dreamer_easy: (feh muh nist)
As you may have guessed, during my attempted Year Off Politics, I've been trying to sort of quarantine Srs Bizness over here in [livejournal.com profile] kateorman, along with my obsessive tallying of my reading, while preserving [livejournal.com profile] dreamer_easy for more relaxed everyday chit-chat. I am trying to avoid Issues and things, really I am, but I started reading the newspaper again during the recent election, which was a mistake, and of course I just keep stumbling across things. A trickle of race-and-racism stuff is still popping up [livejournal.com profile] seeingred, plus I've just fired up [livejournal.com profile] suck_it_and_see. I'm not quite sure whether this filing system is working or whether I'm making a dog's breakfast of it. Never mind, it all looks the same in your flist!

Anywho, a couple of links. At least one politician thinks we should Ban how-to-vote leaflets at polling places. I entirely agree. The current situation means no candidate can afford not to be waving bits of paper in your face on the day, which is irksome for voters and hard tew for the volunteers. Ban them and we can all go home and relax.

The Daily Show punctures the non-Ground Zero non-mosque hoo hah, with a little help from a highlighter pen and Charlton Heston. (Hmmm. Actually, I'm not sure I agree re Columbine, because I'm not sure that the NRA's culpability is non-zero. Here I don't mean "not sure" as in "well obviously it isn't I am being sarcastic", I mean "not sure" as in "I don't know". But then, I am biased.)

In conclusion could I just state that if you take Valium but still have insomnia, you can't go to sleep, but neither can you get out of bed.
dreamer_easy: (moon)
Posted another [livejournal.com profile] suck_it_and_see, this time in response to the Climate Sceptics Party brochure that came through the letterbox today. Most of their claims are just irrelevant ("Humans are 18% carbon... carbon dioxide is NOT a poisonous gas.") but there was one I'd never heard before: "Many other factors, such as solar activity, El Nino and lunar orbital cycles, significantly influence the weather and the world's climate."

Lunar orbital cycles?! Google as I might, I can't figure that one out. Anybody got the skinny? (Also, is my explanation clear enough?)

Election tomorrow, thank heavens. Remember, if you don't want a handout at the polling place, just smile and say "No thanks".

ETA: Interestingly, the brochure makes no mention of the hacked email controversy; I wonder if that's because the bit I debunked comes from the same place as the hacked emails? It'd be a bit cheeky to quote them as evidence on the one hand and dismiss them as liars on the other.
dreamer_easy: (Default)
Via [livejournal.com profile] hnpcc: the very useful Below the Line shows you the preference flow for each party.

Still on Australian politics: Wendy Francis' statements about same-sex parenting are incorrect.
dreamer_easy: (homeoboxual)
New South Wales: Gay adoption ban to stay
"The State Government has decided not to allow same-sex couples to adopt, ignoring a parliamentary inquiry that said changing the law would 'ensure the best interests of children'. The Government said yesterday there was insufficient community support to justify new legislation on the topic."
If you support gay adoption, please send a polite email to linda.burney@parliament.nsw.gov.au stating, "I support the right of same-sex couples to adopt", or similar. Doesn't have to be more than that basic statement. If you're in NSW, you can include your suburb or town and postcode. Feel free to pass this message on.

ETA: I got an auto answer asking me to email office@burney.minister.nsw.gov.au, so that's probably the best address to use.
dreamer_easy: (CURRENT AFFAIRS)
I've given in and am reading the newspaper again. Oy.

UN says Aboriginal health conditions worse than Third World: "Basic needs, such as adequate housing, safe drinking water and sanitation and access to education are not being met." How can any Australian in the 21st Century be living in conditions like that?! In fairness, the government has increased spending on Indigneous health, but the UN rapporteur says the money needs to go to "Aboriginal community-controlled health services". So yet again it comes back to self-determination rather than well-meaning but perpetually ineffective paternalism. (I'm trying to find the recent Remote Indigenous Services report which outlines some of the problems, including bureaucrats sitting on data.)

While I'm grumbling, what else is blindingly obvious, and yet somehow is constantly overlooked? Oh yeah: "The first step towards peace is for both sides to stop saying 'We're the innocent victims and the other guys are evil' - which is the discourse that predominates both in the Arab world and the Jewish world. We have to transcend the blame game and move to a discourse of mutual compassion."
dreamer_easy: (DEBUNKING)
I'm dubious about opinion pieces which paint an entire part of the political spectrum with one brush, which The Republican Party Is Turning Into A Cult, over at the Huffington Post, arguably does. But it's worth skipping over those exasperated opening paragraphs to the meat of the matter:
"The US is the only major industrialized country that does not provide regular healthcare to all its citizens. Instead, they are required to provide for themselves -- and just under 50 million people can't afford the insurance. As a result, 18,000 US citizens die every year needlessly, because they can't access the care they require. That's equivalent to six 9/11s, every year, year on year. Yet the Republicans have accused the Democrats who are trying to stop all this death by extending healthcare of being "killers" -- and they have successfully managed to put them on the defensive.

The Republicans want to defend the existing system, not least because they are given massive sums of money by the private medical firms who benefit from the deadly status quo. But they can't do so honestly: some 70 percent of Americans say it is "immoral" to retain a medical system that doesn't cover all citizens. So they have to invent lies to make any life-saving extension of healthcare sound depraved."
(Emphases mine.)

(Bet you wish you hadn't got me interested in this stuff now! Sorry, guys...)

ETA: That 18,000 figure is solid - it's from the Institute of Medicine. And, as the comments folks are leaving here are making clear to me, that's just part of the picture - even if you can afford some insurance, you're still likely to be looking at huge medical bills. No wonder (and that Huff Post op-ed should have acknowledged this) there's a consensus in US politics that this is wrong and needs fixing.)


Jul. 4th, 2009 11:39 am
dreamer_easy: (BLUE ROSE)
Amnesty accuses Israel over Gaza. Hamas, too. The Amnesty report is available online: Operation "Cast Lead": 22 days of death and destruction

Israel draws up strategy for PR offensive: "It is not enough for Israel to say that it wants peace. You must also say that you are not a thief. We did not steal another people's land. That is the core of this conflict."

Speaking for myself, I actually don't really care about any of that. All I care about is people blowing up each others' kids, right now. As AI points out, though, both sides use politics and history as their excuse for randomly killing civilians. Either there's something wrong with me or I'm taking a particular philosophical approach that I don't know the name of.

In any case, Israel could pull off a PR coup right now simply by allowing Gazans access to water, sanitation, and medical care.
dreamer_easy: (TELEVISION)
Leaked documents confirm resident's fear of foul pulp mill: "The chemicals in pulp mill odours are some of the most objectionable smelling compounds known to science. The worst is methyl mercaptan, which smells like stale sewage. When we got out of the minibus in the car park [at a Swedish "world's best practice" pulp mill, Resource, Planning and Development Commission head] Julian Green very quickly became distressed - he couldn't breathe. I found the odour intensely objectionable, and within a matter of minutes, Julian Green was gasping and saying: 'For God's sake get me out of here.'" (The environment and neighbouring businesses aside - people are supposed to *work* in that?)

Double-blind review favours increased representation of female authors: when authors' names are removed from scientific papers being considered for publication, more women end up being published. (Thanks, [livejournal.com profile] dameruth!)

Can Psychiatrists Really "Cure" Homosexuality? "Masters and Johnson claimed to convert gays to heterosexuality in a 1979 book. But did they?" (In related news, Z and Vielpunkt are now proud gay parents.)

The first forty seconds of Zero Punctuation's review of a video game called "Too Human" outlines the case for the inherent superiority of polytheism. *smug*

In the name of the father - MPs flock to Jesus: "A new study shows federal MPs are invoking Christian beliefs with increasing frequency to justify their policies and articulate their personal values and visions for the nation." I question the researcher's apparent conclusion that 9/11 resulted in "erosion of the traditional view that political decision-making should be based on rational arguments rather than on religious faith or doctrine", though, as these are not mutually exclusive. I'll try to get hold of the journal article to get more specifics. In the meantime here's a sort of summary thing by the researcher.

Find My iPhone works, and it is awesome. A guy and his friends use GPS to recover his iPhone from a thief.


Apr. 21st, 2009 09:41 am
dreamer_easy: (BLUE ROSE)
The Coalition, knowing a nice little vote-earner when they see one, want to reinstate Temporary Protection Visas. These are illegal for more than one reason: they're intended to deter refugees from seeking safety (which they don't), and they discriminate against refugees. In this instance, I don't mean "technically asylum seekers but almost certainly refugees"; I mean people who have been proven to be genuine refugees, fleeing persecution, torture, and death. On a TPV, a refugee can't work, can't use Medicare, can't bring their family to safety - and has no way of knowing whether this really is safety, or whether they'll be sent back to the horrors they tried to escape. As you can imagine, this fucks them up.

At least the bastards aren't proposing throwing another billion dollars down the maw of the Pacific Solution. (And thank heavens for the Coalition members who oppose the return to TPVs.)

ETA: If you read one document about this issue, read the Refugee Council of Australia's press release. It has the facts and also a dose of black humour: "The temporary protection policy was conceived by Pauline Hanson. When she raised the suggestion in 1998, former Coalition Minister for Immigration, Phillip Ruddock, described it in Parliament 'as highly unconscionable in a way that most thinking people would clearly reject'. The Howard government proceeded to introduce it the following year."
dreamer_easy: (BRIC A BRAC)
A business show inadvertently broadcast a photo of a cat on a bike in the middle of a report. "A cryptic anti-capitalistic message?" pondered Mediawatch. However, as there was no caption, we have to assume the message was "Your argument is invalid".

There's liquid water on Mars. Ergo, IMHO, there's life. We just have to find the little green buggers.

World's fittest Deaf man tells the funny story of Mountain Dew man. Watch this even if you don't know ASL - you'll be able to follow much of it even without subtitles.

Did I link this already? The Daily Show 22 January 2009. "If you don't stick to your values when they're being tested, they're not values. They're hobbies. You know, one of the genius moves of the Founding Fathers was not writing the Bill of Rights on the back window of a dusty van. 'The British are coming!' 'Huh?' *mimes rubbing off the writing with his elbow, squeaky squeaky squeak*
dreamer_easy: (BLUE ROSE)
Would it be reasonable to say that the mechanics of Israel's electoral system are a major obstruction to the peace process? If I'm understanding correctly what I'm reading in the press, the blunt proportional representation hands power to the fringes. It's a bit like those annoying situations in Australia where a single independent is suddenly calling the shots, just because they have the tie-breaking vote. Might Israelis, and the region, be better off with (for example) a bicameral system, or at any rate, some kind of electoral reform?

An email doing the rounds has a crafty Benjamin Netanyahu pwning a British interviewer on the topic of proportionality by bringing up the bombing of Dresden. Snopes describes it as "partly true", producing interviews from 2006 in which Netanyahu has indeed had an attack of tu quoque. Dresden seems like an odd example to bring up; for Britons, it's long been a subject of regret and controversy, and some commentators have branded it a war crime.

ETA: On the subject of Snopes: the claim that Obama has set aside millions to resettle hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the US is a lie.
dreamer_easy: (FRIENDLY CONDOM)
Obama persuaded the Democrats to drop a provision expanding Medicaid contraception coverage from the economic stimulus bill. The Wash Post describes this as a "show of faith" - a willingness to compromise by responding to conservative criticism of the provision. The bill would have saved hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid payments. Planned Parenthood asks you to call or email the White House and has more information. Obviously, there has to be compromise in the creation of the economic stimulus package, but it makes no sense to drop a provision that would save money and prevent abortions.


Jan. 27th, 2009 06:22 pm
dreamer_easy: (BLUE ROSE)
Right then - now that I am suitably cushioned by alcohol, let's see where we're up to in the Middle East. (You guys have given me lots of links and thinks - I'll come back to them.)

At a Flash Point in Gaza, A Family's Deadly Ordeal - a report from today's Washington Post considers the legality of Israel's actions during Operation Cast Lead.

A thought-provoking opinion piece from an Israeli peace activist: Israel Must Stop Fanning the Flames That Will Consume Us. Makes a very interesting connection with the 2006 war with Lebanon. And also points out: "Israel, which is many times stronger than they [Palestinians] are, has tremendous power to control the level of violence in the conflict as a whole. As such, it can also have a profound influence on calming the conflict and extricating both sides from its cycle of destruction."

Hamas tried to hijack ambulances during Gaza war. This is worth reading just for the awesome bottle of the Red Crescent ambulance driver, caught between Hamas thugs and Israeli snipers. Also gives a general picture of the mess, including Hamas' retaliation against alleged collaborators, its slipping popularity, and the forthcoming Israeli election. The BBC has more on Hamas' loss of support. (Or is this just wishful thinking?)

Hamas claims it's still smuggling in weapons. Certainly the tunnels were open for business as soon as the killing stopped.

Meanwhile, politics complicates efforts to rebuild.

A former European Commissioner suggests some ways forward - include Hamas and also nearby countries in talks; complete the withdrawal of settlements from the West Bank.

Obama's administration intend to "actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace".

I'd like to close on a bleakly humorous note with a Guardian columnist's suggestion that the BBC's refusal to screen a charity appeal for Gaza from the Disasters Emergency Committee, is timidity resulting from the Jonathan Ross - Russell Brand fuckup.
dreamer_easy: (BLUE ROSE)
The thing I want to find out is what Israel's other options are. Everything they're doing right now seems, to my admittedly underinformed eyes, to be counterproductive - at least, if the goal is peace, 'cos that's not always what politicians are trying to accomplish. I want to find out what alternative strategies Israel could use - military tactics, political initiatives, anything which might actually work.


Jan. 23rd, 2009 09:20 am
dreamer_easy: (BLUE ROSE)
Obama urges Israel open Gaza crossings to aid

Under the border with Egypt, Gaza's smugglers return to work.

(tbh I'm not clear on why Israel blockaded Gaza in the first place, nor why it has maintained the blockade. As a military tactic, it's an obvious flop.)

UN fears 'systematic war crimes' during Gaza offensive

Shooting and shelling go on in Gaza, ceasefire or not. "We are a strong people. We are still alive, but nothing has changed. We are still shooting at them and they are still shooting at us. The borders are still closed, and we cannot leave. I think we will go on like this for ever." :(


Jan. 19th, 2009 06:38 am
dreamer_easy: (BLUE ROSE)
ETA: Hamas announces ceasefire; Israel begins withdrawing troops

The UN says that Israel kept out aid for Gaza, with food and supplies only trickling in during the last six months before Operation Cast Lead, and suggests this contributed to Hamas' decision to break the truce.

Although I don't fully grasp the situation, I'm disturbed by reports that Arab Israeli parties have been banned from February's election, apparently because of their opposition to the war.

Amnesty International has a Q&A on the conflict, posted on the 12th, with answers provided by apparently the most patient woman on the planet. AI's position, put very simply, is the same as my own: both sides in the conflict must obey the law.
dreamer_easy: (torchwood thumbs up!)
Remember those icon, t-shirts, etc, which just said "01.20.09"?


dreamer_easy: (Default)

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