Much like our own governments and media fuel hatred and resentment about refugees so too does the Iranian government about refugees from Afghanistan who have crossed their border seeking safety from war.
To the people of Standing Rock, with love, peace, and prayers. “How The Protectors Defeated The Black Snake” -Art Alley, Rapid City, SD #NoDAPL
Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics Partners Respond to the Statement from the Department of the Army
Business Wire, December 4, 2016
Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. (NYSE: ETP) and Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. (NYSE: SXL) announced that the Administration’s statement today that it would not at this time issue an “easement” to Dakota Access Pipeline is a purely political action – which the Administration concedes when it states it has made a “policy decision” – Washington code for a political decision. This is nothing new from this Administration, since over the last four months the Administration has demonstrated by its action and inaction that it intended to delay a decision in this matter until President Obama is out of office.
When the Australian immigration department incarcerated Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish journalist fleeing the oppressive Islamic regime in Iran, they made a huge tactical error.
Seasoned at fighting human rights abuses in his home country Boochani has continued inside the Manus Island detention centre in Papua New Guinea.
He’s not the only voice speaking out from inside this prison like facility but he is one of the loudest.
Voices like his will be part of what brings this unjust, unfair system to its knees.
His writing has featured in major newspapers in Australia, and around the world, and is opening up the gates of this prison and exposing the human rights abuses occurring inside.
After several failed attempts I finally managed to record an interview with Behrouz, coincidentally just when he announced he had shot and co directed a film from inside Manus – ‘‘Chauka, please tell us the time’.
This interview was recorded by using Skype from my computer to ring Behrouz’s mobile. Due to this occasionally there’s some odd bleeps and bloops.
‘Chauka, please tell us the time’ is a remarkable film,’ shot on a mobile phone, in restricted and distressing circumstances by Kurdish-Iranian journalist and writer, Behrouz Boochani.
Incarcerated since mid-2013 in the Manus Island Detention Centre, Boochani co-directs the film with Amsterdam based Iranian filmmaker and editor, Arash Kamali Sarvestani.
Far removed from the action, Sarvestani, honours Boochani’s vision, and works with him, across a vast distance, to create a poetic, hypnotic film, which is both a work of great artistry, and a damning inditement of a brutal policy.
At the heart of the film, the central thread around which all the others are woven—is the chauka, a bird that is sacred and central to Manus Island culture.
The camera roams through the centre, and beyond, and conveys the torturous ordeal endured by the 900 men, incarcerated in the prime of their life, for over 40 months now, endlessly waiting, aimlessly pacing, enduring the heat, the erosion of hope, and destruction of the spirit.
The many visual and aural threads include tense phone-calls back home, hinting at family breakdown and the unbearable pain of separation: ‘I am parted from my child,’ one asylum seeker laments in his three-minute weekly call. Referring to a child born after he fled his country, a detainee says: ‘I haven’t had a chance to hold him, touch him or feel his presence’.
We hear the incessant whirring of fans, the dentist-like drill of the fumigation apparatus. We witness the wasted lives of men, their loss of agency: ‘I have no control over this’, says one. ‘Look mum, please don’t cry. Please don’t cry. Look mum, I am stuck here’, pleads another.
Boochani’s mobile phone pans over the cramped living spaces and the tiny cubicles, partitioned by sheets and tarpaulins to create a fragile and claustrophobic privacy.
We hear the comments of broken spirits: ’I prefer to be dead because I have nothing anymore… no one is waiting for me, and I am waiting for no one. I have lost everything.’
There are startling, poetic surreal-like images—rows of empty white plastic chairs leaning against the wire through which can be seen the unobtainable sea; the exuberant, beautiful faces of Manus Island children, dancing just beyond the wire, images of cats, contrastingly free, at home in any space within and without the wire.
The soundtrack compliments the imagery—with two recurring sounds in particular—a haunting Kurdish folksong, sung by one of the inmates, and the chirping of the chauka bird.
The folksong is a lament, a cry of longing, and the birdsong, a homage to Manus Island culture. The theme of the Chauka, and what it symbolises is a brilliant conception.
Through an ongoing conversation with several Manus Island men, we begin to understand the deep significance of the bird, and the ongoing colonial history of the island.
We come to see the cruel irony—the name of a bird that means so much in Manus Island culture, being used as the name for a high security prison within the wider prison, which, for a time, was a place of isolation, and punishment.
We come to understand that the appropriation of the Chauka, as a name for a place of such abuse and suffering, is obscene, and reflective of the neo-colonial system on which the offshore detention system is based.
Also interwoven is an eye witness account of the murder of Reza Barati in February 2014, and eerie footage of a detainee, who at the end of his tether, has self harmed, and is carried, at night, to an ambulance.
The mesmerising rhythm, the recurring imagery, the glimpses of Manus Island culture, the bird song, the sound of the sea, and the intermittent silences, have a powerful cumulative effect.
When we briefly see, at film’s end, Australian Prime Minister Turnbull trying to justify the brutal policy for which his government is responsible, he is condemned by his own words.
He tries in vain to justify the horror, and is revealed as a man in self-denial, representing a government that is, at best, in self denial.
Boochani’s inclusive vision is enhanced by the respect he shows for the Manus Islanders. The mobile phone camera lingers on scenes of island life and culture.
Boochani allows the voices of Manus islanders to be heard. The people of the island are stuck in a terrible dilemma, co opted into the offshore processing system through their desperate need for work.
They are on a lower rung in the camp hierarchy, with the Australian government firmly established at the apex.
‘Chauka please tell me the time’ is driven by a unique, poetic vision. It is filmed by a man who has an eye for life’s beauty, but also deeply feels its injustices, and cruelties—a man who has personally suffered these injustices.
Boochani is at heart an artist, who works intuitively, and instinctually. He, and his distant partner, Arash Kamali Sarvestani, allow the images, the sounds, the snatches of conversation, to speak for themselves.
They transcend the severe limitations of the circumstances under which the film was shot, to give us a glimpse of hell, juxtaposed against the island’s tropical beauty and fragments of its indigenous culture.
They have documented a specific time and place, and helped expose the horror that is indefinite offshore detention, whilst remaining true to the paradoxical beauty of their art-form, and their deeply humanistic vision of life.
Dakota Access pipeline protesters inspect charred vehicles and signs in front of a law enforcement barricade. Photograph: Reuters
Completion of controversial oil pipeline near as work moves quickly, but one Standing Rock protester says: ‘There is no time for waiting any more’
by Sam Levin, The Guardian, October 31, 2016
Native American protesters are preparing to take a “last stand” against the Dakota Access pipeline after police raided their camps and arrested hundreds, paving the way for construction of the final stretch of the controversial oil project.
The issue of marriage equality is in focus around the world. In Australia the big news recently is that the plebiscite which the ruling Liberal party was seeking to hold has been halted after the opposition Labor party voted against it.
A rally was still held in Brisbane on October 15 at Queens Park. It was attended by over 1000 people.
There was mainstream media coverage of the protest of course, but to find out what really happened I spoke to two eminent Brisbane gay personalities.
What follows is a low down honest account of the various high and low lights of the event.
I was lucky enough to catch ‘Power Gays’ Daniel Johnson and Mark Ashenden in my lounge-room and record this interview.
There has been talk for sometime that prisoners the Australia’s refugee camp on Manus Island PNG will be separated according to refugee determination status. Here is the latest news from Kurdish refugee Behrouz Boochani.
Today a lot of security officers, case managers, immigration staff and PNG police have tried to seperate people (refugees) from each other in Manus prison.
Their plan is to separate people with negative status from people with positive status.
The refugees have had some serious arguments with them but they say that you must move and don’t have any choice. They are like a primitive tribe that attack us.
Everything in Manus prison is done by force and under a big dictatorship.
Anybody that resists is put in Manus jail, the small jail in Lorengau town that is meant for local people.
The atmosphere of Manus prison is full of stress and pressure. The system is completely illegal, the prison is illegal, separating people is illegal and their processing is illegal
While fireworks aren’t military they cost a lot of money and create unnecessary noise.
The Queensland governments own website says this about the noise caused by fireworks.
Noise from fireworks can cause distress, especially as fireworks can sound like gunfire. The noise can also cause tinnitus and deafness, or aggravate a nervous condition.
People who suffer from asthma can experience discomfort and epileptics can experience seizures following fireworks displays.
When frightened by fireworks, horses and dogs have been known to injure themselves and others by running away, potentially causing accidents and damage to property.
Brisbane residents and animals have to deal with this noise especially those who live in inner city areas.
Inner city dwellers also have to also contend with road closures and crowds of firework frenzied visitors.
The wildlife seemed to disappear in New Farm on Saturday night.
The $16 million Riverfire spectacular reportedly featured 11 tonnes of fireworks and 300,000 – 500,000 people lined the Brisbane River on Saturday night.
And the whole thing only lasts for 15-20mins.
The environmental effects last longer however, the metal particles which give the fireworks their color can linger in the air for days.
This article from The Conversation goes into more details about the environmental costs of fireworks.
Our prettiest pollutant: just how bad are fireworks for the environment?
The bangs and fizzes of fireworks are rapidly replacing the chimes of Big Ben as the defining sound of New Year’s Eve celebrations in London, while around the world, city landmarks are becoming stages for increasingly spectacular pyrotechnic displays. Since the millennium, the popularity of fireworks has even extended into back gardens, where smaller fireworks or sparklers are lit up at the stroke of midnight.
Fireworks are great fun. We all enjoy guessing the colours of the rockets before they ignite in the sky, hearing the explosions echo off nearby buildings, or writing our names in light with hand sparklers.
But there is an environmental price to pay. Firework smoke is rich in tiny metal particles. These metals make firework colours, in much the same way as Victorian scientists identified chemicals by burning them in a Bunsen flame; blue from copper, red from strontium or lithium, and bright green or white from barium compounds.
There is more smoke from potassium and aluminium compounds, which are used to propel fireworks into the air. Perchlorates are also used as firework propellants; these are a family of very reactive chlorine and oxygen compounds, which were also used by NASA to boost space shuttles off the launch pad.
Terrific, but toxic
Fireworks can lead to substantial air pollution problems. There are well documented examples from cites around the world. In Spain, metal particle pollution from Girona’s Sant Joan fireworks fiesta can linger in the city for days. Across India’s cities, the annual Diwali fireworks cause pollution that is far worse than Beijing on a bad day.
Guy Fawkes is regularly the most polluted day of the year in the UK, although scientists from King’s College London have found that pollution from bonfires – the traditional way of marking Guy Fawkes – is also a part of this mixture. Fireworks can have significant effects on air pollution in enclosed spaces, too. In Germany, tests have shown how goal and match celebrations with flares, smoke bombs and other pyrotechnics can fill football stadiums with high concentrations of airborne particles.
And of course, what goes up has to come down. Fireworks that fall to the ground contain residues of unburnt propellants and colourants, while particle pollution in the air eventually deposits on the ground or gets washed out by rain. Some of this finds its way into lakes and rivers , where percolate has been linked to thyroid problems, causing limits to be set for drinking water in some US states. This is a major concern for lakeside resorts and attractions that have frequent firework displays.
Researchers in London have collected airborne particles from Diwali and Guy Fawkes. These were found to deplete lung defences far more than pollution from traffic sources, suggesting a greater toxicity. Across India, Diwali fireworks have been linked to a 30% to 40% increase in recorded breathing problems. Like New Year’s Eve, fireworks are a relatively new phenomenon at Diwali.
Some simple steps can be taken to reduce our exposure to firework pollution. For one thing, setting them off in enclosed spaces is a very bad idea, as are hand-held sparklers. Positioning crowds upwind of fireworks displays is another obvious way of reducing their negative health impacts.
Yet fireworks are already the largest manufactured source of some types of metal particles in the UK atmosphere. And the proportion of pollution from fireworks will only increase, as huge investments are made to reduce other sources of urban pollution. Particle filters are present on nearly all modern diesel vehicles and factory emissions across the developed world are continually being tightened – but firework pollution remains unchecked.
Perhaps the best way to tackle the pollution caused by fireworks is not to have them at all. But this seems rather extreme (not to mention a lot less fun). The high-precision, controlled displays that we see at international landmarks on New Year’s Eve demonstrate the great innovation of the fireworks industry. It’s time for this innovative approach to be applied to reduce the environmental impact of fireworks, so that we can continue to enjoy the excitement of displays for years to come.