Sunday, September 29, 2013

Crowd-funding Revives Oz Climate Council After Government Axe

My post for Global Voices Online:
One of the first actions of the newly elected conservative government in Australia has been to axe Labor’s Climate Commission on 18 September 2013. Its purpose was “to provide all Australians with an independent and reliable source of information about the science of climate change”. Thanks to crowd-funding online, its ghost has arisen as the not-for-profit Climate Council with the same board members chaired by former Australian of the Year, Tim Flannery.
More: Crowd-funding Revives Australian Climate Council After Government Axe

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Tecoma Protesters Take #BurgerOff Campaign to McDonald's Chicago HQ

My latest post for Global Voices Online: Melbourne Protesters Take Campaign to McDonald's Chicago HQ

Photo courtesy Michel Pickard flickr
(Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 2.0 license)

Opponents of building a McDonalds in Melbourne are taking their case to Maccas headquarters in Chicago on Wednesday 18 September 2013. Approximately $40,000 in funds have been raised through an online campaign. Global Voices reported on the conflict in March 2013 Australia: Locals Fight to Stop McDonald's in their Hills

As well as social media, the protesters have used traditional direct action methods such as roof occupations and blockades. These resulted in court action by McDonalds against the so-calledTecoma 8, which has now been withdrawn although injunction applications are apparently ongoing.

An online petition has over 90,000 signatures.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Gatekeepers: Israel "Winning the Battles, Losing the War" Film Review

My film review of The Gatekeepers: Israel "Winning the Battles, Losing the War" at the Cinema Takes blog.

When we were in Jordan last month (Aug 2013) we spoke to a Palestinian who lives and works there. He had gone to an Israeli university before moving to Jordan. He remarked that if they did not have enemies, they would tear themselves apart. His comment reverberated after watching Dror Moreh's documentary The Gatekeepers

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Should Australians be Shocked by Secret Use of Personal Digital Data?

My latest weblog for Global Voices Online: Secret Use of Personal Digital Data Shocks Australians

It covers reactions in the twitterverse to the Four Corners program In Google We Trust:
A current affairs exposé, In Google We Trust, has caused a flutter on twitter in Australia. The ABC TV Four Corners episode, broadcast on 9 September 2013, looked at how individuals’ digital data is being collected and used. The extent of breaches of privacy, lack of online security, commercial use of personal information such as shopping habits, and even police tracking and storage of car number plates, came as a shock to many viewers.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Jordan's Azraq Wetland a Continuing Ecological Disaster

In August 2013 we visited Azraq Wetland Reserve in eastern Jordan. It was a heart wrenching experience as little is left of this once magnificent wetland.

The bright new visitor’s centre belies the sorry state of this ecological disaster. The aquifer dried up in 1992 following decades of exploitation by the government to provide Amman’s needs. Recent allocations of water are insufficient to win back the hundreds of thousands of migratory birds who visited the area until the 1970s or restore its original 25 km2.

Jordan’s Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) has not yet achieved its aim of reaching 10% restoration, partly because of 500 illegal wells.

Pressure on water resources are bound to increase as Jordan is setting up a new refugee camp to take 80,000+ Syrians.

The story of Azraq is clearly an allegory for our struggling planet. If it isn’t clear enough then Wikipedia has more here.

Water scarcity and conflict over existing resources are a continuing part of the Middle East region. Israel and Jordan have continuing problems over the Jordan river and the Negev arabs struggle to get a share of water in their desert home.