Powdered milk and faraway babies

April 26th, 2006

Twenty years ago my grandmother in her broken English, phoned me from her home near Stuttgart in Germany. She sounded tired and was fretting that I would not be home. She called to tell me of the horror of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and made me promise that I would never, ever buy any milk product for at least a decade- be it powdered, UHT, condensed, cheese, yogurt etc. that was not made in Australia.

Long before we, here, in Australia would hear of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, my Oma had not only heard, but assessed that the milk products would be shunned by Europeans and offloaded to unsuspecting, faraway countries.

The girlchild- her Uhrgrosskind- was 8 months old and my Oma wanted me to know what she feared. I remain eternally grateful for her advice. I am also very appreciative that the girlchild and I live in a ‘faraway’ place. Not least of all because twenty years on the situation in the Ukraine is still horrific.

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Image from here

Pain thresholds.

April 22nd, 2006

Tuesday is ANZAC day. A day where many Australians honour the men and women who laid down their lives to make this country free.

This year the Victorian RSL is giving official permission to the descendants of WWI Turkish soldiers to join in the march of veterans. The Victorian RSL President, Major-General David McLachlan says,

“the Turkish were a very honourable enemy.”

On the same day, Veterans who feel that the Department of Veterans’ Affairs has abandoned them and their claims for acknowledgement of their PTSD, and compensation for their PTSD, have been told they cannot use the day to highlight their frustration by wearing an orange armband.

What is the message being sent to Australians? Is the right to march as a veteran only reserved for those that don’t challenge the ANZAC story of honour, bravery, sacrifice and compliance? Or are we as Australians mature (and honest) enough to have the discussion that might be-

“War can physically and psychologically injure our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Airwomen.”

Recent polls would suggest that Australians are not as sympathetic to the Iraq cause as they once were. Australians are also not voting with their marching feet as they walk past military recruitment centres around this country.

NewsRadio mentioned an Australian Soldier ‘incident’ in Iraq this morning. I will continue to search the news to find the story.

Whilst, of course, I hope for an end to the deaths in the war in Iraq, I know this to be impossible as the reality is that people are still dying daily.

I wonder how many ‘hurt’ Australians it will take for this government to feel the backlash?

I wish the orange armbanders nights of sleep with only one nightmare.

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Image from here

Two of the scariest words in the English language

April 11th, 2006

I recently attended a public seminar offering practical advice and information for the creators of content. Defamation and Sedition Laws “A New Way of Talking?”

The standout speaker was Julian Burnside QC. He spoke eloquently, clearly and economically about the changes to basic rights we as Australians naively believed were somehow enshrined. Rights such as knowing what you are being charged with. Within the new legislation the only words permitted for utterance, by a detained person, when making a phone call are “I’m safe.”

I was left chilled by the lack of resistance to this legislation. Just how easy was it for Ruddock and HoWARd to push this through.

We are not safe from our government. We are also not being served by an opposition to the government.

Update: The ABC’s Media report recorded on the night and played it today (13 April). Audio download available here.

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L-R Professor Jill McKeough, Raena Lea-Shannon, David Marr, The Hon. Bob Debus MP, Kate Gilchrist, David Levine QC RFD

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Listening to questions from the floor

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Julian Burnside QC

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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP

No stamp required if posted in Australia

April 6th, 2006

I despise getting junk mail.

However, other members of my little share house like to browse said crap and justify the privilege by recycling all the used-to-be-a-tree every second Thursday.

Recently, I paid off a loan and instantly started to receive a mountain of offers to apply for credit through the post. In most of them the company will include a reply paid envelope. I have taken to recycling all this unwanted junk. I sent the Virgin application to American Express and the ING to the Commonwealth Bank etc. I hope the person opening my envelope gets the joke and has a giggle.

It has become such fun that my gorgeous housemates now save the most interesting and unique junk for me to recycle in my unique way.

Who do you think should get this little gem?

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