Hey Aussies, if you’re casting a vote on September 7 this is something you should read! A very big thank you to Patrick Alexander of Chicken Nation for creating this comic and allowing the rest of us to share it so freely.
Here’s what he has to say about his comic:
Dennis the Election Koala gives Ken the Voting Dingo an important lesson in civics!
Any time there’s a federal election approaching, you’ll see and hear Australians saying things like, “I’d like to vote for [Minor Party/Independent] but the most important thing is to keep [Major Party A] out, so I’d better vote for [Major Party B].” But this concern doesn’t apply in Australia; we have a more elegant voting system than that. We seem to have picked up ideas about “wasting your vote” from American TV shows or something.
So here’s a comic designed to clear up this common misconception and explain how preferential voting works! It’s four pages long — just the right size for a pamphlet. I’ve tried to make it non-partisan and future-proof, and you are encouraged to share it online and in print. Letterbox your street or apartment building, or hand out copies at a polling booth!
Makes sense, right?
This comic is available in various web and print formats, and the author is encouraging people to share the message. So head over to Chicken Nation, print a few copies and stick them up in your staff room at work. More people need to know how this stuff works – preferably before September!
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday confirmed a deal that will see asylum seekers sent to Papua New Guinea for assessment. If found to be genuine refugees they will be settled in PNG, with no prospect of ever being settled in Australia. I’m not sure if this announcement would have been less shocking if it had been delivered by Tony Abbott. I am opposed to this deal for the following reasons:
This arrangement outsources our ethical and legal responsibilities as a signatory to the UN Convention on Refugees, which gives every human being the right to seek asylum. Most Australians are fortunate to not really understand the importance of this right. What would you say if your next door neighbour asked you to pay his annual taxes for the next 50 years in exchange for the veggies from his garden?
This deal further de-humanises the human beings who seek asylum in Australia. Have you ever heard a politician or media outlet refer to a drowned asylum seeker by using their name? This is important, because as long as we consider asylum seekers as other than human, we will care less and vote accordingly. (This is why you will never see me use the term “boat people” to describe asylum seekers who arrive by sea.)
This is an attack on people smuggling, not a solution for asylum seekers. Kevin Rudd has used his considerable influence to launch an attack against people smugglers, which is another important issue to be tackled. But he has done so at the expense of many genuine refugees, Australia’s responsibilities under the UN Refugee Convention, and actual human lives.
More than anything, this is a strategy to win your vote. The Labor Party is in trouble, even though it gained a bit of ground with last month’s leadership spill. Kevin Rudd has used this critical issue to bank on the fact that most Australians are mostly uninformed, a little bit racist, and very fearful of the people who show up on our beaches (thanks for that one, Australian media). Kevin Rudd is counting on the fact that we see these people as “queue jumpers” rather than genuinely desperate people.
When Bob Carr took the opportunity to talk to Lateline hours after the leadership spill to describe asylum seekers as mostly “economic migrants”, it was a disturbing sign of things to come. If this is truly the case, why are 9 out of 10 asylum seekers determined to be legitimate refugees?
We are being lied to. I doubt that any of us would put up with this kind of dishonesty from our partners, so why do we allow the leaders of our country to say such things unchallenged? The good news is that each of us has the power to do something about it.
Please keep reading. Make a really informed vote in September and base your decision on the issues that are most important. I don’t pretend that this will be easy because our politicians are hardly even talking about their policies – they’re more interested in distracting us from their policies. But read anyway. Pretend you’re buying a new car or choosing an insurance policy. Will you just choose the product with the shiniest packaging?
I say this as somebody who no longer knows what to do with her own vote, so I’m not trying to drum up support for a particular party here. I just know that this asylum seeker crisis deserves my care and compassion, and at least as much consideration as my other concerns like climate change policy.
There are lots of people writing really intelligent commentary about this decision and the impact it will have on all of us, but especially the desperate people who seek legal asylum for reasons beyond their control. I’m going to keep adding to this post as time goes on, as I’m sure that the discussion is only going to get more comprehensive.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on the difference between asylum seekers and refugees. It’s pretty simple – asylum seekers are people whose refugee claims have not yet been determined.
Julian Burnside’s excellent article You’ve been misled on boat people: Here are the facts. This article is an excellent starting point for people who don’t know much about the asylum seeker issue, but also for the rest of us.
Amnesty International strongly condemns yesterday’s appalling announcement by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd that he will now refuse to resettle asylum seekers who arrive by boat in Australia. “Mark this day in history as the day Australia decided to turn its back on the world’s most vulnerable people, closed the door and threw away the key”.
Alison Gerard, Senior Lecturer in Justice Studies at Charles Sturt University says this: “Like other proposals put forward by this government, it is likely to be robustly contested in court as a breach of basic human rights. Internationally, it stands out as one of the most reactive and punitive asylum seeker policies, lacking in both compassion and a sophisticated understanding of migration in the Asia Pacific.”
Jon Stanhope, Christmas Island administrator, asks the Australian government: How many must die for us to show compassion?
As usual, some of the best commentary is only 140 characters long.
We strongly condemn appalling announcement by @KRuddMP that Australia will refuse to resettle #AsylumSeekers who arrive by boat.
I’m going to let a clever gentleman by the name of Ben Peek answer this question instead, since apparently Tony Abbott isn’t all that great with numbers:
In case anyone is confused about this, the answer is none. Do you know why? Because seeking asylum is not illegal.
Seeking asylum is not illegal. Seeking asylum is not illegal! This isn’t opinion, it’s not even open to interpretation because seeking asylum is protected by law. I cannot figure out why so many Australians don’t know this. I can’t figure out why so many politicians lie about this.
How many people are going to let racism and fear determine their vote in September? There are a stack of reasons to be angry at Labor right now (including treatment of asylum seekers once they reach our shores) but in the words of David Ewart:
Think about the aftertaste. Make an informed decision. Our politicians don’t always tell us the truth, but that’s not a good reason for being an uninformed voter.
To the Republicans who said that they would be moving to Australia if Obama won, please know this:
Australia has universal healthcare (pro-choice), social security for all and compulsory voting. We have no death penalty, no guns, and evolution is taught in all our schools. We have openly gay politicians and judges.
Our female Prime Minister is an unmarried athiest.
You may prefer to shop around.
Thank you, America, for playing a long game and finishing what you started. We were beginning to worry.
Edited to add this excellent commentary by Rachel Maddow, 7 Nov 2012
“Ohio really did go to President Obama. And he really did win. And he really was born in Hawaii. And he really is legitimately, President of the United States. Again. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make up a fake unemployment rate. And the Congressional Research Service really can find no evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy. And the polls were not skewed to oversample Democrats. And Nate Silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make Conservatives feel bad. Nate Silver was doing Math.
And Climate Change is Real. And rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes. And Evolution is a Thing. And Benghazi was an attack ON us, it was not a scandal BY us. And nobody is taking away anyone’s guns. And taxes have not gone up. And the deficit is dropping, actually, and Saddam Hussein did not have Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the moon landing was real, and FEMA is not building concentration camps, and UN Election Observers are not taking over Texas, and moderate reforms on the regulations in the insurance industry in this country are not the same things as Communism…
[but] if the Republican Party and the Conservative Movement and the Conservative Media are stuck in a vacuum-sealed, door-locked spin cycle of telling each other what makes them feel good, and denying the factual, lived truth of the world, then we are all deprived as a nation of the constructive debate between competing, feasible ideas about real problems.
Last night, the Republicans got shellacked. And they had no idea it was coming. And we saw them in real, humiliating time, not believe it even as it was happening to them. And unless they are going to secede, they are going to have to pop the factual bubble they have been so happy living inside if they do not want to get shellacked again. And that will be a painful process for them, I’m sure. But it will be good for the whole country, left, right and center.
You guys, we’re counting on you. Wake up. There are real problems in the world. There are real, knowable facts in the world. Let’s accept those, and talk about how we might approach our problems differently. Let’s move on from there.”
I don’t blog about politics as a general rule. But get a load of this.
What an excruciating interview. There’s a really enjoyable blow-by-blow autopsy at The Vine.
The result is 12 and a half minutes of painful (but thoroughly watchable) digression, admission, hedging, inconsistency and general inability to answer basic questions. The thing is, I don’t even think Leigh Sales was pushing particularly hard here. Abbott simply cannot function in an uncontrolled environment. To quote George Costanza, he’s “like an old man trying to return soup at a deli”. And also, in all likelihood, our next Prime Minister. Quake, people. Quake in your shoes.
If you don’t have time to watch, here’s what you need to know:
Tony Abbott is comfortable commenting on critical company statements that he hasn’t actually read
Tony Abbott refused to accept that it is legal for refugees to seek asylum in Australia.
Regardless of your stance on ‘boat people’ (I despise this term) this admission should anger people on both sides of politics.
Australia’s next Prime Minister? Not if I can help it.
I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. – Martin Luther King, Jr.
At the rate we’re going, chocolate is going to be a rare—and extremely pricey—commodity within the next twenty years. Somebody needs to light a fire under those Oompa-Loompas, stat.
The problem’s easy to explain, and much harder to fix. According to the Cocoa Research Association, we’re consuming more chocolate than we’re producing cocoa. Which means, eventually, we’re going to run out.
Cocoa’s notoriously difficult to harvest, meaning more and more small-scale West African growers—who make an average of 80 cents per day—have little incentive not to turn to more lucrative crops, like rubber, or give up farming altogether in favor of more stable opportunities in cities.
What will the shortage mean? $11 Snickers bars, sooner than you think. Pretzels given out for Halloween. Or more candy made from carob, a poor substitute for the sweet and sticky real deal. And a tectonic shift in how we view our mochas, according the Nature Conservation Research Council’s John Mason:
“In 20 years chocolate will be like caviar. It will become so rare and so expensive that the average Joe just won’t be able to afford it.”
But don’t lose hope! Both Hershey and Mars, Inc. have sequenced the cacao genome, meaning more resilient trees could be in our future. And 20 years seems like enough time to figure out how to incentivize farmers appropriately.
Read the original post at Gizmodo, who found it at The Independent, who fou… oh, I can’t keep this up when there’s a chocolate shortage happening out there!
No doubt there’s a similar graphic about Julia Gillard doing the rounds, God knows she’s not perfect. But it doesn’t make this anti-Abbott poster any less true.
The fear tactics used by the Liberal party in this election campaign have been revolting. To prejudice a nation against “boat people” is utterly criminal – why don’t more people understand that it is against the law to turn away legitimate asylum seekers? Why don’t we bother to learn that 90% of refugees arrive by plane? Don’t fall for the catchphrases or his mythical “boatphone”. Such an invention wouldn’t work reliably under his broadband plan anyway.
The average Australian seems to think that we are being inundated with “queue jumpers” and that is entirely the fault of politicians like Tony Abbott, and to a lesser extent the other political leaders who are failing to correct him. I can’t help but notice that Julia Gillard is cashing in on this fear because it’s easier than correcting 22 million people who have been subjected to the rhetoric.
Whoever you vote for this Saturday, don’t base your decision on fear. Refugees are not terrorists. Our national debt is within entirely manageable levels. “The gays” are not destroying the Australian way of life, and the National Broadband Network isn’t being built to improve your Facebook experience. Both major parties have trivialised some of the really important issues at stake because they know that most of us have a short attention span. It’s worth knowing what a vote for these parties will really mean in the future.
Abbott has an election to win, at any cost, but liars make me angry. Don’t reward him for treating you like an idiot who won’t bother to learn the facts.
Last week, for the first time in my life, I was treated for skin cancer.
About three years ago I noticed a strange bump on my forearm. Growing up in Queensland, the skin cancer capital of the world, I knew better than to ignore any changes in my skin. The first GP I saw told me not to worry, telling me that it was most likely a blocked pore.
The general advice that you hear is to visit your doctor if a bump, lump or mark changes – especially if it changes colour. My bump evolved several times during those three years, but it was only two weeks ago that a doctor took it seriously. So seriously, in fact, that I was immediately referred to a specialist for its removal.
Last Thursday I lay on the bed in the doctor’s room and concentrated very hard on the corner of the ceiling above my head. To my left, the doctor administered a local anaesthetic and carved the malignant cells out of my arm. While there wasn’t any real pain during the procedure, I did have to experience all the other sensations that went with it – the tugging of my skin against the stitches, the sensation of blood dripping down my arm. It wasn’t my favourite way to spend an afternoon.
My intention is not to gross you out. I guess I just want to explain how this little “bump” I had lived with for so long was suddenly being described as a “lesion”, and how quickly my doctors acted to cut it out of my body before it could do any further damage. All the what ifs suddenly came to the forefront of my mind.
As I was saying, I wasn’t really planning to blog about it because nobody likes pictures of medical procedures. But one day after my little operation, I received this email:
Hope you’re well
I’m writing to see whether you would be interested in supporting the latest summer campaign from Cancer Council Australia, which this year is all about helping teens to understand the dangers of excessive sunbaking.
The message is simple: there’s no healthy way to tan.
But before you say ‘not another anti-tanning campaign’, you need to check out our snazzy new web application… It’s called ‘Sunsation’ and it works like this: teens upload a photo of themselves to the application, then sit back and watch as a ‘healthy glow’ develops. But at the same time as they are admiring the bronze glow, they start to notice a spot developing on their face. Within seconds it has turned into a large and nasty looking melanoma. Attached is a teaser to show you how it might work.
Suddenly a tan doesn’t seem so hot!
Sunsation is part of this year’s National Skin Cancer Action Week campaign (November 15-22), and I’m hoping that you might be able to help us by giving us a shout-out on your website, or by running the Sunsation banner (which we can have re-sized to suit your specs if need be).
Attached is a media release which will give you a bit more information about National Skin Cancer Week and what else we’ll be doing (including a large installation at Bondi)
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you think you might be able to help!
I decided that serendipity was at play when I received this email, and that it was important to write about my experience. I am a person who has never actively sunbaked, but growing up in Cairns and Brisbane made sun exposure unavoidable. It is quite off-putting to think about how many times I went snorkelling out on the reef without reapplying sunscreen as often as I should, wearing nothing more than a bikini.
This is a picture of my dressed arm. If you don’t mind a bit of blood and guts, you can click here to see the wound in all its glory (WARNING: it’s not very beautiful).
National Skin Cancer Action Week raises awareness of skin cancer and sun protection issues at the start of the summer season. Hosted by the Cancer Council in conjunction with the Australasian College of Dermatologists, it runs from November 15-21 and involves a number of educational and promotional initiatives.
‘Don’t be a victim’ campaign
Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach became a massive ‘crime scene’ on Sunday, 15 November (start of National Skin Cancer Action Week) in a new Cancer Council campaign that graphically depicts the dangers of tanning.
Startled beachgoers were greeted by the sight of 1700 towels stretched across the sand, each emblazoned with a ‘crime scene’ chalk outline of a ‘victim’. The towels are a graphic representation of the 1700 Australians who die each year from skin cancer.
These aerial shots of the “crime scene” were especially effective (click to fullview):
Sunsation – Sun Tan Simulator
Are you curious to see how you would look with a tan?
Click the image below to open the Sunsation Sun Tan Simulator in a new window. This clever little web app allows you to upload a photo of yourself and see your tan develop. At the same time, you’ll see a spot form and gradually become a melanoma.
The message is clear – skin cancer is real, and it can kill. Treatment isn’t always as simple as cutting out the affected area – it can often spread throughout the body and do irreversible damage.
In recognition of National Skin Cancer Action Week, now is as good a time as any to be reminded of the “Slip, Slop, Slap” campaign that we Aussie kids all grew up with!
And most of all? If you’re worried about any sort of change in your skin, get it checked out. Persevere if you’re unhappy with your doctor’s response. Get familiar with your skin’s condition, so that you will notice any developments.
What would you do if you were an out of work art director with some free time and you wanted to help fight the Swine Flu epidemic plaguing Mexico (and looking pretty grim all over the place)? Irina Blok decided to get creative with some fashionista surgical masks. She says: With all the paranoia about swine flu i think there’s an opportunity to do something cool – design fashion surgical masks! Not only they are aesthetically pleasing, they can save your life (well.. not really.. they mostly just look good.)
My favorite by far is the awesome Domo-Kun reference (in the center). She’s going to produce limited quantities of these masks and sell them for $10, and you can email her if you want one! All proceeds go south of the border to help fight the flu epidemic. No word on where she’s donating though.
Back in my home town of Brisbane, Armageddon has arrived. It would seem that mother nature’s answer to a decade of drought is to pummel the city with storms that rip trees out of the ground and throw them on peoples’ rooftops. My old suburb of Ashgrove is one area experiencing flash flooding, although my parents’ house is high and dry on a hill.
More storms are expected tonight, and an even bigger one tomorrow night. It must be completely heartbreaking for the many people who have lost everything.
At least these guys had fun with it. Secretly, I’d have loved to have experienced it too – as long as I came out the other side with everything intact!
Planet Earth is so cranky with us right now. Or maybe it’s the Big Guy sending us a message? After all, Victoria is facing a threat of locust plagues right now…
It’s all a little too Biblical for me. So instead, I’d like to close with this little piece of advice for my Brisbane friends and family:
One sunny day in January 2009 an old man approached the white house from across Pennsylvania Ave where he had been sitting on a park bench. He spoke to the Marine standing guard and said “I would like to go and meet President Bush.” The Marine looked at the old man and replied “Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer lives here.” The old man says “OK” and walks away.
The next day the same old man walks across and asks the same Marine the same question and the Marine a bit irritated gives the same reply and the old man walks away.
On the third day the same old man comes again and asks the same Marine ” I would like to go in and meet president Bush.” Now the marine is even more irritated at the man and says “I told you yesterday and the day before that Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer lives here. Don’t you understand?”
The old man looked at the Marine and said “I understand. I just love hearing it.”
The Marine snapped to attention, saluted and said “See you tomorrow sir.”
• He collects Spider-Man and Conan the Barbarian comics
• He was known as “O’Bomber” at high school for his skill at basketball
• His name means “one who is blessed” in Swahili
• His favourite meal is wife Michelle’s shrimp linguini
• He won a Grammy in 2006 for the audio version of his memoir, Dreams From My Father
• He is left-handed – the sixth post-war president to be left-handed
• He has read every Harry Potter book
• He owns a set of red boxing gloves autographed by Muhammad Ali
• He worked in a Baskin-Robbins ice cream shop as a teenager and now can’t stand ice cream
• His favourite snacks are chocolate-peanut protein bars
• He ate dog meat, snake meat, and roasted grasshopper while living in Indonesia
• He can speak Spanish
• While on the campaign trail he refused to watch CNN and had sports channels on instead
• His favourite drink is black forest berry iced tea
• He promised Michelle he would quit smoking before running for president – he didn’t
• He kept a pet ape called Tata while in Indonesia
• He can bench press an impressive 200lbs
• He was known as Barry until university when he asked to be addressed by his full name
• His favourite book is Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
• He visited Wokingham, Berks, in 1996 for the stag party of his half-sister’s fiancé, but left when a stripper arrived
• His desk in his Senate office once belonged to Robert Kennedy
• He and Michelle made $4.2 million (£2.7 million) last year, with much coming from sales of his books
• His favourite films are Casablanca and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
• He carries a tiny Madonna and child statue and a bracelet belonging to a soldier in Iraq for good luck
• He applied to appear in a black pin-up calendar while at Harvard but was rejected by the all-female committee.
• His favourite music includes Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Bach and The Fugees
• He took Michelle to see the Spike Lee film Do The Right Thing on their first date
• He enjoys playing Scrabble and poker
• He doesn’t drink coffee and rarely drinks alcohol
• He would have liked to have been an architect if he were not a politician
• As a teenager he took drugs including marijuana and cocaine
• His daughters’ ambitions are to go to Yale before becoming an actress (Malia, 10) and to sing and dance (Sasha, 7)
• He hates the youth trend for trousers which sag beneath the backside
• He repaid his student loan only four years ago after signing his book deal
• His house in Chicago has four fire places
• Daughter Malia’s godmother is Jesse Jackson’s daughter Santita
• He says his worst habit is constantly checking his BlackBerry
• He uses an Apple Mac laptop
• He drives a Ford Escape Hybrid, having ditched his gas-guzzling Chrysler 300
• He wears $1,500 (£952) Hart Schaffner Marx suits
• He owns four identical pairs of black size 11 shoes
• He has his hair cut once a week by his Chicago barber, Zariff, who charges $21 (£13)
• His favourite fictional television programmes are Mash and The Wire
• He was given the code name “Renegade” by his Secret Service handlers
• He was nicknamed “Bear” by his late grandmother
• He plans to install a basketball court in the White House grounds
• His favourite artist is Pablo Picasso
• His speciality as a cook is chilli
• He has said many of his friends in Indonesia were “street urchins”
• He keeps on his desk a carving of a wooden hand holding an egg, a Kenyan symbol of the fragility of life
• His late father was a senior economist for the Kenyan government