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Miscellaneous comments from 19 July 2012

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Christians threatened by Free Syrian Army seek Government Protection of 17 July 2012 by Stoyan Zaimov
Republished from Global Research

by Stoyan Zaimov

See also "Cruise Missile Socialists": When Justifying Imperialist Intervention goes Wrong of 17 July by Mazda Majidi also on Global Research, Young Syrian patriot fights corporate media lies against her homeland of 10 May, Nun from Damascus has no trust in so-called 'revolutionaries' of 21 July 2012 on candobetter.

As the conflict in Syria continues without a resolution, and government and rebel forces are locked in fierce battles across several cities, Christians in the besieged city of Homs were evacuated with the help of a priest on Wednesday.

For months, Christians have been trapped in the crossfire with scarce access to basic necessities such as food, water and medical help, but yesterday Maximos al-Jamal, a Greek Orthodox priest, revealed that he was part of evacuation efforts that saved 63 people.

"Gunmen have told the besieged people that if you go out of these areas, we will die," al-Jamal shared with The Associated Press.

Christians in the warring Middle East nation make up around 10 per cent of the largely Muslim population, but with little government support and the difficulty foreign aid workers have had gaining access to besieged areas, they have had to rely only on themselves and their church.

"I stayed inside Hamidiyeh to protect the churches from looting. I saved 14 icons from the St George church which has been destroyed," shared one Homs resident, Jihad Akhras, who was among the rescued. After negotiations, a deal was made between rebels and troops that allowed 24 civilians to escape on Tuesday, followed by a further 39 on Wednesday.

Homs, the third largest city in Syria, has been hit particularly hard by government bombings and crossfire between Islamic rebels and government forces. The AP reported that Christians have been leaning more toward President Bashar Assad's regime despite the current dire situation, if only due to fears of further persecution they might face if more radical Islamic extremists take control of Syria.

Back in February, a Christian priest in Homs shared of how dire the situation was getting in the city.

"The armed Islamist Opposition in Syria has murdered more than 200 Christians in the city of Homs, including entire families with young children. These Islamic gangs kidnapped Christians and demanded high ransoms. In two cases, after the ransoms were paid, the men's bodies were found," Barnabas Aid, a charity organisation helping persecuted Christians around the world quoted him as saying.

"Christians are being forced to flee the city to the safety of government controlled areas. Muslim rebel fighters and their families are taking over their homes. We need your prayers and we need them urgently," he added.

Global Research Articles by Stoyan Zaimov

On July 17, Kelvin Thomson wrote:

The idea of selling and tolling existing roads is one of the stupidest ideas I have ever heard, and could only come from people completely out of touch with the lives of ordinary Australians and Victorians.

Ordinary Victorians are feeling serious cost of living pressures. How does being required to pay each time we drive on roads we can presently travel on for free make us better off? It makes us worse off. Selling off existing roads to private companies and putting tolls on them will make those private companies wealthy, but it will be at the expense of ordinary motorists.

The reason Melbourne and other capital cities have traffic congestion is because our population growth is too fast, and we should tackle that by cutting migration back to the levels we used to have in the 1980s and 1990s.

Improved public transport is a superior answer to traffic congestion than building more freeways, but seriously, what is the point of building a freeway and then discouraging people from using it by sticking a toll on it?

It is a stupid idea and governments at both State and Federal level should reject it.
Posted by Kelvin Thomson MP on his blogspot http://kelvinthomson.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/selling-and-tolling-existing-roads-just.html on 17 July 2012.

Please save the Kimberley - petition

Tell WA Premier Barnett that you don't want unwanted industrial development on the Dampier Peninsula wilderness

More oil wells approved for 'heritage listed' Ningaloo! FRACKING has begun in the pristine Kimberley.
Massive industrialisation by BP,Shell, Chevron, BHP Billiton, Woodside, Conoco Phillips and many others - coal, gas, oil, copper, bauxite, alumina and uranium - the Kimberley will be destroyed.
All being done now behind closed doors. Politicians not listening.
Destructive oil, gas and mining companies lining up to destroy one of the rarest environments on Earth today and every living marine and land creature will fight to survive.
The peninsula supports a vast abundance of wildlife and vegetation, some of which is totally unique to the region and much of which is also threatened. The coastal waters and beaches are home to Dugong, a variety of marine turtle species - many of which are threatened - and perhaps the world's most significant calving waters for Humpback Whales.
The people of the Kimberley need us now.
The whole Kimberley coast should become a national park. Economic growth is a powerful and destructive force set to wreak havoc on the whale nursery and a pristine coast.
Make sure these oil and gas companies don't destroy the Kimberley coast - and don't support Government threats to confiscate land that is under Native Title claim.

The truth is there are viable alternatives to a Kimberley coast industrial site. The companies can use floating LNG technology or pipe the gas to existing infrastructure to the south (in the Pilbara). They just need some persuading.

"Bring Out Your Dead" fur protest, Lygon St Carlton 11 am Saturday July 28

Come out dressed for a funeral and help us tell the truth about fur.
Meeting 10.30 for 11 am start outside Husk (324 Lygon St Carlton –google map link below*).

Husk is one of the outlets in a nation-wide franchise where fur garments are sold all year round without country of origin labels (possibly because they do not want to admit selling products made of Chinese rabbit fur); their fur stock is designed by Australian designers Bedelia, who disingenuously reassure the public on their website that they only use “humanely” sourced fur fabric in their designs. We have asked them to explain to us how the capture and deaths of raccoon, mink and arctic fox, among other animals whose fur is used, is humane but they failed to reply-nothing to say no doubt!

Feel free to make comment on Bedelia’s facebook page-www.facebook.com/pages/Bedelia-Australia/159746577443366
*Directions for Husk Lygon St here-
Rheya Linden, Campaign Director
Animal Active!

Can anyone tell us what all this digging is for? What are these disruptive earthworks for?

Because of the generous public support and donations for MyEnvironment a bank cheque for $30,000 was hand-delivered yesterday to the Senior Master at the Supreme Court, ensuring that the appeal in My Environment -v- VicForests will go ahead.

Listen to John Wiliamson's wonderful anthem, Rip Rip Woodchip, accompanied by images of their ongoing campaign to protect Leadbeater's Possum and the forests around Toolangi.

A camp of anti-logging protesters in a state forest near Healesville say they were terrorised by "thugs" who attacked them in the early hours of this morning.

MyEnvironment spokeswoman Sarah Rees said up to 10 men ambushed the two-men camp at Toolangi State Forest, at Mt St Leonard, at 2.30am.

The attackers shone car headlights into the faces of the protesters, John Flynn and Andy Lincoln, and menaced them with star pickets and a large car jack.

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/starpicket-attack-on-antilogging-campers-20120721-22gma.html

A Facebook page, set up by supporters of the timber industry, was "stimulating violence".

There's always money to be made from environmental destruction, and so-called "sustainable" industries. In many countries conservationists are assassinated and murdered for stopping profits and "progress".

The latest case in the Philippines was of 60 year-old conservationist and community leader Frederick ‘Fred’ Trangia of Barangay Mainit, Nabunturan, Compostela Valley Province, who was shot down last May 6 by two unidentified gunmen.

Prominent environmental activist Chut Wutty has been killed in Koh Kong province in south-west Cambodia, working to prevent the destruction of the forests he fought for 15 years to conserve.

Joao Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espirito Santo were ambushed in Para state, near the city of Maraba. The environmentalist had repeatedly warned of death threats against him by loggers and cattle ranchers. They were killed in the Amazon region. The killers even cut off the ears of the da Silvas, a common practice of assassins in Brazil to prove to their employers that they had committed the deed.

In many parts of the world, standing up for one's forest, land, or environment has become incredibly dangerous. A new briefing by Global Witness finds that 711 activists, journalists, and community members were murdered defending or investigating land and forest rights issues between 2002 and 2011.

Are these deaths a consequence of a new global rush for the last remaining timber and mining resources, and a new ruthlessness on the part of oil, timber and mining companies? Probably, and if the behavior of humans was being exhibited by another expanding species, not nearly as destructive as humans, they would be declared a dangerous vermin pest that should be "managed" and eradicated!

Please Save The Kimberley and Humpback Whales

The Kimberley is one of the rarest environments on Earth and one of the last true wildernesses. Rich in history, culture and tradition, vibrant community and aesthetically beautiful. This precious and unique natural wonderland should be 'forever wild'. To learn more about the Kimberely and see a snap shot of this beautiful area please watch this ABC Catalyst video of 18 August 2011, West Coast Whales.

This petition was set up on or before 10 June. I don't recall how I became aware of it, but I should have posted this note before now. My apologies. - Ed

A Nun from Damascus: "We have no trust in these so-called 'revolutionaries'

See also: Christians threatened by Free Syrian Army of 17 July 2012

from Global Research, July 21, 2012
Agenzia Fides

(Agenzia Fides) - Refugees continue to knock on the door of the Shrine of Tabbaleh, dedicated to the Conversion of St. Paul in Damascus. The Franciscan friars of the Custody of the Holy Land and the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who run the Church, have welcomed eight families permanently and provide maintenance to 45 other families, Christians and Muslims. They are refugees from Damascus, the civilian victims of the clashes between the regular army forces and revolutionary groups that in recent days have put the city to fire.

"We walk in hope and try to comfort all in these tragic hours," says to Fides Fr. Romualdo Fernandez OFM, Rector of the Sanctuary, telling a crowd of people who come every day to pray in the Church, and spontaneous circles of Christians and Muslims are formed to pray together for peace and ask for God and the Virgin Mary’s protection.

Suo Yola, one of the Franciscan women religious who every day help the families of refugees, told Fides: "We are doing our best to help the displaced families. People cry and hope for better times. The cost of living is very high, there are no medicines, the impact of the embargo that we suffer is all on the civilian population and on the poorest. We hope and pray that this suffering will end soon. We have no trust in these so-called 'revolutionaries'. Who are the revolutionaries who harm the people? They have corrupted all, Christians and Muslims, many families who have lost everything. "

"In these armed actions and in this suffering - the nun continues - religion has nothing to do with it. With Muslims we have always lived side by side and we will continue to do so. The Syrian government has hitherto been secular, has guaranteed security and stability to Syria . Today we have only chaos, insecurity, and suffering. And what will happen tomorrow? But we know, as Christians, that God protects us and our hope is alive. And as Christians, we know for certain: we will never abandon Syria."

The end is in sight for Australia's mining and investment boom, according to Deloitte Access Economics' June 2012 quarter Business Outlook, but HSBC says there is a lot more still to come.

"The government has built a budget that is wholly captive to the mining boom and the taxes to be collected from mining taxes," Joe Hockey told reporters in Sydney on Monday. "Now it's apparent the budget is unravelling because it was built on smoke and mirrors."

All booms inevitably end.

The Labor Government indicated that there would be a further increase in the permanent-entry immigration program from 163,000 in 2010–11, 185,000 in 2011–12 and up to 190,000 in 2012–13. The government is making immigration decisions assuming that the minerals boom will require a huge increase in skilled workers who must be drawn in part from migration.

The official immigration program doesn't count the nearly 14,000 migrants who arrive in the humanitarian program, or a number of smaller categories. It doesn't include the 25,000 or so Kiwis who cross the Tasman each year, or the international students for whom visa requirements have again been loosened or the sub-section 457 temporary work visas which have been recently embraced and promoted by both sides of politics. The 457 program is uncapped and untargeted.

Dr Bob Birrell, says our skilled migration intake was more than enough to service the mining boom. “But the bulk of current migration has little to do with providing scarce skills to the resource industries,” he says. “Rather, it is delivering two major streams. One is a predominantly professional flow to the big cities where the immigrants are being employed in people--servicing industries such as health and welfare. The other, is a mass of people on temporary visas such as students and working holiday makers work on a casual basis".

Our government also assume that the rest of the Australian economy will surge, generating a nation-wide shortage of skilled workers. Most of the migrants in the record-high intake will end up in Sydney and Melbourne. Now, according to Deloitte Access Economics, Australia's budget surplus has evaporated and its mining investment boom has only two years to run.

This year's forecast $1.5 billion budget surplus is no longer there, and Treasurer Wayne Swan will have to decide whether to cut back spending again in order to create a surplus.

Feast of famine, apparently Australia will need more highly skilled workers regardless of economic conditions, and more tertiary education funding is essential to ensure the supply of qualifications, according to Skills Australia Amendment (Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency) Act 2012. They report that demand for high-level qualifications would grow more than twice as quickly as supply whether Australia faced boom or bust. It's a denial of our unemployment rate, and the heavy costs of tertiary education. Universities and TAFES are underfunded, and operating under a business model. It's assumed that the Economy, based on infinite numbers, is the basis of our future, our growth, rather than finite natural resources and environmental capacity to provide for living standards - and the inevitable pollution/waste from a growing economy/population. Immigration is driving rapid population growth and causing cost of living and congestion problems – pressures on food, water, land and energy supplies, housing affordability and species extinctions.

What will happen after the mining boom ends, many Australians ask. The hundreds of millions of people being taken out of rural poverty to the urban lifestyle must eat food that they buy rather than grow. However, swathes of agricultural land is being sold to foreigners grabbing land.

Once the boom is over, it could leave the economy vulnerable to crippling tourism, manufacturing, and education services, said BIS Shrapnel in its Long Term Forecast 2011-26. Australia, unlike many resource-rich countries, does not have a “sovereign wealth fund” to save the wealth of its resources boom. Norway has an enormous fund which has strict rules meaning it can’t be spent in a hurry. Even northern neighbours East Timor and Papua New Guinea have some form of sovereign wealth fund. The minerals boom is sucking skilled labour and investment out of other sectors. The high Australian dollar is killing manufacturing export industries and tourism.

Service industries are surviving, but other industries such as manufacturing, tourism and agriculture are going backwards.

BIS Shrapnel chief economist Frank Gelber says rather than channelling the financial benefits from the mining boom into a prosperity fund, they should be invested in infrastructure. As MP Kelvin Thomson says, numerous studies show that new arrivals come with a big infrastructure requirement – they bring their families with them, and all require houses, roads, schools, hospitals etc., and many require English-language and other forms of assistance.

Australia's two-speed economy could slow to Victoria's snail-pace, and struggle to provide infrastructure and jobs to keep abreast with our politically-determined population growth - based on dubious "skills shortages"!

See also: The end of the mining boom? Access Economics' warning may be premature of Monday, 23 July 2012 by Cara Waters. Comment: In any case, the 'boom', based upon the extraction of humankind's finite bounty of non-renewable fossil fuels and metals could not possibly last for more than one or two hundred years at most, a miniscule period of time in comparison to the 30,000 years for which intelligent human communities have inhabited Earth. If Vivienne's more pessimistic economic prediction is borne out, then, at least, future generations stand some hope of getting a share of the mineral bounty that our greedy corporate elites want to dig up now. If we succeed in taking back the control of this country from the greedy foreign and domestic elites, we may find a way to have a more fulfilling future whilst also preserving some of our bounty for future generations. - Ed

The research firm BIS Shrapnel says that the end of the "boom" is not as bad as predicted, but >dwelling investment is about to take off in most of the country. It means the "boom" or growth period has subsided from its peak.

"Mining investment will soon stop growing," says senior economist Tim Hampton.

"It should remain high but it will stop growing. In its place we see an upswing in residential property investment from later this year.

Read more: Housing investment will 'replace' the mining boom in SMH of 24 July 2012 by Peter Martin

If a housing "boom" is to happen, it will be on the back of "big Australia" and the skills shortages being addressed by imports rather than investments in our main resource - the Australian people. There is a shortage of houses in the resource states that must be caught up with.

The end of the mining boom is not close yet. “We’ve got a long way to go,” Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA chief executive Reg Howard-Smith.

“There are expansions currently under construction and significant new oil and gas projects and mineral projects which haven’t started producing, so the full economic benefits are yet to be felt,” he said.

As Ken Henry says, "Abundant as they are, Australia’s natural resources will not last forever".

Getup - help Devils

Mining Industry out of control

Scientists tell us that the new roads and traffic created by strip mining the ancient Tarkine rainforest will increase the spread of the Devil Facial Tumour Disease - a deadly virus-like cancer that is already driving the Tasmanian devil population towards extinction.

What the devils need is Emergency Heritage Listing for the region they inhabit. This kind of listing would ensure the greatest amount of independent scientific scrutiny possible is given to the proposed mines in the Tarkine.

That's why we all need to take this opportunity to urge our local MPs to call on Tony Burke to take immediate action to protect the last healthy Tasmanian devils:

Getup - help devils

As leading wildlife expert and former chief scientist in the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program Professor Hamish McCallum has said:

"There is sufficient evidence to suggest that it may threaten the survival of populations of Tasmanian devils in the area."

Locals have been campaigning vigorously against Venture Minerals proposals to build three open cut and strip mines in the Tarkine, but now they need your support.

Our elected members right across the country have a responsibility to stand up for the things we care about. In non-election times the only way we can make sure they know what we want them to act on is to let them know directly, by telling them.

Can you send your MP a quick message asking them to lobby Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke to urgently enact the Emergency Heritage Listing for the Tarkine?

Thanks for all you do,
the GetUp team.

PS - Two of the Venture Mines will only operate for just two years! The mining industry is out of control, so let's do what we can to save the Tarkine for the Tassie devil and for future generations of Australians to enjoy. Find out more and contact your MP here: www.getup.org.au/devils

1Mines may endanger one of last healthy devil populations. The Australian. July 23, 2012.

Dear PPL VIC members and friends

Here is a reminder re our snap rally tomorrow rally to call for trains not tolled roads to fix Melbourne's transport woes. Here are details again:

Time: 1020 am for a 10:30 am start.

Date: Friday 27 July 2012

Reason: Continue the protest over the East West Link and to advocate for Doncaster Rail Link. This is for a photo shoot for the Melbourne Leader. It should only take half an hour - we will have a few speakers with messages about further action planned.

Bring: Green Triangles with NO TUNNELS or Trains Not Tolls signs or Public Transport Not Road Tunnels (I will have a supply placards) Wear Red if possible!

Location: Under the Lemon Scented Gums at the roundabout at north end of Swanston Street at the intersection with Cemetery Drive and Keppel St.. Melways Map Reference 2 B F4 .NOTE NEWS JUST RECEIVED FROM THE NATIONAL TRUST THAT THE CITY OF MELBOURNE IS TO PUT UP PROTECTIVE FENCING AROUND THE TREES so we might be on the edge of the roundabout! (This is only because we alerted the National Trust, the City of Melbourne and LMA over the threat to the trees.)

Transport: Contrary to previous advice, carparking is a bit limited in the day time at the north end of Cardigan and Keppel Streets close to the new development Lume but there is some further back in Cardigan Street. Tram up Swanston Street to the University and walk a block north past the colleges. TAKE CARE CROSSING ROAD TO ROUNDABOUT AS THERE ARE NO PEDESTRIAN CROSSINGS.

Support Needed: We hope that opposition to the East West Link exhibited before the election can be sustained. Hope to see you there tomorrow.

Regards Julianne

Julianne Bell Secretary Protectors of Public Lands Victoria Inc. Mobile 0408022408

Japan asked Germany to arrest Paul Watson, the founder of anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd, days before he skipped bail and apparently fled the country.

Japan sought Watson Arrest in Germany

Sea Shepherd group had been aware of Japan's attempts to extradite Mr Watson. They were aware of some sort of connection between the requests made by Japan and Costa Rica.

The US-based group says it encountered an illegal shark-finning operation run by a Costa Rican ship, the Varadero, and told the crew to stop and head to port to be prosecuted.

The crew has accused Sea Shepherd of trying to kill them by ramming their ship. With ambiguous "anti-whaling" messages from our Australian government, and a defacto acceptance of their bogus "scientific" whale slaughter, Japan's pro-whaling groups have become megalomaniacs in their determination to pay-back Paul Watson for "eco-terrorist" activities. Sea Shepherd has the audacity to question their invasion of the whale sanctuary in the Southern Ocean.

Even illegal shark-finners have become so confident in their rights to treat the oceans and species as a resource for their own ends, they can use Japan to take their side!

Any lea-way to criminals gives them more power and confidence against conservationists and ocean activists.

Media Release
Toolangi Grannies Stop Logging On Mount St Leonard
What do you do when you watch magnificent native forest habitat on your beloved mountain being bulldozed, loaded on to convoys of huge log trucks and carted off to the woodchippers to be turned into paper! You get angry and determined – that’s what!

Toolangi grandmothers, fed up with being kept awake at all hours by the sound of chainsaws, dozers and log trucks, have chained themselves to the bulldozers in a logging coupe on the slopes of Mount St Leonard.

They hope their desperate action will convince Premier Baillieu to put a stop to the madness of destroying the much-visited iconic mountain in the Yarra Valley. Still more coupes are to be carved out of the mountain slopes and the resulting coupe burns and wind tunnels will turn a once beautiful landscape into a eyesore and a firetrap.

“This is not the future I wish to leave for my grandchildren”, said local resident Lynn Dean.

It provided an excellent photo and TV opportunity of grannies locked on to bulldozers in an active logging coupe (Leo’s Foot) on Mount St Leonard. Police, DSE and VicForests staff are expected to try to stop the protest.

Local residents, including business owners, tourism operators and CFA volunteers will be there supporting the brave grandmothers and available for comment.

VicForests, a timber and logging agency of our State Government, is failing to see the forests for the $$$ profits they see in the trees! Forests are more than a few mere trees! They have a myriad of purposes, significances and attributes treasured by local and national communities. They are symbols of the richness of Nature, and sacred places of peace, tranquility and reflection/rehabilitation for the soul. They are a home for a rich biodiversity, and have profound intrinsic spiritual and natural value. Our State government doesn't "get it"! These grans deserve our utmost praise and support for their courage against a powerful adversary - our own State logging department!

Richard Heinberg will be visiting Australia and lecturing in most or all Australian state capitals in September. In Melbourne he will be appearing on September 22nd, 2012, at the Wheeler Centre. Richard writes about oil depletion and survival and is the author of ten books, including The Party’s Over, Peak Everything, and the soon-to-be-released The End of Growth.

Jenny Warfe and Vivienne Ortega will be organising the event in Victoria on behalf of Sustainable Population Australia (Victorian Branch).
$5 entry.

Information: www.population.org.au/heinberg2012 Inquiries: Jenny Warfe warfej[AT]bigpond.com

WWF today is releasing exclusive video material from the scene of the shocking event. The release comes on the eve of World Elephant Day on Sunday, August 12, 2012. WWF fears that soon this event might celebrate an extinct species in Central Africa if ivory poaching and illegal wildlife trade is not ended.

Horrific footage showing elephants that have been hacked to death for their ivory tusks reveals the terrifying toll that mass poaching is taking on Central Africa's dwindling elephant population.

Humans are the greatest threat to all elephant populations. As long as there is a demand for ivory, however, poaching will continue. Today, an estimated about 70,000 African elephants are killed annually for the ivory trade. Some of this ivory comes from legal sources, such as culling (legalized killing), but about 80% is derived from poached tusks.

The disturbing video, released by the World Wildlife Fund, shows mutilated elephants after a mass slaughter in Bouba N'Djida National Park in Cameroon, where poaching has hit record levels.

Footage reveals elephant poaching horror

At least 200 elephants were killed at Bouba N’Djida National Park in northeastern Cameroon, the Associated Press reports. That’s at least half of the elephants at the remote wildlife reserve. One soldier reportedly died in the clash as Cameroonian forces attempted to deter the poachers.

The increase in poaching has been triggered by growing demand for ivory in China and Thailand, where the tusks are smuggled largely to make ornaments.

CITES is offering African governments support to hunt down the criminals and to locate and seize the poached ivory. Potential transit and destination countries had been urged to remain extremely vigilant and to cooperate.

CITES said elephants have been slaughtered by groups from Chad and the Sudan in recent weeks, taking advantage of the dry season.

The poached ivory is believed to be traded for money, weapons and munition, fueling conflicts in neighboring countries.

The Cameroon government has agreed a plan to recruit an additional 2,500 game rangers over the next five years. The Central African country also intends to establish a new national park authority, following the prime minister's approval of an emergency action plan for securing all frontier protected areas.

Cameroon increases elephant protection after mass slaughter

In 1930, there were between 5 and 10 million African elephants. By 1979, there were 1.3 million. By 1989, there were about 600,000 remaining, less than one percent of their original number.

Human populations in Africa and Asia have quadrupled since the turn of the century, the fastest growth rate on the planet still growing fast

Forest and savanna habitat has been converted to cropland, pastureland for livestock, and timber for housing and fuel. The planet's diversity is declining due to human greed and rapacious growth in numbers.

Challenges will increase as Asia and Africa further develop at their current pace.

Undercover investigation by Animal Liberation ACT and Animal Liberation NSW

Pig "farming" is carried on under a veil of secrecy. Animals are raised in sheds, hidden from public scrutiny. The Codes of Practice are created by the industry itself, for their own interests rather than any form of pretence of animal welfare.

New: undercover footage taken in August 2012 from two more piggeries in NSW.

This week, activists from Animal Liberation ACT and NSW captured footage inside two additional piggeries in NSW: Allain's Piggery in Blakney Creek (about an hour north of Wally's), and Tennessee Piggery near Young. Unlike Wally's, these are considered 'good' piggeries by the industry.

More footage from Wally's Piggery will be released within the coming weeks, including one and a half days of slaughtering.

Wally's piggery, a short drive from Canberra, was found to be in breach of many state laws; additionally, the farm was in complete filth and disrepair, with many piglets and sows (mother pigs) suffering injuries or death due to beatings by employees, the crumbling structure, and a high prevalence of disease.

The practices used by the employees, such as cutting the tails and teeth of all piglets without the use of anaesthetic, are accepted by the industry and are standard across Australia. The process is often carried out ineffectively, leaving painful and bloody stumps, and tails were found in the stalls. The equipment, including needles for iron injection, are not cleaned or sterilised between uses.

It's a holocaust of misery, atrocities and evil. This is not a "rogue operator". This is Australian pig farming - and it's where your bacon, pork and ham comes from.

Read more on the website and sign the petition.

I attempted to post this comment here and then here and failed on both occasions. Update, 14 Aug 12:15pm +1000: My comment has been published on the first site, but not the second. The article has also been published on Global Research.

Whilst I thank you for a most informative article on the struggle of Quebec students, I take exception to the way that electoral strategies of some student leaders have been dismissed.

What should be obvious is that the vicious attacks on the Quebecois students' standard of living and democratic rights have been made possible precisely because Canada's and Quebec's parliamentary democracy is not functioning properly. The Federal Harper government got to power because of electoral rorts and it seems that the Quebec regional government is in power, at least in part because the voting system allows a government which represents only a minority of Quebecois to win office.

Had Quebec and Canada as a whole had a fair electoral system, then it is unlikely that such nasty governments would have got to power in the first place.

I think that the only way that the Quebecois students can win in the long term is to show fellow Quebecois and Canadians that this government does not represent Quebecois and is therefore illegitimate. It think this would be best done by:

1. demanding fair electoral system; and

2. demand that there be new elections.

Given that elections are to be held on 2 September under the current unfair system., I think the Quecebois students have no choice but to participate and try to maximise the vote for any party which opposes the attacks on the students. If such parties were shown to have obtained a higher combined vote in the elections than the parties which are in favour of the attacks on the students, then the illegitimacy of a government formed by the latter would be self-evident to the population of Quebec. In such circumstances, the justification for students to continue their struggle using extra-parliamentary would seem far more evident than if they had abstained from the elections.

So, I think it would be a mistake for the students not to participate in the election campaign.

More than half the counties in the US have been declared natural disaster areas by the US Department of Agriculture due to the drought, which now covers more than 60 per cent of the lower 48 states. In response, the US Government plans to buy up to $160 million of meat from its farmers to help them through the drought crisis.

Meat raising use up 43% of entire grain harvesting and 85% of entire legume harvesting. Of all the cause of Amazon virgin rain forest deforestation, 70% are cut down in order to raise meat.

If crops wastefully fed to livestock are included, European countries have more than three times more food than they need, while the US has around four times more food than is needed, and up to three-quarters of the nutritional value is lost before it reaches people's mouths.

Many ranchers have been forced to bring their animals to market earlier than usual because they cannot afford the rising price of grain, thus cutting into the market value of their animals.

Entire livestock in the world produce 87,000 pounds of excrements per second, which is 130 times more then the human population.

Raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water and contributes to animal suffering. According to PETA, more than 260 million acres of U.S. forest have been cleared to create cropland to grow grain to feed farmed animals. According to scientists at the Smithsonian Institution, the equivalent of seven football fields of land is bulldozed worldwide every minute to create more room for farmed animals.

PETA - Meat wastes natural resources

More than 70 percent of the grain and cereals that are grown in the USA are fed to farmed animals. Raising animals for food is grossly inefficient, because while animals eat large quantities of grain, soybeans, oats, and corn, they only produce comparatively small amounts of meat.

It takes more than 11 times as much fossil fuel to make one calorie from animal protein as it does to make one calorie from plant protein.

Nearly half of all the water used in the United States goes to raising animals for food.

According to Greenpeace, all the wild animals and trees in more than 2.9 million acres of the Amazon rain forest in Brazil were destroyed in the 2004-2005 crop season in order to grow crops that are used to feed chickens and other animals in factory farms.

The EPA reports that chicken, hog, and cattle excrement has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states.

This industry is based on a cuisine that demands animal products, to conform to traditions of our assumed "hunter and gatherer" past, slavishly assuming that the hunting harvest is and must remain the main source of our nutrition. It's rapacious in it's appetite for natural resources, environmental destruction, pollution and ongoing animal cruelty. Farms are not what they once were, with farmers having a close connection with their land and stock. They are big corporations now, and factory farms are inherently cruel - with massive political power.

Much of the world's water supply is quietly being diverted to raise livestock without any media coverage, while millions of people across the globe are faced with droughts and water shortages. Sadly, as the Western diet spreads to the rest of the world, even desert nations in Africa and the Middle East are pouring what little water remains into meat production.

Vegan Organic and Environment

The following was written in response to the article Privatisation and education (re-repost) by of 9 August by Professor John Quiggin.

One facet of privatised education that has slipped from public attention is that up to around a generation ago, much training was provided on the job by both government and private employers. Also, many employers provided career structures, which enabled those with ability to gain promotion as their skills improved and experience increased over the years. In these days, after which our economy was been made so much more efficient thanks to the neo-liberal 'reforms' which commenced with Keating in 1983, it seems that employers are unwilling or unable to any longer provide the training or career structure they once did. So, instead, most wishing to advance their career have to, instead, study in their own time at their own expense.

So, on top of excessive commuting times, many now have to spend their evenings and week-ends studying or attending classes, instead of with friends and family.

Even initial employment by many employers is now restricted to those able to include, in their resumés, tertiary qualifications and often postgraduate qualifications, whereas, up to a generation ago, anyone who had completed year 12 and who could pass an entrance exam was at least guaranteed a job in the federal public service or one of the state public services.

The above comment has, so far, drawn one response:

Seems nowadays, a degree is required even to ask “Would you like fries with that?”

The following has been adapted from a response to my last post on johnquiggin.com which is also posted above. This post raises a number of important issues which I cannot attend to immediately.

Although I agree that neoliberal reforms started by the Hawke-Keating government are the main cause of the problem, I would like to present a different viewpoint on this situation.

My view is that the job market is facing such a problem is mainly due to the widening income inequality, and the significant loss in job security after the neoliberal reforms, rather than privatisation (although I oppose privatisation as well). The widening in the income inequality gap has made more people to weigh the income from different sectors of the economy more heavily. In the recent history, the income gap between the STEM sector (which usually requires tertiary education) and other sectors such as the manufacturing sector, and the agricultural sector etc. has caused people to obtain tertiary education. This increase in the STEM sector labour supply reduced the need for employers to offer positions to people who need training. While the excess jobseekers created by the market (when government refuses to employ them) will have to take on any job to survive, which includes the job that Freelander described: "Would you like fries with that?".

The significant loss in job security have also caused a tendency for people to choose an industry with higher pay and more job demands (especially since manufacturing sector employment is declining in Australia from 21.2% in 1978 after the oil crisis to 12.6% in 2000). This loss in job security has also forced the labour market to be more competitive, so most of them went on the gain a competitive advantage from education. Over time as the excess labour who holds tertiary education have to find other jobs to survive, a situation was created where clerk level job (which a high school drop out is more than capable of performing if training is provided) are filled with university graduates. This inefficiency of distribution of resource and the time wasted for people to gain low-skill requirement position is not being translated to an issue that requires policy attention somehow.

Mrs Tierney's comments below (Hansard, Council Proofs, Tuesday, 14 August 2012) on our economic and democratic environment and depression are very perceptive. It has always struck me as ironic that Jeff Kennett (former Liberal premier of Victoria) is a patron of an organisation for people with severe depression:

Manufacturing industry: former Premier Ms TIERNEY (Western Victoria) —

Members may be aware of recent comments by past Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett in the Geelong Advertiser advocating the closure of both the Ford factory and the Alcoa plant at Point Henry.[1] Contributions such as this are entirely unwelcome to the manufacturing industry, and to talk it down at a time when it is facing its most difficult challenges beggars belief.

Both companies are impacted upon by the high Australian dollar, with Ford’s impact being twofold, in that the Australian dollar makes its exports more costly and makes foreign imports more competitive. These issues require a policy solution from governments, not self-seeking platitudes from past premiers.

It is clear that Mr Kennett has not changed his views since being defeated by the regional voters of Victoria in 1999. He regarded regional Victorians with contempt then, referring to them as the fingers and toes of the economy, with major government investments going into Melbourne and its suburbs. It is clear from his recent comments that this attitude has not changed.

What is particularly disappointing, given his association with beyondblue, an institution that does excellent work, is that he seems to be oblivious to the conflict between his statements and his association with that organisation.

Job loss leads to depression, family breakdown and sometimes worse. This is well documented, and Mr Kennett must know this. His disregard for the human cost of his statements is a perfect example of why Victorians made the correct judgement on his time in office, but the failure of the current state government to comment on his statements is an alarming sign that some in this government may share his views.

Comment has also been posted to johnquiggin.com . - Ed

Footnotes

[1] See KENNETT: Stop cash for Geelong's Ford, Alcoa by Shane Fowles in the Geelong Advertiser of 9 Aug 2012.

Former PM Kevin Rudd is guilty of the same sort of hypocrisy as Jeff Kennett and his beyondblue campaign. He boosted permanent immigration to record high levels, in his preference for "big Australia". Australia was flooded with people, and sham "educational" colleges and courses sprang up, with foreigners lured by PR for basic skills such as cooking and hair dressing.

Each year about 100,000 Australians die and about 250,000 babies are born, so the population would grow by about 150,000 a year or about 400 a day if there were no migration. While Kevin Rudd approved the calculation that our population could grow to 36 million by 2040, on current trends it could be over 40 million.

The surge for housing means prices hit record heights, and homelessness became a crisis.

Back in 2008, when newly minted prime minister Kevin Rudd announced Labor's goals for halving homelessness and providing all rough sleepers with access to accommodation by 2020, there was no shortage of cynics ready to pour scorn on the idea. In 2009 the then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd committed the Government to halve the number of homeless people by 2020. Since then $5 billion has been spent over four years to improve the national issue.

As we move towards 2020, there is widespread pessimism about our ability to reach our goals.

Kevin Rudd described his four-year $1.1 billion partnership agreement with the states as an effort to tackle the ''national obscenity'' of homelessness. However, his "big Australia" obscenity displaced many people from housing, within our own country. With no provision in the federal budget for a renewed deal, he said the government would need to find savings to fund it and match funding from already cash-strapped States.

Melbourne is obviously suffering from runaway population growth and immigration when there are record levels of housing stock on the market and increasing.....

Among its primary tactics, Ponzi demography exploits the fear of population decline and aging. Without a young and growing population, we are forewarned of becoming a nation facing financial ruin and a loss of national power. When the bubble eventually bursts - as all Ponzi schemes - and the economy sours, the scheme spirals downward with higher unemployment, depressed wages, falling incomes, more people sinking into debt, more homeless families ¬ and more men, women and children on public assistance.

Kevin Rudd decided on a whim that he wanted a "big Australia", and boosted our immigration levels to the highest since the 1960s. Despite his professed Christian faith, he gave little thought to the social, environmental and financial implications. The increased demands for housing, and the subsequent shortfall, means that prices have soared since 2007, along with rents.

This has been a bonus for the real estate, property developers and the mortgage industries, but has left many people struggling to pay excessive mortgages, or locked out of home ownership.

I don't believe Rudd or Howard ever had a specific number they wanted Australia to grow to. Their governments just massively increased immigration because it seemed like the right thing to do at that point in time. They had no thought or care what the long term consequences would be. But they both certainly like the short term consequences. And they both, like most politicians and businesspeople, love growth. A lot.

When the Bureau of Statistics published their estimates for population by the middle of the century Rudd was proud and delighted, and happy to share this with the public. How could such a huge increase be anything other than just wonderful? When opinion polls came through which were largely negative, he was surprised and bewildered. This is telling. In the circles of big politics and big business, the idea that growth might be bad doesn't seem to exist.

My analysis when Rudd came out with "Big Australia" was that he suspected it might be unpopular and that people were not happy about the rate of population growth. He thought he would give it a try with the Australian public and in forthright but somewhat sheepish fashion said that he wanted a "Big Australia" so that people would either have to swallow it or choke on it. I think he knowingly took a risk in saying that his intention was to radically change Australia by vastly increasing its population which he was already, undemocratically doing anyway.

Despite today's unemployment figures showing a 5.2 per cent jobless rate, in some parts of Australia, youth unemployment is nearing 40 per cent. Fifteen to 24-year-olds now make up more than a quarter of all long term unemployed.

TWO out of five youths in Melbourne’s North West who are out of school are unemployed.

Federal Employment Minister and Maribyrnong MP Bill Shorten

said the Government was working with a wide range of community groups to help get unemployed youths into work.

About one-third of 15 to 19 year olds in areas such as the Sunshine Coast, far north Queensland, north western Queensland and West Moreton were jobless.

Read more: Bleak outlook for Queensland youth trying to enter the workforce of 23 July 2012 at http://www.news.com.au/money/cost-of-living/bleak-outlook-for-queensland-youth-trying-to-enter-the-workforce/story-fnagkbpv-1226432430460 .

Australia's Skills and Workforce Development Needs report said one of the major reasons for the high rate of young jobless was that companies now want fully trained and experienced workers and were not prepared to hire young people and train them. It's easier to by-pass them and source experienced skills and willing workers from developing countries.

The Australian Government is working closely with state, territory and local governments, and regional authorities to provide regional migration programs that support regional development and help supply the skill needs of regional employers.

Kelvin Thomson says "I cannot see how running promotional campaigns to attract skilled migrants is consistent with the Prime Minister’s pre-election statements that she does not believe in a ‘Big Australia’ and that ‘we need to stop and take a breath’. " Workers with real skills in developing countries are more valuable where they are, and we should not try to strip these countries of their best and brightest for our own advantage.

Secondly, our high skilled migration program comes at the expense of skilling and training young Australians

Skills Minister Chris Evans, Industry Minister Greg Combet and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese have all come out in support of the plan to import foreign workers for Gina Rinehart's mining project. Last year the government was considering similar applications for more than 30 other such agreements including for US energy major Chevron, for its Gorgon liquefied natural gas project in Western Australia.

The media have no agenda in challenging our skilled migration program in the face of our high youth unemployment. Never do we hear a TV or radio presenter interviewing Minister for Immigration, Chris Bowen, as to why we have such a high - and increasing - skilled migration program at such a time? Or, why is privatization allowing skills to be lost in the first place? Some sectors of temporary employee sponsored skilled migration are unlimited, and after 4 years they are able to apply for PR.

The "immigration" debate stays safely on "boat people" and fails to touch on how many people in Australia are facing hardships of finding accommodation, training, jobs and affordable living standards.

I am very, very suspicious of any industry which claims a "skills shortage". From talking to people and from reading accounts on the internet, even many highly skilled and experienced Australians, even in industries suffering from supposed shortages, can't easily find work. Anecodotal I know, but when some industry publishes a statement that are experiencing a shortage of so many thousand employees there's a good chance they are just pulling those figures out of thin air.

Why grossly exaggerate these skill shortages? A number of reasons. An excuse to offshore work, or bring in very cheap foreign workers. All the various universities and colleges and dodgy diploma mills need a steady stream of new suckers too. But there's one overarching reason I suspect. It's become a trendy way to boost the reputation of your company. If you supposedly have exhausted the local talent pool, the underlying message is that business must be positively booming.

Media organisations are first and foremost businesses with the aim of making a profit. Population growth not only increases the market for the product, it exerts a downward pressure on wages. Both good for profits.

When Sea Shepherd encountered an illegal shark-finning operation in Guatemalan waters, run by the Costa Rican vessel, the Varadero I they instructed the crew of the Varadero I to cease their shark-finning activities and head back to a Guatemalan port to be prosecuted. While escorting the Varadero I back to port, the tables were turned and a Guatemalan gunboat was dispatched to intercept the Sea Shepherd crew. Later they found evidence of thousands of shark fins being dried on top of industrial buildings in Costa Rica.

The warrant and ‘blue’ Interpol notices generated against Captain Paul Watson is just another feeble attempt by Japan to try and keep Sea Shepherd from their mission to protect, conserve and defend the oceans.

Likewise, Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister, Bob Carr, called for Mr Assange to go to Sweden on the grounds his extradition to the United States was "unlikely". The vague sex allegations of "rape" have all the elements of a bait, a smoke-screen cover-up. Carr said that the Swedish Government was "not part of some fully blown CIA conspiracy".

Similar to Captain Paul Watson's "crimes", the actual foundations for the extradition have little to do with the trumped-up charges, and everything to do with a conspiracy. Although neither Sweden or the UK are likely to extradite someone under the possibility of a death penalty, it's plausible that if America could capture him he would be tortured and killed. An extradition from Sweden may be "unlikely" but it can't be risked!

Sea Shepherd's uncompromising passion and activism to protect the oceans from rape and pillage by Japan and other nations is not unlike Assange's efforts to expose an unjust regime, but instigating the terror they themselves claim to be acting against.

Because of the fact that Paul Watson was arrested in an extradition procedure, Germany is not actively searching for him locally or internationally. Ecuador is giving asylum to Assange in the UK Embassy, but there is a stale-mate as to his release. Ecuador should send home all UK diplomats until Assange's safety is assured.


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