[Original in English here.]
By Doug Enaa Greene
July 22, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In 1843, Karl Marx described the proletariat as a “class with radical chains ... which cannot emancipate itself without emancipating itself from all other spheres of society and thereby emancipating all other spheres of society.” The proletariat's struggle, as envisioned by Marx, was not only against its own exploitation, but would take up the struggles of all those oppressed under capitalism, and lead the way to the communism.However, in the United States, the working class has been far more likely to be reformist and conservative than to act as revolutionary “grave-diggers of capitalism.” The question of why the US working class is not a revolutionary force has preoccupied radicals for decades. Does the existence of racism and white supremacy prevent white workers from becoming revolutionary? Or does the origin of the United States as a settler-colonial state mean that the white working class is incapable of being revolutionary force?
By Herve Do Alto, translated by Federico Fuentes
July 21, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- And that was how the horror came to my doorstep. To tell you the truth, like many people who live in the province – a somewhat disparaging term used to refer to the rest of France that exists outside of Paris and its surrounds – I thought terrorist attacks were mainly a concern for those in the capital. On July 14, this certainty was blown apart by the sad and harsh reality: 84 people of various nationality and beliefs, among them dozens of children, died due to the actions of a lunatic in the Promenade des Anglais, the “Malecon” of the city of Nice, in the south-east of France, only a few kilometres from Italy.
July 20, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Peoples’ Democratic Party English website -- Öcalan had warned Erdogan about this matter a lot. “Tell him, he does not get it, he is acting like an idiot” Öcalan said. “By continuing the resolution process I supported him, if this process ends, the mechanics of coup would step in and he would end up just like Morsi of Egypt” he constantly warned.
Selahattin Demirtaş, co-chair of Peoples’ Democratic Party, defined the attempted coup as “the coup attempt of putchists against putchists” and added: “A clear attitude must be adopted against both pro-coup mindsets and the struggle must be stepped up because the coup mindset that tried to seize power through military forces using tanks and cannons is illegitimate and so is ruling the society through an election that takes place with war, violence, and bombing of the cities, it also is a civil coup.”
I sometimes wonder if motorists driving in and out of car parks get irritated by pedestrians walking through.
Often the pedestrians have no choice.
These picture are from Caulfield Plaza – with the major drawcard inside being the Coles supermarket.
There is obvious pedestrian traffic from the railway station and the university campus to the southern entrance of the Plaza. There are no footpaths on this side, so of course people walk through the car park. There is a pedestrianised entrance from Dandenong Road, and another from Derby Road, but few people are likely to go the long way around.
In my suburb, Bentleigh, despite generally being very walkable, it’s a similar story at the big supermarkets:
These types of layouts are poor design, for both pedestrians and motorists.
And I guess until it’s fixed we just have to live with it. Motorists need to watch out, and consider that every pedestrian is one less car on the road and taking up car spaces.
And pedestrians need to watch out for inattentive drivers. Often visibility isn’t ideal, especially for cars pulling out of or backing into parking spaces.
I wonder though, is making pedestrians walk through a car park subtly discouraging them from walking? Particularly those who are, or are with, vulnerable walkers such as young children or those with mobility problems.
Would supermarkets and other businesses with their own car parks get more customers if they provided safe convenient paths to their doors?
Are newer car parks and shopping centres any better? How do we get this fixed?
Introductory note by John Riddell
July 20, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from John Riddell’s blog with permission — One hundred years ago, on June 28, 1916, 55,000 metalworkers in Berlin went on strike to protest the sentencing of Karl Liebknecht to two and a half years in prison. It was Germany’s first mass protest strike of World War 1. Liebknecht received mass support in Germany and beyond as the first German socialist to have voted against parliamentary allocations to pay for the government war spending. He had been arrested at an illegal May Day demonstration organized by the Spartacist League, just after calling out, “Down with the war! Down with the government!” Two days after his arrest, Liebknecht explained the goals of the May Day demonstration and the Spartacist League in the following statement at his trial.
By Hilary Wainwright
July 19, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Red Pepper — ‘He’s a decent man, with great integrity – but he’s not a real leader’ is the constant refrain from Jeremy Corbyn’s critics, questioning his electability. At the same time, half of the voting population has railed – in the Brexit vote – against the establishment, jam packed with would-be and retired leaders of the kind that critics want to put in Corbyn’s place. Isn’t it time we put the idea of leadership as we know it under scrutiny?
The following is a guest post by David Morris, Principal Lawyer of the Environmental Defenders Office (NT).
The Northern Territory already carries a 1 billion dollar burden for legacy mines. These are mine sites where the company has walked away and left ongoing environmental degradation for the taxpayer to repair. We’d like to think that this is a thing of the past, but recent events show that this not the case. The recent demise of Western Desert Resources (WDR) is a good example. WDR illegally cleared 175km of native vegetation, the company went into administration and, with no likely buyers of the mine, the taxpayer is left to manage the erosion issues and to remove illegal waterway crossings. The fine for the director of the company? $7500! (See ABC article when the decision was handed down in April).
The maximum penalty for the offence of illegally clearing native vegetation is $30,600 for an individual (still woefully inadequate when you consider that the same offence in Victoria can attract a maximum penalty of $182,000). Questions remain about why the penalty given was so low. By comparison, in 2011, a developer in Victoria was fined $40,000 for the illegal removal of 40 trees. It appears that the decision for such a low penalty was made in ignorance of the ongoing cost of managing this area for taxpayers, the loss of credibility for the mining industry and the precedent this establishes.
The principle of general deterrence is of central importance when sentencing environmental offenders. That is, sentences should be sufficient to clearly state to the rest of the community that this type of conduct will not be tolerated. In essence it’s about saying we’re not going to allow you to get off with a slap on the wrist when you prioritise your profit over the long term health and prosperity of the environment.
In the NSW case of Stephen Garret v Dennis Charles Williams, Chief Justice Preston of the Land and Environment Court stated:
“Courts have repeatedly stated that the sentence of the court needs to be of such magnitude as to change the economic calculus of persons in relation to compliance with environmental laws. It should not be cheaper to offend than to prevent the commission of the offence. Environmental crime will remain profitable until the financial cost to offenders outweighs the likely gains. The amount of the fine should be substantial enough so as not to appear as a mere licence fee for illegal activities.”
As mentioned earlier, the court fined the director of WDR $7,500. In 2013, that same director was paid $429,167 (excluding super) to manage the company. It is difficult to see how the penalty of $7,500 in this case would operate as a general deterrence to others at all. I would argue that the penalty is in reality, meaningless. We’d like to see the NTG ask for the penalty to be reviewed. We’d also like to hear the Minerals Council’s position.
Furthermore, we’d like to see clear guidelines for determining penalties of this type of activity. Determination of the penalty needs to consider the extent of area cleared, the type of area cleared (not all vegetation types are considered the same), an assessment of the economic burden by taxpayers to repair the damage, an assessment of the implications to other parties, and a consideration of reputational loss to the industry.
The issues of industry accountability and the use of legislation to deter activities that might cause environmental harm have arisen during the NTG review of petroleum legislation for fracking. The argument is that if new and improved legislation is introduced to regulate the gas industry, then the potential for environmental damage arising as a consequence will be diminished. If we can learn anything from the recent case against the director of WDR, it is that there are still cowboy operators in the Territory and that penalties must be increased dramatically to deter illegal activity.
By Paul Le Blanc
July 18, 2016 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – The title of this session – “the darker the night, the brighter the star” – is the title of the fourth and final volume of Tony Cliff’s biography of Leon Trotsky, who was a central leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution of workers and peasants, which turned the Russian Tsarist empire into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. One of the founders of modern Communism and the Soviet state, Trotsky is also the best known of those who fought against the degeneration of that revolution and movement brought on by a vicious bureaucratic dictatorship led by Joseph Stalin.
There’s at least been some pogress with real estate. It seems some agents, perhaps realising that blocking the footpath is illegal, have got newer, smaller flags.
During my walk on Saturday morning, I spotted these:
Buxton seem to have solved the problem. Their new signs are still visible, but smaller and also higher, meaning people can pass them with no problems.
Hocking Stuart’s signs need some more work. People still have to walk around them – if they can. Those with prams or pushing mobility aids or riding in wheelchairs will still have problems. Going onto the grass is likely to be difficult. Going under the sign without a hand free to brush it away is also going to be an issue – or at least a complete loss of dignity.
For the sake of pedestrians, particularly those with mobility issues, I hope Hocking Stuart and other agents will see the light – and that the councils continue to enforce the rules.
Update: Hocking Stuart has said they’re looking into it.
@danielbowen Thanks for letting us know – we are looking into it.
— hockingstuart (@hockingstuart) July 18, 2016
By Walden Bello
July 16, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Rappler — The events of the last few weeks have engendered much goodwill towards the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte at the same that it has triggered apprehensions about where it is headed.
The naming and shaming of 5 former and current police generals for their alleged involvement in the drug trade was only the most dramatic in a series of moves by the new president that elicited popular approval.
Hopes for a new social dispensation were stirred by several fast-moving events, among them a promise that the administration would end contractualization and an announcement that an executive order would institutionalize Freedom of Information. That a new deal was at hand for the marginalized sectors appeared imminent with the appointment of people associated with the National Democratic Front (NDF) to the top posts in the Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the National Anti-Poverty Commission.
This is a guest post by Roger Stolle* that was first published at his Facebook page.
MR. WILLIE SEABERRY (1941-2016) opened his juke joint in 1963. Last night, the man they called “PO’ MONKEY” (who, like most juke runners, WAS his juke joint) passed away at 75 years old. RIP.
When the first text showed up in my phone last night re: Mr. Seaberry’s passing, I started to try and call the juke runner — in disbelief. Unfortunately, further confirmations quickly followed. As I contemplated calling him, I searched my cell for his number. Under “Monkey,” I found his number as well as two other Mississippi “Monkey” listings (including the monkeys-riding-dogs we book each year at Juke Fest).
That — in a nutshell — is how fascinating and surreal The Delta really is. It’s a land of characters and history. And Mr. Seaberry was as much a part of the Blues Delta as the Mississippi River, railroad lines and cotton fields. A towering figure here.
The first time I visited Po’ Monkey’s Lounge near Merigold, MS, I was still married and living in St. Louis, MO — back in the 1990s, before Monkey’s coverage in the New York Times, Travel+Leisure, etc. I guess it was a Thursday night, because it was open. Clearly built without the aid of an architect, the crazy structure sat in the middle of a cotton field — a mile and a half off Highway 61. As we walked in, the proprietor rushed over to greet us. There was a deejay spinning soul-blues, and the crowd was entirely local and black. We sat down at a table, receiving nods from local couples sitting nearby.
Everyone was friendly, if keeping to themselves initially. (Later, after a few beverages, a young man gave me the recipe for raccoon baked with sweet potatoes. Not sure how the conversation ended up there.) As Mr. Seaberry went to get our oversized bottles of ice-cold Buds, we looked around, trying to get the lay of the land. That’s when I realized the small, suspended TVs in the juke were all running the same … uh … well … frankly speaking … VERY “adult” videos. I guess the proprietor was monitoring the reaction on my face, because he immediately appeared, saying, “Now, I can cut that off, if it bothers y’all.”
I think I turned red in my face as I laughed and said something like, “I’m not going to be the guy who walks into a party and tells you to turn it off!”
That’s what Po Monkey’s was: It was a party place. It was actually more of a juke house or house party than a “juke joint” per se. Mr. Seaberry lived there, worked there and partied there. Every Thursday night the gracious host essentially invited friends and strangers alike into his living room. And what a living room is was. (I won’t repeat everything I ever saw there, but let’s just say that place knew how to PARTY!!)
Another favorite memory of Monkey’s comes from 2005 and also involves the juke’s suspended TVs. I’d booked Big George Brock there during King Biscuit weekend (while Big George was recording with… wait for it… judo-bluesman-wannabe Steven Seagal up in Memphis — another story altogether) to promote our new “comeback” CD, Club Caravan. As I sat in that cramped space that folks called the back room, watching Big George blow harp, I looked above him (literally) and realized that my favorite ’90s Must-See TV was in rerun — Seinfeld. How’s that for a sitcom soundtrack?
(That is also pretty much the night that my future blues buddy Jeff Konkel decided to start Broke & Hungry Records… but that’s yet another story…)
Thanks to Delta State U’s Delta Center for Culture & Learning (Luther Brown, Henry Outlaw & Co.), I was lucky enough to book many a live blues show at Monkey’s through the years — sometimes for visiting students or professors, other times for TV shows and journalists.
A random memory come to mind and make me smile. One night, we had T-Model Ford & Terry “Harmonica” Bean there to play for Good Morning America. I tried to feed the (very-non-bluesy) male host some lines of questioning for the interview segment with T-Model Ford, knowing that T could get “off message” very quickly. The city-slicker host ignored all advice, and plunged in with some typically generic blues questioning. T-Model quickly turned it into an overly… uh… “detailed” description of why he could accurately call himself the “Ladies’ Man”. The very embarrassed host slowly wilted in his seat, unable to change the subject of the lengthy Ladies’ Man monologue. (If you ever saw the segment, that’s why Terry “Harmonica” Bean speaks… and T pretty much just plays!)
My final memory of Po Monkey’s may as well be the day/night we filmed there for our 2012 juke joint documentary “We Juke Up in Here!” Jeff Konkel, Damien Blaylock, Lou Bopp and I arrived just prior to sunset to film Mr. Seaberry out front. Then, we went into nearby Cleveland for dinner and came back to film the regular, Thursday night deejay party.
Always on a ridiculously low budget, Jeff and I really wanted some rolling shots in this doc. Damien suggested using a wheelchair as a dolly of sorts, so we rented one. Mr. Seaberry kinda looked at us like we were idiots (which was/is certainly possible), rolling camera-bearing Damien around inside his very tight and crooked-floored club for twenty minutes.
He was also VERY patient and accommodating as we rolled the camera to within inches of his big smoking cigar as he tried to watch TV, waiting for us to be done. In the end, it’s a sweet segment, and one we are proud to have captured.
The field photo you see here was taken that day by blues photographer extraordinaire Lou Bopp.
I could ramble on and on with memories, but I’ll stop here. Everyone has their own very personal memories of the man and the place. It will take days if not years for the world to realize what a loss this is — the passing of Mr. Seaberry.
It really will.
“How much history can be communicated by pressure on a guitar string?” – author Robert Palmer (Deep Blues)
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main… therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” – philosopher John Donne
“When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground.” – African proverb
Conor photo of Mr Seaberry: Lou Bopp
* Roger Stolle owns Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art – a world-famous blues store in historic Clarksdale, Mississippi. He is a Blues Revue magazine columnist, XM/Sirius Radio blues correspondent, Juke Joint Festival co-founder and runs his own music/tourism marketing service. Through his Cat Head Presents record label, Stolle has produced several critically-acclaimed blues CDs/DVDs; he co-produced the award-winning film “M for Mississippi: A Road Trip through the Birthplace of the Blues” and has a new film, “We Juke Up In Here!” currently in production. In 2011, The History Press published “Hidden History of Mississippi Blues,” his first book. Stolle’s Cat Head store has been called “one of the 17 coolest record stores in America” (Paste magazine), is included in the book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” (Workman Publishing) and received a Keeping The Blues Alive Award (Blues Foundation). Roger is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati (1989) and worked as an advertising/marketing director prior to entering the music business. Web site: www.cathead.biz.
The post Willie “Po’ Monkey” Seaberry – a Delta life lived large appeared first on The Northern Myth.
Biologist Alexandra Morton, actor/activist Pamela Anderson and environmentalist David Suzuki to speak at press conference on July 18
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has teamed with renowned Canadian biologist Alexandra Morton and actor/activist Pamela Anderson for Operation Virus Hunter, a new campaign investigating the lawfulness of the salmon farming industry in British Columbia.
The announcement comes simultaneously as Sea Shepherd releases its latest Public Service Announcement about the dangers of consuming farmed salmon. The PSA features Anderson, a B.C., Canada native who is also the non-profit organization’s Chairman of the Board.
Morton, Anderson, and Canada’s premier environmentalist David Suzuki will be among those on hand to announce the campaign launch in a press conference at False Creek Harbor Authority on Monday July 18th at 1pm. (address and parking details below.)
Operation Virus Hunter, which begins this month in Vancouver, will see Morton travel aboard Sea Shepherd’s R/V Martin Sheen over the course of several weeks, tracing the major salmon migration route that stretches from mainland Vancouver to the north end of Vancouver Island.
Along the route, the Martin Sheen will be stopping at various salmon farms to conduct audits for disease and other factors, which will be done in a non-aggressive and non-harassing manner.
“The salmon farming industry thrives on secrecy, shrouding its activities from public view,” said Morton. “Operation Virus Hunter will shine a bright spotlight on this industry. Canada cannot claim it is protecting the oceans, including wild salmon, while at the same time, allowing the farmed salmon industry to release waste into the world’s largest salmon migration route.
Added Anderson: “Salmon farms keep pens in the ocean, where the fish swim in their own feces, and breed disease and sea lice that kill wild salmon, threatening the orcas’ ability to feed.”
In addition to Morton, Anderson, and Suzuki, Sea Shepherd Captain Oona Layolle and First Nations Leader Chief Ernie Crey will also be on hand at the July 18th press conference.
“Ninety-four Nations of the Fraser River view wild salmon as being essential to who they are, and they have worked to conserve those stocks for thousands of years,” said Crey. “The recent salmon declines are a threat to our existence and we hold salmon farms as one of the culprits. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans chooses foreign salmon famers over our title and rights again and again. We ask wild salmon be allowed to come and go to this river free from infection with farm salmon disease.”
Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson stated: “It is personally very satisfying to me to send one of our vessels to my home province of British Columbia, to address one of the most insidious threats to biodiversity on the West Coast - salmon farms. Our mission is to investigate, document and expose an industry that is spreading disease, parasites and destroying the natural habitat of our wild salmon - the coho, the sockeye and the chinook. These exotic Atlantic salmon simply do not belong in these waters.”
By Christina Schiavoni and William Camacaro
July 15, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Food First! with permission — You may have seen the headlines about Venezuela – headlines that allude to food scarcity, rioting, people eating stray animals to survive, and a country on the brink of starvation. These stories are not only alarming, but perplexing, too. Is this the same country that was recognized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as recently as 2015 for having nearly eradicated hunger? Is this the same country that has been the focus of international delegations and extensive alternative media coverage for its ‘food sovereignty experiment’ involving agrarian reform, food distributions programs, and direct citizen participation in the food system? What’s going on?
July 14, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from The Dawn News -- In the framework of the International Festival Utopia in Marica (Brazil), The Dawn News and Resumen Latinoamericano interviewed a People's Protection Units (YPG) militant, Serhad Ayers. He talked about the situation of Kurdish people in Syria, the relationship with Bashar Al Assad’s government, the misrepresentation of female Kurdish fighters in Western media, cooperation with Arab forces, the link between Turkey and Daesh and the Kurds’ strategy to democratize the Middle East while eliminating Daesh.
[Original article in English here]
Por Dan La Botz
July 13, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal traducción por Viento Sur -- El ambiente entre los 3 000 seguidores de Bernie Sanders reunidos el pasado fin de semana en el McCormick Place de Chicago rezumaba un optimismo improbable. Muchas de las personas que intervinieron proclamaron, entre vítores de la multitud, que el movimiento había triunfado, a pesar de que Hillary Clinton, la probable candidata oficial del Partido Demócrata, haya obtenido la mayoría de los votos populares y cuente con el apoyo de la mayoría de delegados y superdelegados, además del respaldo del presidente Barack Obama, del vicepresidente Joe Biden y de la senadora Elizabeth Warren. Esta paradoja –entre la creencia del movimiento de Sanders de que hemos logrado algo muy importante y la clara victoria de Clinton en las primarias– marca el contexto contradictorio de esta conferencia de gentes, yo entre ellos, progresistas, radicales y socialistas que buscan una vía hacia el futuro.
If you missed the front page story in today’s Age: Melbourne to go more than two years without a peak-hour train timetable boost
See also: PTUA: Services packed while seven trains sit idle – where is the new timetable?
To recap: Regional Rail Link separated out most V/Line services from Metro services, giving V/Line trains on the Geelong, Ballarat and Bendigo lines a better run into Melbourne… but also freeing up space for more Metro services on the Sunbury, Williamstown and Werribee lines.
How many more Metro services did RRL allow? 23 per peak according to the literature.
How many of those 23 are used? One per peak, on the Werribee line.
While nobody expects all the capacity to be used straight away, we expect better than this in a growing city.
A much larger number of new services were part of a broad package benefiting a number of lines.
It appears the package was deferred because of a reluctance to remove remaining peak Frankston trains from the City Loop, which was a key part of the planned timetable.
Perhaps this is understandable given there was no immediate plan to fill those slots with more Dandenong trains. That can’t happen until level crossings are removed between Caulfield and Dandenong.
But a year later, what is happening? Are they working on a revised plan to bring in the extra services? We don’t know. And it must be well over a year since it was flagged within government that the changes would be deferred.
Since the last big timetable change in July 2014, eight trains have come into service, with only one used. Five more are on order.
The May 2015 load survey showed load breaches (overcrowding) increased from 41 to 47 from 2014. The worst appeared to be:
Bear in mind the zone 1+2 fare changes that took effect in January 2015 would have had a big effect on the longer lines, but thanks to PTV cutbacks there’s now only one load survey per year, and the May 2016 results aren’t out yet… so we don’t know precisely what the picture is now.
December 2015 figures showed Metro patronage up 3.5% in twelve months.
In comparison to this growth, the 2016 Budget figures showed expected Metro service kilometres up only 0.9% for year ending June 2016, compared to the previous year.
The ABS says Greater Melbourne population growth is about 2.1% per year.
Crowding on the busiest part of the rail network is largely the result of CBD activity, particularly workers and students who mostly travel in peak hour. City Of Melbourne figures show 1.5% annual growth in the daily city population, with city workers expected to increase by about 2% annually in the near future.
Greater Melbourne and specifically the central business district and inner suburbs keep growing.
Getting people to employment and education is vital; it’s what drives the economy, and continued prosperity, and only mass transit can do it efficiently in a dense and thriving urban area like inner Melbourne.
It’s great that the government is pushing ahead with projects like the Melbourne Metro Rail Tunnel, and level crossing removals, and the now-completed Regional Rail Link, high-capacity train fleets and high-capacity signalling, all of which provide a capacity boost for extra services… but we also need to actually see those extra services provided.
Economics is famous for its idea – it’s better to call it a methodological assumption of some economics – that self-interest is what drives people. But something just as evident about people – and much more unique to our species – is people’s tendencies to form stable patterns of collaboration – or shared intentionality.
I’m after illustrations of the way empathy matters to the way human systems operate. This is useful when the financial gatekeepers immediately think they’re dealing with a hippy when they hear words like “empathy”, as opposed to serious managerial words like “cost effectiveness” etc etc.
Anyway, here’s a good example of the phenomenon. There’s a series of articles in the medical literature showing that radiologists are better at diagnosis and detecting errors on scans that carry a photo of patient.
If you have any other examples – preferably supported with references – I’d love to hear them.
July 13, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Moreland City councillor and Socialist Alliance national executive member Sue Bolton on building a political alternative in Australia today.
This talk was filmed at the May 2016 Socialism for the 21st Century conference held in Sydney, which was organised by the Socialist Alliance and co-sponsored by Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.
Introductory note by Mike Taber and John Riddell
July 12, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from International Socialist Review -- As the Communist International’s Third Congress convened in Moscow in June–July 1921, the powerful working-class upsurge that had shaken Italy months earlier was fresh in delegates’ minds and posed a backdrop to their debates.
The September 1920 occupation of the factories in Italy is a lesser-known revolutionary experience of the post–World War I years, yet its impact was no less significant. By starkly posing the question of which class should run the economy, the occupations legitimized a new form of proletarian struggle—expressed in part through the tactic of the sit-down strike that was widely utilized during the 1930s. Possessing the potential for working-class victory, the defeat of this movement instead opened the door to the rise to power of Benito Mussolini and Italian fascism.
Brace yourself… a non-transport-related blog post.
A couple of years ago I bought a Yamaha surround sound setup, which has been fabulous. I’d single out the sound track on Mad Max Fury Road in particular; very immersive.
Heck, even later seasons of the West Wing had some subtle surround going on, adding to the viewing experience.
I’ve used it for music too, and it sounds great. I copied all my iTunes music onto a USB stick* which can plug into the front of the receiver. You can play tracks or albums by navigating through on the TV, or via a phone or iPad app. But it’s a bit clunky; it’s not really designed well for that, and it can’t fathom tracks within genres, nor play lists, and it certainly can’t do anything as fancy as random/shuffle play. (Hey Yamaha, how about an upgrade?)
You can play music from iTunes to it via Apple AirPlay, but that requires using a computer.
*By the way, I have iTunes configured to rip CDs as MP3s at the highest bitrate. I figure those files are more widely playable than any other format.
But I was still craving J+M’s Sonos system, particularly the idea of music playing in perfect sync around the house, preferably without wires everywhere.
I considered other cheaper options. Could I achieve the same with a few Google Chromecast Audio dongles? Perhaps, but it’d be messy. And other manufacturers have Sonos-like speakers (though the good ones aren’t really much cheaper).
Then a few weeks ago JB Hifi offered $50 off Sonos speakers, so I thought what the hell, I’ll go for it. I thought maybe I could splurge for a Play:1 (the smallest speaker, $299 less the $50 discount) and get a Connect (a little exhorbitant at $549) to sync music through to the Yamaha receiver and speakers.
Nagging doubt on the Sonos Connect: Sonos speakers have a fixed delay of 70ms (to allow them all time to sync), which is fine. And the Yamaha can be adjusted to delay, if it’s ahead. But if the Sonos is ahead, you’re stuffed. You can try switching the Yamaha to Direct Mode, but if it’s still behind, you’re still stuffed. No music sync. (I also vastly prefer the Sonos gear in black. The Connect is only available in white.)
Anyway, I got the Play:1 and tried it out. Very impressive. It thoroughly exceeded expectations. Great sound.
When the kids heard it, they thought the music was playing out of the Yamaha’s big speakers, not the tissue-box-sized Sonos speaker on the mantlepiece.
Which made me think: if the goal is multi-room music, why even bother getting the expensive Connect for a (possibly troubleprone) link to the Yamaha? Why not just buy another Play:1 for half the cost?
Ingenious. And of course the Play:1 can be moved around if ever required.
Meanwhile I’d been looking around at what secondhand dealer Cash Converters had in the way of Sonos gear. The Parkdale store had a Sonos Bridge, used to configure Sonos systems to use their own network instead of the WiFi. It’s the old model (the new one is called Boost, costing $149), but was only $29. Sold.
So now I can play synched music in the livingroom and kitchen, which in my small house, covers most of the common area of the house. And the speakers are small enough that I can move them around if needed.
Some people online reckon that there’s not much difference sound-quality-wise between the Play:1 and the larger Play:3. And I think I like the style of the 1 more than the 3 or 5.
For online radio, it’s not perfect, because it’s relying on good internet. Like the Pure radio I already had in the kitchen, it seems to be occasionally prone to dropouts if the home internet (Optus cable) is clogging up. (The Pure radio also does actual radio, including DAB+ digital radio, so I can flick it to Double J if BBC Radio 6 Music is playing up.)
I still think the Yamaha was a good choice for surround-sound movies. Sonos’s option (Playbar plus Sub plus speakers) is around three times the price, and it can’t do DTS sound. It’s also dependent on the TV being about to output a 5.1 signal, which some can’t.
My next step was going to be to put my home music collection on a shared drive that the Sonos can play, such as a Raspberry Pi set up as a NAS — but I checked and my cable modem/router has that feature. It’ll share anything plugged into the USB port. So I plugged the USB stick I’d been using in the Yamaha into the router instead, then told the Sonos where to find it… job done!
Of course, Sonos is one of those things like DSLR camera lenses… addictive… I’d be surprised if I don’t end up buying more gear at some stage. Hmm, one for my bedroom perhaps?
By Awami Workers Party
July 11, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On the 8th of June 2016, the Supreme Appellate Court in Gilgit-Baltistan upheld the decision of an Anti-Terrorist Court in GB in September 2014 and sentenced Baba Jan (central leader of the left-wing Awami Workers Party - Gilgit Baltistan) and 11 other activists to 40 year prison terms under the Anti-Terrorist Act. The three-member SAC bench gave a two-to-one split verdict on the state’s appeal against the unanimous decision of the Gilgit Baltistan Chief Court two-member bench to acquit Baba Jan and others of terrorism and violence charges in April 2015.
Despite what the severity of the sentence appears to imply, Baba Jan and his companions are not militants who had taken up arms against the state – they are progressive political activists and organizers who had simply raised their voice for the plight of displaced persons of the 2010 natural disaster in Attabad, Hunza and organized them against government corruption and delay in payment of the compensation funds and their resettlement.
I’m wondering why the facts and ideas generated in the abstract below aren’t higher up the order of proceedings in such things as teaching the economics of industrial organisation, the economics of information. What Hayekian has focused on this? Pathetic that I’ve not seen this material before – which is something for which I’m mostly responsible of course. But you’ll be hearing more from me on this vein of literature.
Four experiments and a correlational study explored the relationship between power and perspective taking. In Experiment 1, participants primed with high power were more likely than those primed with low power to draw an E on their forehead in a self-oriented direction, demonstrating less of an inclination to spontaneously adopt another person’s visual perspective. In Experiments 2a and 2b, high-power participants were less likely than low-power participants to take into account that other people did not possess their privileged knowledge, a result suggesting that power leads individuals to anchor too heavily on their own vantage point, insufficiently adjusting to others’ perspectives. In Experiment 3, high-power participants were less accurate than control participants
in determining other people’s emotion expressions; these results suggest a power-induced impediment to experiencing empathy. An additional study found a negative relationship between individual difference measures of power and perspective taking. Across these studies, power was associated with a reduced tendency to comprehend how other people see, think, and feel.
From the Abstract of “Power and Perspectives Not Taken”, by Adam D. Galinsky, Joe C. Magee, M. Ena Inesi, and Deborah H Gruenfeld, 2006, which you can read here (pdf).
July 10 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- With British politics in crisis after the recent UK referendum vote to leave the European Union, a debate has opened on the British left regarding the situation it finds itself in. As part of Links' ongoing coverage of the Brexit debate we are republishing articles by Charlotte Bence, from Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century, Neil Faulkner, from Left Unity, and Joseph Choonara, from the Socialist Workers Party. Above, is also a video by Novara Media's Ash Sarkar exploring the way class and race are mobilised as ways to understand inequality and political disenfranchisement.
(With apologies to The Jam)
While we endure the train replacement buses, work is moving along on the Bentleigh-Mckinnon-Ormond trench.
It’s really impressive to see – I worked out you can see all three bridges from the Brewer overpass; with a zoom lens, that is. (This won’t be the case once the station buildings are constructed.)
(As always, click the photo to see it larger at Flickr. Once there you can click again to see it zoomed in.)
Works are continuing 24 hours a day. Most of the digging has been completed, and works in the trench itself are proceeding at the three station sites.
First a base level of concrete goes in, a working surface, then a thicker layer is added, in part to weigh down and seal the station, as the new Bentleigh station will be below the water table (the same applies at Mckinnon; Ormond is above the water table).
But if you think it’s impressive from street level, it’s just amazing inside it.
Thanks to the Level Crossing Removal Authority and local MP Nick Staikos I was lucky enough to take a look inside the trench on Thursday night.
Once wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), to get down there you take one of these stairwells.
On the bottom of the trench you get a perspective completely different to what you see at street level. It’s amazing to think that just a couple of weeks ago trains were passing through here at ground level.
Here’s a quick video:
800-1000 workers are on the job at any one time doing various tasks, and I was amazed at the level of co-ordination that must go into it.
On top of the thick layer of concrete, ballast and track and platforms will be built. The ballast is apparently being sourced from Deer Park. The supplier is likely to be pretty busy over the next few years with all the level crossing removals going ahead (though ballast won’t be used on the Dandenong line). It’s a reminder that there’s a huge supply chain feeding these projects.
The rain this week has apparently slowed down the project a little bit, but overall it’s still going well. Construction of the platform at Ormond has commenced, as well as laying of track at the Glenhuntly end.
I’m not a construction geek, but it’s all incredibly impressive. I’m told over the 37 days of the big shut down, they will spend $100 million.
The buses this week have been mostly smooth, though there have been some hiccups… it’ll be good when it’s finished.
By Farooq Tariq
July 9, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières -- Religious terrorism has become one of the major challenges for most of the countries in Asia, particularly in South and West Asia. It has resulted in a seemingly nonstop bombings, suicidal attacks and other means of terrorism.
July 8, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The British Labour Party has been rocked by an attempt by the majority of Labour MPs to depose Jeremy Corbyn, who won a party-wide leadership vote last year. Many have dubbed this a battle between the Parliamentary Labour Party and the membership. Links is republishing a number of articles looking at this crucial battle. They include articles by Shadow Chancellor and Corbyn backer John McDonnell, Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) general secretary Manuel Cortes, and Charley Allan writing in the Morning Star.
It’s unsurprising that the closure of station car parks along the Dandenong line for the “skyrail” level crossing removals was highlighted by the media on Wednesday; at this stage it’s the major disruption impact that’s expected.
But – perhaps because of the amount of space it takes up – it’s often incorrectly assumed that Park And Ride accounts for the majority of train users in Melbourne. The stats tell a different story.
PTV says the following car spaces will be lost during the project, and I’ve compared that with the total number of train users at each station.
|Station||Users||Car spaces closing||% affected|
|Noble Park||3,790||up to 331||8.73%|
This assumes one passenger per car space, which is probably not far off how it works. I’ve also assumed all Noble Park parking is closing, though so far they’ve only said the Mons Avenue car park is closing.
So a total of about 8% at those stations would be directly affected by the car park closures.
To counter the closures, extra spaces will be provided at nearby stations – some also on the Dandenong line, some on the Glen Waverley line.
I make that a net loss of just 49 spaces. (Have I missed something?)
It should be obvious that car park closures have less impact than closing the stations and rail line altogether – as is happening on the Frankston line now.
Car users are the ones most able to adapt their travel patterns to use another station. For instance East Malvern is only 1.5 km from Murrumbeena; only a few minutes drive. That said, if coming from the south side of the line, you’d have to anticipate a delay at the level crossing. And many of the extra spaces created are further out from the inner stations.
In contrast, those who walk or bike to the station are least easily able to switch to another station.
Okay so it’s a net 49 spaces removed. But the worst case scenario is that during the project, all spaces at all the stations being rebuilt are removed.
And a lot more people drive to the station than park in the car parks – some of them may be sharing rides, but many would park in nearby streets. Those streets might be affected by parking restrictions during construction.
But even if we assume the worst case scenario, it’s still a minority of the people using these stations.
PTV figures show the following passenger numbers at the stations to be rebuilt.
|Station||Weekday entries||Access by car||%car|
So perhaps 4338 people (26%) affected by car park closures, if all the car parks close, and if nobody can park anywhere in surrounding streets within walking distance… unlikely.
In contrast, how many would be affected if the line closed completely for weeks or months at a time? Not just those at the closed stations, but also all of those coming in from further out, who would face a train/bus/train trip.
As the figures below show, assuming they all come through the sections to be closed, it’s about 64,000 people per weekday — fifteen times the number affected by the car park closures, and more than double the number affected by the Frankston line closure.
The figures also also show that while a minority drive to the stations slated for rebuilding, the amount of Park And Ride increases as you get further out.
So basically the further out you go, the higher the proportion of park and ride users. Which probably reflects the overall walkability of those suburbs, and of course the number of residences within walking distance of the stations.
It is a lot of people, but it’s still a minority across the entire rail corridor.
Of course station car parks are expensive to build (tens of thousands of dollars per space) and not a great use of land – the space they take up certainly doesn’t enhance walkability.
This article about a US survey of park and ride notes numerous problems (though under-utilisation isn’t really an issue in Melbourne).
There is huge scope to improve local feeder buses. This goes doubly for the railway stations having their car parks temporarily lost – rather than spending up big extending car parks elsewhere, they might have done well to fund additional feeder bus services, particularly in peak hour. (The Murrumbeena bus used to run twice as often in peak hour.)
The removal of the crossings provides a great opportunity to upgrade buses. With far fewer delays at crossings once they are removed, bus punctuality and efficiency will improve a lot. PTV and the government should take the opportunity to give more people a way to use public transport without having to own a car.
To honor Sea Shepherd's brave volunteers and campaigns, Mike Galesi and the Big G Charitable Foundation is issuing a challenge grant to Sea Shepherd supporters. The foundation will match donations to Sea Shepherd Conservation Society dollar-for-dollar, up to $30,000!
This generous donation comes at a very important time, as we urgently raise funds for our latest campaign, Operation Jairo II. This is our largest sea turtle defense campaign to date and we need your help to support our ground crew in three countries, to save endangered sea turtles. Help us save these amazing creatures that have called our oceans "home" since dinosaurs roamed the Earth over 500 million years ago. While humans are the biggest threat to sea turtles, we also hold the key to their survival. Donate Now >
In Florida, we will work to save turtles from light pollution that disorients the turtles away from the ocean, causing them to die from dehydration or to be killed by cars. In Costa Rica and Honduras, we will fight the many human-induced threats to sea turtles like pollution and poaching. In all locations, we will conduct beach clean-ups to protect the turtles. Our 2015 sea turtle campaign saved over 12,000 turtles and hatchlings! Learn More >
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society continues to combat illegal fishing, over-fishing, whaling, sealing, dolphin killing, plastic pollution and preventing the destruction of coral reefs and other oceanic ecosystems. In addition to supporting Operation Jairo II, your gift will support other upcoming campaigns, including efforts to stop salmon farming, to protect the critically endangered vaquita porpoise and totoaba bass, combat ongoing efforts to oppose Orcas in captivity and so much more. Our Campaigns >
Please take advantage of this amazing opportunity to double your gift through our matching grant. We cannot save our oceans without you. Thank you in advance for making all Sea Shepherd campaigns possible. Double Your Gift >
For the Oceans,
Captain Paul Watson
Founder and Executive Director
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society
Another way that you can support Sea Shepherd is by joining our monthly donor program as a Direct Action Crew member. By donating monthly, you provide Sea Shepherd with the vital funds to launch emergency campaigns when we are needed. Give a Monthly Gift >
Spread our mission to defend, conserve and protect our oceans by wearing Sea Shepherd merchandise all year long! Make sure to check out our new tees and tanks, or browse best sellers like our hoodies and hats. Your purchase will help fund all Sea Shepherd campaigns. Shop our Merchandise >
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is asking big-box retailer Costco to stop its purchase and sale of salmon exported from the Faroe Islands until the Faroes bring the brutal and archaic mass slaughter of pilot whales and other cetaceans, known as the “grindadráp” or “grind,” to a grinding halt.
Actors Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver), Eric Balfour (Haven), Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner), Ross McCall (24: Live Another Day), Cliff Simon (Stargate SG-1), Clive Standen (Vikings); actresses Shannen Doherty (Charmed and Beverly Hills, 90210), Perry Reeves (Entourage) and Red Hot Chili Peppers front man Anthony Kiedis have teamed with Sea Shepherd to send a letter to Costco CEO Craig Jelinek from the organization’s founder, Captain Paul Watson.
The letter comes on the heels of yesterday’s news that a pod of 30-50 pilot whales was slaughtered in the first grindadráp (grind) of the year, on the island of Viðoy in the Danish Faroe Islands archipelago. (See full story here.)
The letter to Jelinek expresses concern that chain-store giant Costco is selling salmon farmed in the Faroe Islands, an archipelago of 18 isles in the North Atlantic, where hundreds of wild, migrating cetaceans are slaughtered each year.
Describing this massacre of ocean wildlife, the letter states that “entire pods of pilot whales and dolphins are driven by hunting boats to the shallow waters along the Faroe Islands…. Those cetaceans who are not herded far enough into the shallows will have a gaff hook stabbed into their blowholes and will be pulled ashore the rest of the way by rope. The panicked and thrashing whales or dolphins are then slowly sawed into behind their blowholes with a special Faroese hunting knife and killed by the severing of their spinal cords, as each animal is brutally slaughtered before the eyes of their family members. No member of the pod is spared, not even pregnant females or juveniles.”
Though Faroese whalers claim that the grind brings a quick and humane death, some of these highly intelligent and socially complex marine mammals take as long as four minutes to die, as the steely waters of the Faroes run red with blood.
The letter to Jelinek continues, “As a large and respected member of the corporate retail community, Costco should not condone these acts of brutality by economically supporting the Faroese salmon fishery. Costco can apply economic pressure to end the atrocity known as the ‘grind,’ a whale hunt that should be deemed illegal by the anti-whaling EU but yet is supported by Denmark, a part of the EU. Mr. Jelinek, Costco, and you as its CEO, now have the opportunity to show your members and the international community that you represent a company of compassionate individuals who care about the fate of intelligent and sentient whales and dolphins as well as the oceanic eco-systems upon which they – and all life on Earth – depend for survival.”
The grind is an outdated practice as the Faroese people have one of the highest standards of living in all of Europe and access to the same foods found in grocery stores in Denmark. In addition, Faroese health officials have warned against consumption of the pilot whale meat, especially by children and pregnant women or women of childbearing age, because it is contaminated with neurotoxins such as mercury.
Though it is the slaughter of cetaceans by the Faroese that is opposed by Sea Shepherd, the organization is calling for a boycott of salmon exported from the Faroes until the senseless grind is permanently ended.
Said Watson of the Hollywood industry’s support: “These compassionate celebrities have offered their desperately needed voices to the pilot whales who were killed recently in the Faroe Islands and to those who are at risk each time they pass by Faroese shores. We must make it known that the blood of intelligent and social whales and dolphins stains every package of salmon from the Faroes. This archaic massacre of cetaceans, defended by the EU-member nation of Denmark, must be sunk economically. I encourage all concerned consumers to do their part by boycotting salmon from the Faroe Islands at Costco and wherever it is sold.”
Sea Shepherd urges supporters worldwide to contact Costco and ask the company to show that it does not support the slaughter of whales and dolphins by halting its purchase and sale of salmon exported from the Faroes.
Contact information for Costco is as follows:
A link to a sample letter can be found here and is shown below.
The appeal to boycott Costco comes just weeks after Sea Shepherd released a 22-minute documentary short on YouTube shot by McCall, chronicling his experience in the Faroe Islands, along with a companion essay he published in the Huffington Post.
Since 1983, Sea Shepherd has sent ten campaigns to the Faroes, saving hundreds of whales and dolphins while dealing with the arrest of Sea Shepherd volunteers and the seizure of the organization’s boats.
Faroese law states it is illegal to interrupt the killing and illegal to sight a pod of whales and not report it. To further protect their beloved Grind from outside interference, this year the Faroese enacted laws that prohibit Sea Shepherd crew from entering their waters and wearing Sea Shepherd shirts on land.
This year, in response, Sea Shepherd Global announced Operation Bloody Fjords, a new operation targeting the massacre of pilot whales in the Faroe Islands.
With years of footage of this bloodshed, Operation Bloody Fjords will include culling together decades’ worth of photographic and video evidence to target the Grind in legal, political, commercial and economic arenas. A full-length documentary feature will also be produced.
By Doug Enaa Greene
Today, at approximately 1200 local time, a pod of 30-50 pilot whales was slaughtered in the first grindadráp (grind) of the year, on the island of Viðoy in the Danish Faroe Islands archipelago.
The ordeal began this morning when locals spotted a pod of between 100-150 pilot whales passing by Svínoy. Several boats then drove the pod of whales approximately 11 kilometres to Hvannasund, where the whales were forced to beach, and slaughtered by locals. Faroese media outlets have confirmed between 30-50 pilot whales have been killed.
“Is it exactly these kinds of atrocities that authorities in Denmark and the Faroe Islands are attempting to cover-up, by refusing Sea Shepherd crews entry to the archipelago,” said Sea Shepherd Operation Bloody Fjords Campaign Leader, Geert Vons. “And this is exactly the reason why we continue to push the increasing global momentum to end this bloody and brutal practice.”
In 2015, the international crew of the Sea Shepherd ship, Bob Barker, was unlawfully denied entry to the Faroe Islands by Denmark. In 2016, a new law was passed in the Faroe Islands which requires that all Sea Shepherd volunteers must have a visa to enter the archipelago. As a result, Sea Shepherd has modified its tactics in the battle against the grindadráp. The organisation’s 2016 Pilot Whale Defense Campaign, Operation Bloody Fjords, sees Sea Shepherd take its battle against the grindadráp to the heart of the Faroese and Danish institutions that continue to promote this outdated practice.
By Dan La Botz
July 6, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from New Politics — The mood among the 3,000 Bernie Sanders supporters meeting in Chicago McCormick Place was improbably optimistic over the weekend of June 17-19, with many of the speakers proclaiming to cheering crowds that the movement has been victorious — even though Hillary Clinton, the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party has received a majority of the popular votes and a majority of elected delegates and super-delegates, as well as the endorsements of President Barack Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden, and Senator Elizabeth Warren.
That disjuncture — between the Sanders’ movement’s belief that we have achieved something quite important and Clinton’s clear victory in the primary — provides the contradictory context for this conference of progressives, radicals, and socialists searching for the way to the future, I among them.
July 6, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Jose Da Costa looks at the history of colonisation in East Timor and the situation today following 16 years of formal independence.
Da Costa was 18 years old when he came to Australia by boat in 1995 seeking political asylum from East Timor. He is a teacher, actor and co-founder of Dili Film Works.
This talk was filmed at the May 2016 Socialism for the 21st Century conference held in Sydney, which was organised by the Socialist Alliance and co-sponsored by Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.
I’m not the only one to ponder a comparison to the proposed Dandenong line skyrail… Channel 9 recently featured this story, which is worth a look:
— Nine News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) May 18, 2016
Apparently about 30% of the Singapore rail network is elevated. Most of the rest seems to be underground; I didn’t explore all of the network, but I didn’t see any ground level lines; it was either above or below.
The network has only been built since the 1980s, so it’s not like Melbourne where some sections of elevated rail have been there for a century — eg around Glenferrie, Balaclava, Collingwood and other inner suburbs.
That said, in some areas of Singapore, the rail line came first, before surrounding development. In others, it was inserted into existing suburbs.
Of the initial lines authorised in 1982, the plan was for 42 stations, of which 26 were planned to be elevated. With a current focus on more lines through the central city area, some of these have been all underground, but other suburban line extensions and stations continue to be built as elevated.
How does it look? Here’s a short video:
In most cases they seem to have designed each individual track on its own structure. Melbourne is planning this too, to maximise the amount of light and rainfall that can benefit flora below.
A key difference is that Singapore trains are powered by third rail, so there is no overhead wire and stanchions as we will need in Melbourne. This reduces the overall visual impact when trains aren’t passing. (Singapore does have a high speed rail line to Malaysia planned; this will have overhead electric power, but I’m not sure if it will have elevated sections.)
Singapore has no diesel passenger or freight trains, though they do use diesel powered maintenance trains.
Looking around Redhill, just east of the station the train goes underground, and the clearances here over parkland weren’t particularly high. On the other side of the station, double decker buses could get under the track, so I assume it meets some kind of minimum standard.
Melbourne’s planned elevated lines are planned to be much higher than the standard 4.3 metre road clearances, partly to allow more light, and also presumably to be clear of the existing tracks they are replacing, to minimise service disruptions during construction.
At Redhill, there is parkland around the station. A few hundred metres away is high-rise residential (common in Singapore, but quite unlike most Melbourne suburbs).
It was Sunday, and in the park I actually saw one group having a picnic very close to the rail line. Other groups were using the park nearby. Evidently the trains are just accepted; it doesn’t stop people making use of the space.
There was no litter and no graffiti on the concrete structures. But the whole of Singapore is like that.
It may have been clean, but I’d have to say it didn’t look beautiful — unless perhaps you’re a fan of concrete.
In this location, apart from growing grass underneath, little had been done to beautify the area. Plain concrete and (on parts of the station structure) metal and glass. It was a similar case at other stations I saw: functional but not beautiful.
They do better if they try. Elsewhere in Singapore, murals and tree planting has occurred to minimise the visual impact of rail construction.
Notable at Redhill was a playground underneath the tracks. Nobody was using it when I went past; signage indicated it was a private playground linked to nearby condominiums.
As far as I saw, Singapore station design (whether elevated or underground) is almost universally island platforms. This is particularly useful at terminal stations where the next train departing might use either side. It also makes better use of space when coping with tidal peak loads.
At all the stations they seem to provide full rain coverage (they’re dealing with tropical weather, remember, but this would benefit Melbourne too on rainy and stinking hot days) and platform screen doors (which were retrofitted last decade). Fans were fitted to many station ceilings to provide some level of cooling.
Access to/from the platforms was mostly by escalator, with lifts and some stairs also provided.
All stations appeared to be staffed, with station offices and fare gates at ground level. There was rarely a staff presence on the platforms, though CCTV was common.
The concourse levels generally were pretty open, maximising visibility, with retail such as convenience stores. Some stations had other small retail outlets built into them. Toilets seemed to be provided at all stations.
No stations that I saw seemed to have any car parking at all – in Singapore, cars are an expensive status symbol, not a virtual necessity as they are in many Australian suburbs.
Bus interchanges and bike parking were prominent. The distance from the station entrances to the bus stops varied – for some only a short walk, for others a bit longer.
Not that it seemed to matter; the bus/train combo seemed very popular, though given surrounding residential towers, I’d bet the majority of passengers walk to the station. (They do in Melbourne too.)
At Redhill there were roads and parklands providing a buffer between the railway line and nearby residential towers.
But at the eastern end of the line between Tanah Merah and Pasir Ris it’s a different story – a mix of high-density residential towers and medium-density houses – a fair way from the suburban density common in Melbourne suburbs, but closer to it. And many of those homes are very close to the railway line, separated only by a walking path, similar to that planned for the Dandenong skyrail.
In these sections there is some use of privacy screens, though it’s not universal. Where they are in place they seem quite effective at blocking the view to the immediate area.
Pasir Ris station is a terminus. Beyond the platforms at ground level is a bus terminus and bus parking, but the tracks actually extend beyond this, providing a small amount of stabling. This extends across a road into a nearby park, with maintenance cranes at the very end of the track.
It looked like a bit of an odd addition to the park; none of this was in use when we were there; I wonder how often it gets used?
At first glance the Singapore designs are far more similar to the proposals for the Dandenong line than the existing Melbourne elevated rail sections, which tend to be embankments with little or no access underneath.
There are key differences of course; Singapore has no overhead wires and no regular diesel services.
Singapore also has little serious political opposition to the government — in the current parliament the government holds 83 of the 101 seats. This is obviously quite different in Melbourne.
That said, in Singapore they can’t get away with anything — I was told there is a lot of political pressure around train crowding. But they probably have more leeway to push through projects that negatively affect a minority of people, as long as the majority benefit. In Melbourne this is a much harder sell.
And certainly the older Singapore elevated rail sections aren’t beautiful. For it to work in Melbourne, it needs to be much better than this.
Lots of other cities have elevated rail (including Melbourne), and some of it is quite new. To claim it is outright “the wrong way” to grade separate level crossings is, in my view, completely wrong.
The trick for Melbourne will be for the government to ensure the project lives up to its promises: to minimise construction disruption, minimise tree removal, reduce train noise, ensure resident privacy, prevent vandalism and graffiti (a far harder task than in Singapore) and deliver the best project possible…
And politically, they need to show the broader community the benefits of getting this done — the reduced delays to motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, buses, emergency vehicles, and the increased rail capacity it can bring — before the November 2018 election.
Will the Coalition get to 76 seats? The ABC’s Barry Cassidy ‘can’t see that happening’. But is the prospect of minority government really as horrific as much of the media is portraying?
The only real problem (for both Malcolm Turnbull and Australia) with a Coalition minority government is the prospect that the Liberal Party’s Right will depose him as PM and replace him with an Abbottista.
With that exception there’s no logical reason to think that minority government will be particularly problematic either for the Coalition or Australians generally. It presently looks likely that the Coalition will end up with 74 seats or so in the House of Representatives. It is likely that two or three of the more conservative cross-benchers in the Reps could fairly readily be persuaded at least to agree to pass Supply and not back a “no confidence” motion. That would be enough for Turnbull to go to the Governor-General and get a commission.
In large parts of the democratic world minority governments are the norm and don’t necessarily lead to either legislative paralysis or chaos. The supposed need for “strong” majority government is a peculiarly Australian obsession that many other stable and prosperous countries don’t share. The fact that disparate elected representatives are forced to deliberate, collaborate and compromise to achieve effective government is rightly regarded in many places as a desirable feature rather than a “bug”.
In that context there is a powerful argument that either Turnbull or another moderate like Julie Bishop is likely to exhibit better communication and negotiation skills to thrive in a minority government environment than a hard-line Right Wing warrior like Morrison, Dutton or Abbott.
In a governance sense the challenge of assembling a momentary alliance to enact particular legislation isn’t really a problem for Turnbull. His legislative agenda isn’t very ambitious. Moreover, Labor has pledged to support the first tranche of company tax cuts to small business. And most economists agree that the wider and longer-term cuts for big business are fiscally irresponsible and minimally stimulatory anyway. You could argue that this is a classic example of the benefits of minority government: the necessity for deliberation and compromise will actually deliver a better outcome for Australia than if Turnbull had presided over an elected dictatorship aka “strong” majority government.
Australian politicians and voters alike need to start getting used to the fact that minority government is the new normal, not a mark of political failure or a harbinger of chaos. Many of us are no longer rusted-on fans of just two political tribes.It signifies increasing political maturity.
By Don Fitz
July 3, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In the middle of June 2016, the US House Committee on Natural Resources approved HR 3650, an effort to expand privatization of public lands. The bill would transfer control of “up to 2 million acres of eligible portions of the National Forest System” from the federal to state governments. Since state governments cannot afford firefighting budgets for such huge pieces of land, the law is a slick maneuver to make certain that lands will end up in the hands of private corporations. Endgame: increased logging, increased mining, increased destruction of ecosystems, increased profits for a few of the super-rich, decreased recreational sites, decreased jobs for the 6.1 million Americans working in recreation.
There is a word that the Green Party might consider putting at the front and center of its 2016 presidential campaign. That word would show the commonality of hundreds, if not thousands, of local struggles in the US and set the pace for Green Parties across the globe. It's a word that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton won't touch. The word is: “De-Privatization.”
July 1, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Queensland Independent state parliamentarian Rob Pyne, who resigned from the ALP earlier this year, looks at how to build an alternative political movement in Australia.
This talk was filmed at the May 2016 Socialism for the 21st Century conference held in Sydney, which was organised by the Socialist Alliance and co-sponsored by Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal.
A few pics from this evening’s gig at Tennant Creek with Rayella (Raymond Dixon and daughter Eleanor) and the Opera Australia Chamber Orchestra put on by Barkly Arts and the crew from the Winanjjikari Music Centre.
More to come …
The post Rayella and the Australian Opera Chamber Orchestra, Tennant Creek 1 July 2016 appeared first on The Northern Myth.
By Dick Nichols
July 1, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — The key question about the result of the June 26 Spanish general election is also the most difficult to answer: why did 1.09 million people, who in the December 20 elections voted for Podemos, the United Left (IU) and the three broader progressive convergences Together We Can (Catalonia), Podemos-Commitment (Valencian Country) and In Tide (Galicia), not vote for the combined Podemos-IU ticket United We Can and these convergences at this poll?
The election saw an increased vote for the ruling People's Party (PP) while the social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) held off the seemingly unstoppable charge of United We Can and allies towards supplanting it as the leading force of the left.
So this is what it looks like when hundreds of millions of dollars worth of infrastructure gets built rapidly in your neighbourhood.
Here are some photos and video of the first week of major works on the Bentleigh/Mckinnon/Ormond level crossings.
(Click any photo to view it larger at Flickr — or click here to view the entire album of photos as a slideshow.)
The end result will be three stations below road level, but first all the dirt has to be dug out.
Some people want a crossing at Murray Road, midway between Ormond and Mckinnon. For now, there is one, for loading up more trucks. This is smack bang in the middle of a residential area. Accommodation has been offered to those most affected by the works.
Nicholson Street, parallel to the railway line, is currently One Way so trucks can enter from the north, be loaded up with dirt, then head south and then east down Centre Road. I wonder how the garbage is being collected? Wouldn’t the garbage trucks only have claws on the left hand side?
Traffic controllers stop westbound cars on Centre Road to allow the trucks (with their large turning circle) to turn out of Nicholson Street (north side) and Burgess Street (south side) to turn in and head towards the quarry.
The trucks come through every few minutes on the truck routes. Here a convoy comes through Bentleigh shopping centre, where parking “adjustments” (eg restrictions) have been in place for about a week, as have traffic light modifications to help keep the trucks moving.
On Wednesday night there were plenty of onlookers at Bentleigh. Some parents bring their kids out for an evening walk in their pyjamas to have a look. Buses aren’t currently diverted, but some overnight road closures have occurred.
The trucks are having a noise impact along the routes to Dingley:
We cannot sleep with the constant noise of trucks during the night. They need to stop these trucks during the night or reroute to alternate roads on every second night so that we can at least get a decent nights sleep occasionally. One day I was sitting at the East Boundary Rd. / South Rd corner traffic lights and counted 28 trucks going in all directions during a minute duration. It is unbearable! — K Hills
But the good news is that progress has been significant. If all goes to schedule, most of the digging should be finished early next week.
Hi @danielbowen in the last 3 days we've carted away about 185,000 tonnes – about the same as the whole volume we took away from Burke Rd
— Level Crossings (@levelcrossings) June 28, 2016
Finally, for all the construction geeks and their kids who love watching this stuff on Youtube, here’s 90 seconds of digging… view it full screen at Youtube to see it in all its glory.
I don’t think sortition makes any sense in the case of something like Brexit. The notion that a jury of randomly chosen citizens would decide for the whole population whether or not to quit a union would simply not fly, nor should it: there have been impassioned debates on Brexit for months now all up and down the UK, so its very hard to argue that the population was not informed or not engaged. They have not been this engaged for a generation.
The argument is not that the issue wasn’t discussed – obviously it was. It’s not even that it’s nigh on impossible to be properly informed by the mainstream media – though obviously it was. It’s that this is a category mistake.
As Schumpeter argues “Collectives act almost exclusively by accepting leadership — this is the dominant mechanism of practically any collective action which is more than a reflex”. Schumpeter uses the word ‘leadership’ here because he’s heading into his next point- that rather than representing ‘the will of the people’ – which Schumpeter regards as inchoate in any event representatives’ function is to lead the citizens – subject to competition amongst factions of the governing class for the consent of the governed.
It’s an impressive and compelling argument. But as I read Schumpeter’s argument one can reduce his initial claim to a more parsimonious one – that any social organisation requires a division of cognitive labour. And representatives perform that function as well. They invest the time necessary to understand issues that would not hold the interest of the electorate and/or that require knowledge, thought, and deliberation to make good decisions about. So I take his argument to be that if decisions are to be made well by a ‘collective’ of people there must be a division of cognitive labour.
Now representative democracy used to be quite good at the function that Schumpeter described for it – representatives played their role in the cognitive division of labour. It didn’t represent the people’s raw views on all things, but where it differed it often did so from the perspective of leadership – delivered by class leadership. (Of course it wasn’t always necessarily leadership as in good leadership – it came with its share of class interest and vested interest. So that was the downside). But along with its delivery of the interests of the governing classes it also played its role in the cognitive division of labour.
The representative democracy we now have is viewed as toxic by the hoi polloi. It’s interesting as to why this is the case. After all, as the culture in the system has somehow morphed from a fairly classic republican one (albeit in our country in monarchical dressing) of citizens and their representatives to consumers and producers of politics (voters and politicians) the system hasn’t delivered less utilitarian outcomes. Inequality has widened a little here, but I’m not that confident people policies on income distribution would have generated very different outcomes under the democratic culture of Australia a generation ago. Meanwhile things are much better for minorities, and things are at least as well run as previously – I’d guess they’re run rather better. There are ombudsman offices for all manner of things from governments to monopolistic utilities.
So why do people feel so bad about their politics? Well we hear them say that politicians are not listening. But since when did someone get to have a politician listen to them as if it was all about them? There are 24 odd million Australians and many of them won’t be listened to. I think there’s something more going on. With the providers of politics having become brand managers and the medium through which they get their message across that of the mass traditional and social media, people know that they’re being full on manipulated. I know people who’ve recently gone into politics – on both sides of politics – and their newsletters to their electorates I get are written in PRese. It’s impossible to read these things with a brain and not feel manipulated.
Within months of going into parliament I hear new parliamentarians say things against their opponents that might sound plausible enough. They certainly go in on one side or another believing in it. But as the show goes on they all say things against their enemies – for instance that they’re heartless and out of touch when they’re speaking against some spending cut – which you can just hear them being on the other side of if they were in government rather than in Opposition. And vice versa.
Meanwhile people are endlessly wound up by the media. Andrew Bolt has Tony Abbott on his show and debates whether 1788 was an ‘invasion’ or not. I thought Abbott was quite good on that by the way. He said he thought it was a settlement or “an ‘occupation” if you like” but he didn’t think it was an invasion because it wasn’t done in the prosecution of an armed battle or anticipation of one. Well lots of aborigines feel very different about it, which is all fair enough. And who cares? Andrew Bolt wanted a good old ding dong about a word which of course in different circumstances his friend Tony would have been happy to join in on. We just have one of these wind up battles every few days. All completely silly. People get how stilted and stupid and pointless this is. But just as fast food keeps them rolling through the doors and edging towards and beyond obesity, these tricks keep people tuning in and clicking on links.
So as I see it deliberative democracy institutions are required to essentially re-inject deliberation into a system that once tolerably had it. And by deliberative democracy institutions, I don’t mean dinky advisory citizens juries on a few things. I mean building them into our constitution. They’ve been built into Oregon’s constitution in a small way. Any citizens’ initiated referendum cannot be put without a citizens’ jury sitting on the question and issuing a 300 word guide which is given to voters when they vote. Sounds very sensible to me.
We can take it much further. And we can mix and match institutions in the hope that they can provide checks and balances on each other (as opposed to cheques and balances!) and can strengthen each other. Some intriguing academic modelling suggests that parliaments would reflect the public interest better if we added some randomly chosen citizens to otherwise representative chambers. When some parliamentarians have no party allegiance, the legislature’s overall efficiency (in addressing the public interest) improves. Certainly one can imagine that having a few randos around to vote if on nothing else then on procedural motions, would improve Question Time no end.
I’ve previously proposed a People’s Chamber in Parliament either replacing or adding an additional chamber to the upper house. I’d like to be more specific. I’d suggest it comprise 297 citizens chosen by lot for six-year single terms with 99 appointed every two years.
How should such a body relate to the existing system? Even without formal constitutional power, having randomly selected citizens’ deliberation and collective views on the public record would powerfully strengthen the fabric of our democracy. A public record of the considered opinion of our peers – collected as a formal body and given time to deliberate and air their views – would be a powerful tool with which to discipline parliamentarians – and perhaps even media commentators – to show greater respect for those views. Given this, I hope a ‘people’s chamber’ might be privately sponsored until such time as our lawmakers can be persuaded to build such institutions into our constitution.
Until we have more experience in the field, I have previously suggested that the People’s Chamber not be given a blocking power, but rather a delaying power as the House of Lords has in the UK. This gives the other chambers sufficient incentive to engage it without undermining the ultimate sovereignty of our existing representative system and the legitimacy it confers.
I suggest further that if the randomly selected members of parliament achieve a super-majority of say 60 per cent of their number then they should acquire additional rights to make it easier for other parliamentarians to put the public interest ahead of their party’s. I propose that a super-majority of randomly selected parliamentarians give them the power to compel a secret ballot from other (representative) parliamentarians on any matter (as happens in members’ voting for the Speaker of the House of Representatives and President of the Senate). This would solve the two specific policy problems for Australia. Under such a system I think it inconceivable that we would
If, after three months the deadlock between the representative and a super-majority of randomly selected parliamentarians remained, the latter could vote substantively with representatives in a joint vote in the relevant chamber or a joint sitting between them.
There are some incredible sights coming out of the Bentleigh/Mckinnon/Ormond level crossing removal works, and I’ll post some pictures (and hopefully video) tomorrow.
But in the mean time, early works on the “CD9” Caulfield to Dandenong 9 “Skyrail” crossings is also happening.
I don’t have a big update for you, but I recently bashed out this summary of the debate around this project on Reddit, and I thought I’d repost it here:
There’s the residents who live very close, many of whom don’t want an elevated line next to their houses (though some do not object as they see the advantages from the land opened up). Some of their concerns are perhaps exaggerated, but some are genuine and legitimate.
There’s the Liberals who sense this is a weakness of the Dandrews ALP government, and are exploiting it for all its worth.
For most other people, I suspect they just want the crossings gone ASAP, and with the least disruption possible. (For perspective, the Frankston line shutdown that has just begun is said to be the biggest since the City Loop was under construction, and involves 100+ buses at peak times. The Dandenong line is twice as busy and involves three times as many stations.)
Removing crossings doesn’t just benefit motorists. It also benefits pedestrians, bus users, cyclists and emergency services, and it enables more (and eventually, longer) trains on the most crowded line on the system, as well as improving safety/train reliability.
At least, that’s how I see it. What do you think?
The discussion on Reddit raised some interesting points, and is worth a look if you’re not offended by an occasional smattering of coarse language.
They’re never going to convince those most vehemently opposed to it, but it is important that the government keeps talking to everyone involved, and accommodates any reasonable request for information, or that can help minimise impacts from construction and from the final design.
PS. There have been some good discussions on Twitter about the project, but a small number of people have resorted to throwing insults and accusations around. I’m going to stop engaging with those people, and though I hate to do it, will block people who become abusive.
June 29 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In the aftermath of the recent UK referendum vote to leave the European Union, the British left continues to debate the meaning and significance of the vote. As part of Links' ongoing coverage of the debate we are republishing articles by Charlie Hore, from Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st Century, and Andrew Flood, from Workers Solidarity Movement.
Los Angeles, CA. -June 29, 2016, Operation Driftnet a campaign launched by Sea Shepherd Global to expose, confront and shut down illegal fishing operations on the world’s oceans - has successfully ended the operations of a fleet of six illegal fishing vessels.
Operation Driftnet, which launched in February 2016, aimed to locate the Chinese Fu Yuan Yu fleet, document and gather evidence of their illegal activity, disrupt their operations and confiscate their illegal driftnets.
Thanks to direct action by the crew aboard the STEVE IRWIN vessel, the Chinese government has temporarily suspended the fishing licenses of all of the vessels owned by the company, the Dong Xing Long Ocean Fishing Company. The six vessels of the FU YUAN YU fleet have been ordered to remain in port for an indefinite period. In addition, the captains of the fishing vessels have had their certification as Masters permanently revoked and each vessel has been fined the equivalent of $300,000 U.S. dollars.
In a letter dated June 24, 2016 to Sea Shepherd Global Director Captain Alex Cornelissen, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture communicated these results of their investigation. (Read the full letter below)
Captain Paul Watson, founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society said, “This was a bold campaign led by a courageous Sea Shepherd captain and his crew. This intervention has removed six very destructive poaching ships from the Indian Ocean and has sent a strong message to Chinese flagged ships around the Globe that China is serious about international fisheries law and enforcement.”
The Operation took an urgent turn when Captain Sid Chakravarty and his STEVE IRWIN crew discovered, documented, exposed and pursued an illegally operating Chinese drift fleet in the Indian Ocean.
Sea Shepherd reported the activities and supplied evidence to the Peoples Republic of China. The pursuit began in the Indian Ocean and ended in Chinese waters. The Chinese Navy allowed the STEVE IRWIN to continue the pursuit through the South China Sea to the coast of China.
With the six ships in Chinese ports, the Chinese government took over the investigation. In response to Sea Shepherd’s initial discovery and documentation of the illegal use of driftnets (banned globally since 1992), the Chinese government ordered the six ships to return to Mainland China for investigation and inspection.
Once in port, the government investigation found that the FU YUAN YU 071, FU YUAN YU 073 and FU YUAN YU 076 did indeed engage in illegal activities by using driftnets in the Indian Ocean. The investigation into the other three vessels of the fleet is ongoing.
Campaign leader, Captain Sid Chakravarty said, “These are severe penalties and the actions of the Chinese government clearly illustrate that they view fisheries crime very seriously. Sea Shepherd would like to thank the Chinese government for their cooperation with the investigation and we appreciate the recognition of the success by the government of China.”
Sea Shepherd has once again followed the template of coordinating international efforts to tackle international fisheries crimes and would like to credit the success of this campaign to the combined efforts of the Chinese government, INTERPOL, the crew of the STEVE IRWIN, Sea Shepherd Legal and Sea Shepherd Global.
Below is the email received from the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture:
Dear Captain Alex Cornelissen,
First of all, on behalf of China fishery competent authority, I would like to express our sincerely appreciation for your and the Sea Shepherd Global's timely notification and constant attention regarding the case of illegal driftnet fishing by some Chinese fishing vessels in the southern Indian Ocean. We attached great importance to this case and immediately conducted a detailed and comprehensive investigation as soon as we received your email below. I wish to take this opportunity to inform you the investigation outcomes the actions we have taken as follows.
We ordered the fishing vessels concerned to come back its home port immediately to accept investigation and conducted a port inspection and checked carefully all the related documents on board the fishing vessels, including customs declaration, logbook, mate's receipt, cargo manifest, as well as all the information provided by your side, and talked face-to-face with some crew members of fishing vessels concerned, we also polled the VMS track record from our platform and showed that these vessels did not called at any other port during their return course to China. From all the evidence and information we collected we could finally draw the conclusion that three fishing vessels, namely Fu Yuan Yu 071,Fu Yuan Yu 073 and Fu Yuan Yu 076 did engage in such illegal fishing activities as driftnet fishing in the southern Indian Ocean, however, we didn't find any highly migratory species on board these fishing vessels.
According to Chinese Fisheries Law, we take the following punishment to these involved fishing vessels:
Firstly, temporarily suspend the fishing license for all the fishing vessels (not only the involved three fishing vessels) of the same company. Currently, the three fishing vessels are asked to stay in port for further rectification for an indefinite duration.
Secondly, permanently revoke the captain's certification of the three fishing vessels and imposed a penalty to each captain.
Thirdly, impose the maximum fine to each of the three fishing vessels, each equivalent to around 300 thousand US dollars.
We will also inform the results to relevant RFMOs if it is necessary.
I would like thank you for your assistance and cooperation on this case.
Division of Deep sea Fishing,
Bureau of Fisheries,
Ministry of Agriculture, China.
site for more information.
June 29, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- First Nations activist and NSW Senate candidate for the Socialist Alliance Ken Canning looks at the struggles of indigenous people for their rights and recognition and the racism engendered by government policies in Australia.
Ken is a poet and playwright from the Kunja Clan of the Bidjara Peoples of South West Queensland. This talk was filmed at the May 2016 Socialism for the 21st Century conference held in Sydney, which was organised by the Socialist Alliance and co-sponsored by Links.
The month is almost over – here are photos from June 2006, continuing my series of posting ten year old photos.
Glenhuntly station, which looks much the same today except for additional shelter and PIDs (Passenger Information Displays). Following the works in 2016 to remove level crossings further south, many would be hoping the crossing here (and Neerim Road very close by) are done soon, but it looks like that will only happen after Labor funds all fifty in its 2014-2022 plan.
This illogical parking sign from Elsternwick was the subject of a blog post. Why restrict it to four hours parking during a four hour period on Saturday morning? I can’t find the photo right now, but even sillier was the nearby restriction of five hours between 8am-12noon. I think the last time I looked, these had been fixed.
Pulling apart a VHS tape (and putting it back together). I’m sure there was a terribly good reason for this, though it escapes me for now. I still have a lot of VHS tapes; I’m gradually chucking them out, but somewhere on one of them is a mildly embarrassing recording of my sister on TV, so I’m checking each tape before I dispose of it to try and find it.
Collins/William Street corner. Looks about the same, but much busier given all the development at the west end of the CBD. The trams are all in different colours, of course, and LED displays replaced the old canvas destination rolls.
Swanston Street looking north towards Bourke Street. I think I took this because I became fascinated with all the companies using lime green in their colour schemes. Note the Crazy John’s mobile phone shop on the corner — founder John Ilhan had passed away a few years before; Vodafone now owns the brand.
The contrast from the 1990s to the 2000s was more striking — in 1993 we chose the spot for a grimy creepy laneway for a student film:
June 28, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Socialist Alliance national executive member Peter Boyle on how to build the alternative to neoliberalism and a more humane world. This talk was filmed at the May 2016 Socialism for the 21st Century conference held in Sydney, which was organised by the Socialist Alliance and co-sponsored by Links .
The minimum wage has increased in multiple states over the past three
decades. Research has focused on effects on labor supply, but very
little is known about how the minimum wage affects health, including
children’s health. We address this knowledge gap and provide an
investigation focused on examining the impact of the effective state
minimum wage rate on infant health. Using data on the entire
universe of births in the US over 25 years, we find that an increase
in the minimum wage is associated with an increase in birth weight
driven by increased gestational length and fetal growth rate. The
effect size is meaningful and plausible. We also find evidence of an
increase in prenatal care use and a decline in smoking during
pregnancy, which are some channels through which minimum wage can
affect infant health.
By George Wehby, Dhaval Dave, Robert Kaestner – #22373 (CH HC HE LE LS PE)
By Doug Enaa Greene
June 27, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- "Yes, this is really a very serious situation ... But I can tell you, once again, that there is nothing more beautiful than to be in the middle of a critical situation, where the revolutionary struggle is the most difficult. How many would like to be here in Cuba to participate in defense of the Cuban revolution! I'm lucky enough to be able to do so. This is why I returned to Latin America. If I were interested in living well, surrounded by all the comforts, I would have stayed in Berlin, where I had everything. The Latin American revolution is advancing steadily toward a higher level, and I am fortunate enough to take part of it! ... Patria o muerte! Venceremos!"
Tamara Bunke wrote this in a letter to her parents in 1962 when she was an internationalist volunteer in Cuba during the height of the Missile Crisis as the revolution was mortally threatened by the forces of imperialism.
There’s a reason that the UK’s vote on EU departure seems so strange, and it applies regardless of whether you like Brexit or not.
It’s this: the UK has made what might be a very substantial change to its own nature based on a simple majority vote – and such changes should be a little harder to make.
This probably matters, since my guess is that there will be more popular votes on big national issues over the next 50 years than there have been in the past 50. At some point we will start to conduct voting electronically, and at that point there’s a good chance that referendums will become much more popular.
The case for a better mechanism has been well made in recent days by economist Kenneth Rogoff at Project Syndicate:
The real lunacy of the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union was not that British leaders dared to ask their populace to weigh the benefits of membership against the immigration pressures it presents. Rather, it was the absurdly low bar for exit, requiring only a simple majority. Given voter turnout of 70%, this meant that the leave campaign won with only 36% of eligible voters backing it.
This isn’t democracy; it is Russian roulette for republics. A decision of enormous consequence – far greater even than amending a country’s constitution (of course, the United Kingdom lacks a written one) – has been made without any appropriate checks and balances.
Does the vote have to be repeated after a year to be sure? No. Does a majority in Parliament have to support Brexit? Apparently not …
… The idea that somehow any decision reached anytime by majority rule is necessarily “democratic” is a perversion of the term. Modern democracies have evolved systems of checks and balances to protect the interests of minorities and to avoid making uninformed decisions with catastrophic consequences. The greater and more lasting the decision, the higher the hurdles.
Rogoff is precisely the sort of person to be most horrified by Brexit, part of the economic and cultural elite that would prefer to downplay issues of national sovereignty and makeup – what Nick calls “the Business Class set” and Megan McArdle might call a “Transnationalprofessionalistani“. So he has an incentive to now be pointing out why the vote was a bad idea.
But that doesn’t mean he’s wrong. Majority votes do seem a poor device for making what is, if not a constitutional change, then at least a change in how the country is constituted. Being in or out of Europe has big long-term consequences. It’s not the sort of decision that can be changed at the stroke of a pen, like, say, the GST rate.
(And in case you’re wondering, the issue didn’t arise so keenly on Britain’s way into the EU. After joining the EEC in 1973, the UK held a referendum in 1975 on continued membership, and the vote in favour was 67%.)
What is the right way to do it? I suspect that there’s not a simple number (60?) that is right for every type of question. Rogoff writes that he asked several political scientists and couldn’t see any consensus answer. He adds that “the general principle is that, at a bare minimum, the majority ought to be demonstrably stable”. Not a bad starting point.
The media has recently exposed Australia's largest union, the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA) agreeing to a deal that allowed Coles, Woolworths and other major employers to illegally pay workers below award rates. In exchange for the SDA signing-off on deals like this, these employers agree to deducting union fees directly from their payrolls, helping maximize the revenue into SDA bank accounts and the salaries of the SDA bosses. The SDA is the ALP's largest affiliate and just as they had a role in approving Coles' crooked deal, they have also had a role in the preselection of many Labor candidates on the ballot paper this weekend.
In 2015, ALP senators voted in favour of the Data Retention bill, giving police and spy agencies unprecedented powers to spy on the media and activist groups, including trade unions and the workers they represent. This Big Brother Bill has left the international media aghast, the details are far more draconian than anything even proposed in any other Western democracy. Just as the SDA betrayed their members, the ALP senators who supported this bill have betrayed the majority of citizens and union members. In exchange for this betrayal, they have developed an incestuous relationship with the security services. Conservative Labor right figures receiving tip-offs and other assistance to help them maintain a stranglehold over the ALP and keep the risk of genuine democracy at bay, isn't that just as crooked as the SDA getting into bed with Coles management?
The biggest betrayal of all may have been the sacking of Kevin Rudd to stop mining taxes. Mining only employs less than three percent of Australians, yet a majority of Labor's federal MPs (just like their conservative counterparts) are in the pockets of the mining industry. The Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) could have helped fund long term infrastructure such as the crumbling transport networks used by many Australian workers to reach their place of work each day. All these Australians, including many union members, have been betrayed to help a very small number of union members in mining and some very wealthy mining bosses. 83% of Australia's mining industry is under foreign ownership.
These Labor MPs have betrayed you, I and every citizen of this country now and in the future. How many of them are ALP candidates in this election?
What are you going to do about it? Who are you going to support this weekend and how are you going to make your vote count?
Make no mistake about it, the only jobs these people are protecting are their own. The consequences for future generations of Australians and for democracy at large are disastrous.
Major construction on my local level crossing removals has commenced.
The last trains ran on Friday night, and over the weekend workers were busy taking out the rail line: overhead wire, track, signalling, ballast.
And the boom gates of course. On Sunday morning there was a media/photo opportunity to proclaim the crossings gone, though of course trains won’t be running again until the end of July.
The boom gates were loaded up on a truck and taken away.
Nearby, various machinery was taking out the railway line on the crossing itself, leaving the road bridge (built earlier in the year).
As of this morning, the crossings are all open to road traffic, and digging and tunnelling (including under the roads) will happen over the next 10 days or so, with trucks removing the spoil to a quarry in Dingley which is being filled in. Then they’ll get to work building the new rail line and stations.
Some local traders are able to take advantage of the huge workforce present for the project, with cafes opening for extended hours. Apparently Brumbys Bakery is open 24/7.
Other traders are feeling the squeeze due to construction impacts, including closure of the stations.
Local residents are being urged to shop local to offer their support. This Level Crossing Removal Authority web site highlights local businesses.
And of course five weeks of bustitution for the Frankston line has just begun, and it’s good to see shelter has finally been installed at all the stops.
When I spoke to Metro CEO Andrew Lezala at the boom gate event on Sunday morning, he said he was off to catch a bus, to see how they were running.
Of course, the real challenges are during peak hours. Good luck, fellow passengers.