Team Oz vs Team un-OZ : New Sports Policy for OZ

tonyAbbot caracature

by Des Pensable. (c) 2014.

The Prime Minister has today announced that owing to the love of sport in OZ all future government business will be framed in a sporting context. The government team will be known as Team Oz and the Opposition will be known as Team un-OZ.

John Crooked, a spokesman representing the Minister for Sport was present to answer any questions.

Allen Goodman, from the Independent Media. My question is :    “John Crooked you are currently employed as a political reporter by the US Muppet Media. How can you work as the spokesperson for the Team Oz without there being a conflict of interest?”

John Crooked replied: “What media organisation do you represent. I haven’t heard of it, so you’re unimportant. Piss off mate this for a news briefing for real reporters.’

John Fairman, from the Defender newspaper. “My question is the same as Allen Goodman’s.”

John Crooked replied. “Oh. That’s a reasonable question. I’m the new spokesman for the Team OZ as the position of spokesman has been privatised and US Muppet Media won the tender. My boss at US Muppet Media said I could work in both jobs so I don’t see any conflict of interest.”

Allen Goodman, from the Independent Media again :  “When did the Department of Sport privatise the spokesperson position? We heard nothing about any privatisation or tenders. Who else tendered for the job? Is it even legal under our Constitution?”

John Crooked replied: “I’m sorry mate I told you we don’t recognise or answer to any independent media only corporate media. So get lost or we’ll get security to throw you out.”

John Fairman, from the Defender, again. “My question is the same as that of Allen Goodman.”

John Crooked.  “I’m sorry Mr Fairman, please let’s be fair to all the others, you asked your question earlier. The limit is one question per person. Next person please.’

I’m Partly Bent, from the Fair Facts News. My question is:   “Are there any changes to the rules of the game with the new sports oriented government?”

John Crooked. “That’s a good question. In the past we’ve used British rules and more recently Aussie rules but considering how successful they’ve been around the world the new look  Team OZ has decided to go for USA rules. The Department of Sport has hired coaches from the USA to ensure we correctly interpret their rules. They have also hired a leading US Public Relations company, which is a division of US Muppet Media to help us create inspiring sporting songs oriented around the concepts of ‘Greed is Good’ and ‘Might is Right.”

I’m Bea Honey from the Aussie Public News. My question is:   “When did parliament discuss this change in policy and has it been voted on by parliament?”

John Crooked. “Aussie Public News, I thought you’d been privatised. No sorry that’s next year.  Look honey for what it’s worth I’m just the spokesman for Team OZ. I don’t make the decisions on what parliament does or doesn’t do or even what to tell you. Our boss at US Muppet Media does that. I’ll ask someone in the USA and get back to you on that. Now only one more question please.”

Richard Sole from Gutter News. :   “I’ve heard that Team OZ are considering wearing imported budgie smugglers to parliament rather than Aussie made ones. Is there any truth in that?”

John Crooked. “It’s a scurrilous lie perpetrated by Mr Palmoil and his buddies the Green Bludgers. Team OZ are true blue and would never wear any budgie smugglers from any other country except perhaps the USA but as far as I’m aware our purchasing department said that no one there knew what they were.”

Asked for an opinion on the new initiative by Team OZ, the Captain of Team un-OZ said  “What Team OZ have done is just not cricket!”

When asked for an opinion on the news the Green Bludgers Party pointed out that they had not yet decided on a new name for their team but leading contenders were the Liberate OZ from the Crazies team; Honesty in Sport team or simply the Greens for Good Government team.

The leader of the coalition partners of Team OZ had the last word. ‘We’re too busy organising mining contracts to bother about the game but I hope everyone enjoys it.’

team USA

An Apology to my Grandchildren About Global Warming

after the flood

copyright Des Pensable , 2014.

Dear (insert names),

I would like to apologise to you all for my inaction on Global Warming and hopefully explain why with all the scientific evidence available I chose to do nothing to help stop the problem which now threatens your lives.

I was born just after a great world war which was supposed to be the war to end all wars. I was brought up in a world that craved peace and security for their families. We just wanted to live and love and have a wonderful life. We all dreamed of having our own homes, a good job, a car and lots of time to be with our family.

In fact, the first three decades after the war the future looked very rosy, but slowly everything in our world changed and we all became greedy for material goods. It may surprise you to know that when I was born there was no television, stereo music, computers, mobile phones, supermarkets, jet planes, McDonalds, Internet, Google, Facebook or most of the things that you take for granted. They were all invented in my lifetime and we all wanted them.

At first we just wanted things that would improve our home life such as refrigerators, washing machines, a telephone and television. Of course, once we got TV our whole life changed. We had constant entertainment to take our minds off the world’s problems and we were seduced with advertising showing us all the new things that we could buy if we had money.

Did you know that when I was born there were no credit cards. If I wanted to buy something I had to earn the money first, saving every dollar and then buy it. When I did buy things it was very exciting and they were precious as I had to go without other things so that I could have them. Then the banks gave us credit cards and lots of credit. We didn’t have to save anymore. We bought everything we wanted and then worked to pay them back.

What we didn’t realise was at that moment we stopped being free. When we accepted the credit cards and began to buy everything we saw on the TV, we got into debt with the banks. It created a new problem which we were unprepared to handle. It’s called a debt cycle.

When you get into debt you need to work harder to get more money to pay back what you already owe to the banks. But after working hard all day and relaxing in front of the TV at night you see more things other people have that you want to buy. You buy them and get into more debt and the cycle continues. We never seemed to have enough money to buy all the things we wanted and to get out of debt.

We became addicted to money and all that it could buy. We forgot about everything else. We all wanted to be rich, own huge mansions, drive expensive cars and travel the world.  We ignored or didn’t understand that there were hidden costs in this wild pursuit for wealth. Our family life suffered, our health suffered and so did the health of the natural world.

Everything that was made used power that was supplied by fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal. The more material goods we wanted, the more fossil fuels had to be burnt to produce those goods and the more carbon dioxide gas was released into the air.

One day the scientists began warning us that the carbon dioxide was changing our climate. It was warming up the world and if we didn’t stop putting it there then it would lead to a catastrophe in the future. They showed us the evidence and even told us how we could avoid the problem but it would mean that we would have to make changes in our lives.

We didn’t want to believe them. We watched as the summers got hotter and drier and the winters warmer. We saw the bushfire season start earlier and end later. We saw more violent storms happening around the world. We heard the sea levels were rising as the Arctic ice and most of the glaciers in world began melting. But we ignored it all and we did nothing.

We didn’t want to believe it could happen because it would threaten our comfortable lives. We might have to stop buying all those wonderful goods that we buy. We might have to change our ways, use less, buy less. We might lose some of our hard earned wealth. We might have to forget about all those lovely shiny entertaining things that we love so much.

The mistake I think we made was we trusted our politicians, the banks and the companies. We forgot that the politicians were just as addicted to money as we were. They wanted wealth and power and were open to corruption to get it. We forgot the banks and companies only existed to make money. They said there were no problems with Global Warming and we believed them. They lied to us.

I’m old now and I’ve realised how precious my family is to me. I’ve realised that the threat of Global Warming is real. I’ve been so absorbed in my own selfish wants and desires that I have forgotten that I am leaving all the problems my generation has caused in my lifetime for you to solve. I’m sorry that my inaction has threatened your future. I’m sorry for the pain and suffering that I have bequeathed to you.

Please forgive me and please don’t do what I did. Please work to fix the damage to our world that my generation has done. Please try hard to make the world a better place for your children and grandchildren if it isn’t already too late.

If I had my time over again I would fight to stop the use of fossil fuels and I would switch to renewable energy. I would resist the seduction of TV and try to avoid the debt cycle. I would certainly never trust politicians, and would push to heavily regulate companies.

Above all I would spend more time with the people I love. You, my family and my friends.

Your loving Grandfather / Grandmother.

For further environmental articles by the same author visit my website.

The Global Warming War : Have we reached the Death of Hope or the Beginning of Change?

 

Disaster

Des Pensable © 2014

Global Warming War, climate change, environment, Green activism, #lairdblockade

If you are playing a strategy war game like chess that moment when you realized that you were going to lose becomes embossed on your mind. It is a moment of resignation, it’s the death of hope.  You’ve lost. In a chess game, it’s the moment you lie down your king. In a game you get to live on and play again.

In the real world it’s the moment when you finally consider surrender, when the cowards run, the religious pray and heroes are supposed to be born.  But if there is no quarter to be given, no chance of mercy, no way to stop the inevitable, no way to change the odds, no way survive, you die. It’s all over! You don’t live on to play again.

In a real life situation it could be a moment of panic, “Oh hell I’m going to die”; a moment of sadness “Dam, I’m not going to see my wife and family again.”; or it might be the classic movie moment of defiance and heroic self-sacrifice. “I’ll hold them off while you guys escape.”

In the Global Warming War we have not yet lost.  We are not quite yet at the moment of resignation or the death of hope but it is fast approaching.

Thousands of scientists have studied Global Warming as if it was a war game and found a set of conditions termed tipping points that if passed will cause us to lose the war. If we lose almost all life on Earth is likely to perish. They have also worked how we can avoid losing.

A tipping point is like the moment you slide down a slippery dip, once you let go there’s no stopping until you hit the bottom. Once a tipping point is passed there is no stopping. No prayers, no cavalry, no hope will change the outcome. There is one tipping point that is absolutely lethal to our planet. If it is passed we are all dead.

Trapped at the bottom of our oceans is thousands of billions of tons of methane hydrate. It is trapped by the fact that at the bottom of the oceans the pressure is high and the temperature too cold to allow it to rise to the surface. However, if the temperature of the water rises above a tipping point, then that methane trapped at the bottom of the ocean will begin to rise out of the sea. It’s already happening in the Arctic to a small and minor extent in shallow areas.

Methane is about 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide, the gas currently released by burning fossil fuels like oil, natural gas and coal.

At present 93% of all global warming heat gets absorbed into the oceans. When we pass the tipping point for the sea bottom methane to be released in large amounts, the Global Warming War is over. The world will rapidly warm causing the oceans to get warmer causing more methane to be released causing more warming, in a lethal positive feedback cycle.

Nothing we as humans can do will stop that cycle once it gets going. It is projected to cause the world average temperature to increase by more than 10 degrees Celsius. An increase of that magnitude will have the effect of making MOST of the land in the world too hot for life. Scientists believe it has happened before causing a mass extinction.

All the forests will burn. In Australia, we’ve seen the destruction of a single bushfire. It’s awesome.  Imagine a world-wide fire storm. Imagine the whole of the Amazon and African jungles burning. Massive deserts will form. Almost all of the land creatures of the world will die. Most of the creatures in the sea will fare little better as the sea will become too hot and too acidic to survive.

There will be nowhere for humans to live except underground, no food to eat, no water to drink. Perhaps 90-95% of all humanity will perish. You and ALL your family, your friends, your dogs and cats WILL MOST LIKELY be among the casualties.

We are at war with Nature. 97% of the world’s climate scientists are convinced Global Warming will destroy life on Earth unless we take action to fix it. They have the evidence and they have a cure.

It starts with keeping 80% of the world’s fossil fuel reserves in the ground and moving to renewable forms of energy.  We urgently need to start that part of the treatment now.

So what can you do about it ?

Here’s  a few ideas to start.

  • Join an activist group such as Lock the Gate , the Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth.
  • Divest in fossil fuel assets by moving your savings to a bank that doesn’t invest in Fossil fuels.
  • Become independent yourself on power by going Solar.
  • Resist new coal mine development in Australia
  • Resist Coal Seam Gas mining in Australia
  • Lobby hard for the removal of ALL government subsidies to fossil fuel companies.
  • Vote for politicians that will take serious positive action to mitigate Global Warming – get them to put it in writing.
  • Fight against the corruption of our politicians by the fossil fuel energy mining companies as revealed by ICAC.

URGENT  ……..NEW INFORMATION

As of October 8th, I have just modified this article to link to some important NEW information .. dated 13th August, 2014. As of late last year there have been MASSIVE discharges of methane off the Arctic coast which the models predict could lead to a MASS EXTINCTION EVENT as early as 2050 leading to some scientists to argue for  a war time alert to be announced leading to an IMMEDIATE move from fossil fuels to renewable and IMMEDIATE shut down of industrial activity in the USA and much of the world.  The massive discharges of methane follow on the highest sea temperatures ever recorded in the USA.

Watch for further article in the Global Warming War series..

Further reading.

Arctic Sea Ice: What, Why, And What Next

July 2014 Shows Hottest Ocean Surface Temperatures on Record

Global Warming and the Gulf Stream

Horrific Methane Eruptions in East Siberian Sea

Arctic Emergency: Scientists Speak – video

A doomed Earth of science fiction may well become a reality

Activism in Australia video

Life at 4 C in Australia

Dangerous Climate Change: Myths and Reality.

For more Environmental  articles by the same author .

The NSW and Queensland Government Scam to force up Power Prices.

carbon tax

Des Pensable, Global Warming, electricity power prices, Gold Plated power assets, privatization,hidden taxation.

By Des Pensable © 2014.

Over the last several years in NSW we’ve seen the price of electricity increase much faster than inflation around Australia and it will continue to rise faster than inflation but neither the government nor the electricity distributors are telling the whole truth as to why this is the case. In this article I propose to explain how and why the prices have risen. It seems that it’s caused primarily by State government profiteering, neo liberal ideology and the reality of Global Warming.

To understand what has happened we need to understand some basic economics.

Profit = Income – Costs

If Income is 100 and Costs are 90 then Profit = 100-90 =10 and you make a profit of 10%.

If Income is 100 and Costs are 110 the Profit =100-110= -10 and you make a loss of 10%.

So you can make more profit by raising Income or by lowering Costs.

For you and me

Cost of electricity = Costs + Profit / number of users.

More users mean lower price and less users means higher prices for a fixed cost of production.

Normally, with power generation, to raise your income you can increase the number of customers or increase the price of electricity. Lowering costs is difficult owing to inflation that generally goes up rather than down and of course the Carbon Tax has had a small affect as well. Since the number of customers is relatively static as most people already have an electricity supply and the costs are slowly going up then the natural trend is for a SLOW increase in prices.

This is important! A government owned power supply does NOT have to make a profit. It can be run at zero profit as it is run for the benefit of the people. If it loses money, it can be simply transferred from other parts of the government’s income and run at a loss to keep the price of power down. In many states the railways and other government services are run at zero profit or a small a loss.

However, in the last few years the Queensland and NSW state governments have decided that they could make LARGE profits from the state power generation system using a cunning accounting scam. They can do this because they make the rules. That scam has been passed on to the consumers who are you and me, through higher power bills.

Why would the state governments want to promulgate a scam on its own people?

The best guess would be that it wants to privatize the power system and the scam adds an extra cost to the system allowing the state governments to argue for privatization which they are currently doing. Since privatization is a neo liberal policy that is known to move wealth from the community to the corporations owned by the rich then we can assume that both Liberal / National party Coalition and Labor governments are fully in favor of selling out the country.

The problem is that the states are putting profit before people and this comes down to accountants within the state Treasury. All the accountants have been trained to save and or make a profit as efficiently as possible (Pareto efficiency) wherever possible and not be concerned about social issues as that is the province of the politicians. Pareto efficiency does not take into account public good.

The Treasury’s culture is to worry about profit not people. So what about the politicians? Do they worry about the public? Apparently not, as actions speak louder than words. The NSW ICAC has found that corruption is endemic in our state governments whichever political party is in power.

So Why do the State Governments want to sell our Power Generation System to Private Enterprise?

While false information and denial about Global Warming might have caused confusion, disbelief and skepticism among the more conservative in the community the scientific consensus is accepted among the professionals in the State Treasuries and their accountants. The Treasuries see Global Warming as a major risk to a public owned asset, the state owned coal fired power system which supplied some of the cheapest power in the world.

It was cheap because the power generators were located close to the coal mines and the coal mines being under government control could get very cheap coal at below market value over a long period.

If renewables were to become popular the Aussie people would want LESS power from the coal and MORE from the renewables. A survey in 2007 found that 80% of the population thought Australia was too dependent on fossil fuels and 89% thought that we should have at least 25% of our power generated by renewables.

That meant a large capital outlay for the government which would lead to higher taxes or more government debt which is unpopular among both the public and the politicians.

It would also mean the coal fired generators would become stranded assets losing much of their value. So the bureaucrats in Treasury suggested that a possible solution was to sell the power grid off. The government would have less worries and the risks and costs associated with Global Warming would be paid by the public rather than the government. The user pays principle.

In 2004 Queensland had some massive brown outs in their power supply system owing to storms. The problem was blamed on the state government not adequately maintaining the power system and consequently the state government fearing trouble at the elections reacted by spending $12 billion over 7 years to upgrade the system.

About the same time the state governments opted for a new more efficient country wide power distribution system administered by a body that would set the rules called the Australian Energy Market Commission and a regulatory body that would enforce the rules called the Australian Energy Regulator.

NSW also decided to upgrade its power system at a huge cost leading to various claims that both NSW and Queensland governments were “gold plating” their power distribution network.  In fact an independent report of what was happening was carried out for the NSW senate.

What it revealed was that yes there was excessive spending on the networks but carefully avoided stating why. The report pointed to a NSW and Queensland state government scam but didn’t go all the way to state outright that the scam was causing excessively high consumer costs. That was left to the reader.

So Why Would Private Enterprise Want to Buy our Power Generation System?

Private enterprise businessmen are not worried by the Global Warming denial, in fact denial and the possibility of Global Warming chaos is perfect for business as it induces fear which in turn means people will behave irrationally. Fear creates the possibility for profit as long as the risks are properly managed.

So an astute private enterprise businessman can go into negotiations with a government knowing that the Government and Treasury are fearful of problems associated with Global Warming. Knowing also, that the state government wants to sell, and will be prepared to make all sorts of compromises to sweeten the sale.

Indeed NSW sold three power generating assets to private enterprise for much less than their value. The NSW Auditor General reported: “The significant loss incurred by the electricity generation businesses was primarily due to write-downs in the values of the power stations to reflect their sale price”. And, “The sale proceeds achieved were less than half the carrying value of the assets sold

It’s a buyer’s market. It’s a beautiful opportunity for any wealthy person with cash to spare or ability to borrow large amounts to buy a valuable resource owned by the people for a fire sale price.

But they are taking a big risk you might say. Not necessarily, if the terms of the deal are hidden from the public; if the risk remains with government and the returns are high, it can be a good deal.

Why are the prices of power rising much faster than inflation?

The price of electricity is increasing much faster than inflation because of an accounting scam by the state governments to raise the capital value of the distribution network and the price of electricity to make it more attractive to the private investor.

Private enterprise has been prepared to buy the power system if the government is prepared to sell it at a discount price AND the government is prepared to give them a guaranteed profit of about 10% on the value of the investment.

This could and has been done by the state governments by creating a power price authority that is told to allow the power companies to ALWAYS raise the price of electricity to ensure the government owned or private company can make the agreed 10% on their investment.

“The pricing of electricity transmission and distribution network services is regulated due to the natural monopoly that exists in most cases. The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) makes determinations on the value of regulated asset bases and the rate of return allowed, based on the demand and investment forecasts provided to them by network businesses.”

Professor Ross Garnaut stated “In my view, there was no good public policy reason for this large increase in prices. It happened because of the way we chose to regulate prices.”

In one single step market economics has been thrown out the window and a variety of accounting tricks can be pulled.

So Let’s look at the simple economics again.

Profit = Income – Costs

Or by rearrangement the equation..

Income = Costs + Profit

By simple maths,

If Costs =100 and 10% Profit is guaranteed then Income must be 100+10 =110.

If profit IS FIXED at a guaranteed 10% (for example) and costs increased then the Income MUST increase to cover Costs and this can only be done by increasing the price to the consumer.

Here’s what happens:

If I own assets worth $1 billion and get a guaranteed return of 10% then I make $100 million profit no matter what the production costs are. If I borrow money (at 4% interest) to increase the value of my investment to $1.5 billion then at 10 % return I make $150 million profit. A nice neat EXTRA $50 million profit. This gives an incentive to invest in new poles and wires. You can’t lose money.

Federal Treasury estimates that 51 per cent of an average household bill is spent on network costs. Most of that is going towards paying off the $45 billion network companies have spent on updating our poles and wires over the last five years.”

Here’s the scam.  I also make a profit on the $500 million that I borrowed at 4% but received 10% each year until the loan is repaid. This money is called a “competitive neutrality” fee.

The state governments extract much of the surplus attributable to the difference between the allowed return on debt and the cost of debt through what are euphemistically called “competitive neutrality” or “debt guarantee” fees”.

In practice, if the state governments deducted the 6% “competitive neutrality” fee gain off the Costs of Production of electricity then a large proportion of the increased consumer costs would have been nullified. Instead the Queensland and NSW state governments moved the “competitive neutrality” fee into consolidated revenue forcing the cost of electricity to increase considerably higher than needed. This can be considered to be a hidden tax imposed on all electricity consumers.

In 2010 this “competitive neutrality” fee in NSW was $596 million. If that money was subtracted from our power bills as it should have been, it would have saved each member of the public hundreds of dollars on their power bills.   

In an independent report to a Senate Select committee the scam was recognized and it was suggested that in order to bring down prices the scam should be taken into account in the overall profitability of the power generator company.

”in setting the allowed rates of return for state-government owned service providers, their receipt of income taxes and “competitive neutrality” fees, in addition to their claim on attributable profits, must be recognised. This will reduce electricity prices while ensuring the government owned service providers continue to deliver a reasonable, rather than extra-ordinary, return on capital.”

There are also less customers to justify the extra production costs owing to the fact that 10% in NSW and 22% in Queensland home owners and many businesses have invested in roof top solar photovoltaic household power generation.  Consequently, each customer without solar, has to pay more, so that the fossil fuel power distributor can keep getting their fixed 10% profit.

One generally unmentioned effects of the higher electricity price is that the majority of the burden of higher electricity price has been shifted to the renters and the poor. Most renters pay for their own electricity and don’t have the option to install solar power to reduce the cost of their power bills.

On the other hand, most land lords are not interested in installing solar power as it benefits the renters not the landlord. So renters cannot reduce their power bills while home owners can, hence the poor who are most likely renters end up paying more.

Hidden Effects of the Neutrality Tax scam.

The Neutrality tax scam raised the cost of electrical power much more than necessary but also has a hidden effect. The inflated income of the state power generators creates a good argument to privatize the system. The new private owner will have new equipment, can reduce maintenance and labour costs and make a happy 10% which is way above the bond market.

It’s not hard to see that as the price of power increases more people will opt for solar and force the price higher for those that remain. This is called a power death spiral. Eventually, the fossil fuel power company will have to close as all its customers will desert it leaving its assets stranded but until then it will happily rip off as much profit as it can.

It is not surprising that the fossil fuel power generator owners, whether they are state or privately owned are trying to delay the inevitable death spiral by taking action to either stop people switching to solar power or remove all incentives to do so.

They are even blaming people for using cheaper solar power and try to get the government to tax solar power units on the pretext of it being unfair to the remaining people on the fossil fuel power grid who are paying higher prices.

Government and Treasury fear of Global Warming and stranded coal fired power station assets together with the neo liberal ideological belief that ALL assets should be in private hands has prompted them into selling off our power generating assets in a fire sale.

Even worse, by creating an power authority that sets a fixed profit to fossil fuel power companies, it has set up a system that favors keeping fossil fuel power plants and reducing incentives for the public to switch to renewables.

With the threat of Global Warming increasing every day, this is IMMORAL, BAD PLANNING and against ALL COMMON SENSE. WE need to have the power regulators force the states to use the Neutrality tax to lower the power bills and refund to the people all the funds it has scammed over the last few years. This could be done by reducing the fixed profit paid to the Power Generator owners to zero for a few years. It would also help create a true ‘people before profit’ culture into the government.

MORE—–

watch – Your Power bill is not real– video 7 min 27 secs- excellent

read – Power Corrupts

So what can YOU do about it?

  1. Complain…loudly about the scam and hidden taxation.
  2. Block attempts at privatisation of public assets and call for an inquiry into the regulation body and mechanism.
  3. If you’re a home owner install 3-5 kW Solar photovoltaic power panel ASAP both to save money and force the death spiral to happen.
  4. Fight any industry sponsored plans to restrict, stop or tax installation of solar power units and feed in Tariffs.
  5. If you’re a renter, try to negotiate a plan to share costs for putting solar on your rented accommodation so that both you and the landlord benefit.

The Rise of the Green Activist – the New Australian Hero

leard_june14_21_joanne

photo (c) Des Pensable    –  the New Australian green activist comes in all ages from all parts of our society.

tags Environmental Activism, ‪#‎BentleyBlockade‬, #leardblockade, Greenpeace Australia, politics, society.

By Des Pensable

Australian men and women were represented at all the major wars across the globe last century in support of our British and American allies fighting for freedom and democracy. Many lost their lives to defend their friends, their families, our country and our “fair go for all” way of life. We cherish their memories and sing their praises as heroes of this great land.

Another world war has started. This war will be the war to end all wars because if we lose the war it is a good bet that most life on Earth will perish. If we win it will likely mean significant changes in our society and our way of life.  The war is about Global Warming.

In past centuries wars were often fought over land or other resources. The current war is no different but the combatants are different. They are not so much countries or ethnic groups but the shadowy manipulators and controllers hiding out of sight behind corporate logos. The new war is with the world’s super wealthy elite called Plutarchs and oligarchs, the robber barons of the modern world that own the banks and multinational companies. The war is for the control and exploitation of the world’s resources and you and I are already a part of the war.

These robber barons don’t fight with soldiers but with platoons of specialists. They surround themselves with silver tongued business men, tacky lawyers and robotic accountants. They have mottos like “greed is good” and “might is right”. They have no morals or empathy for any living creature be it human, animal or plant. They consider themselves above normal humans, they believe they are the top of the food chain, the alpha wolves and they have a divine right to have anything they want.  They are also adept at using, force, corruption, deception and coercion to get it.

The world population of over 7 billion people is using the world’s resources at an ever increasing rate, the resources are running out, many will run out over the next few decades and to maintain their wealth and life style the robber barons want the biggest share of what is left.

The biggest prize of all is seen to be the fossil fuel sources, oil, coal and natural gas. These energy sources fuel our civilization. They drive industry not only by supplying energy but also the raw materials for the plastics, chemicals, fertilizers, drugs, cloth and much more. Fossil fuels have allowed us the freedom to travel and to transport goods around the globe. They have allowed us to create a global village but there is a down side, they could possibly cause the demise of our civilization or at the very least a radical change in direction.

Thousands (97%) of the world’s climate scientists from over 100 countries are in agreement that we have a serious world problem. They have presented very strong evidence to prove that burning massive amounts of these fossil fuels gives off a gas called carbon dioxide which causes the Earth’s atmosphere to trap heat and warm up the world’s air and the oceans causing abnormal Global Warming. This is fact.

This abnormal warming is already causing the sea level to rise, more destructive storms, more extreme weather, more bush fires, more drought and more destructive floods. Last year in Australia and many other countries it was the hottest winter and summer ever recorded. This is fact.

The scientists and economists have also calculated that we must leave 80% of all the know fossil fuels in the ground to avoid dangerous global warming which in reality means a global catastrophe. This is also fact. Logically this means that we should cut back and eventually stop using fossil fuels and start using other renewable sources of energy which don’t cause global warming such as wind , wave and solar power. This is possible, it’s economically feasible and many of the more enlightened European countries are doing this.

The problem with this logical course of action is that the robber barons already own most of the fossil fuel resources. How do the ordinary people of the world ask them to stop burning fossil fuels and keep 80% in the ground. To ask them to stop using fossil fuels means that they will lose some of their investments in fossil fuel industries. Very few, if any of the robber barons are likely to willingly give up any of their wealth for any reason. They will fight to keep their wealth and keep using fossil fuels. In fact that is what is happening.

Australia has been called the lucky country as it is endowed with large amounts of coal and gas. That makes Australia a natural target for the robber barons. They would like to dig it all up and sell it to add to their wealth. The problem is these robber barons did not get rich and powerful by letting ordinary people stop them from doing whatever they want to do.

Australians are generally well educated and aware of global warming. They are also fiercely protective of their own backyards. So when foreign or even local robber barons want to dig up their backyard to loot and pillage the land for its fossil fuels then there is likely to be a confrontation. That confrontation is happening right now.

The robber barons who own the fossil leases and mines will not concede that global warming is even happening and have spent vast amounts of money on misinformation to try and convince some of the our population that there is no Global Warming problem. They bombard the public with propaganda through glib radio jocks and false and misleading articles in the commercial media.

Their army of dodgy ex-politician and journalist lobbyists have convinced some of the more gullible politicians to take little or no action to slow down global warming. They have also corrupted others within both of the major political parties into helping them plunder the country’s fossil fuels for a quick profit most of which (86%) goes to the foreign robber barons. When it comes to corruption Australians think the two most corrupt groups in the country are the commercial media and the political parties.

These robber barons have no sense civic duty or empathy with anyone living in Australia. They are quite happy to flout environmental laws, corrupt government ministers, make a terrible polluted mess where they mine and walk away leaving the locals with huge toxic health disasters to clean up. This is not what the majority of clear thinking Australians consider to be fair and just. In fact 92% of Australians stated that they do not tolerate corruption. They expect more from their politicians and do not accept foreign or local super wealthy sociopathic robber barons ruining their backyards.

In truth the world is a small place and since it is the only world we have to live in it belongs to all of us. Global Warming is a world problem and affects every person in every country. We cannot fight the war everywhere but we can fight it in our backyard where it occurs on Australian soil. This in effect means stopping the construction of any new coal or coal seam gas mines in Australia.

In previous wars the government has called for volunteers and they have marched off proudly to fight for Australia in foreign countries and came back as heroes. In the Global Warming War the Australian government has NOT called for volunteers. Instead it has cowardly surrendered to the robber barons allowing them to loot our fossil fuel reserves and pollute our farming land at their whim.

People are not born heroes, they become heroes when they stand up and fight for what they believe to be fair and just. Tens of thousands of Australians around the country have already stood up and have become green activists in groups like Lock the Gate to fight for what they believe to be fair and just an end to the cause of Global Warming.

They are fighting for a future for their children and their grandchildren. They are fighting for the animals and plants on our land and in the oceans. They are fighting for our Great Barrier Reef, for Australia and for the survival of humanity itself.

These people don’t use weapons of any sort. They fight non-violently. They are mothers and fathers with their children, grandparents and pensioners. They are farmers, tradesmen and business men, lawyers, teachers, doctors and students of all ages. They are the ordinary citizens of Australia. You will find them at the front line action camps every day putting their bodies on the line to defend all of us. On occasion they willingly get arrested by the police. They are our new heroes.

At Bentley in NSW, they recently made a stand, a blockade against the blight of coal seam gas (CSG) mining which pollutes the land, and the bore water which farmers rely on during droughts. It also causes serious health problems to those that live near the wells.

Thousands of green activist heroes were on call ready to leave their daily jobs to protect the blockade. Thousands vowed to stand up to the NSW government who threatened to send in several hundred police to remove them. At the last minute the government backed down referring the company to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) but the fight is not over. The looter and polluter company wants to continue the fight as it doesn’t care about the health of the community or Global Warming it craves only profit.

At the Leard State Forest in western NSW there is a different fight. A company funded by the robber barons wants to destroy the huge forest, over two dozen endangered species and hundreds of other bush inhabitants to create a giant open cut coal mine. This monster mine will produce 12 million tons of coal per year for the next 30 years, massively adding to the Global Warming problem. Hundreds of the new green activist heroes have been using non-violent methods to slow the destruction while trying to stop the project legally through the courts.

Other robber barons hiding behind multinational companies are attacking other locations all over Australia. In parts of Queensland there is already massive devastation and the sociopathic puppet state government controlled by the mining industry wants to create much more, including destruction of parts of the Great Barrier Reef, one of the natural wonders of the world.

Ninety one (91) new coal mines are planned in NSW and Queensland alone and more in areas all over Australia and 56% of the whole country, an area the size of Europe is covered by coal seam gas mine licenses. Australia is a global war zone. We are facing an ecological disaster of biblical proportions but it can be stopped if we all act together.

The war has only just begun both here and in many countries around the world. In part the war is against ignorance, complacency and fear as many people especially those who are more conservative are confused and scared. They say “It’s not my problem” or “I’m too busy” or “I simply don’t care.” When does it become their problem? When will they care? When will they stop being victims?

There are no superheros but there are green activists who are everyday heroes standing up to the robber barons to save Australia and the world from the spectre of a Global Warming catastrophe. They believe that it is their problem. They are not too busy and they do care about the future of their children and this beautiful country we call home. Are you one of them?

Will you join them and help them vote in a sensible green government devoted to mitigating Global Warming and stopping the robber barons from their psychotic ecocidal path towards global catastrophe through fossil fuel exploitation on Australian soil.

There are dozens of local green groups dedicated to fighting local global warming related issues near you such as Lock the Gate, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the Australian Conservation Society, No CSG Sydney and elsewhere. Join one or more and become a green activist hero and I’m sure your future grandchildren will be full of pride at your courage and you will have the satisfaction that you refused to be a victim, you cared, you fought and the world won.

Well worth reading to help understand the problem.

Meet Bill the 92 year old activist.

So You Want to Change the World? Better Read This First

The New Abolitionism

The Emperor Wears No Clothes – Bentley Blockade

The Turning Point: New Hope for the Climate

Other Environmental articles by Des Pensable can be found here.

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Activism Intensifies After Red Alert on Leard State Forest Destruction

 

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photo Des Pensable – protest action at Whitehaven mine,  4th June 2014

Des Pensable (c) 2014.

I was one of many that received a red alert about a changed situation at Leard State Forest near Boggabri in western NSW two weeks ago. My partner and I had been at camp Wando at Maules Creek over Easter and I wrote a report of our time there called “Adventure in Wando land”, so we set off on the long trip from Sydney again as I was interested to see for myself what had changed.

The red alert had been called because Whitehaven, the company who wants to destroy the forest to dig a massive open cut coal mine adding to our already dire Global Warming problems had broken its environmental agreement not to bulldoze the forest during the winter while the native animals were in a state of near hibernation.  In doing this they would be more likely to kill the animals that resided there rather than allowing them a small chance to escape and move elsewhere.

The first thing we noticed as we approached camp Wando was the increased number of police stationed about a kilometre from the entrance. There were about ten of them. We were stopped, I had my driver’s licence examined, I was questioned about where I was going and our car searched.

I asked why and was told that this wasn’t a road block and I was only being searched for “safety reasons”. As they don’t do this anywhere else in the state I might be forgiven if I thought that this might be termed harassment or perhaps they were just bored. After all, guard duty on a remote country road for a private company is not what they were trained or are paid for.

We were welcomed into the camp as warmly as on our first visit a few weeks earlier. I expected that it might be a bit tense at the camp as the previous week there had been stories in the news about spies being caught in the camp. Idemitsu, one of the shareholders of Whitehaven had admitted they had hired various companies to spy on the leaders and activities at the camp so that they could plan counter strategies to neutralise the protests at the camp.

Of course, if they were doing that then it showed that the camp’s activities were effective. After setting up our tent we joined the camp for dinner around the camp fire to find out the plans for the next day. There were lots there from the Bentley blockade, local farmers and lots of normal everyday people that normally didn’t protest about anything. The discussion was open and all had a say. The mood was of urgency and everyone present was keen for an action the next day.

The camp organisers were happy to assist but there was to be one change. Only the action organiser would know the location of the target. This was for security against leaked information as every new person at the camp was now a potential spy for Whitehaven.

The next day about two dozen of us were up early ready to leave at 8 am after a freezing night in the tent. The scene was familiar with dozens of people jostling for a better position around the camp fire all holding cups of coffee or tea getting their early morning caffeine fix before the action.

About 25 of us set off in a convoy but only one person in the front car knew the destination. We were stopped by the police at what was “not a road block” and the cars searched and we were asked where we were going. The answer was of course, we had no idea or sightseeing or a picnic somewhere.

We moved on, retrieved the banners and masks that had been hidden in a secret cache along the road to avoid them being confiscated by the police which term them “safety hazards” and continued onto the target which in this case was the gateway entrance to one of the Whitehaven mine areas. We blockaded the road and stopped all traffic to and from the mine until the police arrived and after an hour of negotiations finally left without any arrests.

The police captain was very patient, conciliatory and almost apologetic for having to move us on. I suspect he was thoroughly disgusted with having to waste his team’s time and tax payers’ money protecting a looting and polluting company like Whitehaven but had to do his duty. It was almost as if it he was sick of the stupid part that the police had to play in the grand scheme of one of our corrupt politicians itching to plunder our national wealth for their own benefit.

That evening everyone was in a good mood. Elation, there had been two actions, one that I had been on and another elsewhere that had resulted in a person camping in a tree that had stopped the bulldozers and both had been successful. We had a general meeting of the camp and I had the privilege to be able to perform some of my environmental poetry. The poems were enthusiastically welcomed and my poem “Locked On” which was about a protest action we did in May, was greatly appreciated. Thanks guys.

After the poetry we had a detailed discussion on the ecology of the Laird forest and overview of the Whitehaven’s Environmental Impact Statements. The professional ecologist pointed out all the weaknesses and corners the company had cut to get their plan accepted by the NSW government. Several other independent ecologists had also pointed out problems and errors in the EIS to the government but were ignored. It might be added that certain politicians currently appearing before the ICAC on corruption allegations were involved in the approval process.

The next day we were in action again. This time the bulk of the people in the camp went to Boggabri and protested outside the Whitehaven offices for World Environment day. The police came and moved us on. No arrests; back to camp; another double action day; another action that stopped the bulldozers. Everyone had a part to play. The demonstration outside Whitehaven offices may not have stopped the bulldozers but it diverted the attention of the police and the company causing them to fragment their resources allowing us to penetrate their defences.

My partner and I left the next day to return to our home just as a large convoy set off from Sydney to continue the good work that the activists in the camp were doing to slow and hopefully stop the desecration of the beautiful Leard State forest from the immoral mining company and their corrupt political backers.

We are many and if we act together we can stop mountains from being moved and forests being destroyed. I urge you take up the fight to save our land from those that would destroy it to line their own pockets. It’s our common wealth… not theirs. Thanks to all our friends at Maules creek both old and new.

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photo Des Pensable – protest action at Boggabri outside White haven offices , 5th June, 2014

see also

‘Green-type’ mining protesters a saviour for farmers

Farmers in court seeking urgent injunction to stop work on winter clearing in Leard Forest

Maules Creek protest reach fever point, trees planted in clearing as ‘unlawful’ bulldozing continues

How to halt a bulldozer army while overcoming a fear of heights

A love letter to all who fight at #leardblockade from Maules Creek farmer eco-warrior Ros Druce – 

The Bentley Blockade, a New Eureka Stockade Postponed?

bentley camp

The Bentley Blockade ……photo credit … Gas Free Northern Rivers.

By Des Pensable © 2014.

What didn’t rate much news this week owing to the Abbot government’s horror budget was that there was a build up to a major event that had all the hallmarks of getting into the future history books. An event likened to the Eureka stockade one and a half centuries ago when gold miners bullied by police, unfair government regulations and taxes, rebelled against the government.

At the Eureka stockade the rebels lost the fight and 22 were killed but they won the battle forcing the government to back down, change the unfair laws and listen to the people. It has been considered the birthplace of Australian democracy.

This week the NSW government stated that it was going to send an army of several hundred police to confront a group of several thousand non-violent protestors set up in a camp called “Liberty” on private property at Bentley, a rural area located about 19km west of Lismore in NSW.

The protestors are farmers, businessmen, parents with their kids and grandparents, most of whom have never protested before. They have been blockading a gas drilling rig owned by a gas mining company called Metgasco from entering the area for months and the government had decided this week to get tough.

The story started a couple of years ago when a property owner at Bentley decided to allow Metgasco to drill a test well using the process called Fracking for unconventional gas (coal seam gas) that is thought to be present a couple of kilometres below the ground there.

The problem is that the company planned not one but hundreds of gas wells all over the valley if the test well proved successful. The complication is that the law in NSW allows the company to drill as many wells as it wants on any farmer’s property WITHOUT the farmer’s permission.

In short, all the farmers in the valley and the people in whole region became worried that their health would be compromised and their backyard would end up like the devastation in Tara, Queensland caused by Fracking where the land has become an unhealthy agricultural industrial wasteland with hundreds of wells interconnected by a massive grid of roads and pipelines that looks from the air like the cover picture of a science fiction dystopian horror story.

Their fears were increased by a mountain of reports from overseas of reduced land values, industrial accidents, mismanagement, land and ground water contamination with toxic and cancer causing chemicals, radioactivity and even earth quakes. There were also hints of government corruption which has surrounded the unconventional gas mining industry both here and overseas.

The farmers complained to their local and then their state government representatives to no avail. They were just fobbed off. There is lots of money to be made by gas mining and companies like Metgasco are generous when it comes to political election fund donations. It appeared that they were to be sacrificed to the god Greed for the sake of what capitalism calls progress but others term profit before people or more simply rape and pillage of the land.

However, the farmers didn’t just lie down and take it stoically they decided to fight back. They formed a community based action group called Gasfield Free Northern Rivers with a range of environmental groups including the popular Lock the Gate Alliance, all fighting for the same thing. To stop unconventional gas mining such as coal seam gas mining in NSW and hopefully the rest of Australia as well. This would not be unusual as it has been banned in more than a dozen countries overseas.

Now the question comes to mind. If fracking is dangerous why are they doing it all over the USA. Well the clue might come from the fact that to allow it to happen in the USA they exempted the industry from having to comply with all the clean air and water environmental legislation as the corporations stated that it was harmless.

Any person attempting a little critical thinking would have to say if it was harmless then there would be no reason to exempt it from the regulations. In fact it has turned out to be quite dangerous especially to the people living in close proximity to gas wells. Aside from localised land pollution and more extensive underground water pollution, reports of adverse health effects have become quite common. This Study in the USA illustrates the problems quite well.

The Medical Journal of Australia recently published a report on the industry stating that there were health problems and suggested that much more research is needed but both the government and industry seem reluctant to invest in research that might counteract the corporate claims of safety.

A deeper question might be to ask why we need to frack for unconventional gas in NSW at all. There are several answers to this question.

Firstly, the world is either past or approaching peak oil depending on who you talk to. That means we are likely to run short if the world economy keeps growing, so the energy companies are turning to using more gas and coal rather than consider renewables which are less profitable.

Secondly, the gas companies have suggested that we need to mine the gas in NSW as our supplies are dependent upon sources from other states and we need local supplies to keep prices down.

The first part is true. NSW gets much of its gas from the Great Australian Bight but there are enough supplies there for the next hundred years so there is no shortage. The second statement is false.

The gas companies want to mine the NSW gas not for the local market but to supply the Chinese market through a pipeline being built to join the Queensland gas pipelines. The gas companies want Aussies to pay world parity prices for OUR gas. This will mean price hikes of up to 300% whether we frack for unconventional gas or not.

It should be noted that most other nations that export gas reserve a portion of their gas which is sold to their local markets at a cheaper rate. The local gas companies have called for a domestic gas reservation scheme but as yet the Australian government has ruled that out for our local market. Why? – I guess they will lose tax revenue.

So what happened at the Bentley blockade? Well the NSW government was going to send up hundreds of police to disrupt, fine and potentially gaol many of the protestors but at the last minute backed down, it suspended the company’s permit to drill and decided to refer Metgasco to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

It appears that the company is partly owned by the Obeid family currently under scrutiny by the ICAC for a web of corruption involving both Liberal and Labor politicians from Victoria to Queensland.

The problem for the Bentley blockade people is of course the company’s permit to drill is only suspended not cancelled. So depending on what happens at the ICAC inquiry we may still have the Eureka confrontation yet a few months from now. jubilant peopel at Bentley blockade

Jubilant protestors at Bentley blockage …photo credit…. Gas Free Northern Rivers

A curious note – The whole Eureka saga was triggered by a publican by the name of James Bentley who was involved in a mob that beat a miner to death. A lot of the miner’s friends were unhappy and burnt Bentley’s pub down and (perhaps) the lack of beer triggered the whole rebellion.

If you’re interested in further articles about Coal Seam Gas mining and Bentley by Des Pensable see below.

  1. Police Line Dance Challenge at Bentley (satire)
  2. Dodgy Dick the Fracking Engineer (a message from Tara).
  3. What would YOU say? (questions that need an answer).

An Adventure in WANDO land

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This Easter my partner Jo and I decided to travel to Camp Wando, an environmental training and protest action camp set up on a farmer’s property mid-way between Boggabri and Narrabri in central western NSW. We were keen to show support to a consortium of local farmers and green groups including Green Peace that were trying to save the Leard State Forrest from destruction by a rapacious mining company called Whitehaven. The company is controlled by ex-politicians and their bankster partners who wish to destroy a rare type of forest to create a massive coal mine that will ruin local farmlands and only add to the world’s global warming problem in an adverse way.

We had intended to arrive at the camp before sundown on the Easter Friday but a massive traffic jam in Sydney caused by tens of thousands of people leaving the city for country destinations meant that the six hour trip actually ended up taking nearly ten hours with over three hours being spent in Sydney traffic. The delay meant that we would be trying to find the camp and set up in the dark. Consequently we decided to stay overnight in a motel at Gunnedah and travel to the camp the next morning. This turned out to be a wise decision.

The next day, we set off for the camp located about 24 km off the main road between Boggabri and Narrabri on Saturday morning travelling on mainly dirt roads through mixed cattle and cotton country. If you haven’t been there imagine a land scape that is extremely flat and very fertile. From the road you can see farmland stretching off kilometres in all directions with an occasional small hillock to add variety.

The paddocks containing cotton were often kilometres wide and much of the cotton appeared ready for harvesting. There was no army of cotton pickers. It’s all done by a giant harvesting machine that cuts the cotton plants off at their base, somehow separates the cotton balls from the rest of the plant and outputs a giant roll of raw cotton that appeared to be about 3 m tall and 5 metres wide covered in yellow plastic.

There was plenty of green grass and good fodder to be seen along the road and in the paddocks for the properties running cattle as they had had some good rain a few weeks earlier. It was on the dirt road beside a paddock littered with young bullocks getting fattened up for market a few kilometres from Camp Wando that we met the first of the police. They had been turned out in large numbers to stop any protests.

For no reason at all we were pulled over asked who we were and why we were there. We had our licenses and car registration checked. They didn’t search our car although we found out later that they did search other people’s cars. They were courteous and not aggressive. Just doing their job! they said. We told the sergeant that we were on our way to Camp Wando and could he direct us. He couldn’t he said. He was up from Sydney and they were trying to find it themselves. Fortunately we had a map and so we continued on and they followed us at a distance until we arrived at the camp.

I must admit I felt a little sorry for these city cops. They must have drawn the short straw to get sent out to the bush to sit around for hours at a road block in the hot sun and cold nights trying to stop a group of nonviolent protesters from exerting their democratic rights to protest the environmental destruction of our national heritage by an immoral gang of looters and polluters rather than going to the Easter Show in Sydney and having a great time.

We arrived a little before mid-day and were welcomed by a friendly group of people from the camp who had us fill in a registration sheet that included questions about what skills we might be able to contribute. We were then given a tour and advised about the camp rules which were pretty simple logical and designed for everyone’s mutual benefit and wellbeing. There was a voluntary roster of camp jobs and everyone had communal meals around a camp fire area adjacent to the kitchen. There was a strict no drugs policy although beer and wine in moderation at meal times was considered acceptable.

The camp was set on a roughly rectangular block of perhaps five hectares of private property owned by one of the farmers and located next to his dwelling. Most of the area was covered in lush green grass owing to the recent rain and there were a few native trees around his home and along the fence line. There were a couple of farm sheds for use by the visitors. One was used as a communal kitchen and another as a workshop and communal meeting area. There was a small toilet block and some cold bore-water showers. The rest of the area was open space that would accommodate tents for perhaps a couple of hundred people although there were only about fifty people there when we arrived.

After setting up our tent we were invited to our first communal lunch around a campfire with about 40 others. The volunteer cooks made vegan, vegetarian and meat oriented dishes so there was plenty for all tastes. There was also plenty of fruit and of course a variety of different teas and coffees and beautifully cool refreshing bore water. The community meals were funded by a daily donation of $10 per person.

The people present were all ages from young children six years old to grey haired grandparents in their sixties, from all walks of life and from the towns, the cities and the country side. Many said they had never participated in any protest actions but were now concerned enough about global warming and the irresponsible attitude of the federal and state governments in promoting destruction of our forests to build more coal and CSG mines. They were deeply concerned that our governments were preferring corporate profit over the wellbeing of ordinary Aussies.

After lunch we got stuck into workshops on a variety of subjects including the environmental and economic arguments for protesting about the destruction of the Leard State forest. There were role playing exercises in nonviolent protesting, using non aggressive body language, defusing aggressive confrontations, and the like as well as first aid, working as a part of a team, the various roles of people in a protest. These workshops were quite fun and everyone seemed to be enjoying them.

Dinner that evening was a very cordial social affair as everybody had had a chance to meet and interact with many of the others there. It was lovely to see young and old freely conversing and all of similar mind about the threat to environment of Global Warming and need to take action to convince the government that they were elected for the benefit of the people of this land NOT for the foreign companies keen to loot and pollute this land leaving us with a huge clean-up bill for minimal national gain.

After a cool night, the next day was loaded with more workshops interspersed with sessions of play acting and theatre sports to provide some entertainment. A lot of time was spent on discussing legal matters; what actions people could get arrested for; what happened when people were arrested by police; the responsibilities of the police; the bail process and how the courts worked. Here people were advised to think carefully before they decided to get arrested as there could be repercussions in the workplace; potential restrictions on travel and social stigma. Curiously, many said getting arrested was a badge of honor. A demonstration of their deep passion and committment to this country.

The meals were great and it was wonderful to see everyone keen to get on the work roster with no complaints about anything except of course our federal government breaking just about all of their election promises and treating the Australian population with utter contempt.

Sunday evening was special as about twenty members of the Leard family who have been farming in the district for five generations and are currently threatened by the Whitehaven coal mine came visiting the camp bringing Easter eggs and drinks for all the camp as a gesture of support and good will. They stayed for dinner, enthusiastically praised and thanked all the people in the camp for coming and gave first -hand accounts of the problems caused by the mine and the police sent to stop protests.

One of the main problems seemed to be that city police are posted to the area and they have been setting up road blocks and stopping people from attending to their normal businesses. They have no idea who is a local and who is not. As a result there have been accounts of police refusing to allow farmers to travel to their own farms even when they had identification on them. One woman was blocked from going to church. This harassment of innocent farmers is not what the locals want or expect from the police. They blame Whitehaven and the police for the problem not the protesters.

On Sunday night everyone went to bed early as a protest action was being arranged for the Monday morning. Jo and I organised the manufacture of a large number of rabbit ears for the protesters to wear. It would give everybody a chuckle and look good in any media release photos. Unfortunately the action was thwarted by the police at a road block on the way where they searched the cars and seized all of our banners arguing that they were hazardous to mining machinery and refusing to even give receipts for the banners as required by law.

While no one was arrested nor should they have been for attempting to hold a peaceful nonviolent protest action the police were heavy handed in confiscating the banners. They made no friends by showing that they were happy to be the unpaid servants of the looters and polluters of our land and the greasy politicians who seem to be continually found to be guilty of corruption charges within the ICAC court and more often than not for corruption involving mining leases and practises. While people at the camp were a little disappointed they were by no means dispirited and planned further actions later in the week and got busy producing more banners.

Jo and I were a little disappointed at not being able to participate in a good protest as we had to return to Sydney on Tuesday for business reasons but the experience was wonderful. We met lots of lovely people who were passionate about protecting this country from the barbarians we call a government and we made more new friends whom I’m sure we’ll see in the near future.

The only sad thing that Jo and I heard came from one of the local farmers. He said “I fought for this country in the Second World War. I never thought I would have to fight to save it from our own government.” Neither did we mate!

If you wish to learn more about camp Wando, meet wonderful people of all ages from all walks of life who are concerned about Global Warming and wish to participate in non-violent peaceful protest actions to persuade our government to take action then check out the following links.

Postscript . When we returned home we found out that a protest action had been carried out by one of our new friends John Ross, a businessman from the north coast who locked himself onto a gate stopping a few coal trucks before police came and removed him. See below. Great work John.

Links..

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-31/protesters-arrested-at-whitehaven-coal-maules-creek-mine/5356226http://www.northerndailyleader.com.au/story/2231793/pressure-to-lift-leard-forest-roadblocks/?cs=159
http://www.nvi.com.au/story/2233228/gallery-police-prepared-for-action/?cs=373
http://www.nvi.com.au/story/2233218/mine-road-blocks-disrupt-plans-for-easter-services/
http://nofibs.com.au/2014/04/22/civil-disobedience-and-the-leardblockade-adropex-comments/http://www.greenpeace.org.au/blog/historic-action-at-maules-creek-coal-mine/incl

The Transpacific Partnership (TPP) A Template for World Corporate Rule.

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Julian Assange of WikiLeaks said. “If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons.” And “If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.”

Part 1 Control of World Intellectual Property (IP)

Des Pensable (copyright) 2014.

Imagine what might happen if a group of the most powerful multinational corporations on the planet came up with a wish list of changes to government laws and rules that would allow for “free trade” between countries with little or no regulations. They might state that it would create jobs and everyone would benefit.

In a perfect world this might be true. However, there is no such thing as a perfect world run by people whose motto is “greed is good”. It is much more likely that they would come up with a list of changes in the laws of the countries that would maximize their profits and minimize their costs without consideration of the costs to workers and society in general.

They would state that to maximize profits they need lower company taxes and have low or no tax zones and generous government subsidies (corporate welfare). They might want the government to reduce their labor costs by scrapping minimum wages laws, anti-pollution and environmental protection laws and any regulations that limit imports or flow of money into or out of a country.

They might ask for severe laws leading to criminal penalties for anyone perceived to have acted in any way that might jeopardise their maximum profit. They might even suggest that any disputes that they have with a government be dealt with outside the country. This way they could operate in a country and be above the law of that country.

Imagine if all their wishes were granted at the same time by an international agreement crafted in secret. The companies would win big time and the people would lose out on almost every aspect of their lives. Job losses, more work for less money, harsher working conditions, poorer health, less leisure. The distribution of the country’s wealth would be tilted even more to the rich at the cost of the poor. The lucky country would become the unlucky country ruined by corporate greed.

This all sounds like the basis of a good dystopian novel except that it’s REALLY happening right now. It’s called the Transpacific Partnership or TPP. It’s supposed to be a ‘free trade’ agreement designed for 12 countries around the Pacific Ocean including Australia and New Zealand but it’s not about ‘free trade’ at all, it’s about restrictive trade and control of the world’s Intellectual Property (IP) and much more. It will change the way we live. It will cost every one of us in Australia a lot of money for very little benefit for decades to come. We should be concerned.

In a study on the “Economic Gains and Costs of the TPP” in New Zealand, the study was scathing about the modelling methods used by the US company employed by the NZ government to justify joining the TPP… “the TPP could sharply increase income and wealth inequality. A significant part of the rise in inequality over the last three decades has been widely attributed to globalization and the TPP can be expected to exacerbate this.”

There is also a similar trade agreement being discussed for most of Europe called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel Prize winner, former World Bank chief economist) has stated

“[T]he negotiations to create a free-trade area between the US and Europe, and another between the US and much of the Pacific (except for China), are not about establishing a true free-trade system. Instead, the goal is a managed trade regime managed, that is, to serve the special interests [the multinational companies] that have long dominated trade policy in the West.”

“The likelihood that what emerges from the coming talks will serve ordinary Americans’ interests is low; the outlook for ordinary citizens in other countries is even bleaker.”

The TPP regulations cover not just trade but almost every aspect of our lives. Only 3 chapters of 29 are about trade, the rest cover everything from the use of the Internet, to labor and working conditions, food and agriculture, medicine and drugs, environment and pollution to flow of money in and out of countries and it’s been completely done in secret. Hundreds of advisers from the multinationals are involved but no consumer organisations and not even our own parliamentarians in Australia are privy to its contents.

If both the TPP and the TTIP are signed and ratified, without the people being a part of the process then the multinational companies will have a template to rule the world. It’s been called a “corporate coup in disguise” in the USA and strongly criticized in the UK and other countries. The multinationals have much to gain, and similarly you and I in Australia have much to lose.

These so called “Free Trade“ agreements will cause a dramatic reduction in democracy around the world as no one will be able to instruct their own governments to make laws to protect them from corruption, pollution, environmental destruction and the often antisocial and malevolent actions of some of the multinational corporations. We already know how hard it is to stop the big miners from polluting and destroying the environment in Australia without the TPP.

The Labor PartyGreens, The Australian Consumers Association (ACA), the Australian Fair Trade and Investment Network (AFTINET) encompassing dozens of consumer and human rights groups are alarmed and have been campaigning for release of the documents of the agreement so that the people of Australia can examine and judge the agreement BEFORE it is signed into law by our parliament. Dozens of eminent Australian lawyers have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister stating that the TPP will endanger Australia’s sovereignty.

This first article is on the Intellectual Property (IP) rights chapter leaked by Wikileaks and found to have unsettling consequences for you and me by many consumer and human rights organisations around the world .

Julian Assange of WikiLeaks said. “If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons.” And “If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.”

The Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) in the USA has examined the Wikileaks document on Intellectual Property and said “The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a secretive, multi-national trade agreement that threatens to extend restrictive intellectual property (IP) laws across the globe and rewrite international rules on its enforcement. The main problems are two-fold: (1) IP chapter: Leaked draft texts of the agreement show that the IP chapter would have extensive negative ramifications for users’ freedom of speech, right to privacy and due process, and hinder peoples’ abilities to innovate. (2) Lack of transparency: The entire process has shut out multi-stakeholder participation and is shrouded in secrecy.” “The TPP Will Rewrite Global Rules on Intellectual Property Enforcement” “All signatory countries will be required to conform their domestic laws and policies to the provisions of the Agreement.” “The leaked US IP chapter includes many detailed requirements that are more restrictive than current international standards, and would require significant changes to other countries’ copyright laws.” 

The Ramifications for Australia  Unfair restrictive laws with regard to the Internet, books, software, games, videos  and movies that will NOT benefit any Australian.

  1. Regulations and penalties to FORCE Internet service providers to police their Internet users connections and take down / block any sites that appear might be in breach of the US based copyright laws. It means Internet CENSORSHIP. It means that the Australian government will lose the rights to make laws regarding IP on the Internet. A similar rule to this was blocked by International protest last year.
  2. Treat temporary reproductions of copyrighted works without copyright holders’ authorization as copyright infringement.  You won’t be able to save ANYTHING shown on commercial radio, TV or the Internet to show other people or even comment about without being in breach of the law. This will drastically affect social media and Utube content.
  3. The TPP wants copyright terms to go well beyond the internationally agreed period in the 1994 Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). This is NOT about fair compensation for the authors. It’s about big multimedia companies controlling art and literature and making profit out of it forever.
  4. Restrictions on Fair use of IP for example in reviews and research. This will affect libraries, schools, universities, social media and anyone wishing to do research or study.
  5. Digital Locks. The TPP calls for more extensive use of digital locks on media content. This will override Australia’s  2007 TPM regime exclusions for region-coding on movies on DVDs, videogames, and players, and for embedded software in devices that restrict access to goods and services for the device. In the US, business competitors have used digital locks to try to block printer cartridge refill services, competing garage door openers, and to lock mobile phones to particular network providers.
  6. Ban parallel importation of genuine goods acquired from other countries without the authorization of copyright owners. This will allow local branches of overseas companies to fix prices to limit competition and it will stop people from buying cheaper versions of the same software or media from overseas suppliers. Definitely NOT free trade.
  7. Adopt criminal sanctions for copyright infringement that is done without a commercial motivation. In short it means MASSIVE PENALTIES perhaps thousands of dollars and gaol sentences for any person caught copying a single song, video, movie or anything under copyright even for use within the same household. We will all be criminals.

Increased Cost of Medicine and Drugs.

Oxfam says that the “US [TPP] proposals will have dire health consequences across Asia and Latin America. Medicine Sans Frontiers (MSF), says this about the TPP effect on public health in Australia.

  1. “US proposals would require the further patenting of modifications of old medicines, even in the absence of therapeutic benefits. They would also require patenting of surgical, therapeutic and diagnostic methods which could increase medical liability and the cost of medical practice and thus reduce access to medical procedures.”
  2. “It would prohibit pre-grant opposition to patents. This would make it much more difficult and costly for local organisations to challenge patents and drugs protected by patents even if the patents were invalid.”
  3. “It would also extend patents past the current 20-year norm and prohibit national drug regulatory authorities from approving generic medicine until patents have expired.”
  4. “Finally it would prevent drug safety regulators from using existing clinical data to give market approval to generic or biosimilar drugs. These are all great wins for big pharmaceutical companies. But they come at the cost of public health.”

In summary, all medicine and drugs in Australia and most other countries will cost more. This will inevitably force the government to make changes to Medicare either increasing the levy or reducing the benefits or both.

The real problem is that the current Australian government wants to sign the TPP with undue haste not caring to either tell the public about its contents or even debating its good and bad points in parliament. Fortunately the Greens and Labor successfully joined together to force the release of the text before it is approved by parliament.

However, political opinions vary from day to day. We could literally go from a democracy to a corporate controlled state in the next few months without most of the people being aware. The only good thing is that it is a multilateral agreement and many of the countries involved are against many of the US based proposals consequently there is a large lack of consensus.

The TPP will also have massive negative effects on Australian human rights, agriculture, food supply and the environment in general. But more about these in part 2.

What can you do… find out more … see ACA and / or AFTINET web sites … tell your friends, family and neighbours … the TPP will affect EVERY Australian … most probably ADVERSELY.

Latest Update – Hundreds of Tech Companies Complain

Further reading.

TPP Part 2- Will Tony Abbot Use the ISDS in the TPP to Sell Our Souls to the DEVIL?

TPP Part 3 – The Hidden Agenda of the TPP- to Block Global Warming Mitigation

 

Welcome to the Indespensable Blog

des pensable

Hi All,

I’ve been around a long time and over that period I’ve observed much about the world, the people and our society society. Nothing stays constant, everything changes. I’ve learnt that we often get windows of opportunity to do something positive and useful that occur only for a short time in our brief lives. Now is one such time for me.

In this blog I hope to make some useful comments about our world that may give some of you a little insight that may help you understand it from a different viewpoint. If that happens I will have succeeded.

The Indispensable Man
Anon

Sometime when you’re feeling important,
Sometime when your ego’s in bloom,
Sometimes when you take it for granted
You’re the best qualified in the room.

Sometimes when you feel that your going
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions
And see how they humble your soul.

Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to your wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining
Is a measure of how you’ll be missed.

You can splash all you wish when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop, and you’ll find that in no time
It looks quiet the same as before.

The moral in this quaint example
Is do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself, but remember—
There’s no indispensable man.

Des Pensable, April, 2015