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Saturday, 16 February

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Friday, 15 February

14:39

Prime Minister's 2019 Statement on Closing the Gap "IndyWatch Feed National"

The long and short of the PM's Closing the Gap Report and speech this morning is that we have gone backwards on closing the gap in the last 12 months. One year ago, as a nation, we were on track in 3 out of the 7 targets.

This year the PM announced in his annual report to Parliament that there are now only 2 targets that can be considered on track - efforts to close the gap in early childhood education and Year 12 attainment seem to be on track but sadly, child mortality has once again slipped.

Beyond the bland (and depressing) reporting on such limited success, the PM spoke about the current and hopefully game-changing efforts to form a genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders to determine how to fix this national strategy.

Now, as much as ever, our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander friends, family, colleagues and fellow citizens need us to be standing with them to call on our governments to make fundamental changes.

I'll be saying more on all of this in the coming days and weeks.

For more Close the Gap campaign background and resources visit on our website.

Support Close the Gap: Take Action

NEW ANTaR BLOG OUT NOW

To mark the start of our campaign for National Close the Gap Day 2019 we've started a new blog. ANTaR President Dr Peter Lewis, Former President Janet Hunt and I have brought together a range of perspectives on the status of Close the Gap and where the focus should be in 2019.

Enjoy the further reading and please do send any thoughts, comments and feedback my way, I'd love to hear from you.

Where are we at with Closing the Gap? - Paul Wright, ANTaR National Director

A Reminder of Unfinished Busines...

11:11

February 15 #OnThisDay in #Australian #History "IndyWatch Feed National"

1795 - HMS Reliance and HMS Supply set sail from Portmouth for Sydney. On board were Capt John Hunter to take up his appointment as Governor of NSW, Master's Mate Matthew Flinders, Surgeon George Bass, with his boat, Tom Thumb, and Bennelong. [1]

1796 - John "Black" Caesar, the first bushranger and escaped convict, was shot by a settler at Liberty Plains (Strathfield). [2]


1802 - Twenty crew of the brig Lady Nelson, the first ship to enter Port Phillip Bay, met five Boon wurrung men on the beach near Arthurs Seat. They exchanged greetings and danced, but that afternoon violence erupted and contacts ceased. [3]

1822 - Elizabeth Henrietta Macquarie sailed forth into the sunset aboard the ship Surrey towards home in England. She managed to drag her little-known hubby, some bloke calling himself Gov Lachlan Macquarie, back home with her. [4]

1898 - Kathleen Margaret Maria Sherrard, geologist, was born today at North Carlton, Melbourne. After passing the senior public examination in December 1914, Kathleen entered the University of Melbourne (B.Sc., 1918; M.Sc., 1921), graduated with honours, and won Kernot and Caroline Kay research scholarships.
Her colleagues named Monograptus sherrardae in honour of her pioneering work in the study of graptolites. [5]

1930 - Dr Masako Izumin was born today at Sendai, Japan. Masako for some years was senior research fellow at the ANU in the Department of Mathematics, Research School of Physical Sciences. After due examination of her published work in the theory of Fourier Series and their summablility, she was admitted to the Degree of Doctor of Science in April 1976. [6]

1933 - A Torres Strait Islander was lucky to reach hospital after 2 days of travel after having been attacked by a shark whilst diving for Trochus at Barrow Point, 161 kms north of Cooktown. [7]

1934 Gra Gra aka Graham Kennedy was dropped off, not according to rumour by the White Crow but the stork.  [8]

1965 - The Freedom Riders protested outside the Walgett RSL Club because they had been told the club was not permitting entry for Indigenous ex-servicemen. They held signs that read: "Good enough for Tobruk - why not Walgett RSL?" and protested a womenswear store forbidding Indigenous women from trying on dresses.
Their presence was felt by the community and attempts were made to run the bus off the road as they left Walgett. [9]

1974 - The National Aboriginal Consultative Committee called for the Minster for Aboriginal Affairs, Senator Cavanagh, to be replaced. The...

10:59

Video: Australias summer heat records keep piling up "IndyWatch Feed National"

Climate change is influencing extreme weather, globally and locally. Devastating droughts and floods; severe heatwaves; earlier, hotter and more dangerous bushfire seasons the list goes on.

And this summer is shaping up to be one of Australias angriest yet, with cities and towns across the country smashing countless temperature records during December and January. News just in confirms January 2019 as our hottest month on record, directly after our hottest December on record.

Overall, 2018 was the worlds fourth hottest year on record for surface temperature (Australias third hottest (2)), and the hottest on record for the worlds oceans. It was a year in which several Australian states endured relentless drought, while others copped a drenching, and unprecedented bushfires.

And its people on the frontline of climate change, like Jim McDonald, who are being left exposed to its ever more damaging effects.

Jim, a fourth-generation farmer and Governor Member of Farmers for Climate Action, wants the Federal Government to start taking climate action seriously.

Hes joining the rallying call for a credible climate policy that cuts to the core of whats exacerbating this increasingly weird, wild weather: climate change, driven by the burning of coal, oil and gas. Hear what Jim has to say.

Video from The Climate Council

Farmers on the Frontline

"Stop talking about a drought policy. We need a climate policy." Temperatures nudging 50 degrees and crippling droughts- this is the new normal for Australia and its being driven by climate change. Get the latest on the effects of climate change on extreme weather in Australia here: https://climc.nl/wgw18

Posted by The Climate Council on Monday, February 4, 2019

The post...

10:15

The long road back to progressive politics: on Jeff Sparrows Trigger Warnings "IndyWatch Feed National"

Trigger Warnings is a brave book, best read as a call for the left to re-examine its strategies during a period of immense danger, to take stock of its key resources and to align itself with the experience of ordinary people without lessening its focus on sexism, racism or homophobia.

07:34

Australian cosmetic animal test ban bill passes Senate "IndyWatch Feed National"

In a move that will see thousands of animals a year saved from the pain and suffering of animal testing, the Australian Senate has passed the Governments Industrial Chemicals Bills 2017, including measures to prohibit reliance on new animal test data for chemicals introduced into Australia for use as ingredients in cosmetics.

Passage of the bill passed yesterday in Canberra, was made possible thanks to an agreement reached with Humane Society International (HSI) this week, which saw the Government commit to 11 substantial reinforcing measures to ensure that all cosmetic ingredients are captured by the ban, together with funding to support the development and uptake of modern non-animal test methods.

HSI, together with its #BeCrueltyFree Australia campaign partner Humane Research Australia, have welcomed the essential commitments which will ensure the implementation of a robust ban on cruel cosmetics in Australia.

HSI are pleased to welcome milestone

Hannah Stuart, HSI Campaign Manager for #BeCrueltyFree Australia, said they are pleased to welcome this milestone in moving to end reliance on cruel and outdated cosmetic animal testing in Australia. This weeks commitments by the Government to further restrict the use of new animal test data for cosmetic uses, and to reduce reliance on animal testing more broadly as well, come as a product of nearly three years of intensive negotiations with Humane Society International.

Paired with the Governments additional commitments to HSI, this ban reflects both the global trend to end cosmetics cruelty, and the will of the Australian public which opposes using animals in the development of cosmetics.

We thank the Government for showing leadership on this important issue, and HSI will continue to work with them to implement the commitments and enforce a robust ban.

This is a huge win for animals, consumers and science.

Stuart also said thay negotiations between HSI and the Government to secure the essential commitments and passage of the bill were made possible through overwhelming public and cross-party support of #BeCrueltyFree Australias campaign for a robust national ban on cruel cosmetics, and in particular through the support of key Coalition MPs Jason Wood and Steve Irons, as well as the crucial backing of Senate amendment and motion co-sponsors Labor, the Greens, Centre Alliance Senator Stirling Griff, Senator Derryn Hinch, and Senator Tim Storer.

The Governments additional commitments to HSI and #BeCrueltyFree Australia include:

Further crucial provisions in the Ministerial Rules that accompany the bill which will prohibit...

07:20

Adani in hot water over wetland breach "IndyWatch Feed National"

The Adani Group are in hot water again after news that they have had their second licence breach in two years.

The breach saw coal-contaminated water overflow from their port at Abbot Point into the Caley Valley Wetlands during last weeks heavy rainfall in Queensland.

Adani is currently being prosecuted by the Queensland government for a previous pollution breach, when it spilt more than 800% of the allowable level of coal-laden water into the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

On Tuesday, Adani admitted it had again exceeded its licence to pollute by almost double, releasing 58 mg total suspended solids (TSS) into the sensitive wetlands Adani is licensed to release a maximum of 30 mgs per litre of TSS.

A statement from Adani

In a statement from Abbot Point Operations Adani said: Abbot Point Operations today reconfirmed that flood waters moving across the site last week did not enter the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

However, flood water did enter the Caley Valley Wetlands via an authorized release point, as well as from the wetlands broader catchment area.

Flood water entering the wetlands from Abbot Point Operations authorized release point was sent for analysis to an accredited third-party, confirming the total suspended solids, or volume of other debris materials (like soil, plant material, dust and other particulate material) within the flood water, was 58 mg/L.

CEO of Abbot Point Operations, Mr Dwayne Freeman, said the flood water was not coal-laden sludge.

This is a very minor elevation in total suspended solids, following an extraordinary weather event that caused flooding and damage to much of North Queensland including many homes, businesses, and farms, said Mr Freeman said.

These preliminary test results are a testament to the infrastructure upgrade program and the tireless work of our dedicated employees. We are confident there will be no environmental impacts to the wetlands area, despite this unprecedented weather event.

Mr Freeman said that Abbot Point Operations is working closely with officials from the Queensland Governments Department of Environment and Science in relation to the flood waters entering the wetlands.

Once we found the flood waters had moved across the site and into the wetlands, we notified the Depart...

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Thursday, 14 February

16:54

Mental health issues in Kimba community divided by nuclear waste dump proposal Antinuclear

Nuclear waste site selection process triggers mental health concerns, business boycotts and division, FOI documents reveal https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-13/foi-documents-show-kimba-divided-over-nuclear-waste-site/10807462  ABC North and West By Gary-Jon Lysaght   (FOI documents are attached on the original) Freedom of Information (FOI) documents reveal the Federal Government has been aware of potential mental health issues, from as early as 2017, caused by the search for a site to store the nations nuclear waste.The Federal Government is currently considering two sites at Kimba and one near Hawker for a facility that would permanently store low-level waste and temporarily store medium-level waste.

Kimba, a small town on South Australias Eyre Peninsula, has been divided on whether to support or oppose the facility. Some residents believe the facility could help bring much-needed business to the rural town, while others suggest it could damage the regions agricultural reputation.

Many of the opposed group have raised the issue of mental health in submissions and direct discussions, the FOI documents, written in 2017, said.

They believe mental health issues are arising in Kimba due to the stress of b...

16:53

The worlds small creatures are being killed off by climate change Antinuclear

Climate change is killing off Earths little creatures http://theconversation.com/climate-change-is-killing-off-earths-little-creatures-109719, Bill Laurance, Distinguished Research Professor and Australian Laureate, James Cook University, February 12, 2019 Climate change gets blamed for a lot of things these days: inundating small islands, fueling catastrophic fires, amping-up hurricanes and smashing Arctic sea ice.
But a global review of insect research has found another casualty: 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered. It confirms what many have been suspecting: in...

16:49

Anti nuclear campaigner Eileen Wani Wingfield honoured posthumously at the 2018 SA Environment Awards. Antinuclear

Family accepts Lifetime Achiever Award in Eileens honour  https://www.transcontinental.com.au/story/5892492/eileen-wingfield-honoured-as-a-conservation-legend/?cs=1538&fbclid=IwAR0EgYbVPqxhd1EkhHXcL5Z-k8cuWyWWjDAHvuJznCeeDlliHoOudQ1toSo#slide=1, Amy Green, 13 Feb 19, 

16:46

Report on the global environmental crisis now at a critical stage Antinuclear


Environment in multiple crises report https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-47203344

Politicians and policymakers have failed to grasp the gravity of the environmental crisis facing the Earth, a report claims.

The think-tank IPPR says human impacts have reached a critical stage and threaten to destabilise society and the global economy.

Scientists warn of a potentially deadly combination of factors.

These include climate change, mass loss of species, topsoil erosion, forest felling and acidifying oceans.

The report from the centre-left...

16:42

UK removes from public access documents on nuclear energy and nuclear weapons history fr Antinuclear

The National 11th Feb 2019 ACCIDENT reports and safety reviews into nuclear weapons and atomic energy programmes in Scotland are among hundreds of documents to have been suddenly withdrawn from public view.

According to a report on the Sunday Post website, following a security review the files at the National Archives in Kew were removed so that they can no longer be accessed by the public. The move has been described as very concerning by the Campaign  for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). The documents relate to a range of topics on Britains nuclear weapons and atomic energy programmes, including the nuclear power plant in Dounreay, Caithness, as well as Chapelcross in
Dumfries and Galloway and the Hunterston A and Hunterston B power stations which are located in Ayrshire.
https://www.thenational.scot/news/17423745.scotlands-nuclear-history-suddenly-disappears-from-public-archive/

16:38

Dangers of USA plan for nuclear fuel factory to combine military and civilian use Antinuclear

Nuclear watchdogs warn against blurring energy, military uses at Ohio fuel plantNuclear watchdogs warn against blurring energy, military uses at Ohio fuel plant,  Energy News,  BY Kathiann M. Kowalski, 13 Feb 19, 
Combining the capability to make fuel for nuclear reactors and material for weapons undercuts nonproliferation efforts, critics say.

A planned nuclear fuel plant in Ohio could help enable the nations next wave of carbon-free electricity, a fleet of small reactors providing continuous power to the grid.

The U.S. Department of Energy fuel facility would be unique in part because it could also produce m...

16:33

Spain plans to close all nuclear plants by 2035 Antinuclear

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/spain-plans-to-close-all-nuclear-plants-by-2035-11239490, 13 Feb 19, MADRID: Spain aims to close all seven of its nuclear plants between 2025 and 2035 as part of plans to generate all the countrys electricity from renewable sources by 2050.

Energy Minister Teresa Ribera announced the move on Tuesday (Feb 12), just as the Socialist government gears up to call an early national election in anticipation of losing a budget vote.

Overhauling Spains energy system, which generated 40 per cent of its mainland electricity from renewable sources in 2018, will require investment of 235 billion euros (US$266 billion) between 2021 and 2030, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said last month.

Ribera said the government would present a draft plan to combat climate change, which had been due to be sent to the European Union for approval by the end of last year, to parliament on Feb 22.

Under a draft bill prepared last year, the government aims to ban sales of petrol, diesel and hybrid cars from 2040 and encourage the installation of at least 3,000 megawatts a year of renewable capacity such as wind farms and solar plants.

Phasing out nuclear power, which accounts for a little over 20 per cent of mainland Spains electricity, was a campaign pledge for the governing Socialists, who took office last summer after toppling their conservative predecessors in a confidence vote.

Spains nuclear plants, which started operating between 1983 and 1988, are owned by Iberdrola, Italian-owned Endesa, Naturgy and Portugals EDP.

16:32

Next generation nuclear companies press Trump administration to help them to sell nuclear reactors overseas Antinuclear

CEOs Ask Trump to Help Them Sell Nuclear Power Plants Abroad, Bloomberg, By Jennifer A Dlouhy,  Ari Natter, and Jennifer Jacobs, February 13, 2019,   Executives say they compete with China, Russia and France,  Thriving nuclear development key to U.S. security, they say

U.S. nuclear energy developers on Tuesday met with President Donald Trump and asked for help winning contracts to build power plants in the Middle East and elsewhere overseas..

..The push comes as developers seek U.S. government approval of next-generation advanced and small modular nuclear reactors and the administrations help in selling their products to the world. The International Atomic Energy Agency predicts that some 554 gigawatts of nuclear electric generating capacity will come online by 2030, a 42 percent increase over current levels.

The White House meeting included representatives from a range of nuclear developers, including NuScale Power LLCTerraPower LLCWestinghouse Electric Co. LLC and General Electric Co, as well as suppliers Centrus Energy Corp. and Lightbridge Corp. and other companies. It was initiated by Jack Keane, a retired Army general and the co-founder of IP3 International, a company that has advocated American nuclear power development in the Middle East, according to two people familiar with the session.

The executives sought to enlist Trump in their bid to make U.S. nuclear power more competitive globally, such as with financing assistance to vie against subsidized companies. Russia, China and France are also seeking to build nuclear plants overseas.

The developers argued that U.S. national security would be jeopardized if the country cedes its role as a chief developer of civilian nuclear power plants. As the domestic nuclear fleet ages and the prospects for building a new wave of plants diminish exporting the technology globally is a way to ensure a robust and thriving U.S. brain trust on nuclear power.

..One possibilit...

16:27

Court judgment a precedent for climate to weigh more than coal business in legal cases? Antinuclear

Landmark Rocky Hill ruling could pave the way for more courts to choose climate over coal, ABC, The Conversation By Justine Bell-James, 12 Feb 19, On Friday, Chief Judge Brian Preston of the New South Wales Land and Environment Court handed down a landmark judgementconfirming...

16:24

Surveillance of anti-nuclear writers in Australia Antinuclear

Dan Monceaux shared a link.Nuclear Fuel Cycle Watch South Australia, 13 Feb 19, 
During 2016, towards the end of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission, it became abundantly clear that I was under watch day and night.

Now in 2019, after nearly three successive years of detectable surveillance, I finally got around to requesting my ASIO file. You might like to do the same especially if youve been following or participating in political or scientific discussions related to nuclear energy or weapons for longer than I have.

When I inquired about the process, the National Archives advised me If you think ASIO may hold records on yourself, please complete and submit this Intelligence or surveillance records inquiry form http://reftracker.naa.gov.au/reft100.aspx?key=05ASIORef.

Seems straightforward enough.https://www.f...

13:10

Trump doesnt back down; he doubles down "IndyWatch Feed Economics.au"

The Agora Financial Cup is still in safekeeping in my house. Its up for grabs again when I visit!

That was Jim Rickards sneaky little PS note in one of our personal emails on Tuesday.

Jim and I had just wrapped up an hour-long Skype interview. The interview was all business, of course

but then Jim had to remind me that he outplayed me at pool, two to one.

This Agora Financial Cup all started over margaritas and local Nicaraguan beers a few years ago.

We were at a conference in Rancho Santana, Nicaragua. The business part of the day was done. The 20 or so of us who work with Jim were keen to wind down. The pool table was free.

I relayed a story to Jim about how my old man used to hustle at pool while at art school. I think Jim mistakenly took me to be a pool shark. The balls were set upand somehow I won with a lucky side pocket eight-ball shot.

At the end of that match, and gracious in defeat, Jim created the Agora Financial Cup challenge.

So far, weve played pool on three different continents.

And every single time we have been in the same city, we make sure we have a rematch.

People often ask me what sort of guy Jim is. My answer is always the same.

When youre hanging out with Jim over the clacking of balls and a whiskey of your choice, its easy to forget he is one of the most eminent contrarian economists of our time

Forcing China to talk

As I said, the day Jim sent that email through secretly taunting me about losing the pool game! wed just finished an hour-long Skype interview.

On Tuesday this week, Jim and I arranged an exclusive interview for subscribers of Strategic Intelligence Australia.

And in this interview, we left no stone unturned. We talked trade wars, currency wars, financial warfare, secret happenings in the gold marketand how the Reserve Bank of Australia is the most confused central bank in the world.

One of the key topics we focused on was the Chinese trade war. As Jim pointed out, while it will have some effect on the US, any fallout will have a much bigger impact on Australia.

And the trade war isnt abo...

12:22

A Reminder of Unfinished Business "IndyWatch Feed National"

As we turn our minds to another February Closing the Gap speech from the Australian Prime Minister, a practice begun by Kevin Rudd in 2010, we hold in our minds a quiet fear that all this ritual, all these numbers, belie the nagging feeling that we are getting no-where in our attempts as a nation to redress Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander disadvantage. 

To my Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters I just want to say, ala George in Seinfeld, its not you its me.  Or more to the point, the failure to close the gap is the failure of non-Indigenous governments, institutions and people to close the most important gap - that of our relationship to each other. 

The central fault is our failing to respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples agency, culture and right to self-determination.

After all, our relationship began poorly, Lieutenant Cook (his actual rank) failed to seek the consent of the natives, Governor Phillip tried but failed to create a positive relationship and Governor Macquarie wanted to bring terror to the survivors, not to mention the bringing of disease. 

The lands and waters we now call Australia were possessed by a violent process of gradual eviction and degradation of the environment, something that continues to occur to this day (particularly if mining or potential fracking is involved). 

There has been no consent given and no treaty made.

The failure to treat has meant that our treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has created all these gaps, which we belatedly seek to close.  And we keep getting it wrong.  The COAG Closing the Gap policy begun by Prime Minister Rudd was tainted by the continuation of the Northern Territory Emergence Intervention.  The promise of Mabo and the dismissing of the myth of terra nullius was made conditional by the Native Title Act and then tortuous by John Howards Ten Point Plan. 

More recently, after years of discussion and consultation, recognition of the legal status and rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia, culminating in the gracious Statement from the Heart, was summarily dismissed by the Turnbull Government. 

Each positive step is met and checkmated by non-Indigenous fear to commit. 

We are a nation with arrested development and historical amnesia. To think that the 26th of January could ever be a day of unity for the n...

12:16

Video: Australians join battle to stop brutal dolphin slaughter in Japan "IndyWatch Feed National"

Dolphin protectors came to the cove in Taiji, to expose the brutal killing the mammals. People from various countries, including Australia, joined protectors from Japan.

It is full hunting season and Japans law protecting mammals does not cover dolphins, since they are characterised as fish.

Opponents of the slaughter are taking the local governor to court over this wrong interpretation.

They also say that under Japanese law, no person shall kill, injure, or inflict cruelty on animals without reason, and that this is being violated.

Every year 20,000 dolphins and small whales are killed.

International pressure is still needed to put an end to the cruelty.

Viewers are warned that the scenes below can be distressing.

video from Guardian News

Sign the petition at the International Marine Mammal Project

The post Video: Australians join battle to stop brutal dolphin slaughter in Japan appeared first on The Pen.

Wednesday, 13 February

17:15

Australia: Aboriginal protesters explain motivations behind Canberra sit-in "IndyWatch Feed National"

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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders protesting in the Marble Foyer at Parliament House in Canberra.

About 100 Indigenous people and supporters called for an end to fracking, coal mining and water sharing.

NITV, Feb. 13, 2019

Bradley Farrar had never been on a plane before he made the journey from the Northern Territory to Canberra to join a sit-in about environmental issues.

The clan leader of the Alawa tribe felt compelled to come and represent his people, who he says will suffer if planned gas fracking projects eventuate.

Me and my people, we live off the land. We get fish from the water, we get kangaroo and turkey off the land seeds, we grind them up and make flour, Mr Farrar said.

If they do fracking in my land, everything wil...

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