Australia and Israel: an ambiguous relationship invites fresh examination

Australia and Israel appear unlikely bedfellows. The two countries are separated by vast distances and multiple timezones. Israel, surrounded by hostile neighbours, must foster diplomatic ties with a disparate collection of nations including the US and Micronesia. Australia’s economic and strategic future increasingly lies with Asia. Yet, for all that separates the two countries, key connections can be identified.Australia has been described as the midwife at the birth of the State of Israel in 1948. In the early 1940s, a group of Australian Jewish businessmen lobbied Australia’s then-foreign minister, Doc Evatt. Their quest was to champion the Zionist cause – the creation of an independent Jewish nation-state.

via Australia and Israel: an ambiguous relationship invites fresh examination.

The Strangest White House Correspondents’ Dinner Ever –

On Saturday, March 15, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt arrived at the Willard Hotel at 7 p.m. and was greeted by the U.S. Navy Band, which played “Hail to the Chief” and “Anchors Aweigh.” He was then moved from his wheelchair into a special chair brought over from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner. Seated between outgoing association President Thomas F. Reynolds of United Press, and his successor, John C. O’Brien of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Roosevelt laughed at the reporters’ jokes and sang along loudly when George H. O’Connor crooned his usual medley of Irish and popular songs. While Roosevelt ate South American honeydew, supreme of sea bass Victoria au crouton, and breast of guinea hen forestière, the Navy Band played and a chorus from the Naval School of Music sang. Then came a faux newsreel produced by Paramount, which included a segment making fun of the Lend-Lease Act debate. It was nine months before Pearl Harbor.

via The Strangest White House Correspondents’ Dinner Ever –

Disabled need a louder voice than ever

Dear Adam Creighton,

I have seen you on the ABC’s The Drum. I know you are economics correspondent for The Australian, have worked for the Reserve Bank and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.

I am writing to you about your comments on Thursday, after we learnt the government no longer intends to renew the position of Disability Discrimination Commissioner with the Human Rights Commission. You said: “Lots of people are discriminated against. Why don’t we have a gay rights commissioner, or a left-handed commissioner, or a short persons commissioner, or a commissioner for people who aren’t good-looking.”

via Disabled need a louder voice than ever. SMH

#LaSalida? Venezuela at a Crossroads | The Nation

Ukraine. Bosnia. Venezuela.

Tear gas. Masks. Water cannons.

Ours is an age of riots and rebellions, of radical self-creation in the heady streets: Spain’s indignados, the Occupy movement, Mexico’s Yo Soy 132, and of course the Arab Spring. We are understandably excited when we see people in the streets, and our pulse may even rise at the sight of masks, broken glass and flames, because for so long such images have represented the shards of the old world through which we can catch the perceptible glint of the new. Recent protests in Venezuela against the government of Chávez successor Nicolás Maduro might therefore seem to be simply the latest act in an upsurge of world-historic proportions.

Not so fast.

via #LaSalida? Venezuela at a Crossroads | The Nation.

If Abbott is elected, Australia’s natural wonders will gradually be rubbed away | George Monbiot | Comment is free |

His views have changed, but don’t expect Tony Abbott to acknowledge this, let alone apologise to Australians for misleading them. In 2009 he maintained that manmade climate change is “absolute crap”. Now he says “I think that climate change is real, humanity makes a contribution.” But he has merely switched from denying global warming to denying the need to act on it.Abbott is following a familiar script – the 4 Ds of climate change inaction promoted by fossil fuel lovers the world over. Deny, then defer, then delay, then despair.

via If Abbott is elected, Australia’s natural wonders will gradually be rubbed away | George Monbiot | Comment is free |

Peace Writ Small: Reflections on “Peacebuilding” in Iraq, Burma, Israel and Palestine, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, the Balkans and Beyond « Jeffrey C. Goldfarb’s Deliberately Considered

Over the course of my career as a practitioner and researcher in the field known as “peacebuilding,” I have worked alongside thousands of people in conflicted societies, including in Iraq, Burma, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, the Balkans, and elsewhere. In this article, I explore a dilemma I see in the field, namely the increasingly singular emphasis on grand narratives of peace, known as “Peace Writ Large.” I fear that this frame, while valuable in many ways, may have the unintended consequence of actually undermining inquiry into and support for the powerful micro interactions that occur in even the most polarized conflicts. I argue that we must not lose sight of the power embodied in “peace writ small.”Since the mid-1990s, approaches to theory-building, policy-making and intervention in conflict have increasingly emphasized macro, long-term societal changes, first under the rubric of “conflict transformation” and now “peacebuilding”.

via Peace Writ Small: Reflections on “Peacebuilding” in Iraq, Burma, Israel and Palestine, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, the Balkans and Beyond « Jeffrey C. Goldfarb’s Deliberately Considered.

Julia Gillard and the women in cabinet Critical Mass | Anna Goldsworthy | The Monthly

It is the first sitting week in parliament. Somewhere up north, a man draws lewd cartoons of the prime minister. It is compulsive, self-pleasuring behaviour. He simply cannot stop himself. Closer to home, a deposed leader accepts a role on breakfast television. No, he says with a tight smile, he is not planning another challenge to the leadership. Everyone should take a very long cold shower. The new prime-ministerial glasses open their own Twitter account. Countless column inches are dedicated to the fact that too many column inches have been dedicated to the new prime-ministerial glasses. The press brays from the gallery. It is chaos in there – chaos! – and they have the anonymous sources to prove it.

In an anteroom by the prime minister’s office, a group of seven women sits around a table. They appear to be enjoying each other’s company.

via Julia Gillard and the women in cabinet Critical Mass | Anna Goldsworthy | The Monthly.

I just love this group of strong, brave women. To think that Australians want to vote them out and cote the silly team of Abbott in! Just crazy!!

The facts won’t speak for themselves – The Drum – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

The left may have a host of number crunchers, graph bloggers and fact checkers, but as the conservative political machine knows best, you don’t need the truth on your side to win an argument, writes Jonathan Green.

The conventional wisdom has it (a wisdom somewhat sensitive to the aspirations of Labor, it must be said) that the ALP’s great electoral deficiency lies in its inability to sell a compelling message.

If only, the argument goes, the Australian voting public could glimpse the abundant good works of this Government. If it could but feel the width of the legislation, the solidity of the economic management, the vaulting agenda of constructive social reform … if voters could truly see these things, how could they contemplate any vote other than a Julia Gillard vote?

via The facts won’t speak for themselves – The Drum – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Wong rules out spending cuts to boost budget – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Finance minister Penny Wong has rejected reports suggesting the Government will resort to spending cuts to balance its budget bottom line.

The Government’s monthly financial statements reveal an underlying cash deficit of $22.3 billion.

That is significantly higher than the $19.8 billion deficit previously flagged by Treasurer Wayne Swan

via Wong rules out spending cuts to boost budget – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Wake up, Australia! You’re being brainwashed by the right | Independent Australia

My father used to say:

“If tell someone long enough that they are an idiot they will believe they are.”

(He was condemning those parents who spoke to their children in such a manner.)

You would have to have been living under a mushroom not to notice over the past two years the repetitive slogans and words such as “liar” and “lie” that Abbott et al have repeated ad nauseum in every single Question Time, Parliamentary debate, door stop, TV/radio interview and every press release.

Of course, it is quite deliberate.

But not only that, it is designed.

Conservative think tanks in America have been working on linguistic programming based on neuroscience for the past 40 years in order to “frame” specific wording into their political narrative — in order to brainwash you.

And, oh, how successful they have been.

via Wake up, Australia! You're being brainwashed by the right | Independent Australia.