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Miscellaneous comments from 21 Feb 2015

Miscellaneous comments on this page have now been closed. Please post further miscellaneous comments here. - Ed, (25/4/15)

Comments made on the previous Miscellaneous comments page from 10 Jan 2015 can be found here.

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Comments

Anonymous, thank you for concurring with my disgust at the actions of the Australian Federal Police, who knowingly allowed Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran to be be arrested in Indonesia, which has the death penalty for drug trafficking, rather than arresting them, after their return, on Australian soil.

Anonymous wrote:

Surely, then, there's more profits to be made from the smuggling of drugs due to the internal drug insecurity! Schapelle Corby was accused of taking drugs INTO the country, not OUT!

In fact, the street value of marijuana in Australia is far higher than it is in Bali. That alone should have made the Australian newsmedia and the federal government most suspicious of the allegation by Indonesian police that Schapelle Corby had attempted to smuggle drugs from Australia into Bali in 2005. Had they duly examined the 'evidence' against Schapelle Corby, they would have quickly come to the conclusion, as has any reasonable and informed person who has spent as much as 30 minutes informing herself/himself about the case, that Schapelle could not have attempted to smuggle cannabis to Bali.

Had the Australian government blown the whistle on the sham trial which led to Schapelle's imprisonment and used the full weight of its authority as a sovereign government to demand justice for Schapelle Corby, there is no way that the corrupt Indonesian judges would have been game to convict Schapelle for drug smuggling.

But, whether through ineptitude or malice, the Australian government of John Howard did not and so she was imprisoned for nine years until 10 Feb 2014, when she was released on parole. Her parole conditions preclude her from leaving Bali until July 2017

Anonymous wrote:

... there should be a tough crack-down on drugs inside the country, and the drug lords that provided these drug smugglers with their supplies.

I think the widespread use of drugs is a symptom of how sick society we live in is. Why anyone would want to smash his/her brain with narcotics, instead of bushwalking, reading, painting, playing sport, singing, ... is beyond me.

Nonetheless, if we wanted to reduce the harm caused to those who choose to use narcotics, the best approach would to be to decriminalise the use of drugs and find ways to supply the drugs for free or at cost price and to provide drug users with safe means to use the drugs. One approach is the use of needle exchange and heroin injecting rooms.

Drugs, unfortunately, are rife in our society and even more unfortunately we're introduced to them before we're born. It would be a huge turn around to eradicate this problem whether the drugs are legal or illegal. However, I do agree with you James that decriminalisation of drugs and safe injecting rooms/needle exchange facilities would make an impact on our current situation.

Prohibition has, to my knowledge, never worked when it comes to narcotics. By prohibiting any legal substance we immediately enhance the Black Market. Drug dealers proliferate selling anything and everything to make a quick quid often cutting drugs with other substances which aren't conducive to our health. Narcotics users don't know what they're buying and once addicted, have to have their fix. Drug users/addicts who are unable to support their habit, may turn to crime to help pay for their narcotics.

Wars and get tough on drugs campaigns also don't work and the sooner we start treating drug addiction as a disease rather than a crime the better for all including the taxpayer. By decriminalising narcotics we reduce the reliance of addicts on dealers and the price of the drug/s decriminalised drops and users/addicts switch to that drug. The result is the drug is to an extent controlled and the user/addict is under less financial pressure therefore less crime is committed.

Safe injecting rooms and needle exchange facilities make it possible for users/addicts to get their fix in a clean and safe environment. In the event of an overdose, attendants are on hand to assist the user/addict who can call for emergency assistance on their behalf. Again the use of narcotics is controlled and the cost to society is lessened. Safe injecting rooms could also provide counselling for users/addicts whether it be to get off drugs or other problems they may be facing.

The cost of providing these services to users/addicts would come from the money that is poured into getting tough on drugs campaigns, court and legal costs, etc. I reiterate yes our society is sick, but that is what we must treat it as, a disease, not as crime.

Minister for Agriculture, senator Richard Colbeck, has announced Seafish Tasmania's 95-metre ship Geelong Star will be eligible to fish once authorities have approved a vessel-management plan.

Late last year the Federal Government banned super trawlers, ships longer than 130 metres. Senator Colbeck said the Geelong Star's quota has been set at 16,566 tonnes for jack mackerel, redbait and blue mackerel for the 2014-15 fishing season.
That's enough to bring over-fishing to our shores, and suck tonnes of fish out of our seas - imbalance the oceans food chains.

Stop the Trawler

Super trawlers are large freezer-factory fishing trawlers that threaten our unique marine life and fisheries, and the recreational fishing, commercial fishing and tourism industries that rely on these. This trawler will bring industrial fishing to our nation, instead of the protection it needs. It's all about mega-greed and corporate power overwhelming any common sense and protection of our oceans.

The Global Oceans Commission, an environmental group formed by the Pew Charitable Trust, released a report addressing the declining marine ecosystems around the world and outlining an eight-step "rescue package" to restore growth and prevent future damage to the seas. Global environmental problems are NOT wanted in Australia.

Concerns have been raised over a proposed overhaul of the welfare system that could see more than half of Disability Support Pension recipients booted off the payment.

The proposal is one of a host of recommendations in a new report into ways to streamline and simplify Australia’s $150 billion welfare system.

This "overhaul" and "simplification" sounds suspiciously like a downgrading, and severe dismantling of the welfare system. It will disconnect more people from the "economic growth" pyramid system. Perpetual growth means weight must be shed off to keep some functions running!

The Disability Support Pension (DSP) would also be renamed the Supported Living Pension and recipients would need to prove their disability is expected to last for more than five years. In an effort to encourage people on welfare to find a job, the report also proposes introducing a “Passport to Work” scheme.

Even if you don't have both legs or hands,eyes the government can always say you are capable of doing some work and transfer you from DSP to Newstart which is lower paid and that is a point in those proposed changes and to save money. The great irony is that how people with disability will find a job? Not many employers will give them a job and people are either over or under qualified/experienced!

Most people want work not welfare. Where is this work going to come from? Manufacturing has died in this country because of the high Australian dollar and cheaper imports.

One recommendation of the report says that income support should not generally be available to young people in their own right until they are 22 but go to their parents instead. It assumes that parents have work, and the ability to support adult children.

Four Corners reporter Linton Besser revealed the corruption at the heart of the unemployment program aimed at helping some of this country's most vulnerable people. He traveled to suburbs where unemployment is a way of life.

Unemployment is now big business in Australia. Each year the Government spends about $1.3 billion on its welfare to work scheme. But what happens when there are simply not enough jobs to go around?

Four Corners went inside the industry, finding shocking evidence of fraud, manipulation, falsified paperwork, and the recycling of the unemployed through temporary jobs. No matter how much ‘activity’ each individual jobseeker undertakes, it’s not going to create more jobs.

Academics and experts have repeatedly pointed out the glaring paradox at the heart of the program: how can these agencies have any impact on the unemployed when the number of jobless far outstrip the number of job vacancies? It's pointless task, and the unemployed may just as well be paid to dig holes and fill them again!

Why are people still coming from India and other countries on 457 visas to work in petrol stations and supermarkets?

After 23 years of "economic growth", our economy may be bigger in absolute terms, but it's producing less surplus, and per capita wealth is declining. We as a nation are becoming poorer, and our wealth is being diluted as we share it with more people.

The Liberals have a Calvinist mentality. The wealthy are blessed by god, the poor are disfavoured. To them, it makes sense to reward the wealthy (they are doing the right things) and punish the rest.

Their Sydney North Shore attitude is an elitist one. In these circles, we are just scum. I think Australians are realising how bad and treasonous these people are, but probably struggle to believe that a government in a western liberal democracy can truly be that callous and inimical to the Australian people. So they are given the benefit of the doubt. It can't be as it appears, right?

Hockey and Abbott don't care one iota about the jobless. Not at all.

I think your judgement that Australians struggle to believe that a government in a western liberal democracy can truly be that callous and inimical to the Australian people is dead right. They feel the same way about the ALP and the Greens. An awful lot of Australians seem to be entirely taken in by symbols and slogans. Why, just because a party calls itself 'green' should we believe it is? Why, just because a rich fat man who is treasurer says that he is making bad laws for the good of the rest of us should be believe him? Why do we believe the ALP looks after the battler when they are only one step behind the Libs? Why do we elect rich people to administer us when this is like putting foxes in charge of the hen house.

Oh, stupid questions, I know.

I think the answer to why people struggle to believe this, is they haven't caught up to the present yet. The world is vastly different (and in many ways the same) but the changes haven't sunk in. People still live in the past and apply the systems and assumptions of the past today. Hence why the lack of economic recovery is leaving people scratching their heads. Its obvious with 21st century thinking, but few are there yet. The same for why we can't seem to have success in the M.E. Worse, the decline of philosophical development, of education and general insight and introspection makes us less able to adapt. We're kind of mentally collectively blocked.

I think people believe them, because of this assumption that all will turn out better anyway, as it has been in the past. This assumption makes turning a blind eye to lies not seem so bad. "Sure they lie, but were golden and progress is guaranteed, so it's not THAT important..."

Not so stupid, if I may say so Sheila. I've been lamenting for may years now at the lack of any party or leader for this country to hang its hat on. Apart from independents there's not a major party to which I could vote for let alone affiliate with. Our current neoconservative Federal Government has to be the worst of the worst, no leadership, no vision, no mandate, no discipline, no loyalty, rude, arrogant and inhumane. It is my belief that we don't live in a democracy, we live in an oligarchy with governments craven to big business and neoliberal think tanks.

It will be interesting in the next 12 months to see which way the penny falls with new governments in Victorian, Queensland and soon New South Wales. Business as usual will see their office terminated after one term or just maybe they have learnt and will have listened to the people. I agree with you we have too many rich people running our affairs, we need more battlers in there to get the job done. We don't need managers we need workers, people willing to get their hands dirty, take the crap on the chin and to do the right thing by word and action for the common good.

Thanks also for your insight into matters affecting the thyroid. I suffer from hypothyroidism as does my older sister and my dear mother when she was with us. I control the problem by staying fit and healthy and keeping my cholesterol and blood sugar levels under control. All of which was bequeathed to me from both sides of the family, don't you love it!!

Victoria's public hospitals are cash strapped and most are not replacing buildings and medical equipment as fast as they are used, raising fears services will suffer, an Auditor-General report warns.

Auditor-General John Doyle’s financial audit found there was a “mismatch” between the hospital boards’ duty to provide services and their restrictions on how they used funding. There's a "mismatch" built into our economy, that's embedded with "growth".

A dozen Victorian public hospitals only had enough cash at the end of last June to fund their operations for a week or less, according to the report.

The report said the hospitals' low cash balance could put their ability to respond to "unexpected costs" at risk, which could result in money being diverted from other services to meet any new obligations. It doesn't increase our confidence in public health, if our State's budgets are running on a shoe-string.

More than two thirds of public hospitals have a poor capital replacement risk, meaning many hospitals are not replacing assets as they deteriorate. - See more at: http://www.skynews.com.au/news/local/melbourne/2015/02/25/hospitals-had-a-week-s-funding-left.html#sthash.LjXBanzE.dpuf

Patients in Melbourne's north and west waited an average of 60 days for an MR scan, while patients in the city's south waited 27 days.

Melbourne's population is expected to almost double to 7.7 million by 2051, as latest figures show that interstate migration is on the rise. The best plan for Melbourne is to reduce immigration to a sustainable level. Melbourne is an overloaded and over-stressed city which can no longer absorb 25 per cent of the total immigration program. Congested roads, public transport, longer hospital waits, unaffordable housing..and the list goes on.

Rather than the "ageing population" causing an over-demand on hospital services, a Grattan Institute report claimed it's simply that services are being overwhelmed by heavy population growth! The number of "sick kids" is causing the Children's Hospital to reach breaking point! With over 200 people per day and 1500 new residents arriving each week, our 2% population growth is straining all services! There's no light at the end of the tunnel! Our population in Melbourne will hit 10 million when we can't manage the numbers we have! Graduate nurses and midwives are finding it hard to get employment because of foreign workers.

By Mike Barrett – published on Global Research and Natural Society, 25 Feb 2015:

Adding to the evidence that backs many U.S. communities’ decisions to end water fluoridation, a recent study has found that fluoride within our water supply may be fueling thyroid issues experienced by millions of Americans, leading to depression and more.

After analyzing 98% of GP practices in England, the study found specifically that rates of hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) were 30% more likely in areas that fluoridated their water. In the study, it equated to approximately 15,000 needlessly suffering from the ailment.

As mentioned, hypothyroidism is an issue that affects millions – often without anyone knowing it. It’s an issue that can lead to depression, weight gain, fatigue, aching muscles, weakness, and much more. While there are a number of causes of hypothyroidism, as well as numerous hypothyroidism natural treatments, this recent study suggests that limiting fluoride ingestion is one many should consider.

The study abstract’s findings concluded:

"Findings We found that higher levels of fluoride in drinking water provide a useful contribution for predicting prevalence of hypothyroidism. We found that practices located in the West Midlands (a wholly fluoridated area) are nearly twice as likely to report high hypothyroidism prevalence in comparison to Greater Manchester (non-fluoridated area)

....

Whilst interesting, I have two main criticisms about the abstract for this study.

The study is not really able to draw any causation between fluoride and hypothyroidism. New studies would have to be designed to do this. Comparing a range of different locations might be a way to start. Contributing factors to a higher reported rate of hypothyroidism could be more awareness of hypothyroidism or a tendency to diagnose it among GPs in the areas where it was reported more. Or you might find that the demographics were different, with for instance, more older people - thus a higher incidence of hypothyroidism. Or there could be a lack of iodine in the diet. Those are just a few possibilities besides fluoride. Nonetheless we should not be subjected to massive dumps of fluoride or other metals in our drinking water, some of which can occur due to leaching of soils from other processes, natural and industrial. See candobetter.net's pages about fluoridation. There is a particularly compelling article about the impact of fluoride dust on kangaroos near a brick factory.

My second criticism is that the writer does not show a serious awareness of hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, both of which can cause irreversible brain injury if allowed to go too far. I guess that would be okay if he did not refer readers to a natural therapy page which suggests that people might need to see a doctor for additional insight, but to be wary of the medications they suggest. Those medications might save you from insanity, disfigurement and death! The writer makes the symptoms sound rather vague, but they can be very severe - including hallucinations, hyperacusis, loss of temperature control, hair loss, heart disease and death. There is also a higher rate of lupus and various other pathologies in people with thyroid problems. People should be fully aware of the seriousness of these illnesses.

In fact it is quite a problem in our society that doctors often fail to diagnose severe thyroid problems or fail to monitor treatment, allowing people to decline when bumping up their medication could keep them healthy. If you can see an endocrinologist about your thyroid condition you are likely to be better off than just by seeing a GP. I have worked in several psychiatric units and have often seen the results of failure to diagnose and failure to keep up treatment - by the GP and by the psychiatric unit. There is also disagreement in the field about the average range of results used to diagnose. It isn't easy having thyroid disease!

Always a good idea to go to a self-help support group if you have any serious illness and thyroid conditions are a good example of where group support and info exchange are really helpful. Check out the internet for such groups.

Another thing that a lot of nurses, doctors, even some pharmacists miss is that you must not consume food or drink (except water) with your thyroxin and must allow half an hour for carbohydrates and up to 3 hours for proteins before and after taking it. So very early in the morning or well after the evening meal. Otherwise it is likely to be rendered ineffective. It is also necessary to refrigerate thyroxin. It will only last out of the refrigerator for a limited amount of time. Vitamin E should also be tested as levels are often low in thyroid disease and boosting them helps a lot. Thyroid disease also affects or is associated with changes in cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Lack of thyroid hormone or hypothyroidism is also the cause of 'cretinism' in babies, which is now eminently treatable if started ASAP after birth.

Personally myself I have the white marks on my teeth from too much fluoride and had those marks for as long as I can remember. I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism last year. I 'fit' into that study though granted one person experience is a terrible way to prove or disprove anything.

Large swaths of the Upper Hunter are likely to be cleared to make way for as many as 16 new or expanded open-cut coal mines, according to leaked studies prepared by the Office of the Environment and Heritage and 11 major mining companies.

According to a Biodiversity Plan, seven species including the regent honeyeater, diamond firetail and brush-tailed phascogale, face being wiped out in the region. Endangered communities at risk include the Hunter Valley Weeping Myall Woodland and the Warkworth Sands Woodland.

The Age: Revealed- Major new coal mines planned for the Upper Hunter

Terms of reference were signed off by the former federal environment minister, Tony Burke, in October 2012 - before the results of the Strategic Assessment Report on the Future Coal Mining in the Upper Hunter Valley and the Biodiversity Plan! So, these "reports" are worth not much more than the paper they are written on if the mines already have the green light!

Lock the Gate Alliance NSW Coordinator, Georgina Woods said, "We’ve suspected for some time that an agreement was being stitched-up behind closed doors with the coal industry to sign-off on extensive clearing of remnant woodland in the Hunter Valley to accommodate vast new areas of mining....

..coal companies (have had) privileged access to biodiversity information being kept from the public, and preparing to sign-off on potential wildlife regional extinctions to accommodate the coal industry".

"Apparently the coal industry was going to be given the final draft of this plot to wipe out Hunter woodland before the public saw any of it, and even before Cabinet was given a glance..."

Mines in the Hunter Valley are said to damage to human health, which is costing the community more than $650million a year, a report prepared by health experts, academics and environmental scientists says. The annual health costs from mining are $600million due to pollution from the Hunter’s power stations, $65.3million due to fine dust particle emissions from coal mines and power stations in the Upper Hunter and $13million from air pollution from coal in Newcastle.

Powerful mining corporation are now government "insiders" and are privileged with rights that are denied the normal public, and democratic processes!

Hundreds of people rallied in Byron Bay yesterday (1st March) to protest against the proposed over-development of the town sparked by the recent controversial approval of rezoning of West Byron for hundreds of new homes.

The Echo: hundreds rally to protect Byron
There was a concert, with music and speakers.

The protest was organised by the Byron Residents’ Group (BRG) and Byron Young Residents Alliance (BYRA) with crowd estimates ranging from around 500 to just over 1,000.

‘The developers promoted the West Byron project as a place where young people could buy homes yet these young folk recognise that, like so many developments in Byron, they won’t get a look-in,’ BRG spokesperson Ms Coorey said.
This planning issue mask the real problem of Australia's heavy population growth, and the squeeze in our cities and the spilling over of housing onto iconic coastal landscapes. Australian singer-songwriter Xavier Rudd said the West Byron development would inevitably cause environmental damage.

Most of the West Byron land was repeatedly rejected by Council as unsuitable for development on multiple grounds. In November 2014 the Minister for Planning, Pru Goward — who has never been to Byron Bay — approved the rezoning of West Byron for intensive development. The BRG group We believe that Byron Bay is still unique among NSW’s coastal towns and that its character is what brings people here. If that essential small-town, nature-focussed, relaxed, community feel goes and is replaced by an over-developed crowded mess then everyone loses – visitors, business operators and residents.

Byron Bay Residents Group
The proposed residential area encompasses an isolated patch of core Koala habitat – an essential stepping stone in a corridor linking, through Sunrise, major colonies around Cumbebin and Tyagarah. Without this link Byron’s Koalas may not survive. The proposal is to clear some Koala habitat and to surround the remaining core Koala habitat with houses. The proponents do admit “It is acknowledged that the suitability of this habitat for koalas is likely to diminish with expanding adjacent urban development”.

Petition: The Honorable Mike Baird - Don't ruin Byron Bay

Population growth, and the housing industry, have become embedded into our economy, and it's unsustainable.

NEARLY 700 koalas have been reportedly been secretly killed in a mass cull in Victoria due to concerns over starvation in a key habitat.

The Australian reports that 686 koalas were culled near the Great Ocean Road in 2013 and 2014 in response to overpopulation in manna gum woodlands in the area. Instead of unlocking their fragmented and limited habitat, they were lethally disposed of - for their own benefit.

Hundreds of koalas killed in secret mass cull

The cull is said to have been done in secret to avoid a backlash from locals and activists. Clearly, this is how our democracy works now - to avoid any ruffling of public feathers, things are done secretly.

Ironically, yesterday was World Wildlife Day, a new day to celebrate our native species and raise awareness. While the day’s intent is to bring attention to wildlife crime and illegal wildlife trade — a global epidemic bringing numerous prized species to the verge of extinction — there are also many other negative environmental side effects to the wildlife trade.

While these koalas are not victims of trafficing, they are victims of callous and lethal "management" in Australia - the land famous for mammal extinctions.

Tony Shepherd, chair of Audit Commission, has warned that the ­migration intake should be maintained at current levels and then rise in the years ahead to confront the challenges of an ageing population…

"In a sign that Australians will live healthier and longer lives, by mid-century there will be about 35,000 people over the age of 100. The continued arrival of young migrants will be essential to dealing with the ageing of the population…"

It's a futile effort to try and keep our population young, by diluting the "aged population" with an increasing flow of migrants! People are being regarded as economic units, or consumer units, to collect and artificially keep our GDP afloat.

… keeping net overseas migration at current levels will add $1.6 trillion to the Australian economy every year by mid-century, driving almost half the country’s economic growth over the coming decades.

What about the costs? It's pure Ponzi demographics, of keeping the pyramid of people growing, and discarding the vulnerable and older off the scale, and into the abyss!

There's no precedent that growing populations bring wealth, or can be kept "young". It's like the CEO of McDonalds recommending that we eat more junk food, or cigarette manufacturers telling us that we need to smoke more because it's "good" for our health and the economy?

It is big business and the owners of capital that are the primary beneficiaries of Australia’s high immigration intake. Just like Kevin Rudd, they are spruiking their own agendas under the label as "reports" or "news" when it's about corporate greed and power.

More and more consumers, and less powers from the public, creates a pool of human resources to manipulate and negotiate. More people means less resources per capita.

An "ageing population" is an inevitable step towards a sustainable population size.

We need the ones that DON'T grow old...

Immigration is no solution to an ageing population (16/12/2008) at http://eye-on-immigration.blogspot.com.au/2008/12/immigration-is-no-solution-to-ageing.html

Immigrants are closer to being aged than those who are born into the country. Ergo, increasing population by immigration WORSENS the ageing population problem. But if you ask people who make easy, lazy money from population growth what the solution is, they would, of course, prefer to bring in people who are instant consumers the moment they arrive, over say, people who might take 15-18 years before they become consumers.. You can't package a mortgage for a 1 month old...

Really, the argument boils down to this.

We've been importing people en-masse, as the West has been doing, for decades now and this has not produced any results. Simply, we've been implementing the 'solution', and it's not working.

Oddly, few actually make this point and stick to it. The population debate between Kelvin Thompson and Robert Doyle was interesting, and Kelvin made good points, and I think he made the point that population growth is simply not working, but I think that the tactic of putting forward 'intellectual' arguments, facts and stats doesn't quite stick with people, which is why perhaps the arguments aren't gaining much traction.

I don't think it is a matter of 'debate'. We've been pursuing growth for over 20 years, increasing the rate of growth and increasing the population size more and more. All that which this was supposed to 'solve', hasn't materialised. Growthists then say that we then need MORE growth. But I think the tactic to counter this is to point out, again and again and again, is any of this working?. And not just ask it, but hammer it again and again and again.

The issue of population growth as economic benefit is SETTLED. It's been tried, and isdemonstrably a failure. No Australian can reasonably argue that mass population growth has increased the availability of good housing, jobs, made transport easier and solved the ageing population problem. There is no evidence of this, and pressed, no growthist can find anything which doesn't involve the loosest interpretation of dodgy figures and distortion of obvious reality.

I think a more simple approach to highlighting this, and relentlessly demanding explanations as to how higher house prices, increasing unemployment and increased traffic can be interpreted as improvements. The question "where has this crap actuallyworked?" needs to be posed again and again and again and again until Australians are familiar with the line, and can ask, and realise that there is no answer to, that question.

The problem is, that this tactic is 'simplistic', and many people prefer to avoid simple argument in favour of more complex, more researched arguments which prove their intellectual cred.

Can you work this out?

When skilled workers come to Australia they may be an average of 25 years old.

They will only work for 35 years and then retire as old age people.

For people borne here it takes 65 years before they retire which means that in the meantime there are extra people dying during an extra time of 25 years.

Is immigration of skilled workers actually speeding up and increasing the unequal proportion of workers and retired people?

Check out this article:

Immigration speeds up Australia's rate of aging - FECCA

Wed, 2013-05-22 00:37 — Sheila Newman

From 2011 to 2026 ethnic people over 80 will increase by 59% compared with 29% in the Australian-born population. The rate at which Australia's population is ageing has been accelerated by immigration. Furthermore, this effect will increase. Immigration is a major contributor to the dementing demographic. These statistics run counter to the ideology peddled by the growth lobby and its promoters should be held responsible.

The following were posted to a forum discussion on JohnQuiggin.com:

We should thank Julian Assange for setting up Wikileaks. As Professor Quiggin pointed out, by leaking the intellectual property and environment chapters of the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership), Wikileaks blew the whistle on the TPP scam.

Sadly, today marks the 1,000th day in which Julian Assange has been confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in London. He sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy on 19 June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face trumped up charges for rape. Given that, until very recently, the Swedish prosecutor refused Assange's request to be interviewed about the charges inside the Ecuadorian embassy, the rape charges are clearly no more than a ploy to have Assange extradited from 'neutral' Sweden to the United States, where a fate similar to that of Iraq War whistleblower Chelsea Manning, locked away until 2048, awaits him.

Given the the Australian government's complicity in the TPP and its past complicity in the same illegal wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria that Assange and Manning have blown the whistle on, it is hardly surprising that neither Prime Minister Tony Abbott nor Foreign Minister Julie Bishop have had anything to say about this outrageous treatment an Australian citizen by Britain and Sweden.

J-D wrote on March 16th, 2015 at 18:52:

If the US government were pursuing the objective of having Julian Assange extradited to the US, it would have been easier and simpler for them to have made a request for extradition by the UK directly to the US.

In Britain, unlike in Sweden, there is a large anti-war movement, including independent member of the House of Commons, George Galloway. Given that that anti-war movement prevented the United Kingdom joining the United States' planned military aggression against Syria in September 2014, thus preventing the planned invasion of Syria, I could well imagine there would be very serious domestic political repercussions for Prime Minister David Cameron had he attempted to extradite Julian Assange to the United States. Presumably that is one reason why the allegation that Julian Assange had raped two Swedish women in August 2010 was concocted. If he had been parcelled away to a country where fewer people spoke English and there is less public awareness of his case, he could have been far more easily extradited to the United States to face the same sort of 'justice' that Chelsea Manning is now receiving.

J-D continued:

Possibly there is a US plan to seek the extradition of Julian Assange ... but even if there is it is not a plausible explanation of Sweden's extradition request.

'Neutral' Sweden, like much of Eastern Europe, is, in fact clearly acting as an ally of the United States in its planned military aggression against Russia. The Swedish government has every interest in helping the United States to silence Julian Assange and Edward Snowden, who have revealed to the world, much damning evidence about the United States' government.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne has warned the Senate that 1700 research jobs will be scrapped if he doesn't get his way on uncapping university fees. We hear of bullying in the work place, but Pyne is now using bullying and threatening tactics towards research scientists to get his own way!

"Deregulate" university fees will mean costs will explode, and be determined by privatization and market forces. It's about "cuts" in fancy clothing.

As an "Education Minister", he is supposed to be supporting the future supply of researchers, professionals and scientists, not threatening their future. He is about dismantling tertiary eduation, not endorsing it!

Pyne is playing dirty politics and gambling with the professional futures of young Australians by telling the ABC the crossbenchers' decision to not deregulate university fees will cost Australian researchers their jobs, because their positions are to be funded by the money that will be saved! "Saved" at what cost? Already university fees are crippling academic studies and the future eduational opportunities of young Australians.

Education, research, scientific advancements, technological innovations and knowledge industries are the backbone of our nation's status as a first world nation, in the 21st century.

Present politicians, most of who enjoyed free tertiary education, or Scholarships from the Commonwealth, are now putting the screws on young people and leaving them in debt for tens of thousands of dollars, making it only the privilege of students with supportive parents, or who can juggle work and study.

Universitities are being deliberately starved so that they rely on a overseas students, whose fees should be subsidising our own education costs, not despite them!

Mr Pyne has failed to win over key crossbenchers despite backing away from a 20 per cent funding cut to universities and dumping a threat to link passage of his legislation to $150 million for scientific research.

The latest news is that Christopher Pyne withdrew his blackmail. See Christopher Pyne splits the bill but merely doubles the defeat in the SMH and Higher Education reforms: Pyne backs down on cuts threat in the Oz (on his occasion not behind a paywall). On this issue at least, the Labor opposition and the Senate cross-benchers should be given due credit. However, the government is still resolved to push ahead with it's education privatisation 'reforms'. It's curious that the Syrian govenment, so demonised by this government and by our newsmedia, provides free education all the way up to tertiary level to all of its citizens. - Ed

Andrew Kelly from the Yarra Riverkeepers Association has joined forces with Environment Justice Australia in an effort to pressure the Victorian Government to act quickly to protect the river and improve its quality. Of course, probably neither organisation have population policies, and accept as "inevitable" the doubling of our city's size by mid century!
The groups have co-authored a report showing surface run-off from roads and riverside developments are a leading cause of pollution entering the river, overtaking the historic problem of industrial pollution.
Mr Kelly said the conversion of riverside industrial sites to housing developments is pushing the river's health to the brink. Not only this, but converting sites that once added to our productivity and jobs, ends up in a dead end, due to the static natural of housing "developments"!
The report, released on Tuesday, also revealed pollution, including sewage run-off, is still flowing into the Yarra despite decades of clean-up efforts. So, clean up efforts are failing to keep up with accelerating impacts from population growth.
Mr Kelly said that "the Yarra is facing so many development pressures and its management is so fragmented that efforts to clean it up are at risk." These "development" pressures are thinly disguised population pressures, as the real estate industry has become a major Victorian industry, and needs human fillers to occupy them!
"When there's a lot of rain, sewage backs up, and rather than backing up into our toilets it's released into the river," he said. Well, we can't have our "cake" of revenues from housing growth, and at the same time preserve our natural heritage! We may as well concede that the future of the Yarra is bleak, and to become a sewer of pollution and human-caused run-off. It's assumed that our population growth is inevitable, and not socially engineered, and the impacts must be "managed". On the contrary, housing growth is promoting population growth, and the destruction of our city.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-03-17/yarra-river-risk-overdevelopment-housing-environmentalists-say/6324654

This was posted to johnquiggin.com

People in Victoria might be interested in attending these 2 upcoming fundraisers in Melbourne for the campaign against a broiler farm to be built on the Moolort Plains near here. If it is approved by VCAT and built it would have a capacity of 1.2 million birds at a time, and will have negative environmental and amenity impacts that the community don’t want. Tickets are available through TryBooking

1. Humans, Animals and the Ethical Life
26 March 2015 06:30 PM
Venue: The University of Melbourne
Rai Gaita and Peter Singer in Conversation

2. Nature: Shaped by and Shaping Humanity
8 April 2015 06:15 PM (GMT+11:00)
Venue: The University of Melbourne
Robyn Davidson, Don Watson, John Wolseley & Raimond Gaita

(Hopefully it is okay to mention this since they are fundraisers not commercial)

Just now, I attempted to post the following to a discussion on JohnQuiggin.com about Julian Assange. Whilst my previous posts have been published, this post has not so far appeared. I will aslo be publishing the article cited below on the front page.

Thank you for all of the well-reasoned and highly informative posts about the ongoing attempt by the Swedish government to have Julian Assange rot in prison like Chelsea Manning now is. A fairly recent article about the Assange case was posted to the Russian news service SputnikNews 11 hours ago: Swedish Ex-Prosecutor Calls Assange Case 'Disgrace For My Country'

Rolf Hillgren, in his op-ed in Svenska Dagbladet, has called for prosecutor Marianne Nye to be replaced, questioning her judicial impartiality and the sudden decision to interrogate Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London after years of insisting that any questioning would have to take place in Sweden

...

Hillegran says the prosecution should have carried out questioning much earlier, and accuses Nye of avoiding interrogation because it would have meant an end to the case.

"The most likely scenario is that she then [in 2012] found reason to discontinue the examination on the grounds that crimes can not be substantiated."

Hillegren then goes on to comment on how the prolongation of the proceedings could, in itself, cause a motivation for bias.

"Is it even possible to imagine that she, after completing interviews with Assange in London, concludes that the investigation should be closed down? What criticism would she suffer? And what criticism would be directed against the Prosecution?"

Concluding that the case "already qualifies as legal scandal," Hillegren says Nye has "disgraced the country."

It seems that finally we can hold out hope that Nye and the whole Swedish Government will be held to account by the Swedish people for their despicable conduct.

Duck hunters and rescuers are gearing up for the opening of the Victorian duck hunting season today. For some inconsistent reason, despite rising crime rates in Victoria, this "sport" is allowed to continue. Duck hunting is brutal and unsustainable, and encourages aggression against gentle waterbirds. These birds are not pests, but part of our ecosystem. Numbers are down, but that doesn't phase our government! Agriculture minister Jaala Pulford to put an end to recreational duck hunting. How does it even fit under the heading of "agriculture" when it's a blood sport?
Members of Field and Game Australia recognise the desperate need to take a pro-active approach "to ensure Australia's wetlands continue to be preserved and maintained well in to the future.” In a great piece of irony and satire, they will do this with firearms?
RSPCA Victoria says one out of every four waterbirds shot "dies a slow and agonising death".
People with guns, killing and maiming our native birds at a time of lower numbers, for entertainment, reeks of corruption and political whimpering to the shooting and hunting lobby! If the FGA want to protect our species and habitats, they should be protecting our native birds, not shooting at them! The best way to cooperate with Nature is through its protection, direct action, and with cameras, not with fire-arms.

Victoria's annual duck hunt poses to the state's small population of brolgas.
As Victoria's duck hunting season gets underway, Sean Dooley from BirdLife Australia said about 10 per cent of the state's brolgas were gathering ahead of their breeding season at Bullrush Swamp near Hamilton, in the state's west. These birds are quite grey and they're actually quite difficult to see in the early morning dawn light.
The Game Management Authority's chief executive, Greg Hyams, said Krause Swamp near Hamilton will be closed to protect the brolga, which is a threatened bird species in Victoria.
There are thought to be only 600 of the officially threatened wading birds remaining in the state. Laurie Levy, from the Coalition Against Duck Shooting, said the decision to allow a duck shooting season this year is "highly irresponsible".
Agriculture and Regional Development Minister Jaala Pulford said decisions about the duck hunting season were based on independent advice, bird counts and environmental factors. Just how "independent" would this advice be? The only groups to benefit from duck shooting are the shooters- an increasingly strong lobby group.
“Most wetlands in Western Victoria are bone dry and there are few sites for Brolga to gather in the lead up to their breeding season” explained BirdLife’s Conservation Manager, Dr Jenny Lau. Bird numbers are down, so just how can this season be justified? It's pure politics!!!!

http://www.audit.vic.gov.au/reports_and_publications/latest_reports/2014-15/20140917-caufield-racecourse.aspx

The VAGO audit of the Caulfield Racecourse Reserve is damning of both the trustees of the CRR and the (then) Department of the Environment and Primary Industry, the department supposedly responsible for overseeing these old trusts.

In the second half of the 19th century the then Victorian government (whatever that looked like) set up many "restricted crown grants" trusts where locals maintained public assets on behalf of the Crown. The CRR is just one of these are there 42 of them remaining across the state of Victoria.
Many of these trusts have shifted from a trust arrangement to a committee of management arrangement based on the efforts of Dept staff to make these trusts more transparent and accountable.
The old trusts are not obligated to submit any records at all to anyone as back in the day the concepts of transparency and accountability were not connected to the management of public land. They can do whatever they like as the Dept has no mechanisms for controlling these trusts.
The 42 remaining old trusts have resisted becoming C's of M for obvious reasons ? self interest not the interest of the public assets they manage. After all, moving to a C of M structure does not alter the core function of any particular trust.

The VAGO audit of the CRR has prompted a "review" of the 42 remaining trusts. There is clear historical evidence that the Dept has shied away from "reform" of these trusts.
The terms of reference for the review is still being negotiated, I have been informed.

If you have any interest in the proper management of public land it would be useful to contact your state member urging that this review actually be reform and that a legislative process be implemented to drag these old trusts into the 21st century.

Matthew, thrilled to see your letter 'self interest rules now' in Frankston Leader this week. My group, Mornington Peninsula Human Rights Group, is in the middle of a campaign in support of Mornington Council's attempt to have some affordable social housing included in the SE Water redevelopment of their property in Kunyung Rd, Mt Eliza. Would love to talk about this - it comes up for review at Morn Council meeting Mon night 23 March. Maybe you can ring me and we can meet? I live in Frankston, would love to have you on board, and send you copy of our submission to council.

Kevin Bain Sec. MPHRG mob 0413 427851

Business Council of Australia (BCA) Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott stated that “a well functioning 457 visa programme is essential for bringing temporary skilled migrants to Australia to fill genuine skill shortages. It is critical that the programme has bipartisan and community-wide support..."

BCA: Government's response to 457 visa review

“The changed English language testing requirements allow greater flexibility while maintaining adequate standards and should be supported. The integrity of the system will also be improved through better enforcement of the requirement to pay market salary rates.

This is a bizarre statement, considering our high rates of unemployment, and peak rates of youth unemployment! We hardly have any "genuine skill shortages" in Australia, but an oversupply of labour! How can the community support foreign workers being employed instead of domestic job seekers?

The Australian Council of Trade Union (ACTU) secretary Dave Oliver is "deeply concerned" about the use of visas like 457s.

"At a time when we've got unemployment in this country sitting (at) 6 per cent, youth unemployment at 14 per cent and we've got a Government that is trying to loosen requirements for bringing temporary workers from overseas," Mr Oliver said.

TAFE enrolments have plummeted in Victoria, with government-subsidised places falling by 33 per cent over the past year. The former Napthine government cut TAFE and training funding by $1.2 billion which meant less teachers, less courses and less services for disadvantaged students. Ironically, the growth frenzy failed to produce enough revenues to train young people, produced by housing an property growth. Why bother training our own youth while it's increasingly easier, and cheaper, to import labour from overseas? No wonder our welfare budget is blowing out, and Newstart is under threat!

State governments in Victoria, NSW and Queensland have made savage cuts to their TAFE institutes, but contradictorily we have "skill shortages"?

Any genuine skills shortages are politically manufactured, due to lack of support for training and education, and an economic growth model despite a diminishing pool of jobs.

"We believe labour market testing when it comes to 457s is costly, and it's ineffective and it doesn't achieve much," Chief executive of the Australian Industry Group Mr Willox said. We must wonder the priority of our Government, if they bow to these industry groups, and their "reports" that are a slap in the face to our unemployed and over-skilled!

Just how "independent" was the review that recommended the abolishing of labour market testing before employing 457 visa holders?

It seems that business collectives are able to derive their own "facts", devalue our own human resources, and influence immigration policies for their own vested interests.

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