Archive for October, 2014


::: click here for John Pilger’s piece in full @ truthout :::

“Across the political and media elite in Australia, a silence has descended on the memory of the great, reforming prime minister Gough Whitlam, who has died. His achievements are recognized, if grudgingly, his mistakes noted in false sorrow. But a critical reason for his extraordinary political demise will, they hope, be buried with him.

Australia briefly became an independent state during the Whitlam years, 1972-75. An American commentator wrote that no country had “reversed its posture in international affairs so totally without going through a domestic revolution.” Whitlam ended his nation’s colonial servility. He abolished royal patronage, moved Australia toward the Non-Aligned Movement, supported “zones of peace” and opposed nuclear weapons testing…”

::: click here for John Pilger’s piece in full @ truthout :::


The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) latest statistics are dated 30 September 2014 . These show:
  • 603 children locked in Australia’s secure immigration detention facilities, 
  • 144 of these children are detained on Christmas Island 
  • An additional 186 children are detained in Nauru
  • 1586 are detained in the community under residence determinations, a system referrred to as Community Detetnion.

2029 children are living in the community on Bridging Visas which mean their parents have no work rights and very limited access to any Government support.

The statistics do not give a breakdown of how many children are unaccompanied vs how many are with adult family members. We continue to ask the Department and Government for this as well as a breakdown of numbers in each mainland detention facility. Instead ‘mainland APODs‘ (alternative places of detention) are grouped together, currently 338 children are held in mainland APODs. The APOD facilities at Leonora (WA) and Port Augusta (SA) and the Darwin Airport Lodge (DAL) are now closed, this means the vast majority of children in these facilities are in two prison like facilities in Darwin, a fairly high number in Melbourne and some in Adelaide at the Inverbrackie facility which is set to close by end of 2014 (and is recognised as the most physically humane environment amidst an inhumane system).
This map shows where Australia’s detention centres are located. Figures in the map are based on those released by DIBP, therefore accurate as of 30 September 2014. Here is an explanation of the different forms of detention and why we state there is nothing ‘alternate’ about a so called ‘alternative place of detention’.
Incidents in detention are logged by the private company, Serco who manage the facilities. This comprehensive website charts ‘incidents’ by date, by facility, by type. A day-to-day insight in to what happens in our detention facilities.


What is it like to be a billionaire in the United States? According to billionaire venture capitalist Tom Perkins, wealth is a burden made “unbearable” by people of lesser incomes when they demand equality. That was the narrative published by the corporate news machine at the Wall Street Journal.

Taking time away from maintaining the world’s largest luxury yacht, Perkins compared progressive movements seeking social and economic justice to the horrific persecution of Jews by Nazi Germany. Sensible people were quick to denounce such ludicrous comparisons with the Holocaust.

But Perkins’s fellow oligarchs continue endorsing the narrative of a “hard-working” class of wealthy people “under siege” by a “lazy” class of poor people. According to billionaires like Sam Zell and Wilbur Ross, they are being targeted by poor people jealous of what they have and incapable of working as hard as they do.

These billionaire oligarchs offer a simple suggestion: stop whining, get educated, and work hard like they do. Never mind how they greatly exaggerate their work ethic, or how little education matters to employers paying wages lower than our grandparents’ wages.

Ignore the institutional advantages allowing the wealthy people to thrive following the 2007 Wall Street created economic collapse. Just follow the billionaires’ example and maybe you can enjoy celebrating extreme wealth and special privilege at everyone else’s expense.

These cries of “persecution” might be considered more thoroughly if they were not so woefully ignorant of reality. Oligarchs like Perkins are quick to label poor people as lazy, jealous “takers” feeding off their hard work, but the reality is oligarchs receive more government subsidies than food stamps and housing assistance combined.

They tell us they deserve such government support for paying the most taxes, yet conveniently ignore the fact that they pay a smaller proportion of income in taxes than the rest of us. Their self-proclaimed status as “job creators” is a common excuse for paying less taxes, but even their fellow capitalists dispute such fantasies. It is hard to take their complaints of “oppression” seriously when Wall Street oligarchs are caught celebrating their wealth and privilege while laughing at the struggles of an economy they helped ruin.

The myth of the downtrodden super-rich is not just the delusion of a few old white men. Wealthy people are often so isolated from the rest of us, many of them have forgotten how rich they really are. So when the general public speaks out against social or economic inequality, plutocrats like Perkins perceive this as unjust “vilification” of a wealthy class deserving of their fortune. Their perception is unequivocally false, but it creates real consequences for everyone else

– See more at

‘The right to privacy in the digital age’

Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights*


::: above is the 16pp report in full – pdf – source: UN :::


V. Conclusions and recommendations: (excerpt)…

47. International human rights law provides a clear and universal framework for the promotion and protection of the right to privacy, including in the context of domestic and extraterritorial surveillance, the interception of digital communications and the collection of personal data. Practices in many States have, however, revealed a (/HRC/27/3716) lack of adequate national legislation and/or enforcement, weak procedural safeguards, and ineffective oversight, all of which have contributed to a lack of accountability for arbitrary or unlawful interference in the right to privacy.
48. In addressing the significant gaps in implementation of the right to privacy, two observations are warranted. The first is that information relating to domestic and  extraterritorial surveillance policies and practices continues to emerge. Inquiries are  ongoing with a view to gather information on electronic surveillance and the collection  and storage of personal data, as well as to assess its impact on human rights. Courts at the national and regional levels are engaged in examining the legality of electronic surveillance policies and measures. Any assessment of surveillance policies and practices against international human rights law must necessarily be tempered against the evolving nature of the issue. A second and related observation concerns the disturbing lack of governmental transparency associated with surveillance policies, laws and practices, which hinders any effort to assess their coherence with international human rights law and to ensure accountability.

*Ben Emmerson QC (United Kingdom) is the Special Rapporteur (UN) on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. On 1 August 2011, he took up his functions on the mandate that was created in 2005 by the former United Nations Commission on Human Rights and renewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council for a three year period in September 2010. As Special Rapporteur he is independent from any Government and serves in his individual capacity.

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21 Oct 2014 | Christine Milne

This is a significant moment for Australia as we remember Gough Whitlam and his momentous contribution to our nation. He was Prime Minister for only three years but he swept all before him. We all mourn his passing and celebrate his great life.

He was a larger than life figure whose leadership profoundly changed the nation for the better, forever.

Mr Whitlam made us a progressive nation and put us on the global map. After decades of conservative government, in came Gough.

His passion for social justice, education and the arts was legendary. He improved Australia’s humanitarian and cultural standing in the world by ratifying the Human Rights Convention and the World Heritage Convention.

Mr Whitlam was a champion for the environment, establishing the National Parks and Wildlife Service and protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

I remember it keenly, being at university at the time, with so many young people who had lived in fear of being ‘called up’ that he ended conscription and completed the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam.

Mr Whitlam ended university fees and brought about federal funding on a needs basis for public schools. For the first time it didn’t matter how much your family earned, you could access quality education. He brought the Commonwealth into housing and health for the first time.

His significant work on land rights and establishing the Department of Aboriginal Affairs set us on the path to further recognition of Australia’s first people.

Internationally, his recognition of China and his visit there was critical to the redefinition of Australia as an Asian nation.

Rest in peace Gough Whitlam. On behalf of the Australian Greens I send our deepest thoughts, sympathies and thanks to the Whitlam family and to all those who knew and loved him.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s lawyer Gavin Millar QC spoke recently (16/10/14) about mass surveillance of the media industry at a conference organised by the NUJ and the IFJ. Millar, of Doughty Street Chambers, is supporting the Bureau’s application to the European Court of Human Rights challenging the UK government on its routine surveillance of journalists’ communications.

If the ECHR decides there is inadequate protections for legitimate journalistic communications the UK government will be ruled to be in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights and will be forced to respond.

The case was filed in the court on September 12 2014. Lawyers working on the case include Millar, Conor McCarthy at Monckton chambers and Rosa Curling at Leigh Day solicitors.

Millar spoke on the second panel of today’s conference, Big brother is watching you: mass surveillance of the media industry, alongside prominent media lawyers from ITN and the Guardian, as well as the president of the Newspaper Guild and the Guardian’s defence and intelligence correspondent.

The conference was hosted by the Guardian.

Read about the Bureau’s challenge to the UK government over whether UK legislation properly protects journalists’ sources and communications from mass surveillance programs here. You can also get the Bureau’s court documents or read a summary of the case.

By William Rivers Pitt, Truthout | Op-Ed (18/10/14) | excerpt…

Thirteen years ago, after the Towers came down but before the war started, I wrote a book that claimed there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and therefore there was no reason to go to war there. That book has stood the test of time, but as it turns out, there were WMD in that shattered, battered and bombed-out nation…just not in the way it was explained to us.

On Tuesday, The New York Times published a thunderclap of an article titled “The Secret Casualties of Iraq’s Abandoned Chemical Weapons.” The gist of it, in short, is that Iraq was littered with thousands of chemical munitions the US and other countries had sold to the country before 1991. US troops were tasked to police them up and destroy them, a process that injured many of them in ways they still endure today, but because the Bush administration wanted to keep these munitions secret, the troops who happened to scoop up a leaking mustard gas shell and woke up the following day covered in boils and unable to breathe never received proper medical treatment.

But wait, hold the phone: Wasn’t the whole point of the exercise about the presence of WMD in Iraq? If US troops found thousands of chemical shells, which they dealt with at their peril, why didn’t the Bush administration bellow the fact to the heavens?

Ask Karl Rove:

Starting in 2004, some members of the George W. Bush administration and Republican lawmakers began to find evidence of discarded chemical weapons in Iraq. But when the information was brought up with the White House, senior adviser Karl Rove told them to “let these sleeping dogs lie…”

::: click on through to piece in full @ Truthout :::

Newsletter 18 Oct 2014


Can Climate Change Unite the Left?

To avoid catastrophe, we must seize corporate polluters’ wealth.

A possible cure for hep-C comes at a great cost to the sick.
Stanley Aronowitz on how the labor movement falters–and how it might recover.

Ken Burns’ documentary about the Roosevelts is heavy on fable but light on fact.


The film gives a view of the wide range of black identities, but can’t seem to tell a story beyond them about the nature of power in our “post-racial” society.



Why is the Susan G. Komen Foundation partnering with a major fossil fuels company?


Republicans are playing off of Americans’ fears by comparing Ebola and ISIS to Halloween-inspired horrors.


Building Trades Chief Lauds Fracking Boom, Shrugs Off Environmental Concerns

One union president appears unconcerned about the environmental effects of fracking.


Live after the Man Booker 2014 awards ceremony Kirsty Wark (BBC NewsNight) talks to the winner, Australian Richard Flanagan who has scooped the £50,000 prize for his wartime novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

@ Democracy Now!

Former National Security Agency and CIA director Michael Hayden has said he does not believe the (US) government should prosecute New York Times reporter James Risen*. Risen faces potential jail time as the Obama administration seeks to force him to testify at the trial of a former CIA officer accused of giving Risen classified information. Risen’s book, “State of War,” details a failed CIA operation to deliver faulty nuclear bomb blueprints to Iran. General Michael Hayden, who led the CIA until 2009, and, before that, led the NSA, told Lesley Stahl on 60 Minutes he does not think Risen should be forced to divulge his source.

General Michael Hayden: “I am, like America, conflicted. OK?”

Stahl: “Really?”

General Michael Hayden: “I am. I am. You’re talking about ruining lives over things about which people are acting on principle, so I’d be very careful about it.”

Lesley Stahl: “So you would not be pursuing Jim, if you had the decision to make?”

General Michael Hayden: “Frankly, Lesley, I don’t understand the necessity to pursue                                                     Jim.”

* James Risen, the journalist at the center of one of the most significant press freedom cases in decades. In 2006, Risen won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting about warrantless wiretapping of Americans by the National Security Agency. He has since been pursued by both the Bush and Obama administrations in a six-year leak investigation into that book, “State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration.”

Published on Oct 14, 2014 – 

Here’s a first look at me reading an extract from my new book ‘Revolution’. Let me know what you think, any opinions you have and conversations you want to start, and we’ll discuss them in a Comments edition soon.

::: click on through for more Russell Brand :::

Glenn Greenwald was one of the first reporters to see — and write about — the Edward Snowden files, with their revelations about the United States’ extensive surveillance of private citizens. In this searing talk, Greenwald makes the case for why you need to care about privacy, even if you’re “not doing anything you need to hide.”



Why Weren’t Alarm Bells Ringing? Paul Krugman

“…Yes, rising levels of private debt, increased reliance on shadow banking, growing international imbalances, and so on helped set the stage for disaster. But intellectual shifts—the way economists and policymakers unlearned the hard-won lessons of the Great Depression, the return to pre-Keynesian fallacies and prejudices—arguably played an equally large part in the tragedy of the past six years. Say’s Law—the false claim that income is automatically spent—made a comeback. So, incredibly, did liquidationism, the view that any effort to ameliorate the pain of depression would postpone needed adjustment. It’s true that conventional economic analysis fell short in the face of crisis. But when policymakers rejected orthodox economics, what they did by and large was to reject it in favor of doctrines like “expansionary austerity”—the unsupported claim that slashing government spending actually creates jobs—that made the situation worse rather than better…”


I am wondering of late how the West is ever going to untangle the unholy mess we have created by backing violent fringe groups all over the globe in order to create disorder and regime change in target countries. This tactic has enabled us to maintain hegemonic control over strategic areas of the globe and to plunder their resources.

Isis makes a perfect example of this descent into chaos, while the fascists in Ukraine are another group in the early stage of development.

But now this gambit is unraveling because the pawns are turning on their kings and our leaders are finding it harder to deceive us that their motivation is the protection of democracy and our “Western values”.

In the West in order to deliver democracy to the third world our politicians tell us it is necessary to reduce our rights and freedoms at home and increase our taxes.

There is another elephant in the room that is becoming more visible as our taxes rise and freedoms are disappearing, and that is our governments are not doing these things for us.

Here in Australia and more so in the United States we are fighting wars for the wealthy and especially for the tax dodging corporations making up the military industrial complex. This industry is now being overtaken by the “insecurity industry” based around the CIA run fear business which makes most of its money from spying on citizens and industrial espionage rather than averting terrorism.

In fact this industry depends on our fear of terrorism and the latest security laws in Australia created in response to 30,000 CIA trained zealots in Toyota utility vehicles taking over Iraq oil wells, our rights and liberties are being butchered by our parliamentary “representatives”.

With CIA operatives fueling turmoil in Libya, Syria Ukraine, Chechnya Venezuela and Pakistan and then losing control of the many balls they are juggling, we are on the edge of international chaos with many millions of refugees being created. How much longer can we afford security?

I shudder to think of the difficulties we are creating for our children especially when this turmoil will be getting worse as global climate change adds to the social and economic cost of this insanity, pushing it beyond their ability to cope.

Most alarmingly the struggle to control Middle Eastern oil fields pits the words largest nuclear powers against each other and as I write this article nuclear submarines from at least five nations are shadowing each other in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Syria.

World War 3 is pushing closer to a start up date.

It is time we ordinary people in the West used what power we have left to dump the inept politicians and their moribund party systems and replaced them with men and women of imagination and the intelligence to think outside the restrictions of our corporate controlled consumerist world.

We need leaders with the courage to take on the fear industry and the corporate elites whose psychotic greed is killing us all. It is also time we challenged ourselves to step outside our comfort zone and confront the future rather than idealizing the past and importantly to re-engage in politics instead of leaving the field to the ship of fools steering our destiny.


October 2014

UK, Scotland rethink; Ukip surprises; Hong Kongers up in arms; Iraq/Syria, the next war has begun;
Arab Spring, where’s the money? West Bank, a third intifada? Kenya, behind those jihadis; Rwanda’s elite militia; TTP, the machine jams; Cuba, in from the cold? Little Senegal in the Big Apple…
and more…just click cover above to access...

That veritable organ of climate change denial ” The Australian” has published an opinion piece by Maurice Newman, the business adviser for Prime Minister Tony Abbott, calling for an investigation into the warming bias of the scientists at the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. (BOM).

Many readers of the article have been outraged by the comments of Newman, who has a history of making unqualified remarks against climate change action and especially including his constant tilting at windmills of the electricity generation type, they and the Greens Senators should call his bluff by supporting his call and instigate such an inquiry.

For balance the inquiry should add a component that also looks at bona fides of those making the claim of climate scientists fudging the science. In particular it would look at the vested interest of those making the claim, and who is funding the “independent spokespersons”  such as the well travelled Lord Monkton and the line up of mouthpieces that grace the Murdoch media with their quasi-scientific views.

Perhaps Rupert Murdoch could be called in to tell the inquiry whether he has a vested interest in preventing the uptake of renewable energy by publishing the proliferation of denialist views in his media outlets.

An inquiry should establish if a criminal offence is being committed by either side of the debate by falsifying the information for their own profit. After all if the scientists are correct millions will die and many species will be lost from warming of above 2 degrees.



The sad thing about children’s exam nerves is that their fears often become self-fulfilling. Too much anxiety and they can end up under-performing relative to their abilities.

A team of psychologists led by Fred Paas and colleagues has taken a cognitive psychology approach to this situation. Children have a certain amount of “working memory” capacity, they say, and it’s either used up by the task at hand, or by external pressures, such as intrusive, worrying thoughts. Paas and his team have explored the benefits of a simple strategy that’s designed to help children focus more on the school test, and less on worrying.

Over 100 children (aged 11-12) at three Greek primary schools sat a maths test. Stress was ratcheted up with a timer (three minutes per question) and a prize for the best performer in each class. Crucially, the researchers gave half the students one minute at the test start to skim through all 10 of the maths problems – this was the simple intervention. The researchers said this should reduce anxiety and boost confidence by “activating the relevant schemas for solving the test problems”. The remaining students acted as controls and had an extra minute to answer the first problem.

The good news is that the children who took a minute to skim through the questions performed better on average than the control students, and this was true regardless of their tendency to experience test-related anxiety. Because the students’ self-reported levels of mental exertion didn’t vary across the control and intervention conditions, the researchers said this shows…

::: click through here to piece in full+free @ BPS Research Digest :::


23:32 GMT – Flag raising ceremony – The focus for many protesters this morning is a flag raising ceremony in the Wanchai district where a number of senior city officials are expected to attend as part of the National Day celebrations.

Hundreds of demonstrators are already converging on the area, trying to make their way into Golden Bauhinia Square where the ceremony takes place.

The annual ceremony is often targeted by pro-democracy activists. But never has it taken place before against a backdrop of continued street protests and sit-ins by tens of thousands of demonstrators..


HONG KONG – Thousands of pro-democracy protesters thronged the streets of Hong Kong, some of them jeering National Day celebrations, as demonstrations spread to a new area of the city.  Video | Full Article

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