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BUT WHERE IS BRISBANE? May 30, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Environment.
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BBC News Online reports that Vancouver is the best city in the world to live. The top ten cities according to this survey were:
Vancouver
Melbourne
Vienna
Geneva
Perth
Adelaide
Sydney
Zurich
Toronto
Calgary

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NEW LOOK May 30, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Blogging in general.
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The other Duckpond at Blogger has a new look, and even worse puns, but otherwise the posts are mostly the same. I use blogger to source some of the elements, in particular photos, you see sometimes here, and visa versa. So in a sense it is symbiotic cross blogging.

I am open to positive and constructive suggestions if you have any, and even better if you advise how to realize the suggestion. I am not intending to delete either blog, but maybe continue to experiment. Luckily I can enter into this rash activity as creative destruction.

Most of the things I thought I had lost could easily be recovered, and now I have a better arrangement for the counters I thought I had lost. In regard to counters it was very simple – save them as bookmarks. And I did not save them – the rashness part – but checking history enabled me to open them again and then save them.

IRAQI REFUGEE CRISIS May 30, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics, Iraq Policy.
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The media is the arena for politics, which is the reason that people such as myself who turn it off find politics so strange. Politicians direct their antics for this peculiar virtual world where reality is caught in the cleverness of spin and photo ops. Equally, in such an edited arena power lies, or is reflected in the editors, whose power in part is to set the rules for who will be heard and seen. A significant group of people – Iraqi refugees – are not been seen and heard, even as their existence and out presence over there makes them our responsibility.

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THE SYSTEM WORKS! May 28, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.
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Such was the note of celebration when Richard Nixon left the Whitehouse. I have not heard much of that conviction lately. Sure the system is working but for whom? Andrew J Bacevich, whose son of the same name has just been killed in Iraq by a “suicide bomb explosion” has some answers. He writes:

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LOCAL AND REGIONAL ELECTIONS IN SPAIN May 28, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in European Politics.
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The BBC reports that with 81% of the vote counted, the Socialists and the opposition Popular Party have retained their strongholds, with the Socialists holding a slight lead overall. The interesting aspect of these elections is the development at the margins in which British and German candidates are standing, often on anti-corruption platforms.

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ISLAM IN SCHOOLS May 28, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics, European Politics, Multiculturalism.
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The school curricula has always in my experience been part of the the cultural battlefield that politicians, wisely or otherwise, have entered. Sometimes we did learn things that would be relevant to our world, and sometimes the clock was turned back. I do not blame my schooling, but I am aware I never learned about the costs of the British Empire, even when they shaped the experience of my own forebears. So it is useful that politicians have cultural agendas, social programs, often not designed for enlightenment but for its opposite. Such cultural agendas should be part of the political discourse.

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CLIMATE CHANGE LAME DUCK? May 27, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Humankind/Planet Earth.
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George Bush may have the support of 38% of potential voters, he may be involved in a disastrous, costly war in Iraq, his administration may be widely seen as incompetent, but he, so it seems, is far from been a lame duck. His political opponents have agreed to continue to fund his Iraq war, for reasons that a political rather than moral. Juan Cole explains what the political calculations involved are all about . Now it seems he is able to effectively negate proposals before the G8, the club of the world’s wealthiest nations to set emission targets and raise overall energy efficiencies by 20% by 2020.

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EIRE ELECTION 2007 May 26, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in European Politics.
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The Irish election was held on Thursday, and the results will not be clear until this morning. So what is going on?

The ABC Online got it right. It is going to be a close result, even as the participation was up this time compared to the last election five years ago. The Jamaica Gleaner reports:

Irish voters headed for the polls [on Thursday] in an election so close that Prime Minister Bertie Ahern may have to lure a major left-leaning opponent on to his side if he is to stay in power.

Having repeatedly ruled out entering a coalition with Ahern, Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte left the door open to a deal, telling Reuters he did not look forward to the prospect but that he was keen to keep IRA political ally Sinn Fein out of power.”I don’t want to see Sinn Fein driving economic policies or other policies,” Rabbitte said in an interview after casting his vote in his Dublin constituency.Sinn Fein, which entered a ground-breaking power-sharing government in partitioned Northern Ireland this month, is set to make gains in the election in the south after Irish Republican Army (IRA) guerrillas vowed to down arms in 2005.

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FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – SLIPPING INTO WINTER May 26, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in DOG BLOG -.
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As May draws to a close the air now has a chill in it, and the days are getting shorter.I am just getting it that I have to wrap up a bit, and cannot continue in my summer outfit. The sun goes down over the escarpment earlier, while we can see it shining over the houses closer to the ocean. There is the conscious trade off: we are cooler in summer and colder in winter. And I like to think that when the waters rise we will not inundated.

It was always problematic to get photos of the dogs – they are doing their own thing after all – but now it gets more difficult as the camera, after been dropped on several occasions – does not work with the felicity that once was the case. Still here are so photos of our daily round. Of course, you do not get to see the exciting parts, because I cannot hold the dogs and take photos at the same time. And if I tried that might be curtains for the camera as well.

Sasha in typical pose. 19 May 2007.

Dexter caught by the sunlight. 19 May 2007.

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APPENDAGE AS PROBLEM May 26, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
3 comments

Although I thought it funny when I read it, perhaps Greg Sheridan is right after all. He wrote something like [“the left wing media do not publish stories that do not agree with their narrative”.] Such a comment is pretty rich coming from a writer for The Australian. While it is getting the prime spot on the ABC radio news programs, I have not seen any comment on the blogs I usually visit.

I cannot see how the fact the company owned by the Opposition Leader’s wife underpaid their staff is good news for the government, since Work Choices is their legislation. Their is a fierce argument in this household about whether it is good or bad news for Labor. I suspect that it is bad. On balance, I was interested to hear and see what others thought.

“Appendages of the world unite, we have nothing to lose but our eh! . . . appendagehood! “
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MILLENNIUM GOALS May 25, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Humankind/Planet Earth.
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The Millennium Goals established in 2000 for 2015 are not on target. They were established by the world’s richest countries, the G8, to cut poverty hunger and disease in the world’s poorest countries. Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute, at Columbia University, and 2007 Reith Lecturer is beating the drum, and in the cause raises some interesting data(via Deutsche Wella):

(Apologia for the slackness or whatever that meant prior to correction the above was more incoherent than even what is usual around here.) . . . .
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THE GOODLING TESTIMONY May 25, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.
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Monica Goodling appeared before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. She can be seen on youtube. I have to admit I found it all a bit too tedious, but the NY Times editorial writers have summarized the issues and point the way forward. Rove, Cheney and Bush probably still believe in their immunity, but perhaps the day of reckoning is getting closer. The editorial notes:

. . . Ms. Goodling made some disturbing admissions yesterday, even as she strained to present every fact in the most favorable light to her Bush administration allies and claimed convenient memory lapses. Ms. Goodling admitted to politicizing the Justice Department in ways that certainly seem illegal; she made clear that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lied at a critical point in the investigation; and she gave Congress all the reason it needs to compel Karl Rove and Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, to testify about what they know.

Postscript:

Kevin Drum makes a process case for the House Judiciary Committee questioning, that may have application, for all I know, here as well. He suggests getting skilled interrogators to question unwilling witnesses. That said, it surprises me that the Judiciary Committees would not have experienced lawyers with the relevant background. Perhaps the Senate is better served in this respect.

GOOD ECONOMIC MANAGER? May 24, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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How good an economic manager is John Howard? Or in claiming to be the indispensable preserver of Australian prosperity is not such a proposition a contradiction conceding the ground to his opponents? Then again, has the management of the economy effected a profound transfer of wealth from most Australians contrary to the overtly stated goals and values of the prime minister?The less loaded question is simply to ask what has Howard done to create economic conditions?

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ELECTORAL ANNIHILATION! May 23, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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The Howard News on ABC Online is reporting that the prime minister told his caucus:

that current opinion polls mean the Coalition would not just lose a federal election, it would be annihilated.

Let’s look for the foreground element (via Robert Fisk and Common Dreams) in this recycled package of information. Well actually it is not just the current polls? The photo shows a suitably distressed John Howard, which must have been difficult to find with the sunny economic news of late. Given that he has been reading the polls for some time, or words to that effect, and given that he is the indispensable national economic manager, he surely would have been worried about the trend for some time, and have been taking countervailing measures.
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COMMITTEES, LEGISLATION AND TESTS May 22, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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We have not as far as I know decided on what our national values are, as long as they are not John Howard’s. It is bad enough continuously it seems getting Howard News on the ABC, confirming the propaganda model of news, and reminding anybody with eyes and ears on a daily basis that governments that interfere with the necessary democratic institutions of a society, should have their commission examined, if not terminated.

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ANOTHER CUPPA TEA May 22, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Life Experience.
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As I sit here, I am into my third or fourth successive cup of tea. Lucky, because the BBC reports that tea does good, and despite the folk wisdom does not dehydrate.

But as I expected, before I get too celebratory there is a drawback:

There was no evidence that tea consumption was harmful to health. However, research suggests that tea can impair the body’s ability to absorb iron from food, meaning people at risk of anaemia should avoid drinking tea around mealtimes.

Oh well, I will settle for the good news, and keep on sipping.

BLOWBACK May 21, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.
1 comment so far

As the search for a new US President gathers speed, it is become apparent that blogs and other new media, such as youtube, are providing alternatives to set minds of the mainstream media. The latest incident with this effect was demonstrated in the debate of the Republicans at South Carolina University. Dr Ron Paul, MD, a congressman from Texas suggested blowback as a partial explanation of 911. Rudy Guiliani demanded a retraction.

The issues are set out here:

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DO VALUES MATTER? May 20, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics, Humankind/Planet Earth.
2 comments

John Quiggin and others have effectively repudiated questions in the Australian Citizenship Test that allege for example that “Australian values are based on the Judeo-Christian tradition“:

” . . . despite the clear statement in the Constitution that Australia should have no established religion. This, combined with the implicit requirement to repudiate Catholicism and Islam, violates the spirit and probably the letter of the law.”

The rejection of multiculturalism is, I believe, implicit in the test. I do not know this for certain, but I expect that the section banning an official religion in the Constitution was an acceptance by the founders of a religious pluralism in Australian society. (I will do some background reading on this point).

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FRIDAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – CHANCE MEETINGS May 19, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in DOG BLOG -.
4 comments

There is always the chance that we may happen upon other dogs as we go about regular circuit. On such occasions caught unawares if the other dogs come upon us without me seeing or hearing them. There might be some photos to be had, but Sasha and Dexter, when they are of a mind, can take some holding. Usually I try to be proactive by getting them to sit. So there is some sense to my talking to the dogs out loud as we go along just let anybody else we are there. When we see other dogs we do the right friendly thing and go back, to the side, or another way.

This week the mini-bikes were not around, and there were not cyclists who can come up on us quickly and silently. Still, I try to remember the advice “to stay calm and be assertive”. Sasha and Dexter have for the most part go used to their environment.

The high ground. 12 May 2007.

A closer view. 13 May 2007.

Entanglement. 14 May 2007.Posted by Picasa

Lying low. 14 May 2007

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“WORK CHOICES” NO MORE May 18, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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My understanding is that the government after spending a bucket of money on public relations promoting “Work Choices” is now going to spend another bucket of money disavowing that name we the benighted public (except that I have acted quite without entitlement and turned the telescreen off). I am demanding money for “re-programing”, and I hope it will be more humane than that dealt out to Winston Smith (who was so admired by his parents that John Winston Howard was named after him).

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