#ParisEnRose

Hey folks, I’m fundraising to go to our most critical climate conference ever, COP21, with a troupe of visionary Australian artists called THE CLIMATE ANGELS. My purposes is to make a documentary about climate change, and take part in onsite creative projects that will engage the media. I believe that strong voices and imagery will incite the world to read about the science… COP21 is happening in Paris (my home-town for 16 years) from Nov 30 to Dec 11 2015. 12 days only, to save the planet… Please help.

https://www.chuffed.org/project/parisenrose1/

From Oz with Love…

Australia used to be a leader in the fight against climate change, but in a short time, and a change of government, we became the most negligent country in the world of global warming. COP21 delegates fear strong opposition from our current leader who believes, or says he does, that coal is good for humanity. We want to assure the world that Australians are not all mad. We know that if our Galilee Basin is emptied of all its coal, and that is burned, goodbye to life on earth…

Australia’s Galilee Basin: a veritable ticking carbon bomb

Help make an impact

After 16 years of living there, I’m going to back to Paris with some of Australia’s best climate activists, and we are a loud and very creative team. We need your help to fund our events, and my film.

We need so little to get going…

$5K may seem like a small amount, but I have spent my life becoming technically independent, and I teach others to be the same. I have form as an award-winning film-maker since 1984 – see vogania.com – and for the last 5 years, I’ve been an independent journalist here at thing2thing.com where I’ve assembled a comprehensive archive about Wikileaks, and demonstrated at various moments that one person really can make a difference.

https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/53029

I speak perfect French (as well as a few other languages); am a well-known artist in France; and I have a heart… Send me there to do my best for climate change.

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The Doctor – does he come from another time?

Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans is running for pre-selection as an Australian Greens Senate candidate. For you Greens members out there, 60% of whom apparently don’t vote at the pre-selection stage, TODAY IS THE DEADLINE, so after you learn who this man is, off your asses immediately and get your approval in before 5pm (in that special envelope). You might also like to visit Arthur’s website and hear the man speak, with a moving introduction from John Kaye, who called upon Arthur to join the Greens.

So… I just had a read of Arthur’s mission statement, and he says:

“As a young surgeon, I worked hard to save lives. But as I saw cancer ravaged bodies and broken lives of my patients and their families, caused by tobacco, I realised that I had to get into tobacco use prevention. I joined anti-tobacco group, BUGA UP. I risked it all, got arrested, but it was worth it, because our anti-tobacco campaign paid off – now Australia has one of the best anti-tobacco laws and lowest tobacco-related cancer mortality rates in the world.”

I remember the early days of BUGA UP, and how this grassroots movement took Australia by storm, more than 30 years before social media was invented. This was one of the earliest examples of ‘Culture Jamming’ in the world, and it was a clear case of the people versus noxious advertising, particularly from Big Tobacco. I remember how we would laugh and give directions, each time they buggered up another one of those slick Marlborough Man billboards. We’ve always hated bull-shit in Australia, and regaled in seeing it painted over with the naked truth.

In an interview I did with Daniel Ellsberg in 2012 about whistle-blowing, he said that tobacco companies had known cigarettes were carcinogenic and addictive for half a century before that secret went up in smoke, thanks to the leaks of the late Merrell Williams. Merrell’s files also revealed that the nation’s third-largest tobacco company, Brown & Williamson, had been targeting kids!

Yes, corporations can be bloody disgusting, as we still see today, but the outcome of that ‘kick-against the-pricks’ was a settlement agreement in 1998, in which 46 US states would recover tobacco-related health costs estimated at $246 billion over 25 years from the country’s four largest tobacco companies.

BUGA UP were also victorious in their mission of civil disobedience. Their activities and reputation spread rapidly around Australia, thanks largely to our very own doctor, Arthur Chesterfield-Evans, who according to Simon Chapman’s historical record, “gave a vivid presentation on BUGA UP at the Fifth World Conference on Tobacco and Health in Winnipeg in 1983 where he received extensive international press coverage.”

Arthur says he joined the Greens because he doesn’t want Mr. Abbott to get re-elected. Cute, but he certainly has the form to convince when he adds:

“I joined because I care about people. I have always cared about people…”

I believe Arthur. Today, he continues his preventive medicine efforts, working as a doctor in occupational medicine. As a scientist and medical researcher, he is engaged in fighting Big Pharma fraud, with a simple dictum in mind:

MEDICINE FOR HEALING, NOT HUGE PROFITS

But there’s more. Arthur also has form as a seasoned politician. He informs us about a long history already, as a member of the Australian parliament:

I was 9 years a NSW Democrat MLC. “I was the only Democrat there, so every issue was my issue, and every electorate was my electorate. I gained tremendous political experience, including in cross-benching, and worked really well with The Greens.”

Finally, the good doctor asks for our trust to steer Australia back on to a humane course, towards a healthy and more equitable future:

“I’m asking you to vote for me because there is still much more to be done – and that’s why I got into politics in the first place. We need to continue to promote fairness and equality. I was NSW President of Doctor’s Reform Society and I am a great supporter of Medicare. I believe that we have to have a…

HEALTH CARE SYSTEM BASED ON HOW SICK YOU ARE, NOT HOW WEALTHY YOU ARE

We need to fight for community where we take care of those less able than ourselves. I would like to be part of that work in Senate. I am asking you to vote for me in the preselection. Remember, you have to get the vote received by 5pm on this Friday 24th July. So please do it in the special envelope ASAP!

With kind regards,

Dr Arthur Chesterfield-Evans”

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Israeli drone factory ELBIT SYSTEMS shut down again, 1 year after ‘Protective Edge’ assault on GAZA

Pro-Palestinian activists shut down Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems, on the anniversary of Israel’s ‘Protective Edge’ assault on GAZA.

Melbourne activists shut down Elbit Systems' drone factory

NOTE: This action is currently ongoing at 235 Ingles St Port Melbourne.

At 8am members of the Melbourne Palestine Action Coalition (MPAC) shut down the headquarters of Israeli arms manufacturer, ELBIT SYSTEMS, at 235 Ingles St Port Melbourne to mark the first anniversary of the 2014 Israeli ‘Protective Edge’ assault on Gaza. The group have blockaded access to the building and currently have two people locked on to the entrance gate, who state that they are prepared to remain there as long as possible. This is the second time the pro-Palestinian group has disrupted Elbit Systems, the first time being in August 2014 when they occupied the building’s roof and blockaded the entrance to Elbit during the 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza. (see more photos of the previous action)

MPAC spokesperson Kat Moore explains:

“This blockade is part of an International campaign to shut down Elbit Systems and coincides with events in London later today, to mark the anniversary of the deadly assault on GAZA last year. We are here today to demand the Australian Government end military trade deals with Israel and cancel all domestic contracts with Elbit Systems. We, like many other groups around the world, call on the UN and all governments to take immediate steps to implement a comprehensive and legally binding military embargo on Israel.”


Braving the cold and the cold-hearted, Melbourne activists lock on to a shut factory gate at Elbit Systems

Elbit Systems is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of unmanned aerial drones used by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in their ongoing siege and frequent military offensives in Gaza. MPAC are also targeting the arms manufacturer over domestic contracts with the Australian military and federal police. The group claim the Australian government have awarded 185 procurement contracts to Elbit Systems since 2007 totalling $704,728,650* of Australian tax payer dollars, during a period which saw the most egregious crimes against the Palestinian people in the near 50-year illegal Israeli occupation of their lives and territories, including;

* 2008/2009 Operation ‘Cast Lead’
* 2012 Operation ‘Pillar of Defence’
* 2014 Operation ‘Protective Edge’

MPAC spokesperson Sam Castro stated:

“Israel’s ability to launch such devastating attacks with impunity largely stems from the vast international military cooperation and trade that it maintains with complicit governments across the world, one of the most vigorous funders being the Australian Government. By importing and exporting arms to Israel and facilitating the development of Israeli military technology, governments are effectively sending a clear message of approval for Israel’s military aggression, including its war crimes and possible crimes against humanity”

In the final report from the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict, issued on June 22, 2015, the UN state “serious violations of international humanitarian law” that “may amount to war crimes” and that “impunity prevails across the board” regarding the actions of Israeli forces in Gaza.

UN Representative for the report, Ms. McGowan Davis, hopes the report will persuade governments to address “the crying need” for changes in policies regarding the use of weapons with a wide-area effect in densely populated areas. The commission said that “the scale of the devastation was unprecedented” in Gaza, where it counted 2,251 Palestinian deaths and 18,000 homes destroyed.

MPAC spokesperson Sam Castro stated:

“This is just the beginning of a global campaign to stop the war profiteering of private corporations off the people of Palestine and others around the world. Israel’s military technology is marketed as “field-tested” and exported across the world. Military trade and joint military-related research relations with Israel embolden Israeli impunity in committing grave violations of international law and facilitate the entrenchment of Israel’s system of occupation, colonisation and systematic denial of Palestinian rights.

#ShutDownElbit #StopArmingIsrael
#BlockTheFactory #FreePalestine

MEDIA CONTACT (currently onsite)

Sam Castro 0439 569 289

Kat
 Moore 0422 258 159

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ROHINGYAN APPEAL TO AUSTRALIA

I went to listen to and film the ROHINGYAN Appeal tonight in Sydney. They’ve been stripped of citizenship, driven off the land and killed by the hundreds of thousands since 1942. They are starved, reproduction is curbed and they are not allowed to own a phone.

An estimated 8000 have been cast adrift at sea. 200 have died already and many are in acute need of medical attention. Under international pressure, Myanmar has just carried out its first rescue mission, taking about 200 back to the wide-spread persecution they fled. These people are referred to as ‘Bengalis’, and are part of a Muslim Rohingya minority of 1.3 million who have been living in Burma for many generations, but who are not recognised as citizens.

A Rohingya refugee at Langsa in Sumatra, Indonesia. Photograph: Antonio Zambardino/Guardian

Both Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed in the last week to take a number of the refugees for up to one year, in the hope that they can be re-settled elsewhere with the help of international agencies. Australia however, has shut its doors and ears on the humanitarian emergency, with a simple:

“Nope, nope, nope”

from its Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

It’s tricky… Tony won his election campaign on an arguably cruel policy of pushing back asylum-seeker boats, whatever the circumstances, and despite Australia’s international obligations as a signatory to the Refugee Convention. His government have since been referring to boat people as “illegals”, and maintaining a high level of secrecy, regarding the “Operational Matter” of getting rid of them. It is therefore unsurprising that in a recent poll, 38% of Australians said no to rescuing the dying Rohingyans.

Over one in three Australians say no.

It has been suggested that this wave of first-world apathy, which is not unique to Australia, has influenced our neighbours. But Indonesia, which has mercifully relented, is not even a signatory to the convention. Abbott’s ‘no brainer’ position is that these people should have joined a queue, and it is of little interest to the right-wing leader that there was no queue for Rohingyans.

Protestors took to the streets in cities around Australia, calling Abbott’s message to the thousands still stranded at sea, for what it is:

“Go die somewhere else.”

Are we so different Australia, from the regimes that create this level of apartheid, or is it just a question of degree, our awareness of it, and time?

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THE MEANING OF METADATA [Retention] – Scott Ludlam, Sam Castro & Jacob Grech talking global surveillance and the TPP

LADIES & GENTLEMEN, welcome to ‘Politics in the Pub’, where people can have a good old yarn about things we’re not supposed to know. It was a pleasure to serve in the interests of putting this one together. Scott, Sam, Jacob, you had the audience on the edge of their seats.

“We need a herd inoculation”

is echoing, and they say:

“Fantastic.. terrifying and inspiring”

See you for Ep 2 xx Cathy

Let's take this baby on the road

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CITIZENFOUR – The Story of Edward Snowden

CITIZENFOUR (the Edward Snowden story) screened in Sydney this evening, ahead of its release in Australian cinemas on February 12th. What an amazing film. Yeah, it’s a documentary, but it felt more like a spy-thriller from the edge of my seat. As the film unfolds, the (real-life) revelations about global surveillance are of red-pill proportions – both on and off-screen – and change forever your perceptions of the world we live in, even when you’ve been interested in this area for some time. Take Glenn Greenwald’s reaction, for example. No spoilers, except to say that Big Data is watching you.

The avant premiere and Q&A was presented by Senator Scott Ludlam, our strongest parliamentary voice in Australia against the Surveillance State. He was questioned at length by the Aussie audience, about recent plans by our right-wing government to introduce mandatory data retention for all Australians. Of course we suspect that the reason for doing this is more about business than security, and after seeing CITIZENFOUR, it’s clear that the NSA, a partner of our spooks in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, has got us all under their eye already. Our boys can tap into that dragnet, for genuine National Security reasons. But the NSA too collects a lot of information that doesn’t assist national security.

Australian Greens Senator Scott Ludlam presents CITIZENFOUR by Laura Poitras

Senator Ludlam’s remarks this week in parliament, suggested that the government’s version of Mandatory Data Retention is a pretty ineffective tool of surveillance, since it doesn’t capture data from offshore mail services, like Gmail. Nor does it retain online chat, on platforms such as Facebook. But it is good for driving us away from Australian ISPs (Internet Server Providers), and catching people who illegally download copyright material.

The package is stamped ‘National Security’, but the contents monitor consumers; not terrorists. And this tool serves to police legislation that relates to the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). There is a clause that more or less obliges the governments of member States to protect each other’s corporate interests. In fact governments can be sued by overseas business entities, if they are seen to legislate in a way that harms trade.

We must see of great significance, concurrent moves to make copyright violation no longer a civil, but criminal matter. That would mean that our government would have to pursue breaches, rather than an individual plainiff, as has always been the case. In the longer term, metadata retention may be used to monitor and restrict what we buy online, especially if a foreign corporation in a member state claims that our choice – of pharmaceuticals, for example – harms their business. Word is, that US business entities actually write the legislation you need to join the TPP, and USG rubber stamps that, before passing it on to applicants.

Scott Ludlam will be talking in more detail about these issues on Thursday evening at another Sydney event, Politics in the Pub, in a session entitled ‘The Meaning of Metadata’. Joining him for an explosive expose and one-hour Q&A, will be National Security journalist and ex foreign affairs policy advisor, Dr Philip Dorling; as well as Samantha Castro, former spokesperson and National Council member of the Wikileaks Party and co-founder of WACA (the Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance). The event will be viewable on the Politics in the Pub website on February 7th.

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Guantanamo Blues


Download ‘Guantanamo Blues’

Today Guantanamo Detention Centre is 13 years old, and I just finished making a clip for The Justice Campaign called ‘Guantanamo Blues’. Produced by Dr Aloysia Brooks, wife of the ex-detainee David Hicks, it features the art of Molly Crabapple and the music of Les Thomas.

During a visit to Guantanamo, Molly did a number of portraits of men who had not been charged with any crime. Most of the 127 prisoners have been cleared for release – some, years ago – but they are still malingering there in conditions that amount to torture. According to a recent talk by David Hicks, most would be incapable of functioning independently again as human beings.

The song was written to raise awareness about the ongoing situation of those detained in the facility. ‘Guantanamo Blues’ songwriter, Les Thomas said:

“It is important that President Obama is aware that people from all over the world are counting on him to adhere to his promise to close Guantanamo and ensure fair trials.”

An unknown number of men are participating in a hunger-strike to protest their ongoing detention without charge or trial, and their conditions and treatment. Upon the release of the summary of the US Senate Committee Report on the CIA torture program, there is a renewed call for the Obama administration to hold those who orchestrated the torture program to account. One of the most disturbing revelations is that it was largely futile, and almost never produced any actionable intelligence. Hina Shamsi, Director of ACLU’s National Security Articulate Projectspace, commented:

“[JTF-GTMO assessments] are one-sided assessments that are full of uncorroborated information, information obtained through torture, speculation, errors, and allegations that have demonstrably been proven false.”

NB Quite by accident, we included a drawing by Steve Mumford – ‘Sgt Trisha Pinczes Reading by Camp X-Ray Disused since 2002, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba’ – believing it to be one of Molly’s. We are currently trying to contact him for permission to leave it in. Steve, if you’re reading this, please drop me a line at EDITIONS@THING2THING.COM.

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Daniel Ellsberg – TOXIC SECRETS

I visited Daniel Ellsberg as a citizen journalist in 2012, to talk about Wikileaks. He talked for a long time, with dismay, about why people haven’t leaked in the past – neither in government, the corporate sector, nor the church – about even the most heinous of crimes.

Thus, the importance of leaking; for justice, peace, democracy, well-being and the health of our planet. But if wrongful secrecy abounds, and at such a cost, surely we need more than one in a million addressing the issue…

“We must challenge the systems that make this secrecy possible”.

Daniel Ellsberg is a co-founder of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. He is best known as the whistleblower who gave the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971. Ellsberg is also the author of three books: Papers on the War (1971), Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers (2002), and Risk, Ambiguity and Decision (2001). In December 2006, he won the Right Livelihood Award, known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize,” in Stockholm, Sweden, “for putting peace and truth first, at considerable personal risk, and dedicating his life to inspiring others to follow his example.”

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Abbott Government cripples the Australian Broadcasting Corporation

It was roaring at the Sydney Town Hall yesterday as Labor and Greens politicians united with media personalities to say no to the Abbott government’s crippling financial attack on the ABC. This comes after a litany of protests from our climate change denying, refugee punishing right-wing government, claiming that the channel was, as one hashtag described it, a…

#havenforlefties

Tanya Plibersek, Member for Sydney and Deputy Leader of the Opposition reminded us that Tony Abbott said: “No cuts to the ABC”, the night before he was elected. Word had it however, that as punishment for being too left-leaning – showing asylum seekers’ burnt hands, for example – the damage was going to be around $50 million. Plibersek now assures us that we can add a zero…

“A broken promise is a broken promise and a lie is a lie. Before the election: “No cuts to the ABC”. How much have they cut? $43 million in the May budget… $223 million from Australia Network… Now, $254 million from the ABC… and almost $54 million from SBS. We’re talking about, probably 500 jobs… You cannot maintain quality.”

“These are real people doing valuable work, telling Australian stories. They deserve their jobs to be protected, and I know that all of you will SUPPORT THE MEAA, THE CPSU, THE STAFF ASSOCIATION AND ALL THOSE OTHER ASSOCIATIONS FIGHTING TO PROTECT THESE JOBS AND YOUR ABC.”

The Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull has denied that the cuts – half a billion dollars and ramping up, according to Senator Ludlam, over the next 5 years – will impact upon programming. The reality is that ABC South Australia will be closing its doors soon, and we have already had ‘Stateline’ axed, along with its Walkley award-winning journalist Quentin Dempster.

Dempster opened his speech with an acknowledgement of wide-spectrum support for the ABC:

“Those of us who are about to be industrially executed are buoyed by your solidarity. I thank the Media & Arts Alliance; the Community Public Sector Union; the Friends of the ABC; GetUp; Jonathan Holmes; and our professional colleagues, friends and allies throughout the Australian Media Industry – including commercial television and radio; the now many online news, conversation and analysis websites; the print media, including Fairfax; and our closet supporters in News Limited.”

Michael Tull of the CPSU distinguishes our national broadcaster from its US counterpart by way of its principled dissociation from commerce and corporate ownership. Therein he says, lies the force of its of checks and balances. Tull thinks that an attack on our ABC’s capacity to report independent news is an attack on our democracy. Rightly so, if only compliant media is to be heard in the future, and little of what the government wants silenced… The penalty of 10 years jail for journalism has already been set.

Actor Geoff Morrell makes it clear that this is about the Australian stories that will not be told; the programs that will not be made; and the talent that will never get a chance. It is a looming nullification of the arts and local culture, and most disturbingly, on regional news, most of which is only reported by the ABC.

But as most of the speakers pointed out, the ABC belongs to the Australian people… and they pay for it! Constitutionally, they would have to be on a winner if they stood by the firm recommendations of their broadcaster, regarding how their much-loved, and much needed services can be maintained.

The rally was as joyous and determined as it was mournful and nostalgic, but there was one exquisite moment. After the president of the Media and Entertainment Arts Alliance (MEAA) – Australian entertainer Patricia Amphlett (Little Pattie) – reminded us of a song she had once sung, she asked:

“What Gough would say…”

Old man, the timing was perfect. We will maintain the rage and the enthusiasm!
NO IFS… NO BUTS… NO ABC CUTS!

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