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Lateline interviews Dr Bouthaina Shaaban, Syrian President Bashar al Assad's top adviser, 11 Feb 2016

Dr Shaaban says UN Report claiming to uncover torture and murder by the Syrian government has no more credibility than the 'weapons of mass destruction' that the US used as an excuse to invade Iraq and which were later shown not to exist. "Everybody who is carrying arms against civilian and against the Government is a terrorist. The Russians are here according in response to the requests of the Syrian Government. The Russians are coordinating with us every single step and they are only fighting terrorists"; "The Security Council Resolution 2254 asked for one broad delegation from the opposition to represent the opposition in Geneva. Let us wait to see when that delegation is going to be made. The reality, Tony, again, is that these oppositions are paid by Turkey, by Saudi Arabia, by Qatar.

Frankston bandicoot expert, Hans Brunner on ABC Sunday 22nd of Feb 7 pm NEWS.

See new ABC report about this here. The ABC has interviewed Hans Brunner about the problems of bandicoots in Victoria. The interview will be screened on Sunday 22 February 2016 on the 7pm news, we believe. (The schedule changed from this Sunday.) Hans Brunner is well-known to professional ecologists and wildlife enthusiasts in Frankston and the Mornington Peninsula, where he has continually championed the rights of bandicoots to safe habitat in the face of ever-increasing obstacles and stone-walling by government. Hans continues to be involved in the defense of preserving a full natural ecology in Frankston.

Video: Former UK-Syria ambassador's disgust at Britain's role in fueling war and refugees

Going Underground's Afshin Rattansi interviews the former British Ambassador to Syria on the irony of London hosting a Syria conference to aid refugees while Cameron drops bombs to create more. "This week London hosted the Syrian Donor conference in an attempt to raise money for the people UK bombs continue to displace to the shores of Europe. But as Philip Hammond mulls sending guns to Libya to quell the rise of Isis - made possible by the British toppling of Gadaffi - should we really even believe his claims that Russia is helping ISIS/Daesh by bombing Cameron's supposedly 'moderate' rebels." (Afshin Rattansi) First published at https://www.rt.com/shows/going-underground/331567-assange-detainment-syria-conference/

UN text: The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Deems the deprivation of liberty of Mr. Julian Assange as arbitrary

On 4 December 2015, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) adopted Opinion No. 54/2015, in which it considered that Mr. Julian Assange was arbitrarily detained by the Governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. In that opinion, the Working Group recognized that Mr. Assange is entitled to his freedom of movement and to compensation. The application was filed with the Working Group in September 2014. The Opinion 54/2015 was sent to the Governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on 22 January 2016 in accordance with the Working Group’s Methods of Work.

UN rules: "Julian Assange arbitrarily detained by Sweden and the UK, UN expert panel finds"

Inside is the text of the public statement issued by the UN expert panel on Arbitrary Detention, which you will not find in most mainstream publications, which are seeking to obfuscate the UN opinion and its importance, with their own opinions. Julian Assange is a Victorian-born Australian citizen and asylum-seeker, recognised as a refugee by the UN. The Ecuadorian Embassy in London granted him refugee status, but the UK government stopped him from going to Ecuador by taking his passport and surrounding the embassy with police, day and night. What did Assange do? Assange famously published, on his Wikileaks, authentic film of US soldiers hunting down civilians with helicopters and machine guns as if they were in a video game.

Environment East Gippsland's 7th successful legal action for forests!

Environment East Gippsland shouldn’t be forced down this costly road but they are … and it works! If anyone would like to share in this winning strategy you can send us a few bob so they can keep it going. Donations are tax-deductible (but we understand if people have thin piggy banks after Xmas). EEG has quite a few large bills to pay now. But their work isn’t over yet! Please drink a toast to all the players tonight – the EEG lawyers, the risk taking EEG team, and the GECO and FFRC surveyors – what a force! You can donate here.

Video and Transcript: Politics and war in Syria: Part One. Susan Dirgham interviews Jeremy Salt

Susan Dirgham is convener of Australians for Reconciliation in Syria (AMRIS) and Jeremy Salt is a scholar of Media propaganda and the Middle East. In Part One, they discuss the history of western interventions in the Middle East and the most recent in Syria. Then, on western mass media, Susan raises the question of why we don't hear about how Syria is a secular country, with women's rights and where women were granted the vote in 1949. Below is a mixture of description, summary and transcript. If you want to cite exactly, then you would need to listen to the video.
PART ONE:

Eastern Europe's home ownership leads the world; France is catching up; Australia far behind

A growing number of French people own their own homes. Ownership runs at 64% today, and is expected to grow to 68% in the next six years. France is well behind other European countries though in home ownership. The champions are in Eastern Europe. 96% of people own their own homes in Romania. 70% own their own homes in Italy. Seven out of ten French home owners have entirely paid off their home loan. For people purchasing today, the average time to pay off a home is 17 years. This is a situation to dream of for Australian home-buyers, who are only second to Hong Kong's in suffering under a terrible system. The French system discourages land-speculation in a number of ways which therefore deter the flourishing of a malignant property and growth lobby there. This article is based on a France2 news item "L'achat immobilier, une valeur sure plébiscitée par les Français," 29 January 2016.

EU plan to deal with Migrant Crisis in shambles: French report

Four months ago, France committed to taking 30,700 refugees over two years, but after four months only 62 refugees have been sent from the processing centres. The European Union planned on 11 reception centers in the 'hotspots' of Italy and Greece, but there are only 4 functioning ones. Seven countries voted against the redistribution of immigrants by the EU and one is taking the EU to court for breaching the rights of national parliaments and the European parliament itself. Greece says it was depending on other EU countries sending reinforcements to its coastguard, but so far, the number of reinforcements has been minute, with France far in the lead. This article is a translation of a news item from France 2 and the illustrations are taken from that item. (Translation by Sheila Newman)

Sex life of sleeping sickness parasite could lead to its own extinction

January 26 2016: A parasite which kills thousands of people each year in sub-Saharan Africa arose comparatively recently, and its unusual sex life may lead to its own extinction, scientists have found. Researchers from the University of Glasgow’s Wellcome Trust Centre for Molecular Parasitology in the Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine have discovered that Trypanosoma brucei gambiense (T.b. gambiense), the main parasite that causes African Sleeping Sickness, has existed for thousands of years without reproducing sexually.

Good News! Reconciliation, peace and return home of Syrian refugees in two Syrian locations due to Syrian Government efforts

Videos inside: These films are dated 21 January 2016. They show successful attempts by the Syrian government to make Syria safe again. The government has been able to reconcile with 'rebel groups' that recognise that war is tearing their country apart. Refugee activists please take note. Nearly the biggest problem that Syrians continue to face is the refusal by US-NATO and its allies, such as Australia, to recognise that we must all work with the Syrian Government to make Syria safe. Because of these evil US-NATO policies, it is most unlikely that these positive developments will be promoted in the Australian media, if they are transmitted at all. So, please send these films round to everyone you know, to help end this war and place pressure on western governments to stop intervening.

Fed Square: Mark Allen and Mark O'Connor do Population at Sustainable Living Festival 2016

Sunday 14 Feb 2016 at 12-12.30pm: Mark Allen of Population Permaculture and Planning asks: Is it possible to accommodate a growing population without unacceptably high density living and urban sprawl? If so, what rate of population growth should we be looking at and what types of community should we be creating? This workshop discusses the merits of village style living in combination with permaculture principles and asks the question, where do we go from here?

Sunday 14 Feb 2016 at 12.30-1pm: Mark O’Connor, co-author of Overloading Australia, will look at why environmentalism is almost meaningless when there is no plan to limit growth of population, why this issue is often ignored, and what a better form of environmentalism could and should do. What are humane and practical ways to limit Australia’s and the world’s population? (Sustainable Population Australia - Victorian Branch (SPA Victoria) organised this event.)

Bernard Salt reverses take on Australia's population as aging

A business blog, calling itself, The Advisor, is advertising its 'Better Business Summit' with an article quoting the well-known population growth spruiker, Bernard Salt, who they describe as 'One of the nation’s leading demographers'. This would hardly be news for candobetter.net, except that Mr Salt, who does a line in growth 'demography', has suddenly changed his well-known tune. Previously a household word in pushing the aging population bogey, Salt has suddenly begun describing Australia as 'young and vibrant'.

Diversity does not justify war, chaos and social disenfranchisement in Europe or the Middle East

The term 'diversity' is being used as a euphemism for chaos and social disenfranchisement in mass people movements which are politically packaged as both positive and inevitable, much as slavery was in the 18th and 19th century. UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson has said that 'the refugee crisis in Europe has created fear and hatred among local residents, which should be combated by bringing to light the positive contributions of migrants to creating a diverse society'.[1]

See also: The phoney « refugee crisis » (7/9/15) by Thierry Meyssan | VoltaireNet and other articles about the European refugee crisis.

Martin Smith's documentary, "Inside Syria", on SBS

On 10 January 2016 SBS (Australian multicultural television) screened Martin Smith's Inside Assad’s Syria. Australia is blatantly aligned with US-NATO forces that seek to remove the Syrian Government and Australian media propaganda means that we don't usually hear from the other side. Surprisingly Smith interviewed many supporters of the Assad Government and the Syrian Arab Army. But it was as if, to get this other view onto SBS the [almost theatrically grim-faced, suspicious and disapproving] journalist had to use some standard anti-Assad techniques:

Does Bashar al-Assad really have to go? Cartoonist Bruce Petty talks to Dr Jeremy Salt.

Video & transcript: Bruce Petty interviews Dr Jeremy Salt, Middle Eastern scholar. Bruce Petty is a highly regarded political satirist and cartoonist as well as an award-winning film maker.

"There always has to be a 'madman' in the Middle East," explains Jeremy Salt, when asked why we constantly hear that 'Bashar al-Assad has to go'? Of course Bashar al-Assad is not really mad. Jeremy explains how the west, in its long exploitation of the Middle East, has invented crises that it then pretends to help with, and these tend to feature a 'madman' whom the people have to be saved from. In reaction Middle Eastern governments tend to be defensive and authoritarian, in order to survive constant foreign interference. Even if Bashar went, the Syrian state would remain the same. Salt gives a fluent history of how the west has used the Middle East, and how western politicians expected to knock Syria over easily, but underestimated it. All they have done is weaken it and assorted armed and dangerous groups including ISIS have risen up through the cracks they have created. But many Syrians really like Bashar al-Assad and think he is their best chance for reform. (See the third part in this series, "Has the Syrian president killed more than ISIS and other questions," to hear about how al-Assad is actually legally elected and had brought in reforms prior to the current crisis.) Petty asks about beheading and the role of religion and Islam in today's crisis. Salt agrees that Islam has been taken over by conservatives and extremists, but precises that this is a political ideological take-over that has little to do with Islamic religious base.

Book Review of 'Soumission' by Michel Houellebecq - A satire about an Islamic government in France

Developments in the current French elections, with Left and Right exchanging preferences in order to defeat the National Front have become a case of life imitating art, specifically Houellebecq’s art in his latest novel, Soumission, which has just been translated into English.

Who really won the North Sydney by-election? Article by Andrew McNamara

Andrew McNamara is former Minister for Sustainability, Climate Change and Innovation in Queensland. He argues here that the Sustainable Population Party (soon to become the Sustainable Party) was the real winner of the North Sydney by-election; that all other participants showed diminishing or one-off results.

AWPC Wildlife Planning Officer says, "Don't cull roos; Plan wildlife corridors!"

“Avoid culling roos for development by planning wildlife corridors,” says Craig Thomson, AWPC’s new Wildlife Planning Officer. In the face of state planning avoidance of obligation towards wildlife, Mr Thomson and AWPC want to crowdfund the purchase of private land to preserve wildlife corridors from being fenced off by farmers or built over by suburbia. The situation is increasingly dire for kangaroos and koalas particularly. Please consider helping this initiative. Contact details at end of article.

Cartoonist Bruce Petty and Dr Jeremy Salt: Where news comes from: reporting on the Middle East

Video and transcript inside. Second in series. First one, on Bashar al-Assad, is here. The third one is here. Australian cartoonist, Bruce Petty, & Dr Jeremy Salt, Middle East scholar and former journalist discuss news reporting on the Middle-East: Do we live with false assumptions? Bruce Petty and Dr Salt knew each other when they both worked for Australian newspapers and Bruce asks Jeremy for his recollections about mistakes in reporting on the Middle East. Jeremy Salt is the author of The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands, (University of California Press, 2008). Until recently, Dr Salt was based in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey, where he ran courses in the history of the modern Middle East, in politics and in politics, propaganda and the media.

Cartoonist Bruce Petty asks Dr Jeremy Salt: Has Bashar al-Assad killed more people than ISIS? and similar questions

Bruce Petty is a highly regarded political satirist and cartoonist as well as an award-winning film maker. He went to Syria in 2009 (before the war) on a project to interview Syrian intellectuals and university students about their political views. Dr Jeremy Salt is a former journalist, turned academic and is the author of The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands, (University of California Press, 2008). Until recently, Dr Salt was based in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey, where he ran courses in the history of the modern Middle East, in politics and in politics, propaganda and the media. The story behind this series: On 16 November 2015 a small group of concerned Australian citizens got together to talk about the problems of getting real information out to Australians and other US-NATO allies about war in Syria, in spite of mainstream press efforts to confuse the public. Bruce Petty and Jeremy Salt were part of that group. Inside is the transcript of the embedded video. (There are two other videos in this series: "Cartoonist Bruce Petty and Dr Jeremy Salt: Where news comes from: reporting on the Middle East." and "Does Bashar al-Assad really have to go? Cartoonist Bruce Petty talks to Dr Jeremy Salt")

Poll shows most hate population growth: Lessons from Queensland in polling reliability and interpretation

This Queensland Survey demonstrates how superficial questioning about population growth as an abstract good or ill gives a completely different response from deeper, prompted questioning on the matter of experienced impact of population growth. Deeper questioning elicits a profound rejection of population growth and the colourful graphs reflect the real trends. We publish this analysis because of the counterintuitive results of two much publicised recent Victorian polls, by Roy Morgan and by the Australian Institute of Progress. Those poll results and methods are analysed in another article, "Evaluating Surveys that find Australians want higher immigration and a bigger population.". The author would like to thank M.R. for drawing her attention to the subject of this article and for some valuable discussions.

Evaluating Surveys that find Australians want higher immigration and a bigger population

What gives with surveys that tell us that most of us want more immigrants and a bigger population when, all around us, we suffer the effects of faster and faster population growth in groaning infrastructure, costly housing, road congestion, and rising costs for power and water? If we examine such studies, we will find that they pose their questions in the abstract and do not prompt people to make concrete associations about the effects of immigration and population growth. This is a bit like asking people how they feel about war compared to asking how they feel about war in their suburb. These polls also focus on ethnicity of immigrants rather than environment and planning impacts of mass migration. This article looks at recent polls by the Australian Institute of Progress, Roy Morgan Research, the Australian Election Study and Queensland Growth Management Summit 2010, Social Research on Population Growth and Liveability in South East Queensland". The Queensland survey is the most detailed and valid and has been discussed in its own article, "Poll shows most hate population growth: Lessons from Queensland in polling reliability and interpretation."

Book Review: Kenneth Eade's Thriller faction series highlights GMO industrial politics in US and Ukraine conflict

Review of Kenneth Eade's The Involuntary Spy: Who among us realised that Monsanto has huge plans for Ukraine? We learn that Ukraine's current president, Poreschenko, has been in cahoots with the US for years, and that Monsanto has been buying up land and lobbying to change Ukraine's anti-GMO laws, inserting a key clause in an EU Association agreement.

If you wonder what on earth the US is messing around in Ukraine for, this thriller series may actually have some of the inside story.

Kenneth Eade is an international and internet lawyer whose expertise includes the scientific history and laws associated with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). He writes terrific novels around these themes.

'Up yours' posting shows logger contempt for environment, process and trees

A logger recently posted this nasty message to forest activists on a day when they were meeting to negotiate the protection of giant trees.

Congresswoman Calls US Effort To Oust Assad "Illegal," Accuses CIA Of Backing Terrorists - Article by Tyler Durden

One point we’ve been particularly keen on driving home since the beginning of Russian airstrikes in Syria is that The Kremlin’s move to step in on behalf of Bashar al-Assad along with Vladimir Putin’s open “invitation” to Washington with regard to joining forces in the fight against terrorism effectively let the cat out of the proverbial bag. That is, it simply wasn’t possible for the US to explain why the Pentagon refused to partner with the Russians without admitting that i) the government views Assad, Russia, and Iran as a greater threat than ISIS, and ii) Washington and its regional allies don’t necessarily want to see Sunni extremism wiped out in Syria and Iraq. Article by Tyler Durden dated 31 October 2015 republished from Zero Hedge http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-10-31/congresswoman-calls-us-effort-oust-assad-illegal-accuses-cia-backing-terroists

North Sydney By-election 2015 - a chance to change your fate

The Sustainables are pleased to endorse a truly local candidate for the 2015 North Sydney by-election - our party president William Bourke. William has a background in small business, finance and marketing, as well as a passion for nature and sustainable living.
His platform in this election includes:
Saving Royal North Shore Hospital from public land sell-offs
Education and childcare places for all
Stopping our rampant overdevelopment
Housing affordability for renters and first home buyers
Reducing the rapid population growth that's part of our growing local problems

Video: Mark Allen workshop on Population, Planning and Permaculture

This population workshop took place in Melbourne's strongly multicultural northern suburbs, at a Community house open day in Thornbury. It deals with Australia's population and planning problems from the point of view of socially and ecologically sustainable future. What is causing Australia's very high population growth? How to preserve Australia's established multicultural communities? How to limit growth. Democracy and planning. Relocalisation and planning. Interactive with audience. Mark Allen studied town planning at the University of South Australia and has worked as a planner in three states. His frustration at the planning system's inability to deliver sustainable outcomes led him to leave the profession in order to concentrate on spreading awareness about the important role that town planning can play in mitigating climate change, biodiversity loss and social isolation. Mark's approach to sustainable planning is heavily influenced by two of his mentors, permaculture co-founder David Holmgren and labor MP Kelvin Thompson who advocates for a slower more manageable rate of population increase.

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