Naomi Klein tells us in her new book, This Changes Everything, we are now experiencing an “early twenty-first century emissions explosion”.

The reason for this ominous failure, she shows, is that the present capitalist profit system itself is incompatible with climate and environmental stability. Our only hope is the rise of mass movements with the combined goals of saving the environment and achieving social justice.

This Changes Everything is a rich resource of fact and argument: it’s a book that every climate justice activist should read, use and share.

‘The Right is right’

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Categories: Community

Old photos from October 2004

Daniel Bowen - Mon, 20/10/2014 - 22:31

I don’t seem to have many photos from October 2004 for my post of photos from ten years ago… it must have been a dry month.

A slightly out-of-focus photo of the street sign in ACDC Lane, snapped a couple of weeks after it was renamed on October 1st 2004. It’s in the news this week because Cherry Bar, located in the lane, has started receiving noise complaints from people who have just moved into new apartments nearby… who apparently don’t really want the city ambience they probably paid top dollar for. Unfortunately the clever new “Agent of Change” laws which would require developers to pay for music venue soundproofing only apply to developments approved after the laws came into effect.
ACDC Lane, October 2004

Elizabeth Street. Note no tram superstops, old tram colours, and that disused Argus building on the corner of Latrobe Street, still disused.
Elizabeth Street, October 2004

Categories: Community

Habituation – to mediocrity

Club Troppo - Mon, 20/10/2014 - 16:09

A Tale of Repetition: Lessons from Florida Restaurant Inspections
by Ginger Zhe Jin, Jungmin Lee – #20596 (IO)


We examine the role of repetition in government regulation. Using
Florida restaurant inspection data from 2003 to 2010, we find that
inspectors new to the inspected restaurant report 12.7-17.5% more
violations than the second visit of a repeat inspector. This effect
is even more pronounced if the previous inspector had inspected the
restaurant more times. The difference between new and repeat
inspectors is driven partly by inspector heterogeneity in inherent
taste and stringency, and partly by new inspectors having fresher
eyes in the first visit of a restaurant.

Categories: Community

What kind of Kurdistan for women? (+ video)

Links International - Mon, 20/10/2014 - 04:41
What kind of Kurdistan for Women?

By Dilar Dirik

October 20, 2014 -- Kurdish Question, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- "Azadî", freedom. A notion that has captured the collective imagination of the Kurdish people for a long time. "Free Kurdistan", the seemingly unattainable ideal, has many shapes, depending on where one situates oneself in the broad spectrum of Kurdish politics. The increasing independence of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in South Kurdistan (Bashur) from the central Iraqi government, as well as the immense gains of the Kurdish people in West Kurdistan (Rojava) in spite of the Syrian civil war over the last year, have revived the dream of a free life as Kurds in Kurdistan.

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Categories: Community

A charter city for refugees?

Club Troppo - Mon, 20/10/2014 - 04:02

hkHere is quite a good article seeking to “reframe” the asylum seeker debate. It takes a reasonably moderate, non-hysterical approach.

I haven’t written on the subject recently myself, because I have been feeling a little conflicted. On the one hand, long-time Troppo readers will be aware I have always been of the view that reasonably firm border protection and asylum seeker processing policies are justified in Australia in order to maintain public confidence in our very successful migration program and avoid or minimise social tensions and divisions that would inevitably emerge if the pace of arrivals was greater than the nation could comfortably absorb (assimilate is a forbidden expression). From this perspective the Abbott government has been very successful: it really has stopped the boats (at least for the present).

On the other hand, any policy prescriptions for asylum seekers must meet at least two basic human rights requirements:

  1. Whether in immigration detention or not, asylum seekers must be housed in safe, clean and reasonably comfortable accommodation, with ready access to appropriate health, education and basic community facilities;
  2. Asylum seekers in Australian care/custody must never be returned to the country from which they fled allegedly fearing Convention-based persecution (“refouled”) without a rigorous assessment of the genuineness of their claims to refugee status.  Nor must they be “turned back” to a third country from which there is a real risk they will be refouled. To do otherwise is to risk replicating the appalling saga of the St Louis during World War II.

These are the basic and most central aspects of the Refugee Convention to which Australia is a signatory. Except for a short period in the wake of the Tampa affair, when the Howard government flirted with “turning back the boats”, all previous governments have honoured these basic Convention obligations.

However, the Abbott government is flouting both principles, seemingly with the tacit approval or at least complete disinterest of the Australian community and much of the media.

Just about all reports of conditions in the Manus Island detention centre suggest that they are truly appalling.  Perhaps things may improve with the replacement of centre manager G4S with Transfield Services, but there is room for skepticism.

As for basic principle 2, Abbott and Morrison’s policy of “turning back the boats” with little or no prior assessment of asylum seekers’ claims is a clear and fundamental breach of Australia’s non-refoulement obligations under the Refugee Convention.  The policy is particularly repugnant where asylum seekers are returned by Australian authorities to the very country from which they fled fearing persecution, as was the case when our navy recently returned a boatload of Tamil asylum seekers to Sri Lanka under a cloak of “on water operations” secrecy.  Morrison and former Labor Foreign Minister Bob Carr may airily dismiss them as mere “economic refugees”, but reputable bodies including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have a very different assessment of the ongoing risks faced by Tamils in Sri Lanka. Whenever Tamils have been able to access credible assessment processes, at least 50-60% of them have been classified as genuine refugees (having a genuine and well-founded fear of persecution for a Convention reason).

Even worse, the “turnback” policy is now being bolstered by legislative amendements, backed through the Senate by PUP, which expressly permit the Minister to turn boats back to wherever he chooses without considering the risk of refoulement:

The bill amends the Maritime Powers Act to expand already broad powers to intercept vessels and detain people at sea. It seeks to exclude challenge to government actions that are in breach of international law, taking aim at pending High Court action on behalf of the 157 asylum seekers detained recently on board the Ocean Protector. …

The power to remove non-citizens would be expanded by a provision that states: “It is irrelevant whether Australia has non-refoulement obligations” in respect of a person; and removal can occur “irrespective of whether there has been an assessment, according to law” of whether protection obligations are engaged.

However, I suspect that the biggest problem with the Abbott government’s current asylum seeker processing regime is a purely practical one: it may not be sustainable because no other country in our region or elsewhere will accept for resettlement any significant number of refugees who sought asylum in Australia (one of the world’s wealthiest nations).  For precisely that reason, the Howard government’s Pacific Solution would inevitably have failed anyway had Kevin Rudd not pre-emptively abolished it in 2008 and made himself the scapegoat for the subsequent resumption of large-scale boat arrivals.  No-one would take the refugees “warehoused” by the Howard government on Nauru and (for a time) Manus Island, and Howard was forced quietly to grant a lot of them protection visas and allow them into Australia. News of this would certainly in due course have reached the people smugglers and their desperate customers, and the boat traffic would have resumed even in the absence of Rudd’s (retrospectively) unwise actions.

Something similar may already be in its early stages for the Abbott government.  Despite reported payments by Australia in the vicinity of $400 million to a notoriously corrupt PNG government (most of it probably in Swiss bank accounts and Gold Coast apartments by now), the O’Neill government has still taken no visible steps to implement a refugee resettlement regime.  Not a single refugee has been resettled in PNG and only one family in Nauru.  There are more than 2500 asylum seekers currently in offshore detention in Manus Island and Nauru, of whom it is fair to estimate that more than half will be assessed (or have already been) as refugees.  There are also almost 30,000 asylum seekers awaiting refugee determinations onshore in Australia, most still in immigration detention.  Will many of them end up being successfully resettled in Cambodia, a country if anything even poorer and more corrupt than Papua New Guinea? Somehow I doubt it. More likely a few will be cajoled into consenting to resettlement but will have dreadful experiences in Cambodia that will result in no-one else consenting to resettlement. It is very likely that Abbott and Morrison will eventually be forced to emulate John Howard and quietly give them protection visas, although probably not until the 2016 election is conveniently out of the way.

The problem with that scenario is that the people smugglers’ “business model” would immediately resume, with thousands flooding across from Indonesia to Christmas Island and more than a few of them being drowned along the way.

A charter city?

Is there a viable and humane alternative? I must say I’m quite attracted by the idea of establishing a refugee “charter city” (cf Hong Kong) somewhere on Australia’s northern coastline.  It was an idea first canvassed by economist Paul Romer as a way for poor third world countries to “fast-track” their way to first world wealth.  As such it has attracted quote a lot of probably justified criticism. However, maybe the idea has rather more merit as a way that a wealthy country like Australia might manage its seemingly insoluble border protection problems by providing real opportunities and “durable asylum” for refugees while avoiding creation of community tensions and divisions or undermining public confidence in the migration system.  Young Australian economist Robert Wiblin suggested in 2009, shortly after the emergence of the explosion in boat arrivals following Rudd’s abandonment of the Pacific Solution, that Romer’s ideas might be adapted to Australia’s asylum seeker situation:

The main insight here is that some of what makes high income countries so rich can be franchised. Rich countries are rich largely because they have large quantities of natural, physical and human capital, access to technology and the expertise to use it, as well as governmental, legal and cultural institutions which facilitate wealth production. Refugees moving to Australia from dysfunctional states would suddenly have access to far more of all of these things, but Australians presumably fear they might also reduce the natural, cultural and physical capital available for those, including themselves, who are already here. If Australians aren’t so enthusiastic about sharing their good luck with refugees, a Charter City administered by Australia could at least allow them access to the governmental and legal institutions which have served Australia so well. By credibly providing those rules in this new city Australia would make it a desirable place for investment, thereby also increasing the residents’ access to physical capital and technological expertise. While migrants to the charter city wouldn’t have access to the cultural and human capital that a new resident of Sydney would have, the close proximity to Australian culture and citizens would be sure to provide at some benefits in these areas as well. Romer is even confident that these cities would be able to pay for themselves and eventually turn a profit for the host country through tax revenue, which would essentially be selling their legal institutions to willing buyers.

The primary difficulty of building a city of refugees from scratch would be putting together the social capital and norms necessary for disparate social groups to obey the law and work together effectively and by so doing attract the investment necessary to build such a city. As Arnold Kling has pointed out:

Paul Romer, in presenting his idea for charter cities, makes it sound as though we can take rules “manufactured” in, say, Canada, and export them anywhere in the world. Leoni would say that instead most law is embedded in social customs In fact, my daughter who just spent the summer in Tanzania, says that the custom of seeing law as something that ought to be obeyed is not nearly as natural there as it is here.

Would refugees from a variety of different cultures be able to produce and follow a common set of laws and norms which would allow them to work and life well together? Would refugees, with little hope of returning home, jump at such an opportunity to start a new life in such an experimental city? If the answers are yes, it is possible Australians could help many more refugees than they would be willing to accept as immigrants to their country.

My own idea for a charter city is that it should be established on Melville Island off the coast north of Darwin.  I’m sure the entrepreneurially-minded Tiwi people would be willing to do a commercial deal for a 99 year lease on a Hong Kong-sized piece of unused land.  The advantage of establishing a charter city in the Northern Territory is that the Commonwealth could readily implement a favourable low tax regime without the constitutional constraints that would apply if it were done in a State. The sort of charter terms that might be considered include:

  1. Much lower and flatter personal and company tax regime;
  2. Very basic but livable social security, housing, education and primary health care facilities, with people being able to access more complex acute care facilities in Darwin when needed;
  3. Only refugees (and NT government employed teachers, nurses, police etc) could live there, and only refugees would be permitted to start businesses there;
  4. Refugees would initially be granted one of Clive Palmer’s temporary Safe Haven Enterprise Visas, but might eventually be permitted to apply for permanent business or skilled migration visas if they established a successful long-term business;
  5. Businesses would be required to pay the Australian minimum wage under the Fair Work Act but would not otherwise be bound to offer award wages or conditions;
  6. Recognition of foreign professional and trade qualifications would be fast-tracked.

I think there is a genuine prospect that such a charter city, if established and fostered appropriately, really COULD develop into a thriving Hong Kong-style entrepreneurial city on Australia’s north coast.  Moreover, with its distinct neoliberal overtones, it might even be the sort of scheme that Abbott, Morrison et al  would see as an attractive option.  I wonder whether any Coalition movers and shakers read Troppo?  Mark Textor, where are you when I need you?

Categories: Community

Thailand: Elections postponed, anti-reformists show their true colours

Links International - Mon, 20/10/2014 - 03:49

For more on Thailand, click HERE.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

October 18, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- While the dictator Prayut (or Prayuth) Chan-ocha (pictured above) was huddled with the Chinese and Japanese representatives in Italy, he had previously told reporters not to “speculate” when elections would be held again in Thailand. Many analysts are predicting that elections will not take place at least until 2016, thus rubbishing the initial promises of the junta to hold elections next year.

Meanwhile a panel of anti-reformist junta lackeys were pontificating about the legacy of the 14th October 1973 uprising against the military and how this would “influence” the present anti-reform process.

This academic meeting was not banned by the junta, unlike pro-democracy seminars.

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Categories: Community

Martin Sheen Unveils Sea Shepherd’s Newest Vessel, R/V Martin Sheen, Named in his Honor

Sea Shepherd - Sun, 19/10/2014 - 06:20
Martin Sheen Unveils Sea Shepherd’s Newest Vessel, R/V Martin Sheen, Named in his Honor

Sea Shepherd and Sheen Announce New Marine Conservation Campaign Featuring the Research Vessel

The R/V Martin Sheen sailing.  Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A CastroThe R/V Martin Sheen sailing.
Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A CastroAt a press conference held today in Marina del Rey, Calif., Sea Shepherd Conservation Society USA and long-time celebrity supporter Martin Sheen unveiled the newest vessel in Sea Shepherd’s fleet, the R/V Martin Sheen, named for the Golden Globe, Emmy and Screen Actors’ Guild awardee, and announced plans for an upcoming campaign to address the plastic pollution problem.

Attendees were welcomed by Sea Shepherd USA staff who explained that the name of this vessel would carry the prefix of R/V because it will be engaged in direct action of a different sort, as a research vessel. The crowd cheered when Sea Shepherd staff explained that unlike Japan’s so-called “research” whaling vessels, this ship will be engaged in legitimate and very important research — including documentation and investigation — much like the work Sea Shepherd has been doing with its colleagues at Ocean Alliance in the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Captain Oona Layolle of France spoke to media and the assembled crowd. An experience mariner and licensed Master 500, Layolle was at the helm of the vessel on its voyage from Hawaii to Los Angeles. She discussed the Sea Shepherd crew’s efforts to document and remove plastic from the ocean ecosystem on the way. Captain Layolle stated: “During our sail we collected water samples daily at three depths from the same position to measure the level of plastic particles in the water. What we confirmed with our sampling, data collection and observations is that even in highly remote locations, there is an infiltration of plastic debris, from large ghost nets to micro-plastics,” said Captain Layolle.

Later, Sea Shepherd USA staff announced the name of the vessel and Sea Shepherd flags were lifted to reveal its name, Martin Sheen, painted on the bow of the beautiful 80-foot ocean blue ketch.

Speaking next, Martin Sheen approached the bow of the vessel. Sheen, who sits on Sea Shepherd USA’s Media and Arts Advisory Board, is a longtime friend of Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson, and has joined Sea Shepherd and Captain Watson on the frontlines to defend ocean wildlife. Sheen shared some of his incredible history with the organization: “I have a long history of nearly 20 years supporting Sea Shepherd. In 1995, I was on campaign with Paul to try to protect baby harp seals from being clubbed in the Magdalen Islands. Paul, myself, and crew traveled to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Before we could fly out to the seals on the ice floes, a mob of angry sealers invaded the Magdalen Islands hotel where Sea Shepherd was staying. They broke down doors to enter Paul’s room and attacked and beat him. The police intervened only to forcibly expel Paul from the Magdalens. The campaign received international media attention.”

Martin Sheen at the wheel of Sea Shepherd vessel, R/V Martin Sheen.  Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A CastroMartin Sheen at the wheel of Sea Shepherd vessel, R/V Martin Sheen.
Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A CastroSheen then announced the vessel bearing his name would play a critical role in starting to address the ever-present threats of plastic debris and why that is an environmental imperative. “If we fail to cleanup the plastic mess humans have made and stop the continued pollution of our oceans — the lungs of our planet — we face the potential extinctions of many species of sea life and the disruption of the entire eco-system.”

It was then time to christen the ship. Tradition states that a woman must christen a ship for “good luck.” Therefore, Sheen asked Captain Layolle to do the honors as he enjoyed the celebratory smashing of the bottle against the bow of the ship alongside his name.

Sea Shepherd USA staff invited media and attendees onboard the R/V Martin Sheen to hear Captain Paul Watson speak remotely from overseas. He provided a brief campaign update and spoke about the work the R/V Martin Sheen will do. He also sent a special message to Sheen from another fellow Sea Shepherd celebrity supporter and long-time friend of Captain Watson, Brigitte Bardot. Captain Watson spoke about Bardot’s recent visit to the Sea Shepherd trimaran named in her honor while it was visiting France, and her joy at seeing the vessel in person for the first time. Watson said that Bardot sent her congratulations to Sheen, saying she remarked that it is an “honor” to have a Sea Shepherd ship bear one’s name.

On hand to welcome the new R/V Martin Sheen was The Simpsons co-creator and dedicated supporter, Sam Simon, who also has a Sea Shepherd vessel named in his honor that he purchased for the organization. Simon joined Sea Shepherd USA’s Cove Guardians in Taiji, Japan in February in defense of dolphins. Martin Sheen’s wife, Janet was also present at the press conference, along with many of the Sheen’s friends and family members.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society USA, a leading nonprofit marine conservation organization, is at the forefront of the movement to defend ocean wildlife and habitats worldwide. The R/V Martin Sheen will be an important part of the organization’s direct action campaigns around the world, strengthening Sea Shepherd’s work to prevent the slaughter of ocean wildlife and destruction of marine ecosystems.

Martin Sheen ask Captain Oona Layolle to do the honors of christening the R/V Martin Sheen. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A CastroMartin Sheen asks Captain Oona Layolle to do the honors of christening the R/V Martin Sheen. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A Castro Martin Sheen with Captain Layolle and crew of the R/V Martin Sheen. Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A CastroMartin Sheen with Captain Layolle and crew of the R/V Martin Sheen.
Photo: Sea Shepherd/Carolina A Castro
Categories: Community

Marta Harnecker talks about 21st century socialism to TeleSUR English

Links International - Sat, 18/10/2014 - 16:01

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

October 17, 2014 -- TeleSUR English, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Greg Wilpert interviews the well-known theoretician of the Latin American left Marta Harnecker. The Chilean-born author and activist is known worldwide for her writings on Marxist philosophy, Venezuela and Hugo Chavez, and the challenges facing the Latin American left in the 21st century.

Her latest book A World to Build-New Paths to 21st Century Socialism will soon be out in English. In the interview Harnecker discusses the differences between 20th and 21st century socialism and key strategic issues posed for left-wing movements today.

Categories: Community

Review: Behind China's wildcat strike wave

Links International - Sat, 18/10/2014 - 14:36
 Insurgency Trap: Labor Politics in Postsocialist China
By Eli Friedman
Cornell University Press/ILR Press, 2014.

For more on China, click HERE.

By Jane Slaughter

October 15, 2014 -- Labor Notes, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- China is the world centre of wildcat strikes—given that no strike in China is officially allowed under the law. The government doesn’t issue statistics, but one source found 1171 strikes and worker protests from June 2011 through 2013.

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Categories: Community

Award-Winning Actor Martin Sheen to Help Unveil and Christen Sea Shepherd’s Newest Ship in its Fleet, Announce New Campaign

Sea Shepherd - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 17:34
Award-Winning Actor Martin Sheen to Help Unveil and Christen Sea Shepherd’s Newest Ship in its Fleet, Announce New Campaign

Press Conference to Be Held at 10:30 AM PST Saturday Oct. 18 in Marina Del Rey, California

news-141017-1-2-mystery-ship-dimmed-358wA press conference to unveil the newest ship in the Sea Shepherd fleet will be held the morning of Saturday, October 18th in Marina del Rey, Calif. by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society USA, featuring long-time celebrity supporter and award-winning actor Martin Sheen who has campaigned with the non-profit organization in defense of ocean wildlife. Sheen will speak to media, christen the new ship and announce its name. Sea Shepherd will also announce an upcoming marine conservation campaign in which the new vessel will be used.

The ship, which recently voyaged to California from Hawaii, has already been engaged in work to protect the marine ecosystem and ocean wildlife. Sea Shepherd will discuss these efforts and show a destructive fishing driftnet that was removed from the ocean by the crew.

Sheen is a devoted supporter of Sea Shepherd and long-time friend of Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson. A Golden Globe, Emmy and Screen Actors’ Guild award-winning actor and acclaimed star of television, film and stage, he is also a dedicated activist for environmental, human and animal rights causes. He has joined Sea Shepherd and Captain Watson on campaign, including opposing the brutal seal hunts in Canada. He sits on Sea Shepherd USA’s Media and Arts Advisory Board.

Speakers at the press conference will include:

  • Captain Oona Layolle, veteran of five Sea Shepherd campaigns

  • Martin Sheen, award-winning actor & activist
  • Captain Paul Watson, Sea Shepherd Founder (via Skype)

If you are a member of the media and you’d like credentials to this Los Angeles area event, contact

Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson with Martin SheenSea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson with Martin Sheen
Photo: Sea Shepherd

Categories: Community

Global wealth: 1% own 48%; 10% own 87% and bottom 50% own less than 1%

Links International - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 14:05
global wealth pyramid

By Michael Roberts

October 15, 2014 -- Michael Roberts Blog, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This time last year, I outlined the results of the Global Wealth report published by Credit Suisse Bank (see Compiled by Tony Shorrocks and Jim Davies, formerly at the UN, that report showed that the top 1% owned 41% of all the personal wealth in the world; the top 10% owned 86% and the bottom 50% of owned less than 1% of all the wealth. This staggering level of inequality certainly attracted interest and my post on this was the most popularly viewed one on my blog ever.

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Categories: Community

Irish Republican News: Government thrashed in by-elections as 100,000 protest water charges

Links International - Fri, 17/10/2014 - 13:19


See also "Water revolt in Ireland: Socialist candidate wins by-election as 100,000 march". Click for more discussion of Irish politics.

October 11, 2014 -- Irish Reuplican News -- Crowds not seen in several years have demonstrated against water charges on the streets of Dublin city centre on October 11 as voters delivered a stunning message of no confidence in two by-elections to the Dublin parliament.

Traffic in Dublin’s city centre came to a standstill due to the unprecedented collective anti-austerity march. The demonstration took one hour and twenty minutes to pass the Spire in O’Connell Street asmarchers  made their way from Parnell Square, around the city finishing at the GPO in O’Connell Street.

While the Garda [police] press office could declined to give a figure for the numbers in attendance, one garda observing the march admitted the numbers could be as high as 100,000, a giant number by the standard of such protests.

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Categories: Community

Tamils: Former LTTE de facto state -- a resident’s view

Links International - Thu, 16/10/2014 - 14:34

LTTE fighters.

For more on the Tamil struggle, click HERE.

By Chris Slee, Melbourne

October 16, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Ragu, a Tamil man now living in Australia, spent 16 years living in areas under the control of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The LTTE was formed in 1972 by young people angry at decades of discrimination and repression against the Tamil people by successive racist Sri Lankan governments. It fought for an independent Tamil homeland in the north and east of the island of Sri Lanka. After small-scale armed clashes in the late 1970s, full-scale war began in 1983. The LTTE was defeated in 2009.

Ragu spoke to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal about his experiences living in LTTE-controlled areas.

* * *

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Categories: Community

Happy 20th birthday to blogging!

Club Troppo - Thu, 16/10/2014 - 12:54

Just a note to record the fact that blogging is 20 years old this month, maybe. New media legend Dave Winer, a rare combination of great writer and programmer, started posting at DaveNet on 7 October 1994, as Philip Greenspun points out. There was no announcement that Winer had invented a new genre, but I can’t really find anything that looks like a blog going back much earlier than that – though writer Jerry Pournelle’s Chaos Manor got started around the same time and Justin Hall was also getting busy.

DaveNet started as the web version of Winer’s email newsletter, but having found the web-based format was popular, he started pushing through classic weblog fodder – short thoughts, links, and reflections on stuff other people were saying.

Having invented the weblog, Winer then helped to develop RSS and co-invented podcasting, proselytised for proper web content management systems, built outliners and basically helped invent the media landscape we have today. What a guy.

As Greenspun puts it:

The standard HTTP/HTML Web was and is great for 3-30-page ideas. Winer was perhaps the first person to see that the world needed some different technical standards to deal with three-paragraph ideas.

People frequently see blogging as something completely new. In fact, though, it has quite a few media predecessors, notably the personal diary. From one perspective, a blog was simply a way of publishing your own diary to a mass audience. But it also had a number of new aspects: for instance, it frequently used links to exploit the availability of huge numbers of online media sources.

Blogging was also one of the first online media products to showcase online brevity. Facebook and Twitter* then came along and underlined this unexpected development. Indeed, for all the talk about the wonders to come from ultra-fast broadband, the big online media developments of the past two decades have to a surprising degree been about short written content.

* Fun online media “fact”: I read somewhere long ago – and perhaps it’s even true – that the average Victorian-era diary entry would fit comfortably within Twitter’s 140-character limit.

Categories: Community

Greek Film Festival @Palace Cinema Como: Top Picks

Club Troppo - Thu, 16/10/2014 - 10:09
  Little England Trailer In the Greek island of Andros during World War II, the lives of its women are dominated by long periods of isolation brought on by the seafaring nature of the island’s economy. Two sisters-the quiet and reticent Orsa and the extroverted Moshca-become entangled in a love triangle that develops with life-shattering consequences. ☆☆☆☆☆ Always Watch Good Movies ☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB Show Timings: Wednesday 15 October, 7:00 pm Sunday 19 October, 6:00 pm Saturday 25 October, 6:30 pm Friday 31 October, 8:45 pm The Winter Trailer Niko is a romantic, young Greek writer living in London. When he falls into financial trouble, he flees town and hides out in his family’s neglected house in the Greek mountain town of Siatista. Surrounded by ghosts of the past and drawn back to a time that exists only in his memory, Niko must uncover the mystery of his father’s death. He must also retain his grasp on reality as the line between what is real and what is the product of his imagination begins to blur. ☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB Show Timings: Thursday 16 October, 7:00 pm Monday 20 October, 7:00 pm Evaporating Borders Trailer This documentary exposes Cyprus’ often-ignored refugee crisis. It presents a unique cross-section of émigrés, expounding heartbreakingly on their journeys and varying-sometimes extreme-degrees of success or failure. Also charts the rise of the extreme political right on the island, and the accompanying backlash to the wave of refugees engulfing the EU. ☆☆☆☆☆ Film Threat ☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB Show Timings: Saturday 18 October, 2:30 pm Sunday 2 November, 3:00 pm Brides Trailer A sumptuous period drama set in 1922, Brides is the story of a mail order bride-one of 700 from every corner of Greece, Turkey, Russia and Armenia-aboard the SS King Alexander bound for the USA. In her suitcase is a photograph of an unwelcome bridegroom and her wedding gown. Also on this vessel, but traveling in first class rather than third, is an American photographer on his way home to a failed marriage. She meets him, and she falls in love. ☆☆☆☆☆ Hoopla ☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB ☆☆☆☆☆ Movie Review ☆☆☆☆☆ SearchSA Show Timings: Saturday 18 October, 4:15 pm Committed Trailer A chance meeting between George-a handsome 30-something under pressure to propose to his girlfriend-and the devastatingly beautiful ‘Bride’-who has bailed on her groom-to-be on their wedding day-forces two strangers to confront their hang-ups about love, marriage, insecurity and commitment. They set off on an unforgettable road trip across Cyprus and embark on an odyssey into self-discovery in the process. ☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB Show Timings: Saturday 18 October, 7:00 pm Sunday 26 October, 7:00 pm Saturday 1 November, 7:00 pm Xenia Trailer After the death of their Albanian mother, two brothers-the flamboyantly gay, 16 year-old Danny and golden-voiced 18 year-old Odysseas-leave Athens on a journey to Thessaloniki, to locate their biological father in an attempt to avoid deportation to Albania. Marginalized in everyday Greek society, Danny also sees the upcoming Thessaloniki heats of the cult television talent show Greek Star as their ticket to acceptance and a way out of the uncompromising realities of modern Grecian life. ☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB ☆☆☆☆☆ Queertiques Show Timings: Saturday 18 October, 9:00 pm Friday 24 October, 9:00 pm Thursday 30 October, 9:15 pm Maiden Trailer Set in Brisbane’s outer suburbs in the late ‘70s, Maiden is the story of battling greyhound trainer Mick, desperate to give his family a better life. Convinced that his latest charge is a champion in the making, Mick is prepared to gamble everything on a lowly race at a small country track that could have disastrous consequences. ☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB Show Timings: Thursday 23 October, 7:00 pm Nicoleta Trailer In the aftermath of the Greek Civil War in 1951, the innocence of a child is lost when catapulted to head of his family. He reluctantly begins a desperate and traumatic journey to flee poverty and an unforgiving people. Carrying his baby sister on his shoulders, he treks the inhospitable mountainous terrain in search of a future. The past follows them. Her future awaits… ☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB Show Timings: Saturday 25 October, 4:00 pm 5 Ways 2 Die Trailer Makis is a well-to-do, 40-something depressive in the throes of an existential crisis. His household is one based on lies and pretentious appearances, so he’s more than determined to formulate his own escape plan. 5 Ways 2 Die is the tragic-comic, sociopolitical tale of Makis’ search for eternal peace. ☆☆☆☆☆ Film Threat ☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB Show Timings: Saturday 25 October, 4:00 pm Melbourne Schedule Wednesday 15 October 2014 7:00 pm Little England / OPENING NIGHT EVENT: Little England Thursday 16 October 2014 7:00 pm The Winter 9:15 pm Runaway Day Friday 17 October 2014 7:00 pm Thursday & 12 9:15 pm Stratos Saturday 18 October 2014 2:30 pm Evaporating Borders 4:15 pm Brides 7:00 pm Committed 9:00 pm Xenia Sunday 19 October 2014 1:45 pm Love in the Time of Crisis / The Other Human 4:00 pm Block 12 6:00 pm Little England 9:00 pm Common Denominator Monday 20 October 2014 7:00 pm The Winter 9:15 pm Luton Tuesday 21 October 2014 7:00 pm At Home 9:15 pm Standing Aside, Watching Wednesday 22 October 2014 7:00 pm September 9:15 pm A Blast Thursday 23 October 2014 7:00 pm From Dope to Dalai Lama / Shabd / Maiden / Allure / Ror / By This River / Let Go / Love According to Wogs / Two Devils / Who is He? / Greek-Australian Short Film Festival 9:30 pm Miss Violence Friday 24 October 2014 7:00 pm Block 12 9:00 pm Xenia Saturday 25 October 2014 4:00 pm Man in a Box / Anna / The Immortalizer / Nicoleta / Afterwardness (Apres-Coup) / 5 Ways 2 Die / Persephone / A Single Body / Greek-Australian Short Film Festival 6:30 pm Little England 9:15 pm Thursday & 12 Sunday 26 October 2014 5:00 pm Following Shira’s Journey: A Greek Jewish Odyssey 7:00 pm Committed 9:00 pm The Enemy Within Monday 27 October 2014 7:00 pm At Home 9:15 pm A Blast Tuesday 28 October 2014 7:00 pm September 9:15 pm Miss Violence Wednesday 29 October 2014 7:00 pm The Enemy Within 9:15 pm Standing Aside, Watching Thursday 30 October 2014 6:30 pm Stratos 9:15 pm Xenia Friday 31 October 2014 7:00 pm Common Denominator 8:45 pm Little England Saturday 1 November 2014 2:30 pm Love in the Time of Crisis / The Other Human 4:45 pm Thursday & 12 7:00 pm Committed 9:00 pm Block 12 Sunday 2 November 2014 3:00 pm Evaporating Borders 7:00 pm Promakhos / CLOSING NIGHT EVENT: Promakhos
Categories: Community

Election monitoring in Lanka

Links International - Thu, 16/10/2014 - 03:41

Weapons captured from the LTTE stand on display in front of Sri Lankan sources.

They were a kind of solution.
What does all this sudden uneasiness mean
And this confusion? (How grave their faces have become!)
Why are the streets and squares rapidly emptying,
And why is everyone going back home, so lost in thought?
Because it is night and the barbarians have not come;
And some men have arrived from the frontiers
And they say that the barbarians don’t exist any longer.
And now what will become of us without barbarians?
They were a kind of solution.
They were a kind of solution.
-- Constantine Cavafy[1]

By Michael Cooke

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Categories: Community

Malalai Joya: 'Fiery salutations to the brave women of Kobane'

Links International - Wed, 15/10/2014 - 09:10

[For more on the struggle of the Kurdish people, click HERE.]

By Malalai Joya, Afghanistan

October 12, 2014 -- Defense Committee for Malalai Joya, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- These days the bravery and resilience of the women of Kobane has amazed people around the world. To defend their soil from the criminal ISIS murderers, they are neither looking at the US and NATO’s support, nor appoint the West and the US to defend their homeland from terrorists and foreigners, like a handful of mercenary analysts in Afghanistan. The noble men and women of Kobane selflessly defend their honour, freedom, and homeland with their own hands and have accepted to make all kinds of sacrifices for this purpose.

Heroines of Kobane,

I deeply support your inspiring resistance against the criminals of ISIS and humbly learn from your patriotism and pride. You are the unconquerable pinnacle of honour and courage. You have turned to symbols of humanity and freedom-fighting by your unrelenting fight against these ignorant criminals.

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Categories: Community

Five years ago today: A day on the trains

Daniel Bowen - Tue, 14/10/2014 - 22:34

Five years ago today I posted this video: A Day on the Trains.

The footage for it was gathered over the space of a month or two in the dying days of the Connex Melbourne Empire in late 2009, and it was designed to capture a few scenes I thought might be changing in the coming years.

Obviously some things have changed, others remain the same.

  • Liveries: Connex (Metlink) became Metro (Metlink), and then became Metro/PTV
  • Metcard is gone, replaced by Myki
  • Many of the old CRT screens at stations have been replaced by newer flat screen displays

What else can you spot?

The system has become more busy, with more services on some lines. Punctuality has improved (thanks in part to padded timetables and station skipping), but cancellations haven’t. And transport is just as big an election issue as ever.

PS. I’ve since learnt that the skewing effect of large objects moving rapidly past the camera is called rolling shutter.

Categories: Community

Two cheers for marriage equality

Links International - Tue, 14/10/2014 - 13:57

By Colin Wilson

October 10, 2014 -- rs21, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- This week has seen a striking victory for US campaigners for LGBT equality. On Monday, October 6, the Supreme Court decided not to hear appeals from five states that sought to uphold bans on same-sex marriage. This is the end of the road for opponents of marriage equality in states as conservative as Utah, where over half the population are Mormons, and where marriage licences were issued to jubilant same-sex couples from Monday.

Six further states are covered by the same courts that heard the now-defeated appeals. The implication is that same-sex marriage will become legal there too. Judges also ruled on October 7 in favour of same-sex marriage in Idaho and Nevada: the ordained Elvis impersonators of Las Vegas’s wedding chapels began practising their new lines.

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Categories: Community

Kurdish leader: 'We are the only humanist shield against barbarity'

Links International - Tue, 14/10/2014 - 03:47

Gharib Hassou.

October 6, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Gharib Hassou is representative in Iraqi Kurdistan of the Syria-based Democratic Union Party (Partiya Yekitîya Demokrat, PYD), the main force of Kurdish resistance in Syria. He is interviewed by Stéphane Aubouard in Erbil for the French left-wing newspaper l’Humanité. Translated by Isabelle Métral. (Note: DAESH is also know as "Islamic State" (IS) or ISIS).

* * *

Why is the conquest of Kobane so important for DAESH?

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Categories: Community