Thursday, March 03, 2005

Refugee Rights

In a landmark ruling, the High Court found:
that the government was obliged to take in refugees facing persecution in their homeland.
This is after Australia refused to accept persecuted Russian Jews, and advised them instead to go to Israel.

Justice Michael Kirby rejected the practice of "shuffling" refugees from one country to another.
"It would be an absurd result if the generosity of other states' refugee laws meant that Australia was thereby relieved of international obligations that it voluntarily accepted with other nations," he said.
There is also pressure on the Government's Immigration Detention laws, which allow for unlimited detention of assylum seekers.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Use your lightning bolt!

In 1984, TSR, the then publisher of Dungeons and Dragons, flushed with the success of their DnD cartoon series, showed this commercial. Definitely worth a look, for either nostalgia or for laughs.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The New Religion

Conservatives and reactionary ultra-individualists (such as those found at Capitalism Magazine) are rebranding environmentalism as an irrational "religion", and implicit in this accusation is the continued assault on left-wing views, equity and social justice.

Thanks to Comrade Hogan, who recently added CapMag to the Right-Wing Sin Bin, for making me aware of this particular kind of right-wing trash.

In the above linked CapMag article, the author, Tom DeWeese vents his bile against the Kyoto Protocol, a rather flawed idea to allow carbon trading and minutely lower C02 emissions. Although starting with a fairly sane sounding argument that there is "no consensus" on Global Warming (the term is Climate Change now buckeroo), DeWeese then wanders into the kinds of conspiracy nut-case views that feature in Mel Gibson movies or are held by the chief economic advisors of Vlad Putin.
Global Warming is nothing more than a euphemism for redistribution of wealth from the rich, development nations to jealous dictatorships who refuse to allow their citizens the right to gain their own wealth through free markets. It's about political redistribution from strong, independent sovereign nations into the hands of a power-hungry global elite cowering in the United Nations. These are the same cowardly scoundrels who used to try to rule the world through global communism. Today they pretend that the same lies have something to do with protecting the environment.
This is pretty whacky stuff. Just like Andrei Illarionov, who claims that a sinister global cabal of shadowy totalitarian lobbying cultists are controling the world through their Kyotoism.

These guys sound like the Citizens Electoral Council, who believe that global economic collapse is imminent and that the world is controlled by an coterie of Jews, the British Monarchy and the CIA. Illarionov quoth on Lateline (linked above):
This is a very clear, pure lobbyist effort to redistribute financial resources to one particular group of people.... Kyotoism, from my point of view, is quite totalitarian ideology that is imposed on the world and on many societies with totalitarian means, and in this regard, this totalitarian ideology is very similar to other totalitarian ideologies that we have seen in the past, like fascism and communism.
While these extremists don't get that much credibility in the media (at least in Australia, where it is thankfully understood that there is anthropagenic change in the global environment), it is clear where their rhetoric is leading.

As far as I can tell, the fastest growing progressive political movement in the world is the Green movement. While in my opinion the environmental movement is (for now) largely characterised by moderate, moralistic conservatism, it is also one that has galvanised a mass of public like no other since the seventies.

A friend of mine commented that he believes that evironmental activism and ecological issues will be the major issues for mass social change in the 21st Century. With accusations of "communism" "fascism" and "socialism" now being levelled at rebellious aspects of the "technician-class" of Capital, it appears that my friend may be correct, or that at least, Capital is identifying environmentalism as the next threat to its Imperialism.

With a weight of scientific evidence to back them, the Green movement has become internationally organised. As governments and some aspects of big business around the globe have begun to acknowledge the validity of ecological sustainability, reactionary elements of capital are striking back.

As we see, the ideologues and rhetoricians of Capital are not only labeling environmentalists as communists ("watermelons" perhaps), but are also linking them to the irrational aspects of religion: cults, sects, fundamentalism.

Personally, this is an interesting development, as it makes connections with the subversive or counter-cultural aspects of religion, rather than the pro-state, pro-ruling class sections of religion (ie, those that are "acceptable"). (Interesting because this is my thesis.) Sect, cult, are terms used to denigrate and delegitimise; the tropes of communism are thrown in to link environmentalism with the so-called "discredited" Marxist theories.

Furthermore (and this is an point I should have emphasised more earlier), DeWeese and Illarionov are manufacturing a dichotomy between "true" and "false" science, with true science on the one hand being that which denies Climate Change (or anthropagenic Climate Change) utterly and false science which studies it.

The totalitarian sect/cult that is bending the ear of Bush, Blair and Putin (according to Illarionov) are the Messiahs of the False Science bent on communist-style redistribution of wealth and a crushing of individual rights to freedom of speech. They abhor facts and reason, they ruthlessly crush dissent, they excommunicate heretics from public life, and the hate the environment.

DeWeese says something that strikes me as indicative of his ideological background:
Global Warming has become a religion that the faithful have vowed to follow no matter what the true facts may show. Global Warming is a theory, nothing more, and large numbers of scientists around the world are beginning to question its validity. There is no consensus of support.
This is the same argument used against evolution: "Evolution is a theory, nothing more".

It is precisely this kind of counter-intuitive anti-intellectualism that is threatening scientific thought. It is exceedingly dangerous, crypto-theology, cloaked by a veneer of "science" of the kind used by reactionary ultra-conservatives.

(This enrty made use of Google's rel="nofollow" tag)


Occasionally I get emails from anonymous hotmail accounts leaking information regarding factional enemies.

Last year, I got an email from "Jane Doe" forwarding me a copy (from Tim Singh, Movement Secretary of the Young Liberal Movement), of the Young Liberal Movement Council Annual Meeting Memorandum of Results from 7 November 2004. I didn't put this info up because there was no independent way to verify it.

I mention this because I was just given a tip regarding an article from the Deccan Herald, an Indian newspaper in Bangalore from Wednesday, July 28, 2004 regarding Ben Cass and Peter Vlahos.
Announcing the ‘Education Roadshow : Melbourne - 2004’ to be held at 4 pm on Wednesday, Director of International Business Development for Universal Migration, Vasan Srinivasan said on Tuesday that the education consultants wish to smoothen the process of education in Australia.

Mr Srinivasan said, “More than 10,000 Indian students went to Australia for higher studies in 2003. With more students opting for higher education outside India, and Australia being a favoured destination, safety and comfort are major concerns.”

SSI Director Benjamin Cass said what sets this agency apart from Indian agents is that they are the service provider themselves, and not just a referral service.

The seminar will begin with an overview on Australian education. The seminar on ‘Global Opportunities via Migration to Australia’ will be held by Peter D Vlahos, Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria and Mr Srinivasan. Entry is free.
This is very similar to the Hindu Times story that Brent broke a few weeks ago.

I wonder who Vassan Srinivasan is...?

Back to Uni

For the few regular readers still wandering past this site, you may be interested to know that it's the first week of university this week.

While I should have been going to class, signing up for tutes, searching fruitlessly for obscure lecture rooms... I have been variously stuck at work or going to university committee meetings. Blah.

After an exhausing O-Week (and its six-week lead up) and a very bad weekend, I really haven't had much energy to write. I also have deadlines for various other projects, such as Hermes Portal and Atlas Games, which has kept me scribbling away in my sketchpad and desperately staving off writer's block.

Here is a sample:

Meanwhile, I may briefly comment on Costello's plan to change the GST Legislation.

Last night on LateLine, Beattie and Bracks were interviewed by Tony Jones after the World's Greatest Treasurer announced that he was going to supervise how the States would spend their GST revenue.

This move is obviously a part of the Liberal's on going strategy of "all power to Canberra". Unable to seize control of the States, Howard and Costello have decided to try to centralise power in Australia in their own hands.

(Imagine if a Labor Government were trying to do this! The outcry would be enormous! Bolt and Ackerman would have conniptions.)

I was not impressed last night with Tony Jones; it was quite obvious that Bracks and Beattie were singings from the same choir-book, and Tony Jones really just allowed them a forum to hack at Costello (not that I disapprove of that, just that Tony Jones didn't really take any kind of hard line).

This centralising, nationalist approach of Howard and Costello is an interesting one. I firmly believe that the States are irrelevent hold-overs from the colonisation of Australia. With a single nation, there really should be a single system where possible (allowing for specific need and circumstance to change a "one size fits all" approach).

Education and health is a good example of this. Every child in Australia should receive the same level of education, with the same curriculum, same quality, same resources and same standards. This is one of the reasons I oppose private schools and selective public schools (like the one I went to in Adelaide for four years), because they stratify education and make three tiers of learning, an elite private level, an elite public level, and then the rest.

Add to that six or seven different standards and systems for examination and achievement (VCE in Victoria, SACE in South Australia) and it is hopelessly complicated.

Resolving this however needs to be done cooperatively through Federalism, not imposed through taxation legislation from the Commonwealth Government. With all States held by Labor, Howard would be able to prove his seriousness in greating a unified national system by negotiating and compromising with the Labor States in developing a world's best practice national education system.

(Much the same could be said for Health, which is why I supported Medicare Gold.)

Costello has also played the card of "accountability", saying that the States spend their GST revenue on all kinds of crazy things that the public never knows about. Putting asside the notion that suddenly it is the role of the Federal Government to play oversight-committee to the States, the notion that State Governments are unaccountable is ridiculous. The States need to face regular elections, they have their own parliaments with Liberal oppositions, and they also produce annual budgets which allow their electors to scrutinise their spending on areas such as health, education, community building, policing, public transport, etc).

The Australian's article goes into some of this, but I suspect it hides the Howard Government's true agenda right at the end.
The commonwealth suspects the state governments have been spending a large share of their revenue gains on the salaries of unionised public service workers rather than on improving services and infrastructure.
Howard has indicated that his Fourth Term would be one devoted to Thatcher-like crushing of unions. His cronies have obviously decided that a main bastion of unionism in Australia is the public service, where membership is upwards of 60%. Costello's aim is therefore to cripple the autonomy of the Labor States and to support the Fourth Term anti-union Industrial Relations agenda.