Why I think Mainstream Media is Living in a Past

Over the past few weeks I had an opportunity to visit a number of European countries. I enjoyed the trip, I feel rested and enriched by all the historic sites I’ve visited. I also feel sad.

Sitting in s hotel room in Spain, I turn TV on to news, and I see CNN, MSNBC, BBC, ABC, NBC….

Moving to a hotel in France, I turn TV on to news, and I see CNN, MSNBC, BBC, ABC, NBC….

Next stop, in a hotel in Italy, I turn TV on to news, and I see CNN, MSNBC, BBC, ABC, NBC….

Media integrity

Media integrity

You see the pattern, right? I feel sad because I’ve come to realise that no matter where you are in a world, you are very limited on a number of independent mainstream sources that are available to you when it comes to keeping up with the news and current affairs.
The number of genuine sources can really be counted on fingers of one hand. And most of the other ones are really just a repeat of each other.
It also made me realise that our mainstream media can be to blame for flaming the fire between the old Cold War enemies the West and the Russia.
The problem is that the Western media picked up where they left off some 25 years ago, and keep using the old recipe of blaming the Russia for all the evil in the world. What they fail to understand, is that the world has changed.

Back in a 70’s and 80’s, Western media could dish out as much dirt on Russians as it wanted. 95% of Russian population didn’t have access to this sort of “news”, and therefore didn’t care. Today things are different. Thanks to the advance of internet, every Russian is fully aware of all the filth that they’ve been smeared with, courtesy of CNN and other letters of alphabet claiming to be News providers.

Time for change

Time for change

It is now a good time for the mainstream media to stop and re-evaluate its position and its relevance. It is time to change, time to act. Because if you really think that Russians are so evil and dangerous, why would you poke the bear? You might well end up with a broken back….

Retail, Politics and Hate

Today I found out that H&M is about to open a new store in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. Normally, I couldn’t care less – another retail giant opening yet another outlet, big deal. Well, this time, it is a big deal.

H&M Store Melbourne

H&M Store Melbourne

Or at least it was made into a big deal by Melbourne scumbags from the BDS movement. What’s their issue with a shop opening halfway across the world? Nothing really. Nothing except a blind hatred towards the state of Israel.

Now, if you ask the people (and I use the term “people” very loosely here) from BDS what their goal is, thy will tell you that it is to bring Israel to its knees, stop it from any activities in Judea and Samaria and by doing so advance creation of an independent state of Palestine.

Noble cause, right? No, not really. To me, a noble cause is the one that improves the lives of poor and oppressed. A noble cause is the one where you do all you can to make sure that your workers work and live in a humane, sustainable conditions.

So let’s look into it a little bit deeper.

H&M has stores in dozens of countries. Including in the Middle East, countries that might not necessarily be Israel’s friends. They have stores in Bahrain. They have stores in Jordan. They have stores in Kuwait. They have stores in Lebanon. Oman. Qatar. Saudi Arabia. United Arab Emirates. All these countries have benefited from having H&M stores in their shopping centers. All these countries recognize the importance of having a robust economy based on free trade and sound management. How many of them are going to close down H&M chains in their countries, just to piss Israel off? None.

This is what BDS supports

This is what BDS supports

So why is the BDS different? Is it because they care more about the plight of the Palestinian people than the Arab countries do? Hardly. If they did, they wouldn’t cause the closure of the SodaStream factory in Judea and subsequent loss of jobs for 500 Palestinians. If they did, they wouldn’t oppose $15 Billion gas deal between Israel and Jordan, a deal that is set to benefit people of Jordan immensely.  

But let’s go back to H&M for a moment. If anyone from BDS bothered to look at H&M website, they would find that the level of morality and justice advocated by this company is something that every  company in a world should try to imitate. They work hard to make sure that everyone who works for them is earning enough to live on. H&M philosophy – Everyone who’s employed by the fashion industry should earn enough to live on – whoever they are and wherever they work. To this end, H&M set a goal that all of workers should have improved pay structures for fair living wages in place by 2018. This will affect around 850,000 textile workers. They take care of workers conditions, they pay attention to things like sustainability and animal welfare. They use their influence to positively change people and countries they involved in.

But all of this means little to BDS. They rather see people lose their jobs, farmers unable to sell crops, than to allow a new shop in Jerusalem. I guess it’s hard to see the reason, to see unmistakable advantages to hundreds of thousands of people, when your head and your heart filled with hate.
All this reminds me of something Golda Meir once said: “We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.” Today, it can also be applied to BDS and all the other Israel haters.

Who is providing support to ISIS terrorists?

Isn’t is ironic, that USA and UK are in top 10 countries from where the ISIS supporters are tweeting from?Infographic: Where are ISIS supporters tweeting from? | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

Perharps America, England and all the other Western democracies should get real serious about cleaning up their own backyard?

Being Somebody – My Musings During the Melbourne Cup

Yesterday Melbourne was in a grip of a racing fever. There’s been a lot said over the past few days about the Melbourne Cup all over the internet and traditional media, so I’m not going to talk about it. I’ll leave it to others to talk about the winning horses, or talented trainers, or incredible jockeys.

Zap Fitness gym

Inside one of Zap’s many locations

I want to talk about something completely different. At about the time when Race 7 was stopping the nation, I was in a middle of my own race – on a treadmill in my local gym. Coincidently, there was a lot of people around me, who cared very little about the races, but who cared a lot about deadlifts, bicep curls and reps. While running, I was listening to  Lay Me Low – a great song by an extremely talented Nick Cave. I must’ve been hearing this song for the hundreds time, but for some reason, this was the time when something about the lyrics attracted my attention. In particular, these lines:

They will interview my teachers (Lay me low)
Who’ll say I was one of God’s sorrier creatures
They’ll print informative six-page features
When I go

 

This made me think – how many of us will merit a six-page feature when we go? How about a one page? Or even a single line? Too many of us go through life without really doing anything outstanding, without caring about what’s happening around them, without being a Somebody.

Freedom of thought

Engage your mind.

I remember years ago, as a young man I was working with a cynical old-timer. He used to tell me “Never get a reputation”. I asked him once, “Don’t you mean never get a bad reputation?” “No” he said, “never get a reputation of any kind. You will be expected to live up to it”.

Now decades later, listening to Nick Cave, I remembered this conversation and thought that I would rather, in a words of a song, Make a Stand. I would rather get a reputation.

Be known for something. Be known as someone.

Melbournians fallen victims of self-absorbed and disgruntled renegades with permanent chips on their shoulders

Another day, another industrial action by Melbourne’s Public Transport workers. Once again tens of thousands of people have been left stranded, inconvenienced, made hostages of the Unions.

Yarra Trams holding Melbournians hostage

Yarra Trams holding Melbournians hostage

Yesterday, for the fifth time in two weeks Melbournians fallen victims of self-absorbed and disgruntled renegades with permanent chips on their shoulders, otherwise known as Rail, Tram and Bus Union leadership.

Workers fighting for their rights and conditions is an important and necessary part of a democratic society.  Unless, of course, this fight becomes a nasty squabble and stops being a vehicle of progress.

 

 

So what do the Unions want?

They want 6% pay raise each year for three years (18% pay increase) for Yarra Tram and Metro employees. That’s on top of already generous pay increase they’ve negotiated in the last two Enterprise Agreements:

According to a report from 3AW tram and train drivers have received pay rises of 28 per cent in the past six years after negotiating two new EBAs since 2009.

What does the Metro Train management offer?

Another day, another industrial action

Another day, another industrial action

  • 13% pay raise over three years
  • Increased maternity leave from 12 to 14 weeks
  • Increased Carers leave from 1 week to 2 weeks
  • Up to 5 days of Bereavement leave
  • Trauma and Family violence leave
  • An option of when to take their five weeks annual leave

According to Yarra Trams, tram drivers, on average, currently take home $91,000, including penalties, bonuses and overtime. So we are not exactly talking about poverty-stricken segment of our society here.

 

It reminds me of when Telstra employees engaged in the rolling industrial strikes few years ago, after the Company and the Union failed to reach an agreement.

I’m sure you all remember it – tens of thousands of people lost their access to the internet, nobody could call their families overseas, people couldn’t withdraw cash from the ATMs and the entire police force went on leave, because no-one could call 000, remember? No? Because that’s not how it works when people taking industrial actions actually care about what they do and about their customers.

The problem is, the way I see it, that the Union bosses get joy from making life hard for businesses. They genuinely thrive on it, and are completely indifferent to the hardships their militant actions cause to country as a whole.

What’s even worse, they end up becoming a Labor Politicians and legislate to make it easier for their Union cronies to continue this vicious cycle!

Greste and his al-Jazeera colleagues are criminals who potentially endangered the lives of people of Egypt

Once again, I couldn’t help but laugh at the hypocrisy of the left-wing media.

Peter Greste in a nutshell- embarrassed to say "thanks" to his government

Peter Greste in a nutshell embarrassed to say “thanks” to his government

The same people who jump up and down at every opportunity – and often without one – to scream at us about the importance of free choice, democracy and the right to decide without undue interference, the same people are now shaking their fists at big bad wolf who almost swallowed poor innocent Little Red. I’m referring of course to the news of Peter Greste being sentenced by Egyptian authorities to 3 years in prison on terrorism charges.

It’s the Bali saga all over again. Australian citizens go to an independent sovereign country, break that country’s laws, get convicted, and this creates an absolute cacophony of voices trying to convince us that our fellow Aussies are just innocent victims of hostile foreign powers.

Am I missing something here? Greste decided to make a career as a journalist. Instead of doing something safe, like reportage from a chess championship, or from Melbourne Spring Festival, he chosen to travel to the country known for its instability. Regardless of what we might think of that country, it is a free, sovereign state with its own set of laws and its own judicial system.

Do the crime, do the time

Do the crime, do the time

Greste wasn’t triad by a kangaroo court. He went through the comprehensive investigation, discovery process and a trail.

It is a common knowledge, that not knowing the law does not free you from being accountable under that law.

Greste and his left wing cronies might think that he is an angel dragged down by the evil power, but in the eyes of the host country he and his two al-Jazeera colleagues are criminals who endangered the lives of people of that country.

Egypt is doing its hardest to combat the terrorist group known as Muslim Brotherhood, and arrogance and ignorance of media “professionals” like Greste doing a lot of damage to the long and hard process that the people of Egypt are currently undertaking.

My Thoughts on Europe’s Decision to Accept Terror

Once again, I am amazed at myself. I am amazed that after everything I’ve read, everything I’ve seen, everything I’ve experienced, I still get surprised by people’s stupidity.

This time, it is the collective stupidity of politicians forming the European Union. I call it stupidity, because if I start using words I really feel as adequate to describe them, this blog would have to come under the X-rated classification.

For number of years now I have been observing EU becoming more and more Left-wing, more and more moving towards the path of self-destruction, pursuing agenda of groups whose aim is to destroy progress.

This time EU managed to not only to put a noose around their own neck, but also to tighten it.

I am referring to EU Court’s order to the EU to drop the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas from its terrorist blacklist, and to European Parliament’s vote to recognize Palestine statehood ‘in principle’.

Did they even bother to look into the matter? Have the history taught them nothing?

Sweden – how soon you forgot about Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, an Iraqi-born Swedish citizen, who carried out the 2010 Stockholm bombings. He’s done it in the name of Jihad.

France – how soon you forgot about Air France Flight 8969. Or 1995 Paris Métro and RER bombings, both carried out by the Armed Islamic Group. Or The Toulouse and Montauban shootings, perpetrated by Mohammed Merah, French citizen, of Algerian descent. All this done in the name of Jihad.

Ireland – how soon you forgot one of your sons, James Foley – beheaded by an ISIS. Done in the name of Jihad.

terror at Lindt Cafe, Sydney siege

Lindt Cafe, Sydney siege

Now have a look at the extract from Hamas Charter:

“The Motto of Hamas: Allah is its Goal. The Messenger is its Leader. The Quran is its Constitution. Jihad is its methodology, and Death for the sake of Allah is its most coveted desire” Yes – Jihad.

Or maybe your lawmakers skipped this part of the Charter: “There is no solution to the Palestinian Problem except by Jihad. The initiatives, options, and international conferences are a waste of time and a kind of child’s play”.

Europe – ask yourself, what does Hamas mean by this: “In the shadow of Islam it is possible for the followers of the three religions-Islam, Christianity, and Judaism-to live in peace and harmony, and this peace and harmony is possible only under Islam”? I hope you are well prepared to live in the shadow of Sharia Law.

Now, I understand that Europe doesn’t care about the Jews – it never did. Europe was sitting by, idly watching 6 million Jews being slaughtered in Holocaust. Now, only 70 years later, Europe is quite happy to be a spectator in a next round of atrocities. There are only 3 problems with it.

The first one – terrorists will NOT let you to be just a spectator. When Hitler started his march across the Europe, he begun by promising that his ideas are only directed against Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals and communists. 60 Million people had to die, before the monster was stopped.

The second one – you will not be spared. Lets consult the Hamas Charter once again: There are “secret organizations throughout the world to destroy societies and promote the Zionist cause; these organizations include the Freemasons, the Rotary and Lions clubs, and other”. There are close to half a million Freemasons in UK alone. Lions club members – 1.36 million members worldwide. Rotary clubs account for about 1.2 million members worldwide. Hamas’ aim is to murder all these millions of innocent people.

Western Wall, Jerusalem

Western Wall, Jerusalem

The third one – the Jews are not that easy to kill any more. They proved it time and time again defending their homeland from Muslim aggression.

I would like to finish by quoting the Reverend Charles F. Aked- “It has been said that for evil men to accomplish their purpose it is only necessary that good men should do nothing.”

My Musings on Visiting Australian Parliament

A couple of weeks ago I had an opportunity to visit Canberra. The main reason for the visit was to see the exhibition that is currently at the National Gallery of Australia – Gold and the Incas. A word of advice – if you are in Canberra before the 21st of April, do yourself a favour and find 2-3 hours to include it in your itinerary.

One of the days, while doing our touristy thing,  we had few hours to kill and so decided to visit the nerve centre, the brain of our government, the place where the decisions making Australia “The Lucky Country” are made.

Parliament of Australia

Parliament of Australia

I am referring of course to Australian Federal Parliament. The complex is impressive – situated on top of a hill it looks elegant and imposing at the same time. Once inside, it’s still pretty impressive, but it also all business – security staff checking people out, some foreign delegations being escorted in, Parliament staff move around with a purposeful look on their faces… The place positively pulsates with energy; you can almost hear Edmund Barton stressing importance of the strong defence in his 1901 speech, or Gough Whitlam telling the Parliament “Australia needs change. Australia needs reform. Australia needs idealism. Australia does not need socialism” in his speech in 1975.

So you can imagine the feeling of anticipation I had as the door into the visitor’s gallery of a House of Representative opened and we quietly stepped in….only to see an almost empty chamber. The Deputy Speaker was there, as were 1 (one) member of Liberal Party and 1 (one) member of a Labor Party. The bubble popped, the feeling of anticipation got replaced by the one of bewilderment.

After listening to the two of them having a go at each other for a while, we walked out and decided that surely in the Senate there will be more activity. We were right. There was more activity, but only marginally. There was a Deputy Speaker, 3 members of Liberal Party, 2 members of Labor Party and 2 members of Greens. What I found incredible, was the fact that one of the Greens was totally engrossed in checking out Facebook on his iPAD.

I walked out of there in disgust. Instead of a hive of activity all I’ve witnessed were few people pretending to care, and one who didn’t even bother to pretend.

Parliament at night

Parliament at night

Now, I understand that there might be a reason for all the politicians to be absent – some might be busy in subcommittees, some meeting their constituents, others researching something in a Parliament library. But that’s just it – we have no way of actually KNOWING what our elected officials are doing.

What we need is a system that will make them accountable. What we need is a system that will record how many times each of them was present during the sitting of the Parliament, and for how long. We need a system that will record how many times each of them voted and how did he or she cast their vote. I’m not really a whinger, but shouldn’t our elected leaders be accountable to us for everything they do? In my work we have such terms as KPI Key Performance Indicators and OLA Operational Level Agreement. We need something similar introduced for our politicians. If they are missing Parliament without good excuse, they automatically not eligible for re-election. If they vote in a way that contradicts their pre-election promises, they automatically not eligible for re-election.

To put simply, we need a system to keep the bastards honest.

Your Local School – Rewarding Experience or a Danger Zone?

Our Victorian Government announced extension to nominations and applications for the Victorian Education Excellence Awards.

This award is there to celebrate outstanding achievements of teaches and education support staff in Victorian government schools. What I like about it, is that parents and students are also eligible to nominate. This is a great opportunity for a wider school community to show their appreciation for teachers and other staff who are genially there for one reason, and one reason only – to give their best to our children.

Victorian Education Excellence Awards

Victorian Education Excellence Awards

This award should not limited to a school principal nominating who s/he thinks is a good teacher; or just looking for a way to give “the right person” a $50,000 bonus. It should not be limited to teachers doing favours to each other (you nominate me this year and I’ll nominate you the next).

As parents, we are the ones who ultimately responsible for bringing our kids up, for making sure they get the best education available. Who better than to assess the teaching efforts? Who will only nominate teachers that bring out the best in their children? So take this opportunity, weight all the candidates at your child’s school, think it thru and do your bit to make sure that the winner of this award is a truly Excellent educator.

While looking through internet pages, reading up on this Excellence Award, I’ve noticed quite a bit of excitement around the other bit of school-related issue – plans to install CCTV cameras in government schools. I almost skipped this news, until my eyes stumbled upon the main reason for the cameras…. apparently, it’s to reduce the number of attacks on school principals. Who would’ve thought that being surrounded by a bunch of seven-year-olds can be so dangerous? All jokes aside, being a principle of a Victorian school is a life-threatening occupation. The Australian Principals Federation even has a study from the Monash Uni to back it up. What’s in this study? Well, according to ABC, school principals were five times more likely to face threats of violence than the general population . Not to be outdone, The Age informs us that Australian principals experienced physical violence at more than six times the rate of the general population. I personally prefer the take on the matter by The Australian – they clearly are more serious about this whole issue than the rest. According to them, school principals were seven times more likely to experience physical violence than the general public. Seriously though, why would anyone attack a school principal? I remember a principal of Mordialloc Primary School back in the 90th, and a principal of Parkdale Secondary at the same time – no one would EVER even think of attacking these principals, because everyone in a wider community knew that these men live a breeze their schools.

CCTV in schools

CCTV in schools

So why the sudden fear of attacks? Is it because we are faced with a generation of violent, irresponsible parents? Or is it because the schools today quickly becoming a safe heaven for rejects, people who have this perverted idea of teaching being nothing more than a profession with a really long summer holidays?

Maybe it’s because some teachers don’t know how to spell, and feel intimidated by parents (and children) who do? Or maybe it’s because some teachers feel that they are allowed to bully their students?

Or maybe the real reason is that the principals are scared more of getting in trouble with the Australian Education Union for kicking out under-performing teachers , than they are scared of unruly parents?

Becoming a Lucky Country

A couple of days ago I read an article about a Sydney woman being attacked on a busy street, with not one of the dozens of bystanders coming to her rescue. Luckily for her, the attackers changed their minds when she started shouting and screaming for help.

That got me thinking….why? Why all those people ignored woman’s cry for help? What happened to the notion of helping a “Damsel in distress”? As I was thinking about it, it occurred to me that there is no one simple answer to it. Rather, it is a combination of different ways in which we, as society failed ourselves.

The most obvious reason for people’s non involvement is the most basic of the feelings – fear. Not everyone can be a hero, not everyone is mentally prepared to face off with a car full of aggressive males. However, this is only true if you are alone. There were people in groups, able to match “body for body” the attackers.

I think the next 2 reasons are related to inadequacy of our legal system and the way we are bringing up our youth.

First let me explain my view on the legal side of things…

Good Samaritan

Good Samaritan

In Australia, the law is not geared towards protecting a Good Samaritan or encouraging a person to act as one.  NSW Civil Liability Act 2002 No 22 states that a good samaritan can be liable if he/she “failed to exercise reasonable care and skill in connection with the act…” What it really says is that you can pretend to be a Superman, or a Wonder Woman, only to have the dubious pleasure of being stabbed, or shot at, AND then being sued by the villain, or even the very victim you were trying to protect.

Further, Australia lags behind in introducing a law which would make it a legal requirement for citizens to assist people in distress. There are dozens of countries that have this law in place, some of them are Brazil, Denmark, Greece, Israel, Russia and Spain.

Which brings me to the second reason – the way we educate our young generation.

We are way too accepting, way too tolerant, even when acceptance and tolerance becoming synonyms for apathy and desertion. Our political correctness is going to cost us dearly.

King Hit - Coward Hit

King Hit – Coward Hit

Take recent attack at Canberra night club, which left its victim with a fracture to his eye socket, a fractured cheekbone, and bleeding from his forehead, nose, and lips. His attacker? Sentenced to eight months in jail, fully suspended. Suspended? How about showing that we are serious and locking the bastard up for 2-3 years, making sure he works his ass off?

Or how about our attitude towards drugs? Melbourne drug addicts might be in luck. Needle vending machines could be rolled out in Victoria this year. Because you know, those poor addicts, they need to do drugs outside of business hours too. How about showing that we are serious and locking them up until they are clean, making sure they work their asses off?

Now let’s move onto politics… MP Geoff Shaw investigated over claims he rorted taxpayer entitlements. MP Scott Driscoll  under fire over family business dealings. Former NSW MP Joe Tripodi faces ICAC investigation. Keilor MP George Seitz was under scrutiny as fraud squad investigates allegations that he misappropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars in gambling money. Those are the people who suppose to be our leaders and decision makers?

How possibly can our young understand what’s right and what’s wrong, if we keep sending them these mixed messages?

Now, I am not a whinger, but….why don’t we call things what they are: a bully, a corrupt politician (tautology?), a drug addict, a criminal. Maybe then our children will have at least a small chance to be able to tell right from wrong and maybe, just maybe we will be able to live in a country that once again will deserve the title of the Lucky Country.

Managing your own financial affair isn’t a rocket science.

I finally did it. With only 8 days till the deadline, I have submitted my Tax Return.

It was an intense 2 hours, skimming thru ATO’s regulations, digging out 12-months old receipts, generally trying to do the right thing.

Tax Time is the time to get involved

Tax Time is the time to get involved

All this made me remember doing my very first Tax Return, all those years ago. It used to be a very involved process. First, it required a visit to a Newsagency to pick up a copy of the Return, and to get a pack of smokes (I’ll need them). Then I needed to clean up the dining table, so I can spread all the papers out, next step was realising that I don’t have a black ink pen, so back to the Newsagency I go, getting a bottle of vodka from a bottle shop while I’m out (I’ll need it later too). Finally, about an hour after I’ve started filling in the form, I hopelessly stuffed it up. Stuffed it up to a point that I just knew that no amount of Whiteout would fix it. Which only meant one thing – another visit to the Newsagency, to get another blank form.

Back home with the form, thoroughly frustrated, I spend the next few hours doing my best impersonation of an old accountant. I grumble, I argue with the form I’m filling in, I’m yelling at my pen, I admonishing the receipt for deciding to play hide and seek with me.  At long last, it is done. Two sets of forms and a pack of smokes later, I feel totally exhausted, but my Tax Return is done. Now all that’s left to do is to jump in a car and drive to the local Tax Office branch to make sure my forms are there in time. By the end of the day, the place looked a lot like this:

Paperwork during tax time

Paperwork during tax time

 

Looking back at the way I did my first Tax Return, I suddenly realise that today’s tax affair is rather boring, uneventful, even dull.

After having a late breakfast on a Sunday morning, I downloaded eTax software from the ATO website, “digging out 12-months old receipts” in reality only took a couple of minutes, as most of them are electronically stored in my e-mail. No hunting for forms or for pens. No wasting time going to and from Newsagency. If a mistake is made, all it takes is to hit the Back button and correct the mistake. And once all is done, getting the information to the Tax Office is as easy as pressing the Lodgement button.

All this makes me wonder why would people pay hundreds of dollars to have their basic Tax Returns done by accountants? Unless you have a complex financial portfolio consisting of investment properties, shares, running a couple of small businesses, you don’t really need anyone sticking their nose in our financial affairs. Think about it – a lot of people would pay a few hundred dollars to an accountant, just to have a couple of hundred dollars in tax return. next year, why don’t you give it a go and try doing it yourself. After all, if you were smart enough to have finished high school, you are smart enough to manage your own Tax Return.

Putin’s nomination for Nobel Peace Prize

OK, I admit it. I am a big fan of a current Tsar of Russia, Vladimir Putin. So it would come as no surprise that when I’ve heard about Putin being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, I just jumped at an opportunity to write about this deserving man receiving equally deserving prize.

Putin nominated for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize

Russian Tzar is nominated for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize

Everyone knows about The Nobel Prize. But what is the criteria to get nominated for such a prestigious award? Here is what it says: The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses”.

It makes sense then, that the latest nominee is the Russia’s darling, Vladimir Putin. After all, supplying weapons to regimes known for their genocidal tendencies is totally in line with “reduction of standing armies” – with enough weapons you can reduce any opposing army, right? It is during Putin’s administration that Syrian rebels received supplies of high-grade weapons. It is also during his administration that the conflict between Russia and Chechnya escalated to its highest form.

So why did he get nominated? Did someone make a mistake? A once-off lapse of judgement? Hardly. Unfortunately, The Nobel Prize became too much of a political tool and not enough of an instrument by which true peace achievements can be recognised.

Lets have a look at a few other Laureates, whose achievements are controversial to say the least…

2009 – Barak Obama. Yes, he is a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Deserving choice, some might say. It would be, if it wasn’t for the fact that he got nominated only 12 days after taking office. I wonder what outstanding things he’s done in these first 12 days?

2004 – Wangari Maathai. Wangari is Kenyan environmental and political activist. Controversy? She has been accused of claiming HIV/Aids was spread deliberately in Africa by Western scientists.

Anwar Sadat - Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Anwar Sadat – Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

1978 – Anwar Sadat. The President of Egypt received this honour for his part in negotiating the peace agreement with Israel, known as Camp David Agreement. What’s interesting is the reason he got involved in the talks in a first place….Egypt attacked Israel, got their ass kicked by Israelis and had no choice but sit at the table and negotiate.

1973 – Henry Kissinger. Reason? His role in Paris Peace Accords.  What wasn’t mentioned during the nomination is that Kissinger instituted the secret 1969–1975 campaign of bombing against infiltrating NVA in Cambodia.

Putin’s nomination gives him an honor of joining other nominees: Tzar Nicholai II, Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler. It also proves once again that anyone can be nominated. The Nobel Prize has become nothing more than a popularity award. It makes me think that Nobel Prize these days is just like the Logie Awards… makes the winners feel all warm and fuzzy, but doesn’t really mean anything to anyone else.

Logies Award or Nobel Prize?

Logies Award or Nobel Prize?

 

My Mum Gave me Drugs, or Why Our Athletes Choose to Cheat

Australian sport is going from one drug related scandal to another. In a last few months we’ve heard all about Cronulla Sharks, Essendon Bombers, and now Sydney Roosters looking down the barrel of the ACC’s investigation. I don’t think anyone’s really surprised anymore to hear about yet another drug scandal in sport.

Of course, nothing’s new under the sun. We all remember Ben Cousins’ drug scandal in 2007, Shane Warne’s ‘My mum gave it to me’ saga (did anyone actually believe that one?), Tour de France’s greats Lance Armstrong shocking allegations of 2011, and Floyd Landis before him, back in 2006. One good thing that came out of drugs scandals in Tour de France, is the numerous jokes it generated. Here are just a couple: “Amsterdam is like a Tour de France. Just a lot of people on drugs riding bikes.”

Drugs in sport

Drugs in sport

All this got me thinking. I understand the motive behind the decision to cheat. For some, it’s the ambition to be number one, for others it is the temptation of money, for yet others it’s the promise of fame. So when did it all start? When did the sport lose its purity?

The sad truth is, it all started millennia ago. In ancient Greece, the original Olympians used extracts of mushrooms and certain plants to create performance enhancing mixtures. During Roman period, gladiators were given drugs to make their fights more “spectacular”.

Drugs in sport

Cheat to Win

Once again, I am not a whinger, BUT… Here’s what I don’t get- why would anyone with half a brain risk taking drugs? Forget about the issues of morality, honesty and integrity. I’m talking about the health risks that associated with drug use. It should be obvious to anyone that long-term negative effects of drug use outweigh any dubious short-term “benefits”.

And just to finish it off:

A female athlete is preparing for the Olympics. She goes to the coach and complains about the tablets he is making her take.

“They are causing hair to grow on my breasts.”

“Ah whats the problem, a little bit of downy hair. everyone has a few little hairs’

“They are not downy and they are not little and they are not a few’

“Well exactly how much is there?’

“They grow all the way down to my balls, and that’s something else I want to talk to you about’

Is there such thing as bad publicity?

For me, TV is an endless source of entertainment, amusement, frustration and, surprise, surprise – material for my blog.

The latest “light bulb” idea comes after watching an Old El Paso ad, the one advertising Mexican Rice Kits. Apparently, Mexicans are a backwards people, complete baboons, who just recently discovered what to do with forks.

It got me thinking: do we really need this kind of racist advertising to push a product? And what other ads are out there, playing on our feelings of superiority towards other races?

I found quite a few examples of what can be construed as racist advertising. One of the oldest ones is a Jell-O ad from the 60’s, implying that if it wasn’t for the Western Civilization, Japanese still wouldn’t know what a spoon is. Another one is a South Oak Dodge ad – again having a go at Japanese. All those imported cars must be really pissing that guy off.  Not to be outdone, the Japanese advertising for the Play Station Portable White is pushing the limits of advertising. Italians contribute to the list with the ad for Coloreria Italiana. Closer to home, KFC had to pull down its ad depicting a white Aussie cricket fan, offering fried chicken to West Indies supporters. What’s interesting here, is that this ad was deemed racist over in America, but in Australia we just laughed it off as an example of Australian humour. To be honest, I don’t get what the problem is – the guy is sharing his food with his mates…we’re all mates, aren’t we?

Dick Smith Australia Day

Dick Smith Australia Day ad

And what about the infamous Australia Day ad from an Aussie icon Dick Smith? I mean, seriously, who doesn’t like some dick?

Just to finish it off, here is an ad from Volkswagen, promoting its new model VW Polo. In this commercial German car maker is stereotyping Muslims as terrorists. It’s actually funny coming from Volkswagen, the company with really close ties with Nazis and Hitler.

I’m sure there are plenty more of these ads out there. Some are actually racist, some borderline so, and some are just labelled as racist by bigots or people with no sense of humour.

I am not a whinger, but it is a Politically Correct world we live in, where making fun of other people’s race or religion is frowned upon. Unless you are an Aussie, of course. In Australia, we are allowed, no – expected, to take a piss out of everyone. Anything less would be un-Australian.

As for everyone else – avoid the dangers of being labelled a racist and stick to the good old axiom that “sex sells” and play it safe.

Sex Sells

Sex Sells

Faceless men, or who is in control of Australian Labor Party.

The dust has settled on Federal Elections, winners are grinners, losers are licking their wounds, for the rest of us, it’s back to normal lives.

But before I put the issue of politics to rest, I would like to ponder one question which was bothering me for a while now. I blame Julia Gillard for it, for it was on her watch that the term, well-known in Australian politics since the early 60th found its way into the spotlight again.

I am talking, of course about the Faceless Men.

Faceless Men of Australian Labor Party

Faceless Men of Australian Labor Part

First of all, who are they?

Paul Howes      National Secretary of The Australian Workers’ Union
Bill Shorten      Secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union
David Feeney  Transport Workers Union
Mark Arbib      Actively involved in the trade union movement during early career
Don Farrell       Former trade union leader
According to ABS, there were 1.8 million people in August 2012 who were trade union members. So my question is: how do 5 faceless men, representing just 1.8 million or less than 8% of Australians manage to twist and turn Canberra political landscape any way they want?
Well, these 5 men are all trade union activists through and through.

Former Faceless Man, now in a running to become our next Prime Minister

Former Faceless Man, now in a running to become our next Prime Minister

To truly understand Labor Party and where power lies, it is necessary to have a look at the party’s structural link with trade unions. Trade unions select 50 per cent of the delegates to the party’s state conferences. Delegate numbers are assigned to a union based on that union’s number of members. The delegation’s makeup is determined by the union secretary. At the conference, these delegates sit together and vote as one, as directed by the union secretary, enabling the secretary to bargain with other powerbrokers to win their hoard of votes.
As one of the Party’s former leaders Arthur Calwell once said,The Labor Party was founded by trade unions and nobody else. It has always been based on the trade union movement. It can never rest on any other foundation and still be the Labor Party”.

Now, I’m not a whinger, but…..if Australian Labor party wants to remain relevant it should have a look at the way it operates, and ask why in the last election they lost so many votes. It’s not because Liberal Party is so much better. It is because the people of Australia are sick and tired of voting for a party that exists not to benefit all of us, but to serve selfish interests of a few faceless men.

Comedy Festival started early, or My Recollection of last night’s Election.

It is coming up to 6 pm and all the channels on TV are doing election special. We don’t know any results as yet, they haven’t even started counting, but everyone feels qualified enough to make predictions and to tell us that Abbot is going to be the new king….I mean Prime Minister. Maybe it is just my male gene, or maybe it is my desire to get as many opinions as possible, but I keep flicking from one channel to another.

On 7 it’s rather a small affair, with only Alexander Downer showing any sparks of intelligence. On 9 my favorite is Amanda Vanstone-she’s quite witty, quick with a joke and doesn’t mind a bit of tongue lashing. Another almost iconic presence  is Laurie Oakes, who looks like it’s all just a tad too fast paced for him. He used to be almost brilliant, but I think it’s about time we let the old war horse rest. Peter Costello is also there, looking like he’s struggling to keep up. Hard to believe that he was one of the best treasures this country had ever known. Moving on to channel 10, it’s The Project. I’m not their biggest fan even on a good day, and on a day of election they are even worse. Producers should seriously bring some one to the show whose IQ is higher than their shoe size. I’ve attempted to watch ABC coverage as well, but for some reason I can never get it to work on my TV. So I’m just going to assume that it had its usual left-wing aligned coverage.

election 2013

image thanks to news.com.au

Now, I’m not a whinger, but can some one please tell me: I understand that election is an important day on our political calendar, but why do all the channels feel the need to start broadcasting hours and hours before we even start counting? No sane person can possibly maintain interest for that long. My mind switched off after about 30 minutes of speculations, as did the sound on my TV, at which point I got a bottle of Brown Brothers Moscato out, and settled down to read Daniel Silva’s Moscow Rules.

Clive Palmer

Image courtesy of news.com.au

From time to time I was turning the TV sound back on, to get the updates on voting, and to check footy scores (sorry to all the Collingwood supporters, btw). Highlights of the election coverage for me? Palmer’s interview with Chanel 9 (I really hope he gets a seat in Parliament, for entertainment value, if nothing else) and all the losers being fed to the sharks by Chanel 7.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. My bottle of Moscato is empty, all the professional comedians are getting ready to run this beautiful country of ours, and I’m waiting for all the amateur comedians to descent onto Melbourne next March for the Comedy Festival 2014.

The Cost of Doing Business With Terrorists

The internet news services these last few days were alive with all the stories about UK selling chemical weapons to Syria (AFTER) the civil war there had already started.

Now, I’m not a whinger, BUT……WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING?!!!

Are we really consumed by greed THAT much? Quick search on Google says “yes, we are”. Here are just some examples of international madness, or as some prefer to call it, business…

Attack Helicopter

We build deadly weapons. Sell them to the bad guy.

Russia sells nuclear technology and weapons to Iran. Threatens to sell offensive weapons to Syria’s Assad if European Union will supply weapons to the rebels. More on Russia’s trades: it’s key arms customers are reportedly Syria , Malaysia, Venezuela, Algeria, China and Vietnam.

But I guess, what can else can you expect from the big bad russkies, right? Surely, our democratic, progressive-thinking western governments are opposing this madness?

Hardly.

USA’s biggest arms buyer is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. During the infighting between the forces of Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood, US delivered four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt. The Pentagon is looking at sending $US2.7 billion in weapons to Iraq, despite the country being on the verge of civil war. The US and Britain sold Saddam Hussein the technology and materials Iraq needed to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction. Then they went to war with Saddam, looking for Weapons of Mass Disruption.

War is good for business

War is good for business

The UK Government has issued more than 3,000 export licences for military and intelligence equipment worth a total of £12.3bn to countries which are on its own official list for human rights abuses. In 2009 Britain sold £16.4m worth of arms to Egypt.

France selling to United Arab Emirates 700 million euro worth of two spy satellites. It’s not just satellites that have been sold, but also access to image processing software, the training of specialists in intelligence analysis, transmission systems and encryption .” It’s a well-known fact that French supported Iraq during the Iran–Iraq war.

As I was writing this post, I found an interesting tweet, alerting me to an article in the Examiner. Apparently, Syrian rebels admit that a gas attack was a result of mishandling chemical weapons. This is a perfect example of why this kind of weapons should NEVER be sold to any government or opposition in places like Syria, or Saudi Arabia, or Iran…the list goes on and on. 

I know that selling weapons is a big business, bringing a lot of money to companies and governments selling them, but at what cost?

Maybe we should stop sometimes and think beyond our greed, beyond immediate profit, and try to do the right thing, act responsibly to assure our children’s future.

Election, or A Right to Lead a Country

Australia’s election campaign is in full swing, and all the politicians are out there, trying to win as many votes as they can. Or at least to stop their competitors from winning extra votes. I think that was the main reason behind the statement made by Palmer with regards to experience (or a lack of) of current cabinet members of the Labor Party.

Australian Parliament

Australian Parliament

Palmer said something along the lines that all the Labor politicians combined only have about 15 years of real life work experience. His criteria were – any Union or Government related job wasn’t counted as experience, and neither anything in legal profession.

It sounded too far-fetched to me, so I’ve decided to check it out myself. Here’s the result of my investigation….

The break-down of Labor Cabinet:

Anthony Albanese            Deputy Prime Minister of Australia and the Deputy Leader of                                                     the Labor Party. He is also the Minister for Infrastructure and                                                   Transport, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and                                                     the Digital Economy and the Leader of the House of                                                                     Representatives.

Years of prior experience:    2 years  Commonwealth Bank

Kevin Rudd                        Prime Minister of Australia

Years of prior experience:   0 years

Kim Carr                              Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research and                                                     Minister for Higher Education

Years of prior experience:  9 years secondary school teacher

Brendan O’Connor             Minister for Employment and the Minister for Skills and                                                             Training

Years of prior experience:  0 year

Richard Marles                  Minister for Trade

Years of prior experience: 4 years Slater and Gordon

Julie Collins                         Minister for Community Services, the Minister for Indigenous                                                   Employment and Economic Development, and the Minister for                                                   the Status of Women

Years of prior  experience:  Not clear, but no more than 5 years customer service and                                                           business support roles in real estate and energy environments.

Tanya Plibersek                 Minister for Health and Medical Research

Years of prior experience:  0 years

Joel Fitzgibbon                  Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Years of prior experience: Up to 5 years automotive electrician, electorate officer, part                                                      time technical education lecturer and small business operator

Gary Gray                           Minister for Resources and Energy, the Minister for Tourism,                                                     and the Minister for Small Business

Years of prior experience:  2 years BHP steelworks, and then at the Savings Bank of South                                                  Australia.

Mark Dreyfus                     Attorney-General of Australia,

Years of prior experience:  17 years lawyer

Mark Butler                        Minister for Climate Change and Minister for the Environment,                                                 Heritage and Water

Years of prior experience:  0 years

Bill Shorten                         Minister for Education and Minister for Employment and                                                            Workplace Relations.

Years of prior experience:  1.5 years lawyer

Catherine King                  Minister for Regional Australia, Local Government and                                                               Territories

Years of prior experience: Possible 2-3 years? social worker, research officer and public                                                       servant. social welfare sector in Ballarat

Tony Burke                        Minister for Immigration, Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship

Years of prior experience:  7 years posible work

Bob Carr                             Minister for Foreign Affairs

Years of prior experience:  2 years ABC radio

Jenny Macklin                    Minister for Families, Community Services and Indigenous                                                        Affairs and Minister for Disability Reform

Years of prior experience: 2 years researcher at the Australian National University

Stephen Smith                   Minister for Defence.

Years of prior experience: 4 years lawyer

Chris Bowen                      Treasurer of Australia

Years of prior experience:  2 years maybe in something related to economics?

Jacinta Collins                   Minister for Ageing and Mental Health

Years of prior experience: 0 years outside of Unions

Penny Wong                      Commonwealth Minister for Finance and Deregulation

Years of prior experience: 0 years

Australian Government

Politics is a funny business.

So here is the verdict:

Total of 65 years of work experience outside of politics spread between the 20 Members of Parliament (and I’ve been VERY generous). This is just over 3 years of experience per politician before we let these people to run the country.

Now, I’m not a whinger, BUT….Is it any wonder that our country’s economy and domestic and foreign policies are up the proverbial creek?

Global Warming or Global Con?

A couple of days ago I read this story on ABC about new study showing that one of the major influences in climate change debate  –Earth’s oceans, weren’t included as component of the overall theory.

That got me thinking. Someone out there is paying big bucks for all these studies. Studies proving beyond any doubt that our planet’s climate is getting hotter. Studies proving just as convincingly that the Earth is perfectly fine and we are doing great job at looking after our global home.

Global Warming

Image courtesy of nuttakit / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So apart from all the tree-hugging greenies, who get all warm and fuzzy at the very thought of saving the planet, or the whales, or the orangutans, or the albatross, or the unicorns; apart from them, who benefits from these studies? I mean, if I have a business selling air-conditioners, I would feel inclined to sponsor a study into global warming. Yet, if I were running a business selling fur coats, I would back up a study into the Earth getting cooler.

But the question of financial backing is only part of the mystery here (although I really do want to know “who’s who in the zoo”).

The other burning question is why people who like to present themselves as advocates of the global warming theory are doing their best to produce as much CO2 as possible?

Al Gore

Image courtesy of James Barker/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The few most noticeable are:

  • John Travolta flying his own Boeing 707 – normal occupancy is 150 passengers.
  • Barbra Streisand is too important to fly commercial, so for a short flight Manchester to London, she opts for a private jet.
  • Sting’s band, The Police, labelled by environmental experts as the dirtiest in the world because of the amount of pollution.
  • Attendees of the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009 utilized 1200 limos and 140 private planes.
  • One of the most prominent “activists”, Al Gore is a firm believer in travelling by private jets.

Now, I’m not a whinger, but…. if you feel so strongly about preserving the future of our planet and want to reduce the CO2 footprint, here’s a word of advice: placing a sticker “Save the forests” on a back of your petrol-gushing 4WD is NOT helping your cause.

If you are serious about saving the world, get rid of your 4WD, get rid of your private jet and a stretch limo and try living what your preach.

Food that kills you, or food that helps you living longer

I was busy on my PC the other day, editing a video I filmed earlier and I had one of those infotainment shows on TV, just for a bit of a background noise. I wasn’t paying too much attention to the TV, until I’ve heard them saying that milk is bad for our health. By the time I found the remote control to adjust the volume, they already moved onto another
segment-“no loss of suction” vacuum cleaner, or maybe it was the Fat Trimmer, or ABRocker, or some other “must-have” invention. But my curiosity was now piqued. I wanted to know more about the dangers of milk and it’s by-products.

Cows are out to get us

Cows are out to get us

So naturally, I turned to my friend, Mister Know-It-All: Google. 
Sure enough, I find this article in Huffington Post telling me that Mark Hyman, MD warns us all about dangers of milk in his piece “Dairy: 6 Reasons You Should Avoid It at All Costs…” It sounded pretty serious, so I immediately decided to adjust my eating habits and exclude all dairy products from my diet. After all, there is plenty of other food out there, right? But just to be on a safe side, I decided to check what else can potentially kill me. Imagine my dismay when I realised that red meat increases my risk of dying by 13% (Thanks, LA Times and BBC News); fish in general is a big “no-no” according to Vreeland Clinic and PETA assures me that salmon is practically waiting to kill me.

At this point I’m starting to freak out. No meat, no fish, no dairy – that smells like a vegetarian diet to me and I DON’T DO VEGETERIAN!

What are we to do?

What are we to do?

Once the initial shock wore off, I decided to check what other people eat, in particular people in countries with a high life expectancy. So I’ve consulted with Wikipedia, and it informed me that among the top 10 countries with a high life expectancy are Andorra, France, Italy, Israel, and Spain – all Mediterranean countries, all famous for their
cuisine containing cheeses, lamb, fish. Another country on a list is Japan, and their love of fish is well known. Closer to home, Australia is also in a top 10 and we are famous for our seafood and our beef.

Now, I am not a whinger, but… I would really like to know one thing. All those “specialists”, all those so-called “gurus” go out and disseminate the message of doom and gloom. Why? What do they stand to gain? Who paid for their “research”?