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Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie Sheen, Je suis ce que je suis

Ok, I’ve been sitting around and trying to work out the middle way.

Yes, it’s a worthwhile question and it’s already been asked by many. Why so many pages about Paris and so few about all the other victims of people using weapons indiscriminately?

Of course, the question divides, because many of the people who are angry about Paris see it as typical of the left who apologise for all the terrible people in the world and if only we all got a little bit angrier, then everything would be ok, because, well that’s the way it works in the movies isn’t it? The hero is slow to anger, but when he does he wastes all the bad guys and it’s all ok, so if the left would just stop watching those arty films where things end badly, then maybe they’d understand that life isn’t like that, it has happy endings when the hero just uses his gun. And we’re the hero, aren’t we?

I’ve spent a large part of my life being angry about things. Not most of it. But a large part of it. Anger rarely solves anything. Sometimes, as that punk, Johnny Rotten once told us, it’s “an energy”. But usually it doesn’t usually solve anything.

So I spent a lot of time thinking about what could we do about Paris and I asked myself a lot of interesting questions. Like what would surrender look like? What would happen if we said to the terrorists, you win, what are your terms for peace?

Yes, yes, I know they don’t have any terms for peace. But it’d be interesting to ask them that. I mean, what would they say? We don’t want peace? Perhaps. But there’s also a possibility that the question could make them spend the next few years arguing with each other about whether they should ask for something or simply tell us that they don’t want peace at any price. At least that might stuff up their planning …

And then tonight, while I was still trying to work out a thoughtful response to the Paris attacks when I noticed a post on Facebook which I’ll quote loosely as “F*ck you, Charlie, don’t expect us to feel sorry for you.”

Now for a second, I’d forgotten all about the story on the news where I heard that Charlie Sheen was going to reveal that he was HIV positive in an interview, and while I’m tempted to have a long discussion about the nature of the word reveal that’d just be a distraction. At the time, I thought of all the “Je suis Charlie” posts and thought that this person was blaming the magazine for the Paris attacks. I was outraged and was about to pull out all the verbal guns and …

Then I remembered Charlie Sheen.

And I felt silly.

Not least, because when we have a media that thinks that Charlie Sheen’s HIV revelation is worth telling us about before he actually reveals it, I should already know not to expect anything better! While I could say thanks for the health warning, I realised that it’s probably wiser to just remember that book I read “Amusing Ourselves To Death” and realise that the nightly news is just entertainment and to expect it to be anything less is about as ridiculous as to expect that sportspeople should be role models just because they are slightly faster, more agile or bigger than the average person.

Why expect better from the media? Silly me.

I posted this a couple of years ago, but he seems the best Charlie to listen to right now.

P.S. When a part of Melbourne is evacuated because someone left a pair of shoes, it seems that the terrorists have won. Perhaps surrender is not as silly as it sounds.

Pax.

 

Has anything changed? Not judging by the comments.

While many Australians, and no doubt the rest of the world, are still breathing a collective sigh of relief at the deposal of Tony Abbott, his supporters are still smarting and licking their wounds. Abbott himself is still pretending to not wreck, not snipe and not undermine, by telling his supporters he could still have won the election, while those within Abbott’s camp have conveniently forgotten Abbott’s own overthrow of Turnbull not even a decade ago, albeit as leader of the opposition.

Malcolm Turnbull is by far more popular than Abbott. A jump in the polls after Turnbull ascended to the top is a pretty clear indication that Abbott as leader was the problem. Even a commitment to retain the most odious of Abbott’s policies has not dampened Turnbull’s popularity. Likewise, Andrew Hastie’s easy win in the Canning by-election after the coup was a good indication that the Coalition’s policies were not the problem for most people – the problem was Abbott.

Despite Turnbull now giving the Coalition a fighting, and likely, chance of winning the next election, Abbott’s supporters are still coming out hard. With the Liberal party effectively split in two for loyalty, diehard Lib fans continue to fiercely support Abbott’s legacy. As a result, they are reminding Australian’s of what the Coalition stands for, regardless of leader. Consequently, Australian’s cannot forget that the same party is in charge and nothing has really changed.

On Saturday, 3 October 2015, Malcolm Turnbull (or his staff) posted a rather innocuous photo and caption on his Facebook page, to which I replied. Some of the responses to my light-hearted comment serve as a reminder of the sheer ignorance and wilful deceit of the Coalition rhetoric and propaganda.

Turnbull’s initial Facebook post which prompted my comment was not remarkable. It was rather normal and not the slightest bit inflammatory. It hardly gave the impression of aiming to boost Turnbull’s standings in the polls, nor indicated a desperate attempt to show Turnbull leading the nation as a humble servant.

The post showed a photo of Turnbull with actor Chris Hemsworth, with the following words:

“Good to meet Chris Hemsworth today – talked about the contribution of the creative sector to our economy. But a bit weird he insisted on me calling him Thor“.

My comment, intended as a light-hearted comparison to what we had come to expect was:

“I can just imagine Tony Abbott’s caption to this photo, ‘Good to meet Chris Hemsworth today – talked about the contribution of the creative sector to our economy. He told me I could be a god just like him because of my superpowers stopping the boats’.”

This sparked an immediate tirade of misinformation, absurd assertions and a litany of personal abuse. Clearly critical thought and fact checking are not considered necessary for the diehard Liberal supporters.

The obvious response, and one of the most perpetuated lies of the Federal Government was that Abbott did indeed stop the boats.

“He did stop the boats as promised.

Granted, he stopped any boats landing on Australian shores, but he did not stop the boats. The Commonwealth has openly admitted that 20 boats were prevented from landing on Australian territory up until August 2015, and the Government has never refuted that it paid people smugglers to turn a boat around. If the boats had actually stopped there would be no need to turn them back.

Abbott cannot even claim credit for the massive reduction in boats leaving Indonesia: the credit belongs to Kevin Rudd II and his hard-line asylum seeker stance just before the 2013 election, where he declared no person arriving by boat would ever be resettled in Australia.

One response on the post demonstrated complete ignorance of Coalition policy and spending, saying:

“So you would rather pay for illegals than pay for what Australians need like bigger pensions better child care education etc etc. fix our own because no one else will, would or could!”

Ignoring the fact that it is not illegal to seek asylum, the Federal Government currently spends $1 billion a year on offshore detention. It also intends to cut pensions. Extra childcare funding is reliant on cutting family payments, leaving thousands of families worse off. New Treasurer, Scott Morrison has also announced that the Coalition is pushing for privatisation of health and education. It seems pretty obvious that the Government has a very clear intention to spend billions on arbitrary detention, and as little as possible on the Australian family.

Another poster astutely remarked:

“Eva is so far from the left she could probably fall over, let me guess your against offshore detention you probably believe in global warming. … I bet Eva is also against Christianity and private education.”

This disturbingly amusing ‘insult’ is a perfect example of the ignorance of the typical Coalition supporter. Apart from the billions of tax dollars currently used to arbitrarily detain asylum seekers and refugees, including young babies, it is laughable that someone would attempt to use the situation to cast aspersions on my character given the offshore detention regime supports rape, sexual assault, and physical abuse. A growing list of people are calling for the detention centres to be closed, on top of a Senate Committee inquiry recommending that children and families be immediately removed from Nauru.

Global warming, or climate change, is a pet hate of the Abbott supporter. With 97% of scientists agreeing that climate change is a serious issue, Australia has been criticised by a UN climate expert for its abysmally low greenhouse gas emissions targets. Despite Turnbull’s previous stance and criticism on the Coalition’s environmental policy, he has indicated an intention to retain Abbott’s laughable Direct Action. No doubt the Coalition supporters found Dutton’s recent shamefully embarrassing climate change ‘joke’ hilarious too.

It’s possible the curious comment on my alleged anti-Christian sentiment comes from the commenter’s observation of a satirical anti-radicalisation meme on my Facebook page: ‘Case Study: Jesus of Nazareth’. The meme describes Jesus as a ‘radical’ who left his loving family, was tempted by Satan, attempted to recruit followers, went against the Romans and the priests, and was ultimately hanged with thieves. Clearly the irony of this meme would be lost on most Coalition supporters, who would consider Karen, the alternative music loving, political activist, and environmentalist a genuine threat to their conservative, capitalist ideals.

Despite the overwhelming majority support of the Coalition and conservative politics within the mainstream media, Australians now source most of their news online, with a recent survey finding that 59% of people access news on their smartphones and 48% relying on Facebook. While there is no real evidence that the mainstream media in general has anything more than a ‘muted’ influence over an actual election outcome, the use of social media to access the news provides a new opportunity for all political stances and ideologies to share facts, lies, and opinions, whether informed or not.

A recent Nielson report found that approximately 13 million Australians (over 50% of the population) are active users of Facebook every month. The information also shows that on average, 60% of those that discover new information on Facebook will go on to learn more. Equal numbers of people reportedly use YouTube, with around a quarter of the population using WordPress.com and approximately 11% using Twitter.

With the rise of the use of social media, and the use of the same by the ill-informed, it is crucial that Australians who care about human rights, who believe in equality, and who deplore the dehumanisation of anyone other than white, middle-class, privileged Coalition party members and their friends, continue to speak out and demand accountability.

Turnbull’s new leadership will bring with it some changes, but not enough if Australia is to reach the standard expected of a Western democracy in the 21st Century. Abbott returned Australia to the 1950’s with his personal ideology, and medieval times in more than one policy. However, as Abbott so kindly pointed out, “Border protection policy the same, national security policy the same, economic policy the same, even same-sex marriage policy the same, and climate change policy the same. In fact, the rhetoric is the same…” under a Turnbull leadership.

Turnbull may be popular, but the Coalition remains the same.

 

My Thoughts on the Week That Was

 

Author’s note:

I have decided to convert what was my ‘A Month in Politics’ post into a weekly commentary: ‘My Thoughts on the Week That Was’.

Saturday 2 May

1. The Indonesian Government legally murders two Australian citizens and then apologises to the parents for their suffering. That’s strange diplomacy.

  1.  The Royal Commission into Unions may get itself into murky waters if it extends its inquiries into the Labor Party when it is not part of its terms of reference. A future RC into Ashbygate might be a fair retort.
  2.  Labors Justice Spokesperson, David Feeney asks a reasonable question “why the government’s opposition to the death penalty had been removed from the ministerial direction to the Australian Federal Police” He got the “How dare you” response from the Government. Sure his timing could have been better but it is a legitimate question deserving of an honest answer. And Feeney is right on the facts.

Sunday 3 May

  1. On the Royal Birth. Thousands of children are born every day. Some into privilege and some into poverty. Why can’t they all be born into a society of equal opportunity?

“Surely the Monarchy belongs to our past and not our future”.

2. Budget leaks are beginning to appear. There will be cuts to welfare. The question of fairness will be paramount. So how will the Coalition justify cuts to welfare for the poor and middle classes while not being willing to tackle the tax havens of the wealthy?

3. An observation. In the United States, the Republican mantra for cutting taxes for the rich and other policy initiatives seem to flow from their adoption of radical Christian fundamentalist belief. In fact the GOP seems to be the mouthpiece for the extremities of right wing Christian belief. When you set your principles and ideas on religious belief rather than reason then the politics of fear erode the common good.

 Monday 4 May

1.The assumption by conservative economists that reducing the tax of the rich will reduce their desire to avoid it, ranks with Margaret Thatcher’s “The poor shall be looked after by the drip down effect of the rich” as the two most proven failures of right wing economics.

  1. Whilst the government is sounding tuff on foreign housing investment it must be remembered that the new rules only apply to houses out of the reach of ordinary Australians.
  2. I am a fervent supporter of marriage equality but it is hard to argue that Labor should have a binding vote while at the same time insisting that the Coalition have a conscience one.
  3. I’m a little upset that high income earners (threshold of $250.000) will have the assistance of nannies. At a cost of course. Oh well I suppose my wife and I will, as grandparents, continue to do it for free

Tuesday 5 May

According to former Liberal Leader John Hewson the tax cuts Howard and Costello gave are now costing (the budget) about $30 billion a year, and the deficit’s $40 billion. . Without these cuts and the 9 billion Hockey gave – unasked for and against the will of treasury-to the reserve bank. The deficit problem wouldn’t exist. And that’s without including some $40 billion in tax concessions for superannuation, which accrue overwhelmingly to the wealthiest 20% of taxpayers. You can easily add it up to show that the deficit that exists today is a fake number, says Hewson. ‘’They’ve basically imposed it on themselves’’

Wednesday 6 May

  1. AFP said it did not have enough evidence to arrest the Bali 9 before they left for Indonesia. How much evidence do you need to prevent a crime from being committed? And why isn’t Mick Kelty answering the questions.
  2. Bill Shorten, I thought, made an impassioned speech at the McKell institute but I suspect those waiting for a Messiah will disagree.
  3. When asked about a date for a surplus the PM said he had never put a date on it. If my memory serves me correctly he said we could expect one in his first term……His lying knows no bounds.
  4. The Morgan pre Budget Poll has Labor at 53.5 and the Coalition at 46.5

5. Newspoll pre budget poll gives Labor a 52/48 lead over the Coalition. The Australian Newspaper announced that future Polls would be conducted by Galaxy. Could it be that they have finally woken to the fact that land lines, in an age of mobile telephony, do not give an accurate picture. Essential has Labor 53/47 Pre budget which suggests that Abbott’s budget would have to be exceptionally well accepted to get a bounce.

Thursday 7 May

  1. When asked about interest rate levels and his statement in 2012 that they had reached emergency levels Joe Hockey denied he had said it. In the Coalition fashion of blaming Labor for everything he said that it was Wayne Swan’s description. A utube clip clearly finds him guilty. Poor memories make for bad liars.
  2. wayne Swan

2 In keeping with Green’s resignation tradition Christine Milne choose a time of her own. The new leader Richard Di Natale gave a press conference that the leaders of the major parties should emulate, particularly the PM. It was impressive. It was no-nonsense. Just be honest for God sake.

3 Kevin Andrews commented on Twitter:

Does it really matter who will lead the freedom hating @Greens? Their anti-family & community destroying policies remain #greenspill #auspol”

4 Andrew Bolt’s latest rant on the same subject uses misogynist witch imagery to depict female politicians.

Andrew Bolt

5 The PM seems to be giving loads of advice to Europeans on their immigration problem saying there had been discussions. European Commission spokeswoman, Natasha Bertaud, denied there had been any official contact and said the “Australian model can never be a model for us”, because the policy involved the refoulement of people who could be genuine refugees.

Labor’s immigration spokesman, Richard Marles, said Abbott was using the boat crisis for political point scoring in Australia. “It’s the low-rent act of a snake-oil merchant and he should be called out as such.” He is probably correct.

Friday 8 May

1.The Government’s decision to revise pension eligibility is welcome. However it comes as a result of a lie. “There will be no changes to pensions” And of course their first option was to deliberately reduce the livelihoods of the least well off.

2 In a column in The Australian on Thursday, former Coalition adviser Nikki Savva reported that Mr Buchholz had told the Prime Minister’s office that Mr Abbott would have to dump his treasurer if the second budget went down badly.

Mr Abbott said he had spoken to Mr Hockey on Thursday to reassure him that the story was a “complete invention”. So Peter Costello’s former press secretary is telling lies.

  1. The federal government will move to impose the goods and services tax on services such as Netflix, music downloads etc., under new rules included in next week’s budget.

It’s a pity they don’t do something about the tax the same companies don’t pay.

  1. I think the spin the Coalition will endeavor to present following next Tuesday’s Budget will be that there’s no budget crisis even though it’s got far worse under their stewardship.

They will tell us that it is fair and blame Labor for their own mismanagement of the economy. They will say that no one needs to be hurt even though blind Freddy knows that some pain is required. They will leave in savings not yet passed in the Senate and spin that it is good accountancy to do so.

But big measures that offend large numbers of people will effectively be left off the table.

As Opposition Leader Tony Abbott convinced many that the GFC was only in people’s imagination. Now he will try to convince them that the budget crisis of gargantuan proportion that he and Joe Hockey manufactured wasn’t the crisis they thought. All smoke and mirrors.

  1. As negotiations between the Government and the Opposition reach a conclusion on the RET, the PM’s Chief business advisor (and climate nut job) on Climate Change says it’s all a ruse.

“This is not about facts or logic. It’s about a new world order under the control of the UN”

It all fits in with Abbott’s “socialist plot” statements which can only be taken as representative of the governments true position. What nutters they really are.

This is the week that was.

 

Tony Abbott’s media monitoring: we have a message for him

The recent headline in The Sydney Morning Herald  – Abbott government spends up big on media monitoring – went on to tell its readers that:

Federal government departments are spending eye-watering sums to know what the public is thinking and what the media is saying about them . . .

Social media – in particular Facebook – was saturated with the story and subsequent howls of derision over such a costly and questionable exercise.

I disagree.

I want this government to spend as much time and money as it takes to monitor ‘what the public is thinking and what the media is saying about them’. They seriously need to know. They need to take a good look at what’s happening on social media – a long, hard look – where there are refreshingly honest opinions about how utterly incompetent, heartless and disgraceful they are (whereas no such critique exists in the mainstream media). They need to to look, listen, and learn. Thousands of social media users will tell them that this government is considered the closest thing to fascism seen in the free world, while personal attacks on Tony Abbott continue; notably suggestions that the man is a sociopath. While there certainly is no proof, it is understandable that such opinions exist given the behaviour of this government and its leader.

But if they do want to know what people outside the fluffy Murdoch media think, they can always start with this site.

Hundreds of articles have been published on The AIMN echoing what the public think of the worst government in Australia’s history – the Abbott government – and I’d l really appreciate that one or some of their minions take a look at us. Actually, I would implore them to. This site represents the political and social views of a large number of disgruntled Australians. Given the recent opinion polls and the noticeable stench of this woeful government, it would be safe to say we now represent the views of most Australians: ordinary people appalled by this mess, ordinary people appalled at seeing their country – to put it bluntly – go to crap.

However, to save them from rummaging through The AIMN (and similar sites), Facebook and Twitter I have compiled a summary of what I have found of them. I will address it to Tony Abbott personally.

Dear Tony Abbott,

Do you really want to know what the public is thinking of you and your government? After being heavily involved in social media since your election win I’ve come up with the following (based on thousands of comments I have read). This is what people are saying about you (with my own comments in italics):

  • You are a prime minister who displays breathtaking incompetence. The role of prime minister is far beyond you.
  • You are a prime minister who regularly embarrasses both yourself and your country on national and international stages.
  • You are a prime minister who shows more loyalty to the elite few ahead of the wider electorate.
  • You are a prime minister who has no interest in the opportunities of the future.
  • You are a prime minister who is out of touch with the majority of Australians.
  • You are an extreme radical.
  • You are a person who can’t sustain media and public scrutiny without ‘cracking’.
  • You are a habitual liar and back-flipper.
  • You are a  person who is totally out of touch with reality.
  • You lack direction.
  • You are a prime minister who not only ignores that we belong in a global community, but also want to remain isolationist.
  • You are a complete idiot who cannot make a public appearance without being stage managed.
  • You have lied about everything that Australian people value: the ABC, pensions, Medicare, our security etc etc. You have lost the peoples’ trust.
  • The cruelty of your policies know no bounds, and the economic incompetence is breathtaking.
  • I agree with all of the above but I certainly don’t agree with this one: some people would like harm to come to you. I personally wish no harm of you and I deplore seeing such comments. I also deplored the calls from far right-wing radicals to have Julia Gillard shot, dumped out to sea in a chaff bag, or those – including yourself – standing under signs screaming ‘ditch the witch’. In what context does ‘ditch’ mean? Something sinister, I imagine. You didn’t appear too concerned about these particular threats which leads me to believe this is behaviour you tolerate. So it may come as no surprise that daily people are posting comments wishing you the same. They hate you that much, yet they chose to follow your lead in displaying hate. Again, I deplore those behaviors from any political persuasion.
  • For a couple of years now people have questioned the nuances of your relationship with Peta Credlin and the power she may wield as a result. Personally, I really don’t care about your private life, but the power she wields is questioned not only on social media but the mainstream media as well.
  • The question of your apparent non-renouncement of your British citizenship is gaining momentum. Quite a storm has developed. We may never find out the answer, but the consensus among thousands of people is that if you are not legally entitled to hold an office in the Australian Parliament, then you should be disqualified from receiving the parliamentary pension based on your years of service. Come clean!
  • This will surprise you: most Labor voters want you to stay on as prime minister until the election because you are considered Labor’s best weapon. Conversely, many disgruntled Liberal voters want you removed forthwith. No matter what people want, they do not expect you to be in the job by the end of June.

Have you heard enough? I could go on – there is so much more. And I haven’t even started on your ministers yet. But at this stage I won’t: people are saying many of the same things about them too.

What is independent media and should more people be switching to it?

media5One of my Facebook friends by the name of Corrine Harrison is Studying for her Bachelor Arts Politics/Communications at Charles Sturt University, Queensland. She recently wrote an essay about independent media. I thought it worthy of sharing on THE AIMN.

In a world where media oligarchies prevail, an increasing number of independent media outlets are flourishing. Without means of corporate investment advertising their products, nor the incentive of a political party bias, how is it that these ‘revealers of the truth’ beyond the commercial media propaganda, are continuing and maintaining their uprising? This essay discusses the past and present 4th estate model, it’s relevance to today’s society and why more people should switch to independent media for unbiased, impartial information.

Independent media comes in many forms. In recent years there has been a surge in social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and personal blogs. This has seen a rise in public interaction with journalism outside of the traditional news delivery methods such as newspapers and television. The last two decades has seen a drastic reduction in media plurality. These merged corporations have a preference towards neo-liberal political ideals and their reports invariably reflect their political bias. Readers with alternative political and social values seek out impartial news providers with views and information more aligned with their own or at least offering an alternate opinion. The main feature of independent media is its impartiality and focus on reporting the full story based on facts and research. The overall aim is to ensure full disclosure of occurring events to keep the public genuinely informed. The impartial nature of independent media is also reflected in its ownership. A mixture of self-funding by the writer, philanthropic foundations and reader subscriptions ensure the ongoing circulation of many publications. Crowd-funding campaigns raise money from everyday citizens with a vested interest in stories or projects that may otherwise be overlooked (Weiss, 2014). With no corporate associations to cloud the judgement of the writer, articles are free of agendas beyond the reported details of the story.

Whilst not commercially dominant, independent media secures its voice by providing current news in an unbiased way. It offers a sound and trustworthy platform, largely due to the reputations of individual reporters being at stake. This applies to qualified journalists as well as those individuals simply interested in disseminating and dispersing the truth in the process of seeking it for themselves. Many share their findings on Facebook pages dedicated to their specific area of news or political interest. Others are politically and socially active and simply comment on large news outlet’s posts in a bid to balance out the information disclosed in the article. They may also do this out of a personal sense of duty to have the all angles heard. In many cases, this commentary is also out of frustration at the one sided or sensationalist reporting when there is much more to the story than has been declared in a mainstream article.

This version of independent media is increasing and could play an important part in repairing the decline in community we see at the hands of mass media. Interaction with strangers to share ideas, refine values and pass on information garnered elsewhere would counteract the misleading reporting along with the overall fear instilled in readers by the commercial outlets for the sake of sales. This also means the dispersal of news can also occur indirectly. One person being affected by a report they encounter in their newsfeed could see them respond by sharing it on their timeline. Their contacts may not have seen this news had the original reader not passed it on and by doing so a certain level of peerage is attached. It is as though they have recommended that article and as such, the contents carry more weight when passed on within this medium- be it from a friend, family member or a colleague. This is a worrying concept when much of the mainstream news is one sided, sensationalist and noneducational.

The ability to share information instantaneously on these sites can see an inaccurate story spread quickly and widely. The source of the information can also become lost and with the mainstream media’s fast turnaround in news, it’s unlikely the story shall be refined or followed up further. The result is a misinformed public that spread misinformation on behalf of the media corporations.

Each click through is also advertising revenue for the publications business associates. Many articles have hard hitting headlines that are purposefully misleading and even false to entice the reader to click through to the article’s page on the provider’s advertisement ridden website. Alternatively, rather than reading the article and analysing the contents, the reader assumes the deliberately misleading headline is true and shares the message based solely on it.

The publication has its message spread and their advertiser’s messages are exposed. The fact the public is misinformed now, can be rectified in a few hours’ time with an updated story that will generate yet more click-throughs and misinformation. With the general population turning to such sites as Facebook and twitter for easy access to news, the major news sites not following suit in regards to solid reporting and transparency narrows the gap of readership competition further. Plurality shall also be restored as more people become frustrated by having wasted their time on what have become known as ‘click-bait’ articles. In addition, the rise in alternative newsreaders also sharing their findings on social media sites means the views of the independent writer are out there, re balancing the public sphere. In light of the above, it’s safe to say that independent media fills the gap of non-disclosure created by mainstream news reporting.

Printing deadlines, political biases, pressure to ensure sales of newspapers amongst others, all serve to hinder the quality of news disseminated by commercial media. Independent news readers recognise the need for impartial information to garner a realistic perception of all events- local and international.

Public confidence in commercial media is low and continuing to decline. Misrepresentation of facts and errors in reporting often go uncorrected. Grammatical and spelling errors cast a light on hurried compilation further adding to concerns of legitimate and conscientious reporting. When pressed for an explanation for the recurring mistakes and misrepresentations of facts, Journalists and Editors point to strict deadlines and staffing issues as well as simpler reasons such as careless writing, inexperience or just poor editing and reporting. (Dailysource.org, 2014)These issues point to the oligarchic nature of today’s media. The need to deliver results to commercial partners, such as advertisers and shareholders, means reporters have to cut corners and pad out stories to draw the reader in. These poorly researched articles lead to a misinformed public who, when the full details do transpire, feel betrayed and frustrated for believing the initial reports. In contrast, independent reporters gain no benefit from exaggerating the truth. Their relevance lies in their presentation of the facts and research beyond instant reporting.

Being self-regulated means a fast turnaround in publication. However, not having a big corporation to hide behind if their article turns out to be incorrect is where the pressure lies in the absence of printing deadlines. Again, this reiterates the need for absolute transparency and detailed research before publishing a story as an independent writer. In terms of genuinely informing the public, independent organisations are significantly more effective than commercial outlets. In studies conducted to gauge the educational abilities of commercial and independent news, a trend of half to two thirds of mainstream media readers had misunderstood the reported situation compared with less than a third of independently obtained information. (Daily Source, 2014)This misinformation reappears during election time. Many readers of mainstream news are bombarded with spin and party politics. The party values and policies go untold in favour of easy reporting of politician spats and the power play tug-of-war.

This leaves people misinformed and/or uninformed the day they cast their vote. With no understanding or knowledge of the policies and values relevant to particular candidates it’s little wonder the public are unhappy when the elected government do not, in fact, reflect their own personal values. The mainstream media outlets invariably have a political leaning and will aid their preferred candidate’s success to protect their own financial interests. With 80% of America’s daily newspapers belonging to the major outlets, it is easy to see how a symbiotic relationship benefits the state and that which has essentially become its mouthpiece (Daily Source, 2014).

This raises questions of action. Why do individuals use their current method? How difficult would it be to get them to change? What are the benefits of changing? Why do they continue to source their information from proven inaccurate sources when truthful, more educational options are readily available? The effects of the media can go some way to explain the difficulty in breaking free. Traditional Liberal views of the media are that: 1. Individuals can make their own choices and rationalise the quality of the news they read. In essence, “the audience is not an undifferentiated mass but is made up of complex and highly individual personalities”. (Errington and Miragliotta, 2007). 2. The readers influence the content since the outlets are privately owned and need to be relevant to their audience to ensure sales and 3. We live in a democracy where no one power dictates what is and isn’t available for readers to consume. That said, it’s worth noting that the mainstream media operates according the hypodermic model:

A concept where a single message is delivered and understood by a mass audience in such a way that once it is administered the response would be the same regardless of age, intelligence, qualifications or gender (Errington & Miragliotta, 2007). It suggests audiences have a level of disconnection to the information they are receiving which sees them unable to think critically and disseminate fact from sensationalism. This contradiction in the intent of the media’s message delivery should raise a flag and encourage the reader to seek more authentic information elsewhere since the traditional liberal theory does not hold true.

However, the hypodermic model is powerful and its power lies in the fact that its message is quickly and easily received leaving readers satisfied that what they have read has covered what they need to know. Again, alternative media outlets exist to redress the balance of truth and information lacking in commercial options. The difficulty lies in encouraging people to break free from the safety of the 4th estate model they are familiar with. They must be prepared to face the eventuality that the real news of independent media is not as easy to digest and the commercial offering, however, it is important to be informed and know the truth.

In conclusion, the evidence presented here shows a strong case for a widespread switch to independent news. This essay can be seen as a form of independent media by its research of existing knowledge of the subject, breaking down to more simple terms and collating those findings into one place as well as offering and referencing other opinions. It hopefully goes someway to causing a shift in the perception and habits of their daily news gathering for those who read it.

To involve many individual perceptions is an example of adhering to the traditional liberal values of independent media and living up to Mills’ expectations of basic human abilities (Errington & Miragliotta, 2007). Independent media providers have become the new gatekeepers guarding the public interest the media was originally intended to do. “Their work is so powerful, in fact, that such luminaries as André Schiffrin, longtime publisher of Pantheon Books and founder of the New Press, have stated outright that the independents — once dismissed and loudly reviled as marginal, leftist and naïve –“are now playing the classic role of fourth estate in our democracy.” (O’Connor, 2014).

Barnes, R. (2014). What You Think Of Us: The NM Reader Survey Results | newmatilda.com. [online] Newmatilda.com. Available at: https://newmatilda.com/2011/07/13/what-you-think-us-nm-reader-survey-results Dailysource.org, (2014).

Current Problems in the Media. [online] Available at: http://www.dailysource.org/about/problems#.VBEW8MKSzuR [Accessed 12 Sep. 2014].Errington, W. and Miragliotta, N. (2007).

Media & politics. 2nd ed. South Melbourne, Vic.: Oxford University Press, pp.41-51.O’Connor, R. (2014). Independent Media Goes Mainstream. [online]

The Huffington Post. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rory-oconnor/independent-media-goes-ma_b_3052763.html [Accessed 12 Sep. 2014].

Weiss, J. (2014). How to raise funds for your independent media startup | IJNet. [online] Ijnet.org. Available at: http://ijnet.org/stories/how-raise-funds-your-independent-media-startup [Accessed 12 Sep. 2014].

For The Sake Of Unity Why Don’t You All Agree With Me?

A couple of months ago, I read an amusing post on Facebook which basically said that the Left should stop fighting among themselves and work together to defeat the Abbott Agenda. The writer then went on to say that Bill Shorten was hopeless and the Labor was gutless for not forcing a DD.

Presuming that by “DD” he meant Double Dissolution, I calmly pointed out that there was no way that Shorten could “force” a Double Dissolution and that it seems strange that a call for unity should be followed by an attack on the Labor leader.

To which he replied that it was people like me who just posted on Facebook who were the problem and that we needed to do something instead of just talking about it. I resisted the temptation to point out that he was also posting on Facebook, and decided that I’d do my bit for unity by ending the discussion there before he ended up telling me that I was a nazi who was trying to limit his free speech by disagreeing with him.

Now, I don’t have a problem with anyone criticising any of our politicians. As far as Shorten is concerned, I think the jury is still out. As Leader of The Opposition, there’s always going to be a limit to what you can do. Some will argue that he should be making more of a fuss about this or that. Even when he’s said quite a lot about this or that, but it’s been buried on page 9 of the newspaper and not reported on the nightly news at all. Even when Labor is riding high in the polls.

Whether it’s fair or not, I think Shorten can expect to be criticised for whatever he does or doesn’t do over the next few months.

However, when people start to suggest that Labor is “gutless” for not forcing a Double Dissolution, I start to worry about the general public’s knowledge of our parliamentary system and the history of 1975.

I’ll start with the idea that Labor (with help from other parties in the Senate) could block supply. Let’s ignore the obvious hypocrisy of Labor blocking the Budget after their rhetoric when Fraser did it 1975 and argue that was a long time ago, so who cares? When it happened in 1975, it didn’t immediately force an election. Whitlam tried to tough it out, and it was only when Kerr dismissed Whitlam and appointed Fraser as caretaker PM that Fraser was able to go back to Parliament and dissolve both Houses. There is an argument that if Labor had acted quickly they could have gagged Fraser – they still had the numbers on the floor of the House of Representatives – and moved a motion of confidence in Whitlam.

At the time, the Murdoch press was pushing for an election and supporting Fraser, arguing that these were “extraordinary circumstances”. Can you imagine the media today supporting a Labor blocking of supply? Or would it be blamed for a downturn in consumer confidence or jobs, the shutting down of shops, increased obesity and any droughts or flooding rains in the weeks after?

Even if supply had been blocked by the previous Senate, Abbott would have still had the option of waiting for the Senate that took control from today. Palmer’s PUPpets and the Independents would have no wish to go to an election any time soon. After all, they do have considerable bargaining power at the moment. Would they be prepared to risk it? Can you imagine Ricky Muir giving up his moment in the spotlight? Mm, wrong example…

But even assuming that the Senate did continue to refuse supply, that alone wouldn’t force Abbott to an election. In all likelihood, he’d just blame Labor for any problems and wait for someone else to blink. The idea that Labor or any combination of the minor parties could “force” the government to the polls is just wrong.

Frustrating the government’s legislative agenda to the extent that they choose to call an election, however, is a possibility. But given the government’s standing in the opinion polls it’s fairly unlikely at the moment.

As many of you already know, a double dissolution requires a trigger. A Bill must be rejected by the Senate, then after three months rejected again. Bills that are rejected can then be used as the basis for the double dissolution, and if they are rejected again after the subsequent election, the government can call a joint sitting of parliament and try to get them through that way. (This was how Whitlam succeeded in setting up Medibank and passing a number of other things which had been blocked, until after the 1974 Double Dissolution). While there may be others in the near future, at the moment, the only trigger that I’m aware of is the Clean Energy Bill.

Abbott would only be likely to call a double dissolution under two circumstances:

  1. If there were a number of Bills he wanted passed AND he thought he was a good chance of winning the election.
  2. If Turnbull looked like getting the numbers to oust him.

So, by all means, criticise Bill Shorten and the Labor Party for their policies, for their lack of cut-through, for their hairstyles, for their poor behaviour in Parliament (they’ve been thrown out a hundred times more often), or their factions.

But please don’t criticise them for not calling a double dissolution. It’s just not something that’s in their control.

March in March Seeks Online Volunteers

Got some spare time and want and want to help the March in March team? Then this message from Loz Lawrey is for you.

I’m a helper with the March in March Australia people’s movement, part of a small team that provides admin support and assistance to over 40 regional groups working under the banner of “The People United For Better Government”.

If you followed the March in March rallies you’ll know that we strive to provide a platform for all people to speak out on their issues of concern, and with this current government there are more than ever!

Recently our team has lost some members who’ve had to scale back their involvement for personal reasons.

Many hands make light work, they say, and we’re hoping to share the load among more volunteers so that we can all experience more balance (and sanity) in our lives.

We are looking for help from people with the following skills:

  • Technical/internet/social media
  • Art and graphics
  • Secretarial/clerical

Ongoing work includes: Facebook support, admin, clerical work (eg. mailouts), meme-making, info sharing etc, in fact anything and everything that oils the machinery of this movement and helps to maintain our network.

If you’d like to contribute a few hours of your time and energy each week your assistance would be greatly appreciated.

If you’re interested in volunteering, please email us at March Australia: info@marchaustralia.com

Lingua Tribute: Translators are not tools

[君子不器 Junzi bu qi] Translators are not tools

A Tribute to Linda Jaivin’s Found in Translation: In Praise of a Plural World

‘Linda Jaivin has been translating from Chinese for more than thirty years. While her specialty is subtitles, she has also translated song lyrics, poetry and fiction, and interpreted for ABC film crews, Chinese artists and even the English singer Billy Bragg as he gave his take on socialism to some Beijing rockers. In Found in Translation she reveals the work of the translator and considers whether different worldviews can be bridged. She pays special attention to China and the English-speaking West, Australia in particular, but also discusses French, Japanese and even the odd phrase of Maori. This is a free-ranging essay, personal and informed, about translation in its narrowest and broadest senses, and the prism – occasionally prison – of culture.’

The print version or ebook can be purchased by clicking this image:

The Confucian saying, 君子不器 Junzi bu qi, is not hard to decipher according to Linda Jaivin, just to translate. Take your pick: ‘The accomplished/gentleman scholar is not a utensil/pot/tool.’ If it’s possible for a woman to be to a ‘gentleman scholar’, then Linda more than fits that tag from her essay for the Quarterly magazine.

The contact page on her website is for ‘messages or love letters’. It entices the sender to engage ‘tutoiement’ – the process of using the informal ‘tu’ in French. We should all pay homage there to her invisible hand behind the subtitles that have enriched cinephiles’ lives for decades. As a former teacher of NESB [Non-English Speaking Background] students and an author and sub-editor with Global Voices Online, this is my response to her essay and my tribute to translators.

In 1980 I attended a matinee Woody Allen doubleheader in Lisbon. The packed house was a clear indicator of his international popularity. I remember laughing loudly during both movies. It was a tad embarrassing for my reactions were slightly ahead of the pack as most of the audience were reading the subtitles. His New York Jewish humour didn’t seem to ruffle the Portuguese audience’s enjoyment.

Lingua Voices

Our GV Lingua team has volunteer translators for approximately forty languages. They are as diverse as Aymara, Magyar [Hungarian], Swahili, Bangla, Korean and Amharic [official language of Ethiopia and second-most spoken Semitic language in the world after Arabic]. In addition, posts are also translated into English as all stories on the main section use that lingua franca. Nearly 100,000 translations of posts have been completed since 2006.Volunteers choose which ones they will translate. It is a form of feedback that can be a bit disheartening sometimes but that is compensated for when quoted bloggers/ tweeters find their words in two kinds of Chinese, Filipino or Farsi and send messages of delight.

Word play

As an author and a sub-editor helping with translations into English, my earliest lesson was to avoid puns. Word plays are potential nightmares for audience and translators alike. The most common slang in Oz English can stump even experienced linguists. It belongs in Pandora’s box, with jargon and cricket metaphors, marked ‘never to be opened’. Allusions to Australian Rules football prove even more dangerous.

When I wrote ‘Coca Cola Machine ‘Out of Order’ in Australia’ it was translated into six other languages including Malagasy, Macedonian and Catalan. In French it became ‘Distributeur Coca-Cola « En panne » en Australie’ [‘Distributor Coca-Cola ‘Broken Down’ in Australia] abandoning the double play on words. The charged word, ‘machine’, just went through to the keeper. That’s wicket-keeper, not goal-keeper, in case anyone is translating this response.

Neologisms [new words] are an essential element of netizen-speak but they are not universally understood even amongst geeks or tweeps (not to be confused with tweeping). Inevitably we fall captive to the latest. ‘Lacticvist’ was impossible to resist when breastfeeding in public hotted up in early 2012 but its rendition as ‘les militantes de l’allaitement maternel’ was a real mouthful. De l’autre côté, ‘SlutWalks’ was simply incorporated into the German, Italian and French using quotation marks – a very slippery slope indeed for L’Académie français. The Spanish translator was more creative with ‘Marcha de putas’- roughly ‘march of whores’ though it had currency in Brazil by then. Portuguese prefers ‘Marcha das Vadias’ i.e. ‘Bitches’.

It is often hard to know exactly which connotations attached to words like these, especially in different languages and cultures. Linda observes, “The swearwords and curses of a language expose what is forbidden, what is permitted and what is held sacred in that culture.”The use of Twitter hashtags presents its own complications. Some tweeters use multilingual tags such as #Syria #Siria #Syrie #Syrien to reach a wider audience but limit the length of the message. Others tweet in more than one language. GV always includes the original text when quoting plus a translation. The 140-character limit adds a challenge normally confined to post titles or headings, where brevity invites wit but not always clarity.

Lingua global

Linda asks, ‘Ĉu vi parolas Esperanton?’ When my partner and I visited Iceland in July 2013, we were entertained by an Esperanto choir on the grand steps of Reykjavík’s Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Centre. They were taking a break from the World Congress of Esperanto, which involved over one thousand participants from fifty-five countries. Linda would be glad to know that there were some Chinese involved. Hvað er merking hörpu? No prizes for guessing that one, though harpa has two distinct meanings in Icelandic.Sub-editing posts written originally in a LOTE (Language other than English) is both daunting and rewarding. I often use Google Translate to check a word or phrase or to get a better grasp on the context.

Google doesn’t seem to like Japanese but sometimes gets it right. A scandal about Tokyo’s governor taking a bribe had this: ‘The document is a note of hand to borrow 50 million yen with no interest, no collateral and no return date set.’  I presumed ‘note of hand’ referred to something hand-written but it turned out to be a legit term for an informal promissory note. I.O.U. might have sufficed even if some readers wouldn’t have understood the etymology. It is a clear forerunner of SMS and twitter-speak.

“Words have the power to change the way we think.”

Meanwhile the Chinese government is trying to eradicate Chinglish [中式英語]  in a bid to stop people who ‘slip carefully’ in their translations. Chinese netizens are also annoying the authorities by mining euphemisms that Internet surveillance software is not blocking yet. They started using the term “tea talk” or “forced to drink tea” [被喝茶] to describe vigorous interrogations by the internal security police.“River crab’ (censorship)  and ‘watch uncle’ (corruption) have required pest control. Mention of the 18th National Party Congress was banned on Sina Weibo [China’s version of Twitter] and their Facebook equivalent Renren, so it became ‘Sparta’ because of its similar sound. Modifying English words also became a game on Weibo. Freedamn [中國特色自由] is freedom with Chinese characteristics. You can raise the red lantern against China’s censorship by offering a friendly Internet connection for the new circumvention software called Lantern [燈籠].

You have to wonder what the Chinese censors would have made of the ChinaSmacks’ translation of the ‘My Vagina Says – If your vagina could talk, what would she say?’ meme. It certainly went against stereotype: “You need to be invited – to get in!”

Barbaros babble

Chinese is one of the United Nations six official diplomatic languages. The others are Arabic, English, French, Russian and Spanish. They are obviously vehicular but they don’t always travel that well. We spent a month in 1996 at a Spanish language school in Cuernavaca, Mexico. The teachers claimed that Cubans speaking Spanish sound like they have a mouthful of chewing gum. At that time my Chilean colleagues and students at Melbourne’s Westall Secondary College tested my tin ear by omitting the end or middle of words and sometimes both. They often contracted two of these into one word. There’s a word for everything in English, often borrowed. ‘Elision’ might fit here or perhaps ‘syncope’.Arabic should present fewer difficulties, at least for Arabs. However, a Tunisian blogger maintains that their vernacular can be almost impenetrable at times, even to near neighbours.

Linda canvasses “linguistic imperialism”. English may be the great vehicular language but assumptions about its  international currency are hazardous. The term ‘dog-whistling’ originated down under thanks to Prime Minister John Howard et al and has spread to some in the U.S. and UK. One of my posts began :

“There has been a contest for the worst pun following remarks by Teresa Gambaro [MP who] called for immigrants on work visas to be taught ‘social norms’ such as the use of deodorants and waiting in orderly queues.”

I was stretching all the rules about language accessibility but you’ve got to have fun. ‘Raw prawn’ and ‘hair of the dog’ were my favourites. My advice: “Check it out while the poop is still fresh”. You wouldn’t be dead for quids!

Northern Territory lights

Segue to Katherine High School 2002. After sharing my interest in etymology with my Year 8 class, I was approached on lunchtime yard duty by an unfamiliar youth who asked if it was true that I read the dictionary for fun. My confirmation brought the response, “You’re a very sick man!”When we were teaching in Maningrida in Arnhem Land during 2003-6, senior students were required to get exemptions to enroll in English as a Second Language [ESL]. For most it was not their second, third or in some cases even fourth or fifth. The indigenous community, and its homelands, has ten or more languages. Some are spoken by one or two extended families yet are healthy, rich and vibrant. Nakkara, with ap,proximately 60 speakers, and Rembarrnga are two of those. The township has a lingua franca but somewhat surprisingly it isn’t the local traditional owners’ Ndjebbana/Kunibidji but rather the other major language of the township Burarra.

Ars Poetica

Linda explores difficulties with translating poetry. They apply equally to song lyrics. Welsh band Manic Street Preachers’ song ‘If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next’ didn’t faze some of our translators. Rezwan did an outstanding job in Bangla, going by my back-translation using Google. However, there was a stumble over ‘fascists’. Most online machines were fooled, ‘phyasistaderao’ being the only stab for ফ্যাসিস্টদেরও. Linda is, of course, no fan of “machine translations”.

Postscript

Finally, some wisdom from multi-linguist supremo, Danica Radisic, GV’s Central and Eastern Europe editor. Recently Niki wrote of her childhood growing up as a third culture kid:

Our parents’ work and lives allowed us to travel to different countries and often live on several different continents throughout our childhood, learn to speak countless languages and move seamlessly between cultures…”

Her ability to converse with someone simultaneously in their respective native languages is awesome. She concludes:

“…this spot on the Word Wide Web [GV] that is a scrapbook of different cultures and opposing views, is where third culture kids come when they grow up.”

The full story is on The Bridge at GV. Please join our global conversation.

Australian Apathy and the 24-Hour News Cycle

Image courtesy of themetapicture.com

Image courtesy of themetapicture.com

A guest post by Belinda Marsh.

Each morning, Australians begin reading the news on our phones, tablets and laptops. Some of us might turn the TV on and listen to the news in the background while we make breakfast. We get on with our day, and may tune in to the news on the radio on the way to work, check news websites throughout the day, listen to more radio news on the way home, and then come home and turn the TV on for the nightly news. We can check social media at any time, just in case we miss something important and, if we can’t sleep for some reason, we might check-in with the news at 3am, and access news from all over the world if we so choose.

There is a growing concern among the media and other social commentators that we are becoming an apathetic country. We simply don’t care as much as we used to, throwing our hands in the air and giving up all too easily. We prefer to look at Grumpy Cat memes and amusing seven-second videos. Our information, apparently, has to be delivered in small portions because our attention spans are teeny-tiny, and this makes it hard for them to balance against our desire for instant news, which is becoming an unquenchable beast that must be fed (in bite-sized pieces, of course).

It’s hard to say which came first – our hunger for up-to-date, constant news and information, or our disdain and apathy towards constant news and information, resulting in us being distracted by shiny things.

All I know is that I am tired; tired of watching politicians who smile as they tell us how they’re going to bend us over and give us a good rogering while they and their rich mates get richer; tired of reading about Big Business, Big Pharma and Big Banks using us as slaves to drive up their profits, keeping us sick and chained to The System; tired of celebrity news, full of ego, nothingness and unhealthy body images; and tired of watching wars, environmental disasters and poverty the world over on my screen.

It all gets overwhelming. The anger, upset and misery is too much to bear, and I simply switch off. My inability to do anything helpful in this crazy world means that sometimes I want to stick my head in the sand and ignore it all. The anger and pain I feel turns to despair as I hike up the white flag. I surrender to apathy, and tune out for fear of going insane.

It has become such an issue that I have even changed my routine. If I am not writing, I wander outside first thing in the morning, breathe in fresh air, wriggle my toes in the grass, and stretch languorously. I need peace, not a ranting 24-hour news monster that increases my feelings of hopelessness and anguish. My Facebook newsfeed, once home to angry news and alternative media pages, is full of calming, quiet pages and non-toxic, like-minded friends. It makes me happier to start my day with a snort-laugh over a funny comment or silly video clip.

Don’t get me wrong – I still read/listen to/watch the news because I really do want to keep up-to-date and informed. But I feel despondent that the world is weird, inhumane and destructive, and we have created it to be so, which makes me even more concerned for our collective sanity. Failing an alien invasion or zombie apocalypse, we’re continuing on the path toward this end, with only ourselves to blame.

And then there are those who care a lot less about the world, and prefer to simply make a decent enough income to have a comfortable life, complete with cold beer in the fridge and snags on the barbie, and watch Australia’s Got Talent. Sometimes I wish I could be like these people, and simply get on with the job of living without too much thought. Alas, it’s not meant to be.

I don’t believe I am alone in this general feeling of despairing impotence. We have signed enough petitions, gone to enough protests, discussed enough breaking news, and argued about enough politics to have an increasing sense of hopelessness, because nothing seems to change. This is how apathy has become the norm. We would rather play a game, update our status, tweet what we’re eating for lunch, and Instagram a selfie with the finished plate than hear about the PM’s sudden desire to destroy our health system, a new war brewing on the horizon, and the continuing meltdown in Fukushima.

So to those who are discussing the disease of national apathy, if you’re so concerned about it, consider what has made us so in the first place, and why it is so. Accept it as fact, move with the changing times, and have a bit of empathy toward our collective predicament.

And perhaps take a moment to walk barefoot on the dewy morning grass, and breathe.

This article was first published on Belinda’s blog Columnoscopy.

 

The Gold Rush of Social Media: 8 Realities for Business

In 2014 The AIMN will be broadening the range of articles we bring to you. We have become very popular for our discussions on politics, media and climate change, as well as the short stories and book reviews we offer. In 2014 we will be introducing Camille McClane as a guest author who will be writing about Internet business opportunities, which I for one, and many of our authors and readers have a deep interest in. Here is Camille’s first article, The Gold Rush of Social Media: 8 Realities for Business. For those of you who have your own business or website, I hope you gain as much from this article as I have.

Websites can only be as good as the marketing content introduced. However, the recent developments in the parameters for search engines have required that websites provide higher-end content in order to be accessed easier online. The goal now for website owners and content managers is to provide compelling content not only for search engine purposes, but especially for the users and visitors of the site.

The following are several of the most effective ways in creating engrossing material for your site:

Curation

The phrase “there is no original content found online” can be a very true notion. One way to generate quick content for your site is to actually take material from other forums or sources and spin it in an original direction. This is the process of curation and initiates alluring content for your website and its followers. Pulling from other places and people who are clearly successful and doing something right is a great way to obtain your own online success.

Feedback

Though it can be painful to review, accept and ultimately utilize in the strengthening of your online presence, feedback is crucial. This can be done by a simple post on your website and/or a video message addressed to your readers which will open up a suggestion box for topics to be discussed. The article “Ways to Create Exciting, Unique and Memorable Content for Your Small Business” on web hosting mecca HostPapa.co.uk further addresses the importance of customer feedback, stating that sharing highlights of positive feedback on your own website and social media profiles, as well as publicly addressing negative feedback and proactively taking steps to correct the negative perceptions people may have are all ways to immediatlely improve a bussiness’ relationship to its community.

Guest Submissions

An effortless way to introduce new information without the hassle of writer’s block or limited time is to share the spotlight on your blog/website. This is accomplished by allowing guest posts or commentaries on your website. It proves to the online community that you are open to an array of opinions and voices, and that the company’s message is not the only message it stands by.

Review

Additionally, writing a critique on a movie, event or fellow blogs are sure-fire options to bring in more foot traffic and develop conversations between readers.

Trends

Currently, the most popular course of action in order to produce text is to observe what has become popular and viral online. In doing so, your site would be riding on the coat tails of the popular online topic, as well as, drawing interest to your site from others that are engaged in the topic.

Infographics

Sometimes, your inspiration for original content can be a bit hard to chew and can drive away your readers with short attention spans. A creative, unique way to gain their attention would be through the use of infographics. A vast amount of internet viewers are visual learners and seeing your thoughts drawn out for them will not only help reel them in but help them comprehend your concept. After all, a picture paints a thousand words.

Image by socwork.wisc.edu

Image by socwork.wisc.edu

Sharing

Blog posts or other web content forms do not have be intellectual or even monumental in terms of their effect. They can be as simple as sharing an event or as brazen as a reportage of a newsworthy story experienced firsthand. This would make for compelling content for anyone’s website, whether it be it written in words or seen through images. If you live in a certain area, then you are most likely privy to its events and happenings. Share your perspective of those themes with the rest of the world for some really unique content.

Visibility

Content with your physical presence is a great way to have readers connect with you and makes you relatable, down-to-earth and perhaps more compelling and interesting. You being visible on your site would provide the viewers with a face to the voice they’ve been following.

Content is obviously essential for any website, so make it good with the steps listed above. Stimulating material is required every single day to give your site a fighting chance to be ranked in any search engine results. While inspiration may be fleeting for many, all of these tips can help furnish your site and avoid getting lost in the clutter mass of the Internet.

Camille McClane is an online entrepreneur who is passionate about viral marketing concepts, growth of technology and mass communications. She lives in Southern California with her son and loves when viewers reach out to her on Facebook. Camille wishes you luck on all your future business endeavors!

Please Leave My Aunty Alone Mr Murdoch

Image from abc.net.au

Image from abc.net.au

The alarm at 6am every morning awakens me to the ABC news. It has been that way for as long as I can remember. Before I retired I listened to AM on my way to work. I have an ipad now and what a remarkable instrument of technology it is. I read what attracts me on the ABC web site. Then I paste a couple of thoughts into Facebook, peruse THE AIMN and other blogs. Lastly I do a quick headline appraisal of the Fairfax, Murdoch press and some American sites.

My wife and I are avid viewers of the ABC. On the political front we watch Insiders, Media Watch, Q&A, 7.30 and The Drum. For News we are in the habit of watching Channel 10 5PM nightly news before switching to The Drum, ABC news at 7 and then 7.30.

From that you might conclude that I am biased toward the ABC. You would be correct. I am attracted to a lot of other ABC programs. There are flirtations with other channels such as Sevens Sunday News and programs that feature music or entertainment in particular.

I am attracted to the ABC for two reasons. Firstly in relation to News and Current Affairs it is unsurpassed. Be it the written word or visual media. Secondly their programing (in the main) avoids an American influence. I might even be the only Australian who has never watched an American sit com. I have been part of and watched the Americanisation of Australia all my life and frankly I detest it.

Oh sorry, there is a third. It’s called, an alternative. Let’s take a look at them. In my news reading my alternative is either the Murdoch Press or Fairfax. I was once an avid reader of The Age. Even to the point where to miss a day would result in me thinking that my day had been greatly devalued. It is no longer the world class paper it was. With writers like Henderson, Costello and Vanstone and the influence of the large lady, it has taken a turn to the right. The Herald Sun is Australia’s largest selling newspaper but to call it a newspaper is tantamount to calling a toilet roll a glossy magazine. Their top 10 stories usually includes 6 of a sporting nature.

Personally I think that all Murdoch newspapers are where the truth goes to die.

Similarly the visual media offers very little in quality balanced Current Affairs. There is Meet the Press (A News Ltd production.) Or The Bolt Report where his dreadful journalism is transformed into visual bile. Where even people like Henderson are taken aback by his blatantly loaded biased questions.

I haven’t mentioned talkback radio because where I live we don’t receive Melbourne radio. However, when we lived in Melbourne I listened to Jon Faine. Melbourne Radio is fortunately devoid of the hatred of the likes of Jones and Hadley.

In short I don’t always agree with what I read see or hear on the ABC but for me it is overwhelmingly the fairest and most balanced of all Australian mainstream media.

The ABC has periodically had to withstand attacks from individuals and vested interests. (I remember Keating and Hawke saying it was biased when it suited them.) None however as brazen as the current one. I have read many articles on the subject in support of the ABC. And they are to be commended for doing so.

However, none address motive.

This current attack was started by the Australian Newspaper (known in the trade as the official newsletter of the Liberal Party) a couple of weeks ago. It centred on a perceived bias the ABC allegedly has. Personally I struggle with that perception. Under their charter they are obliged to give a balanced view. Even when the force of evidence is heavily weighted to one side.

Fancy the most biased media outlet in Australia complaining about the bias of another.

At one stage they were so hysterical they were arguing that the ABC should not be promoting Twitter and Facebook on its on line sites while at the same time featuring a social media share button on every story on the page.

Then The Australian came into procession of a leaked document revealing the salaries of a number of ABC staff members and wet themselves with delight. They produced story after story about no one else’s business. In the end we found that collectively a few ABC employees got a combined annual salary equal to what Kyle Sandilands earns in one year.

In the last election the ABC gave limited coverage to the Labor Party in terms of policies where it could be argued that they were competent but battered them in terms of politics where they were abysmal. Climate change is another example of the Charter working against Labor. 98% of the world’s scientists say it is real yet the ABC has to give equal billing to those who say it is not. How silly is that?
I even take issue with the frequency of appearance of Peter Reith on The Drum. He must be the most nauseatingly biased former politician ever. And when Q&A can’t get enough right wing audience members they go to the Christian Hillsong Church for bums on seats.

The attack was quickly taken up by Bolt with cries of outrageous bias while at the same time ignoring his and his Masters behavior during the recent election. In Australian political history there has been nothing like the bias shown by the Murdoch Press. How is it possible to accuse the ABC of bias when two outlets own 85% of the print media and three of the four TV channels are commercial?

Unashamedly the attack was then taken up by the government. It accused the ABC of poor judgement in doing a joint story with The Guardian about phone tapping in Indonesia. Unprecedented were the words used to describe Tony Abbotts attack on the independent broadcaster. Others joined in. Cory Bernardi went on AM and to show their fairness the ABC gave him an undeserving 15 minutes of which Fran Bailey took the Tea Party sympathizer apart. The speaker Bronwyn Bishop had her say in the party room. Why was the speaker even involved in the debate if she is independent and unbiased? Malcolm Turnbull and Ian McDonald then followed suit.

So why all the dislike of Aunty? After all it is a much loved, trusted, and well run institution which in some areas is technologically streets ahead of its commercial rivals.

In fact it could be argued that Aunty is very much woven into the fabric of Australian culture.

Is it because conservatives don’t like successful public enterprises? Like the Clean Energy Finance Corp. It is making around $200 million a year. It got a stay of execution last Tuesday. What sort of Government would ditch a company making that sort of profit? Ideology gone mad I would suggest.

Bernardi insists that the ABC should take advertising. He seems to overlook the fact that it is the lack of revenue from this source that is killing print media. That and deplorable content. And he wants Aunty to also take a slice. On top of that he reckons we should pay for online content. When Fran Kelly asked if we should pay twice he didn’t answer. He did indicate though that there was virtue in commercial media because it was ‘’funded by advertising revenues”, while “the ABC is funded by the taxpayers”. Bernardi’s main gripe seemed to be that the ABC was encroaching on online media space again ignoring the fact that Aunty just happens to be light years ahead of the commercial outlets. And they don’t like that of course.

A recent study found that among Australian adults, 64 percent regard ABC radio programs as “good” while only 51 percent give a “good” rating to commercial radio. (The “bad” ratings are 11 percent for the ABC, 35 percent for commercial radio.) The contrast for television is even higher – 78 percent “good” for the ABC comparing with 44 percent for commercial stations.

Similar differences are found for trust. For coverage of the recent election campaign, the ABC was highly trusted, followed by the Fairfax media, and the Murdoch media came a very poor third.

The IPA (The right wing think tank) is influential in Coalition ranks and has the same aim as Murdoch. They both want to see the ABC defunded or commercialised. In doing so they want to eliminate what they see as left wing political bias and increase their own.

It is estimated that editorially Murdoch gave the conservatives about 30 million dollars’ worth of free advertising in the last election. Now he wants his pound of flesh. We have seen the first salvo shot at the ABC. I wonder what they will take aim at next.

As it stands the Prime Minister is making a mess of everything he touches at the moment so it may not be politicly astute to bury the ABC just yet but I’m sure it’s in his head to do so.

But I also think there will be an uprising when he tries it.

This statement by ABC Managing Director Mark Scott pretty much sums it up:

“We have come under concentrated attack from News Corp,” he said. “Some aspects seem quite obsessed by us and I think there are some who have an ideological opposition to public broadcasting. I think there are some who think they would make more money if the ABC wasn’t what it is today.”

To quote Amanda Meade of The Guardian:

With those remarks Scott got to the heart of the issue. The newspaper is ideologically opposed to a public broadcaster. It believes the ABC is taxpayer-funded competition for an already stretched commercial media, and has expanded far beyond its original remit with ABC Online, digital channels, a 24-hour news channel and an overseas channel, Australia Network, which should – News Corp believes – rightly be run by Sky News.

There are three areas of motive. The competition motive. The power motive or the ideological motive. One or all could be at play here but because Murdoch spends $25 million annually to prop up The Australian I think I will settle on a mixture of all three.

It is not often we see two entities, a government and a commercial news outlet the size of News Corp, combine to manufacture a reason for the demise of a government independent body.

Then again Tony owes him one.

This isn’t good enough, Mr Shorten

Image courtesy of theaustralian.com.au

Bill Shorten (image from theaustralian.com.au)

The Government, and in particular Tony Abbott and the education minister Christopher Pyne have come in for a caning over their education reforms which, by all accounts, are a complete back flip (and a lie) from what they promised during the election campaign.

There are two issues: they lied; and their proposed reforms dismantle the far better models negotiated by the previous government.

The outrage is being thundered across social media and a small whimper is also coming from some sections of the mainstream media. But who are raising their voices in protest? Mostly, the protests are from concerned parents via Facebook or Twitter and some State premiers via the non-Murdoch tabloids.

Thousands of people across social media are also asking; “Where is Bill Shorten?” Yes, where is he? This has been a monumental balls-up by the Government and he could, to quote a friend, turn this into a “turkey shoot”. The Government’s lie and back flips over education have been exposed yet he has gone mute. He should be hammering the point home and he should be hammering it relentlessly. It was a style that helped Tony Abbott win office. He can learn from it. Yet what has been the response from the Opposition? This wet lettuce leaf attack:

The opposition education spokeswoman, Kate Ellis, said the Coalition’s backflip was a betrayal of students, teachers and parents.

Wow. I bet that hurt.

I thought, just maybe, that the Labor Party might have something resembling a media release about this on their web site and the mainstream media were playing their usual game of ignoring it. After all, when Julia Gillard was prime minister the ALP site was loaded with media releases from both her and her ministers. Even though they were conveniently overlooked by the media, at least they were saying something. At least they were attempting to get their message out.

So I took a look. This was all I found; a blog post called Abbott Backflips on Better Schools by a person named Deb Boughton which reads:


Have you heard what’s happened?

As a teacher for nearly three decades, it’s absolutely ridiculous to find out that the Coalition Government yesterday announced that they “cannot go ahead with the Gonski funding arrangements”.

The Better Schools reform was set to deliver more resources for our kids and provide greater support for students who needed it most. It’s about making sure that none of my students are left behind no matter what their circumstances are. Now all of that is under threat.

What makes it even worse was that not only are they just cutting funding for our kids, but Tony Abbott and the Coalition lied about it. During the election, they declared they were on a “unity ticket” with Labor’s plan for Better Schools, but now it just seems they want my students and my school to get by with even less.

The NSW Government has already stood up to say that they will fight any changes, but we need to send Tony Abbott a clear message: we want our Better Schools.

I’m not usually a political person, but this is too important for me to stay quiet on. You and I have to speak up on this so we can have the better schools we were promised.

Yours sincerely,

Deb Boughton

Posted by Australian Labor on November 26, 2013

That’s all. Nothing else. It’s a good post and good on Deb Boughton for writing it, but notice the date? November 26. Nothing else and nothing since. Was it a media release? No. Was it by member of the Opposition? No. It was a blog post. A blog post almost a week old that has attracted not one comment. It has received a total of only 13 ‘Likes’ on Facebook and hasn’t even been shared on Twitter.

I would rightly assume that the Leader of the Opposition could command a wider audience than this humble blog. If we can write an article, for example, critical of the Prime Minister that attracts over 115,000 views in one day alone and be shared on 56,000 Facebook pages, over 460 Twitter re-tweets and 330 comments, then what could Mr Shorten achieve?

Bill, you’re obviously doing something wrong, and that isn’t good enough.

 

Letter to the editor of THE AIMN

letter

Image by blogging4jobs.com

I received a letter from a Facebook acquaintance. His name is Morrie and he lives in the exclusive Melbourne suburb of Malvern. He doesn’t have a very high opinion of me or this blog. He dared me to publish his letter. I consulted with Michael Taylor who said that in the interest of balanced commentary we should.

Letter to the editor of THE AIMN

Now that parliament is back in full swing, I must say how gratifying it is to have a majority of adult men leading the government in Canberra. Yes the adults are back in charge. People may call it a boys club but it will take men with balls to fix all the mistakes the feminists in the last government made.

And a speaker in Bronwyn Bishop who can recite the standing orders standing on her head in the midst of dangling petticoats. Now she is a women with balls and is displaying an unbiased approach to the job that has been lacking with Labor speakers.

Yes gratifying indeed. I was becoming increasingly concerned that all this talk of climate change was starting to be believed and that scientists actually knew what they were talking about. Fair dinkum if they want the truth why don’t people read more of Andrew, listen to Alan and there’s Rupert’s newspapers for unbiased reporting. Goodness knows there are enough on our side to convince anyone. There’s no shortage of material. And their opinions are beyond reproach of course. Just ask any of them.

On top of that there is all this nonsensical talk of generating electricity from renewable resources. I mean really, what on earth is happening to our society. People need to turn their lights on more often. If Tony says Direct Action will work then people should take him at his word. As John Howard says. His instinct is worth more than any amount of science. So I trust Tony on this one.

And all this talk of excessively wealthy mining magnets paying their fair share of tax. They pay more than enough as it is. That’s how the poor survive. Maggie said that’s how it would happen. By the drip down effect from the rich. If it hasn’t happened yet then they will just have to wait. Indefinitely if that’s what the economy needs. Don’t they understand that the rich need more money? They have larger bills to pay.

Of course all the gossip going around that companies might have to treat workers fairly and pay them a living wage. I think everyone has lost all sense of appreciation that the wealthy supply the jobs and people should be thankful they do.

What about all this talk of equality of opportunity in education? The trouble is that people simply don’t understand their place in society anymore. They want more money spent on it. Well I pay enough tax as it is. What needs to happen is for people, instead of bludging, is to just get a job and work as hard as the rest of us. Then they could afford to send their kids to a good school instead of wanting everything for nothing.

Shit I worked so bloody hard this week overseeing my investments and I’m stuffed. Took me most of Wednesday morning which was convenient because I just had enough time for a round at Royal Melbourne before picking up the boys from the polo club.

God only knows why everyone wants a world class broadband system. Not everyone was born world class so I don’t know what they’re on about.

We are just so fortunate to have a leader of the calibre, vision and character of Tony Abbott. I mean compare him with David Cameron who believes in human rights and tells everyone who is prepared to listen to stand up for them. I mean how misguided is that. And he believes in the science of climate change and reckons we should act. Bloody idiot. Doesn’t he know it’s just a green plot to replace communism. My brother’s best friend’s wife’s uncle, who works at Liberal Party head office tells me they have a team of ten trying to locate the headquarters and the leader of the plot. Rupert’s footing the bill.

And Cameron believes in marriage equality and has given the poofters what they wanted. Well it won’t happen here. Tony wears his faith on his sleeve. You can see his devoutness to Jesus and his preaching in his daily devotion to all Australians. We should all be thankful that he follows the example that Jesus set.

And I agree with Tony. Torture is all right under certain circumstances. And wasn’t the gifting of the two boats a great idea. I reckon Morrison (another follower of The Lord) would have thought of that. Anything to prevent people fleeing persecution.

In addition to all the above we have people saying Tony should apologise over a bit of telephone tapping. Well the boss thought it was ok to do it in England so why shouldn’t we. Tony has the art of diplomacy. That’s why we call him ‘’tough Tony’’. Just like we called Howard ‘’honest John’’ when he gave all those bottom of the harbour tax breaks to those of us who deserved them.

And good on him for standing up for George Pell. I mean the church doesn’t have an endless pit of money. I don’t know why people can’t just get over things. All this talk of compensation over a little abuse has gone far enough. The church has suffered enough from all the over the top publicity. George has been complaining for years but no one listens.

The one thing that really gripes me (well there a number actually) is all this talk about secrecy. There’s no point telling people bad news. They will become disillusioned. You only do that in opposition. Sure you can tell them about all the bad things Labor has done. The debt etc, etc ,etc, etc. That’s only fair. People just have to be patient for the good stuff. I’m sure it will happen even if I can’t put it in a time frame. And there’s always the next term. Or the one after. I’m sure he has great vision for the future of Australia and he will reveal it sometime in the future. As conservatives we believe in change, so long as it is not often.

Anyway, you probably won’t publish my letter. And it’s a pity because someone has to say these things. But I don’t think the writers and readers of this blog have the intelligence to fully grasp the wisdom of my words anyway. But then I was educated at Melbourne Grammar. You get what you’re able to pay for.

Morrie Moneyworthy. Malvern.

You’re Being Manipulated – Believe Me

Image by ebony.com

Image by ebony.com

“Purposeful manipulative social change without a common good caveat is a form of social evil”

It seems to me that in my lifetime a lot of things have changed. But then change is one of the constant certainties of life. However, I am greatly concerned by how manipulated we have allowed ourselves to become. Let me canvas some of the manipulated changes I have experienced and make some observations.

Of course one’s age might bring a different perspective to how we view manipulated change. Obviously if you are very young you will have nothing to compare what follows with anything you have experienced. In other words your ‘now’ might be your norm.

For example, I happen to believe we are, as a society, more manipulated now than I can ever remember. You can see it everywhere. Murdoch’s manipulation by virtue of excessive media ownership. Political manipulation by institutions, lobbyists and corporations more powerful than government. The manipulation by television stations who would have you believe that mediocrity is excellence.

And manipulation by the blatant falseness of advertising. If you think about your everyday life you cannot avoid the fact that a lot of the things you do are manipulated in a way to influence your decision making processes.

I have been retired now for ten years and I have had time to think. In fact, if I had my time over I would not be the slave to the work ethic I had. Thinking is impaired by too much work. We spend so much time at it that we have lost the art of thoughtful observation and creativity.

It seems to me that we have more disposable income, so we think we need to have more things and we become confused with what we want as opposed to what we need. Of course we are manipulated into believing we need things because it creates jobs. Spend up big this Christmas. We are told that even things that are bad for us we are entitled to. I’m thinking salt, fat and sugar that are causing a worldwide epidemic of obesity and in the future might take half the nation’s income to pay the health bill. We have more leisure, but less fun, more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

But conservatives say it’s the individual’s right to free choice.

So we end up spending more but enjoying life less. But we still need the money of course. We have been manipulated into thinking we need a bigger house because Bill and Mary have one. But it will take two wages to pay for it. Who cares that it will mean a smaller family and less family time?

Our possessions have increased enormously. Nothing is repaired anymore. We have become the replacement society. But at the same time our appreciation of the value of our possessions has declined. We have become so manipulated by ‘Affluenza’ that we have forgotten what frugality means. We are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying simplicity. A consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having stuff, and has failed to teach us that doing things is more pleasurable than processing things.

We have confused the cost of living with the cost of lifestyle.

We live in a manipulated, failed economic system where unregulated capitalism (in the absence of anything better) rules the day. But we are manipulated into believing that this failed system is the best economic solution. It is however, a system where a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level.

We want our children to have a better education and they are getting it. The current generation have more degrees than ever before. We have more experts, less judgment and more problems. Probably because education is presented as a means of obtaining wealth rather than as an altruistic pursuit that might better humankind. I call it manipulated competitive capitalism.

We now live in a society where science is respected to the point where it conflicts with the profit that capitalism demands. Then the conservative right together with vested media interests manipulates facts and distorts the truth to discredit it. The environment is but one area where we are being manipulated by un-credentialed fools who are tell us that science knows nothing.

By people like John Howard who would rather rely on his instinct than scientific evidence. It was probably his instinct that sent us to war in Iraq. A decision that certainly wasn’t evidence based.

I wonder what price the people of tomorrow will pay for the stupidity of today’s environmental vandals. We have allowed ourselves to become so manipulated that we have lost all commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry as the best way of providing solutions to human problems.

The ability of thinking human beings to blindly embrace what they are being told without referring to evaluation and the consideration of scientific fact, truth and reason, never ceases to amaze me. It is tantamount to the rejection of rational explanation. We would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves, rather than allowing ourselves to be manipulated and obstructed by the unadulterated crap served up by the media and self-interest groups.

Politicians manipulate truth because power is all important .They have lost any semblance of public morality and duty to the collective common good. And we have seen how they will even manipulate racial hatred if it advances their power.

These are the days of two incomes, a decline in marriage with more divorce, of bigger houses, with empty hearts. And a proliferation of kids with single parents.

Churches, because they mistakenly believe they have an ownership on righteousness manipulate people into believing that love and morality is exclusively a domain of religion. And they don’t allow their own immorality to impede on their self-righteousness. Added to this is the manipulation of minors by men of the cloth.

We have become obsessed with celebrity and the media manipulates us into believing that people of little virtue, talent or character are somehow important. More often than not because they have acquired notoriety, wealth or influence.

We have been manipulated into competitive living while at the same time we have forgotten how to laugh or even volunteer. Now what was the name of that family across the road? And we don’t comprehend the difference between manners and civility.

Enormous advances have been made in medicine and in the future discoveries will increase significantly. More drugs are available for many illnesses but the large drug companies manipulate who gets them and the price paid. There is however, much less wellness.

We have succumbed to domestic violence where men manipulate women. Despite some advances by women, men still rule the world and manipulate it to maintain their physical, academic, corporate and sexual dominance. And history records their manipulation as an ongoing incompetence.

People are living longer but are less happy and the incidence of mental health has become a social problem. We mumble a lot without saying much, we seldom love meaningfully and the joy of sex has degenerated into casual opportunism.

It is a time of enormous profits, little leadership, shallow thinking and superficial relationships. A time in which technology is making extraordinary advances but our intellectual reasoning seems unable to appreciate its capacity for good without the word ‘profit’ attached. We are conquering outer space and diseases, yet polluting our environment and our souls.

We allow ourselves to be manipulated by exaggerated, flamboyant rhetoric that is designed to heighten a sense of alarm, or simply to gain our attention.

Unscrupulous people manipulate our social behavior and the young fall victim to the persuasive influence of debilitative drugs.

And lastly, the purity of our playtime, our sport has been manipulated by the corrosive effect of money and drugs. And the cheats, in turn, manipulate us with their lies.

Consider this:

“We dislike and resist change in the foolish assumption that we can make permanent that which makes us feel secure. Yet change is in fact part of the very fabric of our existence”

John Lord 2012.

However:

Purposeful manipulative social change without a common good caveat is a form of social evil.

“The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages . . . It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile”.

Robert Kennedy, 1968

Politics – The Week That Was

parl house

The reality of political conservatism is now well and truly with us. A three year journey of rule by an ideology that believes in privilege over altruistic necessity has begun. It must be said however, that the conservatives won the election and are perfectly entitled to govern.

Tony Abbott once said that ‘’oppositions oppose”. A statement I found to be intellectually barren. Oppositions also have a responsibility to the people and the common good and should act in a bi partisan manner when necessary. They should also hold the government to account for its actions and policies in the stoutest way possible.

Writers of the left (particularly bloggers) also have similar responsibilities. I have wondered since the election what I will write about for the next three years. I have concluded that it is also my duty to hold the government to account. To see to it that the Government governs honestly and transparently and that the media reports news rather than opinion in the guise of propaganda.

Now a week is a long time in politics. Take this week for example we had . . . Well let’s look at them individually and in no particular order as the talent show host would say.

Guess who’s coming to dinner.

Earlier in the week we were advised that the Prime Minister was having a dinner party for those in the right wing media who had given their support in the election campaign. I wondered if there was a room large enough. We were told by Peta Credlin that it was a private function but she couldn’t say who was footing the bill. Given that Tony Abbott is the main culprit in the expenses scandal one would have thought that he would be anxious to appear beyond reproach.

I agree that he should be able to entertain whoever he likes. Just so long as he pays the bill.

The guest list was a who’s who of far right media representation. Andrew Bolt couldn’t make it but indicated he considered Mr Abbott:

”Thoughtful, modest, kind, serious, practical and well-read”.

I seem to recall there were a few things he didn’t read that led to a bit of lying. And perhaps the journalists should all consider charging for the support they give the government. It might help with their declining advertising revenues.

Some of those invited were:

Andrew Bolt, Piers Akerman, Alan Jones, Janet Albrechtsen, Miranda Devine, Chris Kenny, Col Allan, Paul Sheehan and Gerard Henderson.

I’m sure they all gave their undying loyalty to the conservative cause and that in due course Tony Abbott will legislate to give them all the unbridled freedom of expression they think they need.

Commission of Audit.

And of course we had the announcement of a ‘’Commission of Audit’’. It is supposedly independent but it is led by LCP supporters. One in particular who has financially benefited from his association with the party. Of course eliminated from the audit is revenue, health, education and defence. Complicating matters will be Abbott’s unaffordable Parental Leave Scheme and a commitment to removing Labor’s means test on Private Health Insurance.

And they plan to help pay for the Parental Leave scheme with the superannuation tax breaks promised to lower wage earners. Mostly women, and the elimination on the kids schools bonus.

Trust conservatives to get their priorities in order.

Why are some babies more valuable than others you might ask?

Time will tell, but I will be surprised if the audit doesn’t say that the budget is a disaster and we need cuts cuts and more cuts. Oh but there might just be some concessions for big business.

Washington Post interview.

Tony Abbott last weekend gave an interview to the Washington Post which can only be described in diplomacy terms as pathetic. As Dr Clinton Fernandes said. “Americans will see Tony Abbott as uncouth, coarse and amateurish.”

It is however typical of Abbott. He has never been able to control his tongue. Remember how he ran down the then government in the parliament in front of the American President and backed it up when the Indonesian President visited. You simply don’t bad mouth your own country to foreign journalists.

The Tasmanian Speech.

For years now neo conservatives around the world have been saying that the term “Climate Change” is but a ploy to replace socialism with environmentalism. Abbott said this.

“Let’s be under no illusions the carbon tax was socialism masquerading as environmentalism”

With this statement the Prime Minister confirmed what I have long suspected He does not believe in the science. He thinks it’s crap. The cat is out of the bag.

Then on Wednesday the Federal Government’s independent climate policy adviser declared Australia’s emissions reduction target inadequate and not credible. This is the same body Abbott plans to dump in January which only reinforces his total disregard for science.

The draft report said that Australia’s commitment to cutting emissions by 5 per cent from 2000 levels by 2020 would leave Australia lagging behind other comparable countries like the United States.

Throughout the week discussion has centred on whether Labor will drop its Carbon Tax policy. To do so would be a further capitulation on policy. They should persist with it while at the same time exposing the governments Direct Action plan for the sham it is. At the first sitting of question time every question should be directed at Abbott and Hunt on the finer points of its policy. For three years Tony Abbott has shouted about the ‘’toxic tax’” and turned people against science. It must be forced to explain how its scheme works. No one else can.

Suggesting that towns would be wiped from the map and that roast chickens would cost $100 may very well win you government but now real viable solutions are required.

First indications suggest that Hunt is intent on disregarding this report in the same manner as he has many others.

Then on Thursday the Guardian reported that One third of articles in Australia’s major newspapers rejected or cast doubt on the overwhelming findings of climate science, with climate sceptic Andrew Bolt monopolising coverage of the topic in several high-circulation News Corporation titles, according to a new analysis.

A study of 602 articles in 10 newspapers by the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism found that 32% dismissed or questioned whether human activity was causing the climate to change. The articles were analysed between February and April in 2011 and again in the same period in 2012.

Significantly, newspapers based a small fraction of their coverage on peer-reviewed science, instead relying heavily on comment pieces penned by writers without a scientific background.

Isn’t it extraordinary that Australia’s largest newspaper circulation publisher chooses not to report on the findings of 97% of the world’s climate scientists?

‘The ability of thinking human beings to blindly embrace what they are being told without referring to evaluation and the consideration of scientific fact, truth and reason,never ceases to amaze me. It is tantamount to the rejection of rationale explanation’

Pink Batts Witch Hunt Inquiry.

Invoking inquiries that are so obviously political sets a dangerous precedent. We have had eight enquiries thus far into Pink Bats that have revealed nothing that is not already known. When finally the judges reveal the result of the Ashbygate appeal can we also have one into it?

HECS Debt

On Q&A Monday night Christopher Pyne the minister with an opinion on everything canvassed the possibility of selling of the Higher Education Contribution Scheme debt to private enterprise. This was promoted in England and proved so unpopular that the government decided not to proceed.

There is no interest on HECS fees and some 20 per cent of the debt is never repaid. Selling the current and future debt could only result in fees becoming more expensive because interest would have to be charged. This would make a University education more expensive for those who are already battling.

I think I shall end here. There were other topics worthy of comment such as the report into the standard of high school education. Malcolm Turnbull’s backflip on his NBN promise. Joe Hockey’s abysmal hypocrisy and self interest on debt and borrowing and his downgrading of the NDIS, but I am told my writing can be a bit long.

Before I end though I must draw your attention to the best piece I read this week.

https://theaimn.com/2013/10/30/an-open-letter-to-bill-shorten/

An afterthought on Andrew Bolt.

Dan Rowden also recently wrote an article for The AIMN revealing the absurdity of Bolt’s writing. I also wrote one earlier in the month. For whatever reason the artist Picasso popped into my head. You see Picasso at the height of his popularity knew that he could produce absolute rubbish and people would believe it was good and he would be paid millions for it. Bolt also knows that he can produce rubbish, people will like it and he will be paid handsomely for it. Not a bad analogy I should think.

https://theaimn.com/2013/10/28/well-that-was-embarrassing-andrew/

https://theaimn.com/2013/10/12/bolt-protecting-abbott-my-response/

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