Opinion Australia

One man’s view of how the world might be.

Archive for June 2008

Graffiti goons.

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As I’ve mentioned several times I’ve managed to become involved with the parents support group for the local Girl Guide group. The parents, Leaders and the girls themselves are very proud of their little hut and over the past few years have gradually renovated it from a basic ‘shed’ to a pretty little meeting place which is bright and cheerful.

Of course, being what it is, it’s a little ‘exposed’ but until Saturday we’ve been relatively lucky in that apart from a few broken bulbs in exterior lights, no damage has been done. On Saturday however we suffered the first real ‘attack’ from vandals with the appearance of a small patch of grafitti on the front wall of the hall.

Graffiti on Guide Hut

Ok it wasn’t a particularly bad attack… this time… no foul language or pictures, and no ‘tagging’. All we have is a picture of a stick figure and the name ‘Dilbert’ but I doubt it was Scott Adams!!. It’s the aftermath that is the problem.

The work involved in spraying took at most 30 seconds and cost a couple of dollars.

Yesterday one of the parents attempted to use a pressure sprayer to remove it. Didn’t work. Today I went to a local hardware store and bought a garden hose, a ‘pressure nozzle, two scrubbing brushes, and a bottle of ‘Graffiti Remover’. The two daughters and I spent an hour or so spraying, scrubbing, and washing and the result as you can see from the picture was… pretty minimal (though I *did* manage to wrench my back again!)..

I’m now considering calling the District Leader (called Marloo in Guide language!) and suggesting we simply paint the brickwork white and the repaint it when we get repeat attacks as we almost certainly will. The cost and the time involved in trying to remove this stuff is simply not worth the effort in my opinion when a coat or two of paint would be both quick and easy.

On the other hand if anyone has some ideas about an effective way of getting this paint off, well let us know… I certainly have no ideas.

Written by welshdog

June 30, 2008 at 11:25 am

Angela Catterns – again!

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She’s back on the radio soon. At 11 o”clock she’ll be interviewing Natasha Stott-Despoja who is closing down her official duties for the country today and clearing out her office.

Two icons talking to one another… nice! 😀

Written by welshdog

June 30, 2008 at 10:33 am

Posted in General Ramblings

Chronicles of Narnia: BBC version

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Despite not having written much in the blog I *have* had the chance to sit and make a start watching the Chronicles of Narnia. No not the recent film versions, but a relatively ancient version released by the BBC back in 1988!

Being a BBC production we were prepared for a ‘high quality’ presentation which was as faithful to the book as it could be, We began with “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”… and within 15 minutes the children got totally bored and went off to watch Kung-Fu Panda (again). The wife and I persevered and slowly worked out way through the series. I’m not sure how the wife felt about it but once I’d got used to stepping back in time to those more primitive days before CGI I quite enjoyed it.

We began the second part last night and I got confused very quickly. The story is supposed to be Prince Caspian… yet at the beginning the children started discussing visiting Cousin Eustace who doesn’t appear until the Dawn Treader, Still, so far so good,

The only real fly in the ointment is that the Beeb made no attempt to produce any of the other books… especially ‘The Last Battle’. Rumour has it that it was ‘too Christian’ but to be fair it would have been all bar impossible given the technology of the time let alone considering the costs involved in the midst of an economic recession. Still, what there is of it is quite good in its own little nostalgic way. 🙂

On balance though, and as ‘iffy’ as the recent films are in following the original stories, I have to say they are far better productions. The CGI advances alone have made the representations of the talking animals much more realistic.

So the BBC version is good in its way but… is now way past its sell by date.

Written by welshdog

June 30, 2008 at 7:38 am

Posted in General Ramblings


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Things have been rather quiet around the Dog’s Kennel for the past few days, but not so quiet I’ve been able to write much in the blog.  We have done a few odd little domestic chores of course, mowing laws, washing floors etc but pretty much little else. The cold has bounced up and down a few times and is *still* causing problems even after the better part of a month!

Hopefully it’ll soon be behind me and I can concentrate on setting the world to rights once more!

Written by welshdog

June 30, 2008 at 7:08 am

Posted in General Ramblings

Welcome Back Angela Catterns!!

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Next week those of us in the Sydney area be able to welcome back Angea Catterns to the airwaves. Since Angela left Vega FM we’ve waited for the return to that intelligent mind and authoritative voice… and now we have it albeit for a short period.

Here’s an old picture of Angela from her Triple J days… she’s changed just a little since then!

Angela Catterns at Triple JFor next week at least, Angela will be running “Conversation Hour” on ABC 2BL Local Radio (702 AM) while Richard Feidler is on holiday.

Naturally we want her back full time and hope someone in the ABC reads this… well we know they do… and makes the right moves to get our girl back in our ears!! 🙂

Welcome back Ange – hey I’m looking forward to next week already!!  🙂

Written by welshdog

June 27, 2008 at 12:23 pm

Yobs in Uniform

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We’re all aware of just how violent life can be for members of the police force who put their lives on the line every day to protect us ordinary fold from the rough edges of society and those who would disrupt the fragile structure of civilisation. The responsibilities of the job require that they are given great powers of detention in order that they can cary out their duties effectively.

However, these powers must be used with great caution, excessive use by individuals can and does reflect on the entire police force. If control is relaxed, gross injustices can be carried out. One such appears to have been inflicted on an innocent man in the UK a few days ago.

David MarkhamDavid Markham (35) was effectively beaten up by police despite having done nothing and despite offering no resistance when he was questioned outside his home. In what seems to have been a clear case of mistaken identity he was kicked to the ground, kicked again repeatedly and punched several times. The result was damaged eyesight, and cuts bruising to his face.

The officers are being ‘investigated’ by Warwickshire Police Authority who say “Future deployments for the officers concerned are being considered”. I can imagine why!!

This is nothing new of course, as far back as 25 years ago I witnessed police rough treatment of a police suspect.

One night a young guy all bar had his ankle broken as he was dragged from the taxi I was driving. His foot had become trapped under the seat and because the policeman refused to let him sit up to adjust his position, he couldn’t release it. Despite my shouting, and the guy’s screaming and struggling he was repeatedly punched by the officer who must have thought he was ‘resisting’. Eventually his foot came free and, his ankle streaming with blood, he was dragged into the police station. I was so disgusted I waited for him to be released and some hours later let him know I would turn up in court if he needed support but he declined. Having been ‘let off with a caution’ he didn’t want to cause himself further problems. His crime by the way was to shout some rude name at the policeman and run away.

For more on David Marham’s ordeal, look at this story in the Daily Mail.

Written by welshdog

June 27, 2008 at 10:11 am

Schapelle Corby – not forgotten!

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Schapelle Corby (aged 30) is an Australian woman currently serving a 20 year prison sentence after being convicted for smuggling drugs into Bali. She has protested her innocence from day one and continues to do so despite the possibility that an admission of guilt coupled with an appeal for clemency to the President might result in a reduction of the time she spends in jail.

Schapelle Corby - a broken womanOn Sunday night Channel Nine showed the first part of a documentary covering the three years of her imprisonment from arrest to date. So far the program has done little but demonstrate just how appalling her defense team was!

Coincidentally on the day before the transmission of the first part she was admitted to hospital suffering from ‘severe depression’ and is receiving ongoing treatment. This picture by Luke Bintaro and published by news.com.au shows a sad, depressed and broken woman. A far cry from the beautiful vivacious person arrested three years ago.

I’m the first to admit I can’t *know* whether she is innocent or not, however I *think* she is partly because I cannot conceive of someone as intelligent as she is being idiotic enough to risk their life in such a trivial way. In addition whilst the case against her might well have looked ‘strong’ in fact it was so full of holes it should have been almost a walkover for the defence team had they not been more interested in themselves instead of their client.!

The documentary itself has done her case little good and probably much harm. It was clear that Schapelle and her family were  totally out of their depth with the situation they found themselves in and relied far too heavily on advisers who were running their own agenda, and a legal team that seemed to have little grasp on the reality of how desperate a situation she was in. From the information in the documentary, it appears they all bar fabricated her entire defence blaming ‘baggage handlers’ for inserting the drugs into her luggage and using her as an anonymous ‘mule. Actually, whilst this defence has been discredited to a large degree it *still* remains a possibility that this is exactly what happened and that they hit on the truth by pure fluke!

For details on just how badly her defence was handled look at the Wikipedia entry on Schapelle’s case and you will see that handled properly there was sufficient doubt to have ensured her acquittal!! That the case was mishandled disastrously is without question.

As far as the Indonesians are concerned they don’t care either way. The facts as they saw them were quite simply that they stopped someone at customs who was carrying a large quantity of drugs into the country. This person could offer no reasonable defence and was convicted

Who put the drugs in her bags? There are three possibilities. Firstly she did it herself. Secondly a member of her family did. Thirdly, someone ‘else’ did of whatever reason.

The first she denies vehemently. The latter whilst still a possibility has been discredited. This leaves the possibility a member of her family did it with or without her knowledge. You are then stuck with asking yourself if it was done *without* her knowledge, what member of a family would allow their sister to spend 20 years rotting in jail without coming forward to attempt to confess their own guilt.

The second part of the documentary will be aired tonight and I hope to be able to watch it. I doubt anything will be shown that we don’t already know, but perhaps by showing the known facts in a new way more light may be shed on what happened.

Of course, having said that, nobody knows what *really* happened in this case except the person or persons who inserted the drugs into that boogie bag, and it is likely nobody else will ever know. Nevertheless the result *is* known, i.e. that a relatively young woman will be spending her most productive years in one of the worst prisons in Southern Asia with little prospect of release.

Sadly she is now also fighting against public opinion in Australia which has swung firmly against her in part because of the publicised connections her *family* are supposed to have had with drug dealing (true or not). You can choose your friends but not your family, and whilst they (especially her sister Mercedes), are supporting her as best they can, they are damaging her by association. It’s hard to believe, but people are actually *bored* by this woman’s plight and are just not interested.

If it was my son or daughter, or if it was me, I’d want my country in my corner fighting tooth and nail on my behalf. Unless the Australian government is willing to broker a deal with the Indonesians to push for her release on compassionate grounds, and assuming she survives without killing herself, I can’t see her returning to Australia until 2024, by which time she’ll be a broken  woman, old before her time.

Written by welshdog

June 24, 2008 at 8:14 am

Hell on earth… again.

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The strength and courage displayed by Jane and Glenn McGrath in the face of their personal tragedy displays what is best about the human character. In the midst of their own struggle with mortality they found time to support not only each other but many, many others through the McGrath Foundation. The example of Jane’s life and death should be an object lesson on what human beings can, could and should be through our short time on earth.

On the other side of the earth is a nation where the complete opposite is being demonstrated.

Darfur PosterSince 2005 outright genocide has been carried out in the Darfur region of Sudan while the world stands blithely by, watching, making those ‘tut-tut’ sounds… and doing nothing, just as it did in Germany, and Cambodia, and Rwanda, and… ?

Estimates of deaths exceed 400,000 with 2.5 million refugees displaced and in most cases starving. That these refugees are mostly children who’s parents have been maimed or killed simply demonstrates the scale of the issue.

The Sudanese government has taken as many steps to kill the story as it has to kill the population. These steps include, but are not limited to killing witnesses, destroying gravesites, intimidation of journalists and UN officials attempting to investigate thoroughly the extent of the war crimes.

Blaming the ’causes’ of the war on ethnic divisions, global warming, or whatever do nothing to mitigate the ongoing horror that is existence in Darfur. This is a place where rape has become a weapon of war, where children are forced to kill their parents and death arrives as an old friend carrying welcome relief.

One has to accept that war and slaughter is nothing new in this area. Since the British invaded at the end of the 1800’s the war and death have been the norm nevertheless the offensive of the Sudanese government is clearly of a different order as they strive to rid themselves of the ‘rebels’ trying to reinstate their autonomy over what was historically their own lands.

A cynic might stand back and wonder what difference it might have made if oil supplies were at stake instead of human life? Oh hang on… they are. The US$70 billion oil exploitation deal signed with the Chinese is injecting around US$400 million a month into the Sudanese economy and much of that wealth is being used to purchase the arms from China that both protect the oil supplies, and slaughter a dissident population.

The world stood by and did nothing whilst the horrors of Rwanda unfolded and once the conflict ceased there was much breast beating about what *should* have been done, and *could* have been done but wasn’t.

Worse crimes are unfolding in Eastern Africa as once again the world stands idly by watching. Our United Nations are united in one thing only… the apathy and inability to act that seems endemic. Individuals can do nothing in the face of institutionalised violence such as this. It needs a concerted world effort to step in and end the conflict now.

Written by welshdog

June 23, 2008 at 1:48 pm

Vale Jane McGrath

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After an eleven year fight against cancers, Jane McGrath has finally died aged 42. She died surrounded by her husband cricketer Glen McGrath and her two young children. Jane first developed breast cancer back in 1997 two years after meeting Glenn, but after chemotherapy beat it off. She had two children and then in 2004 developed cancer on the hip. That she also beat off, but last year she developed on inoperable cancer of the brain. Earlier this year she had some undisclosed surgery but finally succumbed to ‘complications’.

Jane and Glen McGrath

That she was a clever and beautiful woman would have been enough of a legacy but she and Glenn founded the McGrath Foundation which has so far raised over $12,000,000 towards breast cancer research.

Anyone wishing to donate to the fund and help prevent other families being torn apart this way can visit the donations page.

Written by welshdog

June 23, 2008 at 8:55 am

Bandwidth busters?

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In case anyone wonders just why the posting rate dried up, I got ‘shaped’ by my ISP. The effort involved in moving to an ISP offering a more generous data tranfer limit is too difficult currently, not least because nobody in our area can provide the high data transfer rates we depend on to function (meagre as that is by world standards).

Tomorrow the shaping is lifted and the posting rate will return to ‘normal’, which might be a good thing… I’m not sure.

Written by welshdog

June 22, 2008 at 5:06 pm

Posted in General Ramblings