Tag Archives: Open Threads

Weekly salon 9/9

1. World pollution kills more people annually than wars, disasters, hunger

    Environmental pollution — from filthy air to contaminated water — is killing more people every year than all war and violence in the world. More than smoking, hunger or natural disasters. More than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

    One out of every six premature deaths in the world in 2015 — about 9 million — could be attributed to disease from toxic exposure, according to a major study released on Thursday in The Lancet medical journal.

The worst affected countries are in Asia and Africa, with India topping the list. Continue reading Weekly salon 9/9

Weekly salon 2/9

1. Washer’s lament – the end of deliberative democracy

Dr Mal Washer was a Liberal member of the Australian House of Representatives from October 1998 to August 2013. While he was there it is said he was doctor to the house, providing medical help and personal counselling to members of parliament.

When Waleed Aly and Scot Stevens spoke to Katharine Murphy about whether the Dutton insurrection was a symptom of how we do politics in Australia, she quoted Washer inter alia. She gave a three-part answer.

First, the major parties once represented stability to the electorate. Not any more. Rather the reverse. What happened is now hard-baked into the system. Continue reading Weekly salon 2/9

Weekly salon 18/8

1. Fraser Anning pours fuel on the flames

And some would say, vomits on the body politic.

You would have to be living under a rock if you didn’t hear about Fraser Anning’s maiden parliamentary speech, wherein he called for a return the White Australia policy, excluding Muslims and returning to Europe as the main source. The holocaust was evoked by a call for a “final solution”, being a referendum on immigration policy. From his speech:

    We as a nation are entitled to insist that those who are allowed to come here predominantly reflect the historic European Christian composition of Australian society and embrace our language, culture and values as a people.

And:

    The final solution to the immigration problem is, of course, a popular vote. We don’t need a plebiscite to cut immigration numbers; we just need a government that is willing to institute a sustainable population policy, end Australian-job-stealing 457 visas and make student visas conditional on foreign students returning to the country they came from. What we do need a plebiscite for is to decide who comes here.

Continue reading Weekly salon 18/8

Weekly salon 11/8

1. Preschool funding cut by $500 million

About the same as is going to be spent to save the Great Barrier Reef. No-one noticed until someone from the Mitchell Institute (a think tank at Victoria University) happened to be leafing through the budget papers. The Quality Agreement program for early childhood begun in 2009 is to be wound down and conclude from 30 June 2020.

    Director of the Mitchell Institute, Megan O’Connell, said Australia was already lagging the rest of the world by offering only one year of preschool for most children when two years was regarded as the international standard.

Australia ranks 23rd in the OECD in early childhood education (ECE) spending. Here we are from the NSW study A review of the effects of early childhood education: Continue reading Weekly salon 11/8

Weekly salon 5/8

1. Australia responsible for ‘preventable’ death of asylum seeker

Sadly, for me this was the story of the week:

    On 23 August, 2014, Kehazaei presented to the Manus Island medical clinic with flu-like symptoms and a small lesion on his leg. The clinic did not have the basic antibiotic to treat his common tropical infection, and, despite treatment, Kehazaei’s condition deteriorated rapidly.

    Doctors on the island urged his immediate transfer to Australia but this was first ignored – including by department of immigration bureaucrats who didn’t read their emails for up to 13 hours – and then rejected by the department. Continue reading Weekly salon 5/8

Weekly salon 28/7

1. ‘African gangs’

Here’s what started the whole business according to Margaret Simons’ report Looking for trouble in May:

    Victoria Police executive director of media and corporate communications, Merita Tabain, wrote a confidential email to the editors of Melbourne’s main media outlets expressing concern that aggressive behaviour by journalists might “exacerbate the current tensions.” She used the incident at the Tarneit shopping centre as an example.

    The incident, she said, had been provoked by the photographer’s decision to “move in to take close-up photos of a group of African teenagers socialising.” The teenagers, she went on, “had been doing nothing of public interest prior to the photographer’s decision to move in and take the photos and [the group] reacted to the photographer and what he was doing. This led to police being called in and a scuffle ensued in which police were spat on and arrests were made.”

    The photographer had apologised for provoking the incident, Tabain reported, but the published article makes no reference to this.

Continue reading Weekly salon 28/7

Saturday salon 21/7

1. Slavery lives on

The 2018 Global Slavery Index was released on Thursday. Some 40.3 million people were found to live in slavery, 70 per cent women and girls. The main division is 15.4 million in forced marriages and 24.9 million in forced labour.

North Korea is worst, with one in 10. The Guardian highlights over 400,000 in the USA. However, the Index:

    estimates China is by far the largest source of at-risk goods, with the United States importing $122bn of electronics and clothing from the country. Vietnam was the second largest source with $11.2bn, and India third with $3.8bn.

Continue reading Saturday salon 21/7

Saturday salon 14/7

1. A ray of light

A highlight for me this week was listening to the many segments on ABC RN themed with NAIDOC Week, where the theme was Because of her, we can. Fellahs too, including Archie Roach: a life in song. I loved his cosmology in explaining The Dreaming. We all come from star dust, and to star dust we will return. Straight out of Brian Cox, but he feels it in every molecule of his body, fundamentally feels connected with all living things, and wants to share. Like Buddhism, really. Continue reading Saturday salon 14/7

Saturday salon 7/7

1. How realistic is space travel?

As reported in the New Scientist, Frédéric Marin, an astronomer at the University of Strasbourg, France and Camille Beluffi, a physicist who works for Casc4de, a data firm in Strasbourg, have done a thought experiment on the feasibility of reaching the nearest Earth-like planet, which happens to be Proxima b, around 4.25 million light years away, a mere 40 trillion km. Continue reading Saturday salon 7/7