Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Global Voices seeking authors in New Zealand and Pacific

Global Voices @globalvoices is looking for authors in New Zealand and the Pacific. We’re the best news going around, with writers & translators around the world.

Our special global coverage of COVID-19 is just one example: COVID-19: Global coverage for a pandemic

If you are interested or know someone who may be, please contact me through: https://globalvoices.org/author/kevin-rennie/

Friday, March 23, 2018

Ai Weiwei Highlights Treatment of Global Refugees in Human Flow Documentary and Sydney Biennale Installations

My latest post for Global Voices:

During a visit to Australia, Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has blitzed the media with his concerns about the global treatment of refugees.

He is the headline artist with two major installations at the Biennale of Sydney that runs until June 2018. One, called “The Law of the Journey” located at the Cockatoo Island, features a black rubber, inflatable boat and figures. They were made with the same material used to produce the hazardous boats that some asylum seekers and migrants travel in while attempting to cross the Mediterranean.

...Ai also spoke at the Cinema Nova for the Melbourne opening of his documentary “Human Flow”, which features the stories of refugees in 23 countries in 2016.

...Kon Karapanagiotidis from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre conducted a live interview on Facebook and Twitter that has since attracted nearly 10,000 viewers.

More: From Sydney Biennale Installations to Film Screenings, Ai Weiwei Highlights Treatment of Global Refugees

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Voluntary Assisted Dying Becomes Reality in Victoria

Euthanasia – Courtesy Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 http://nyphotographic.com/
"The Australian state of Victoria is the first in the country to have passed voluntary assisted dying [VAD] legislation. This historic decision by the Victorian parliament has been very controversial, with people divided over the question of euthanasia on ethical and/or religious grounds.

...The likelihood of VAD becoming law in other parts of the country is uncertain. There have been a number of unsuccessful attempts in recent years in other states to introduce comparable legislation, and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is going down a similar path to Victoria by establishing a multi-party parliamentary committee to look into end of life choices.

While any VAD laws that the ACT may pass could still be disallowed by the federal parliament, it seems that only one parliamentary member would be keen to do so: the former prime minister, Tony Abbott, is a conservative Catholic who campaigned vigorously against same sex marriage, and he has said that he hopes the Victorian laws will be overturned someday."

From my latest globalvoices.org post: Victoria Becomes the First Australian State to Pass Voluntary Assisted Dying Legislation

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Australian Federal Police Accessed Journalist's Phone Records Illegally - ‘We Told You So'

My latest post for Global Voices Advox:

The Australian Federal Police revealed on April 28 that one of their officers broke the law by accessing a journalist's phone records without a warrant.

...There was... a strong negative reaction on social media, especially from critics of the data retention system. There were concerns that the police, often referred to as the AFP (not to be confused with the French news wire) are above the law as the officer concerned is not facing any action.

...Others shared their concerns that the original justification for retaining and accessing data, namely national security and drug law enforcement, was being used to control media freedom

...The police have admitted that the data revealed by the breach cannot be “unseen”. Whether evidence arising from the illegality will be admissible in a court case remains unclear.

‘We Told You So: Australian Federal Police Accessed Journalist's Phone Records Illegally

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Updated Australian National Dictionary Is Here to Teach You ‘Dinkum’ Aussie English

From my latest post for Global Voices: The Updated Australian National Dictionary Is Here to Teach You ‘Dinkum’ Aussie English

Australian National Dictionary 2nd Edition Australian National Dictionary 2nd Edition.

When I was a teacher, an unfamiliar student approached me in the schoolyard during play lunch, or the mid-morning break. "Is it true you read the dictionary for fun?" he enquired. His response to my positive answer was, "You're a sick man!" You've been warned.

Over the years, Global Voices editors and translators have wondered about some of the words in my posts. For those struggling with or just interested in 'Australianisms', the updated Australian National Dictionary may be a timely addition to your library.

To most English-speaking people, Australian English, otherwise known as Strine, must seem like a foreign language. Take the sentence below:
Any true blue, dinkum Aussie battler from Astraya's Deep North knows that Canberrans are really Mexicans.
Any genuine Australian from Northern Queensland knows that residents of Canberra, the national capital, are from south of the border (and hence inferior).
Interstate or regional rivalry down under is present in a lot of Australian English terms (both geographical references in the sentence above carry derogatory connotations). For example, Taswegians, who are from the southern island state of Tasmania, are proud of their contributions to the Australian National Dictionary, and as such their bragging might qualify them as a 'yaffler', or a loudmouth.

Taswegians view the rest of Australia as 'mainlanders':
Two new additions to the dictionary are related to Australia's capital, Canberra: 'Canberran' is a person from Canberra, and 'Canberra bashing' is somewhat of a national political pastime. The local chief minister had a message to the online oligarchs to fix their spellcheckers:
Another Canberra politician, member of the House of Representatives Andrew Leigh, helped launch the second edition of the dictionary, 28 years after the first. In his remarks, he highlighted some of the phrases that made it into the publication:
  • 'callithumpian' (a lack of adherence to any religion)
  • 'rurosexual' (a fashionable young man living in a country area)
  • 'sea changer' (a change of lifestyle, especially moving from the city to a seaside town)
  • 'doesn't know whether he's Arthur or Martha' (to be in a state of confusion)
  • 'your blood's worth bottling' (you are of exceptional value)
  • 'do a Bradbury' (to become the unlikely winner)
  • 'carry on like a pork chop' (to behave foolishly, make a fuss)
  • 'happy as a bastard on father’s day' (extremely unhappy)
  • 'straight to the pool room' (expressing the great value of a gift or prize, etc.)
  • 'wouldn't know if a tram was up him unless the conductor rang the bell' (extremely stupid)
He also pointed out some of the Indigenous words that now feature, such as 'gubinge', which is a type of plum, and 'migaloo', meaning a white person.

'Migaloo' is only one of over 500 words from 100 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, as Australian National Dictionary editor Bruce Moore explained on news and analysis site The Conversation in a post titled 'Do you know a Bunji from a Boorie? Meet our dictionary’s new Indigenous words'.

While all these entries are touted as 'new', many are only new to the dictionary. During the 1960s, for example, my father claimed that he always wrote 'callithumpian' as his religion on the Census form.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Mariam Veiszadeh: Shedding Light and Hope on Islamophobia in Australia

'Islamophobia in Australia', Mariam Veiszadeh's address to the Castan Centre's Human Rights Law conference on 22 July 2016, had a heightened sense of urgency given the international situation. She is the founder and President of the Islamophobia Register Australia which "seeks to provide a means for incidents of Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim sentiments to be reported, recorded and analysed".

This video contains her presentation and the question session that followed:

Mariam's speech was blunt, personal yet conciliatory:

My relationship with islamophobia over the years has taken many forms – from being an advocate against it, to becoming a victim of it and everything in between.

...My message is for the backyard bigots and the backyard sheikhs and everyone in between.

...The utter irony is that all of the parties involved on each end of the extreme spectrum cling on to the false hope that their words and actions are actually tackling and thereby reducing endemic and institutionalised Islamophobia and global injustices (in the case of the young disillusioned souls, falling prey to radicalisation) or in turn, reducing and countering radicalisation, terrorism and/or the perceived Muslim threats (in the case of the islamophobes - both at an individual and institutional level).

...Put simply, there are far too many disaffected and disillusioned people amongst us on both ends of the spectrum.

We need to work together to bring them into the fold. Both the ones on this end of the extreme spectrum and the ones on the other end of the spectrum.

Nevertheless, Mariam did not shy away from the horrific consequences of what she calls normalisation of islamophobia:

Of particular concern is the fact that our data contains in it an alarming number of incidents in which mothers are harassed in the presence of young children.

Mariam discussed the impact of Pauline Hanson's One Nation party with her anti-Muslim policies, and the rise of Donald Trump's islamophobia.

She also tackled growing of dehumanisation in Australian society:

When you oppress me by sending me threats of death, violence and rape, simply because I speak out about the islamophobia that my community and I are facing, a process of dehumanisaton is taking place.

However, Mariam finished on a positive note:

Let the reasonable voices unite and let us expend our energies into trying to inject love and compassion into a world that is being increasingly filled with destruction and despair for the forces binding us together are stronger than the forces pulling us apart.

And when we lose hope, as I sometimes do, let us look down at the face of our future generations, reflect on their futures, reflect on our hopes and dreams, and pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and light that damn candle again, for darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that.

The transcript of her speech can be accessed here. In addition there is an video interview with Mariam:

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Calls to Stop Imminent Round of Executions in Indonesia

Julian McMahon, one of the lawyers for the Bali Nine drug traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran who were executed in 2015, warned last week that more executions were imminent in Indonesia. His address to the Castan Centre's Human Right Law conference in Melbourne last week about recent developments regarding capital punishment in Indonesia and the Philippines was timely indeed.

Indonesia is apparently to go ahead with a new round of executions in coming days. Many of the prisoners have been convicted of drug offences.

McMahon spoke of the "logic of executions in our region" being "political gain".

He argued that, "the death penalty is part of a growing zeitgeist [mood]... a desire to be seen as tough and merciless."

"The whole debate is purely political..." with "Indonesia working in countries around the world to save its citizens on death row... with no other country as successful, as determined or hardworking in saving its own citizens". He pointed out that the Indonesian government claims that in the last 5 years 285 have been saved, including drug offenders.

He argued that the situation in Indonesia must be seen through the "prism of domestic politics with drugs used to distract from other problems".

He hoped that we can "move on the debate" by "assisting Indonesia as much as possible in fighting these drug problems".

The full audio of his presentation can be heard here.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch has voiced its strong opposition:

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo of Indonesia should urgently commute the death sentences of at least 14 people who face imminent execution for drug trafficking...[He] should acknowledge the death penalty’s barbarity and avoid a potential diplomatic firestorm by sparing the lives of the 14 or more people facing imminent execution...

Amnesty International has joined the call to abandon the executions:

Indonesian President Joko Widodo... will be putting his government on the wrong side of history if he proceeds with a fresh round of executions... President Widodo’s era was supposed to represent a new start for human rights in Indonesia. Sadly, he could preside over the highest number of executions in the country’s democratic era at a time when most of the world has turned its back on this cruel practice...

You can add your voice by clicking on the link in their tweet:


Indonesia has executed the first four of 14 drug convicts on death row (BBC News)