Saturday, 28 July 2012

About a dead humpback, spin and vandals.

Howdy friends.

About a week ago I had 2 seconds of fame. I was at my desk finishing some notes for our enviro group when I received a call from the roving reporter from Channel Nine National News. That's CNNN not CNNNN.

She said 'I am in a helicopter hovering over the dead whale at Thunderpoint. Would you like to comment?' I said, ' Helicopter? Dead whale? Me?'

She explained that they were looking for a local environmentalist's perspective on the death of the whale and on the vandals who had stood on its carcass pretending to surf it and posted photos of the event on you tube.

I was taken by surprise but thought it might be a good opportunity to raise awareness about the effects that seismic testing and drilling for gas off our coast was having on whales and other sea animals who rely on sonar for migration.

When we met in Liebig St. I was faced with a camera and mic and she interviewed me for twenty minutes on the death of the whale. I didn't say that I knew exactly how the whale had died but rather, that the whale could easily have died because of seismic testing all along our coast and further out to sea.

Then she asked me what I thought of the vandals. 'Vandals?' I asked. She explained that the vandals on You Tube had caused an uproar and what did I think of the way they had desecrated the whale. I said I had no opinion on the vandals and that I was sure the authorities would deal with them appropriately.

She then asked me about the importance of whales to the local tourism industry. Each year we are visited by Southern Right whales who either give birth or nurse their young here in the ocean of the coast of Warrnambool. Many thousands of tourists come to us annually to watch the whales and their calves in the Lady Bay.

There was a silence and then I said 'Well, tourism is huge here in Warrnambool and we must be looking after and respecting our sea creatures because we depend on them for local revenue.'

And so, after a twenty minute interview, which two seconds was broadcasted around Australia? You guessed it. The two seconds about the vandals in which I was not actually talking about the vandals. Channel Nine wanted vandals so Channel Nine got vandals.

So next time you see any of our wonderful Green politicians on TV and they have two seconds to respond to a question, know that there is probably a twenty minute interview not being shown and their words are more than likely being taken out of context to fit the spin of the story.

The best two second bite I have heard was from Marcus Ward, our lead upper house candidate in the passed few Victorian elections. He was asked 'What's your response to those who say that Green policies are too extreme?' Marcus's face lit up and he said ' I say yes. They are EXTREMELY GOOD!'

What is spin anyway? I believe, it is when what you would like to say isn't necessarily what you can say or it is taking someone elses words and using them out of context to support your story.

So,  how does one use the media to best advantage?  You must be extremely adept at thinking on your feet and try to spin it right back at them. If, like me, you're not born with such skills, it takes very much practice to develop them. Bob Brown has become the king of frisbee spin. Now he's retired and using his hard earned skills as an activist.  Richard Di Natale seems to be a natural and Christine Milne practices it with steely determination.

I love the Greens.
Here is my very brief moment of fame.

Why Greens are Christians too. Why Greens are Catholics too. Why Greens are Muslims, Hindus, Bhuddists as well as athiests, pagans and scientists too.

I feel sad, frustrated and disturbed by the attitude of the conservative section of the Catholic Church toward the Greens

The Catholic heirarchy  of Australia have joined forces with ultra right wing political and ultra right evangelical lobbyists to fight the Greens.  ( For those who are unaware of this, the Catholic Education Department has sent letters to all schools advising parents not to vote Green. In the recent Melbourne by-election parish priests have told their congregations to vote Labor rather than Green. The result was that Cathy Oke Green candidate gained the largest primary vote but Labor, who courted the preferences of the SEX party, Family First and the LIBERALS who are their opposition, won on preferences. Unbelievable. )

Catholic hierarchy see the Greens as a threat to Catholicism but this is far from the truth. Greens policies are founded on the very core principles of Catholic teaching. See for yourselves!
Greens core beliefs:

Ecological sustainability
 Good economic management means taking care of our earth - not treating our most precious resources like a giant business in liquidation: ‘everything must go!’.  The levels of pollution in our atmosphere mean that business-as-usual will no longer work if we want to avoid dangerous climate change. The future for Australia can still be a prosperous one if we build our economy on green principles rather than short-term self-interest.

Grassroots participatory democracy
 Real progress comes when enough people believe it is possible to make a difference and decide to do something about it. All Greens members and supporters are driven by the desire to work towards a better Australia. In contrast to the two major parties, which are run by executives in head office, the Greens involve members in key decisions and our campaigns are powered by thousands of ordinary people volunteering their time, skills and support.

Social justice
 Many of the social problems we have today – crime, discrimination, disease, poverty – could be dramatically improved if we focus on eliminating extreme inequality in Australia and across the world. The Greens believe that it should be the priority of all governments to alleviate poverty and to extend opportunity to all members of society.

Peace and non-violence
 Australia’s foreign policy should be based on dialogue, diplomacy and cooperation, not aggression. Trying to prevent or counter violence with violence itself will not work. The Greens are committed to peaceful and non-violent solutions locally, nationally and internationally.

This is what the Catholic Peace and Social Justice Ministry, Catholic Diocese of Joliet Illinois says are the core principles of Catholicism. Sound familiar?
   Seven Core Values of Catholic Social Teaching
social justice education

Life and Dignity of the Human Person
Our belief in the sanctity of human life and the inherent dignity of the human person is the foundation of all the principles of our social teaching. We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.
Call to Family, Community, and Participation
Our tradition proclaims that the person is not only sacred but also social. How we organize our society – in economics and politics, in law and policy – directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in community. The family is the central social institution that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable. The role of government and other institutions is to protect and promote the common good.
Rights and Responsibilities
The Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Every person has a fundamental right to life and a right to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities – to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.
Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
Catholic teaching proclaims that a basic moral test is how our must vulnerable members are faring. In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.
The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers
We believe that the economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected – the right to productive work, to decent and fair wages, to organize and join unions, to private property, and to economic initiative.
Our culture is tempted to turn inward, becoming indifferent and sometimes isolationist in the face of international responsibilities. Catholic social teaching proclaims that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they live. Learning to practice the virtue of solidarity means learning that “loving our neighbor” has global dimensions in an interdependent world.
Care for God’s Creation
The Catholic tradition insists that we show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation.

Redacted from Sharing Catholic Social Teaching - Challenges and Directions, Reflections of the U.S. Catholic Bishops. 1998
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My Catholic faith inspired me to become a Green because I was drawn to these four philosophical pillars, especially the fundamental aspects of human rights which are pertinent to our treatment of asylum seekers, indigenous Australians, people with disabilities and same sex attracted people.

If the Church had not been hijacked by an ultra conservative element and had not consequently reneged on the agreements of its own bishops at the Second Vatican Council and proceeded to squeeze out nearly all of its inellectuals and progressive thinkers including people such as Fr. Paul Kelly and some Jesuits and bishops until those who remain are either ultra right wing, conservative reactionaries themselves or worse, too afraid to speak out; the Church and the Greens would find that they are almost entirely of one mind.

The issues that conservatives indicate as sticking points are abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia and funding to Catholic schools.

The Greens are not pro-abortion however, we are against the criminalisation of abortion. When abortion was illegal it caused many extreme health and social problems. Even Tony Abbott says that he would not want to criminalise abortion again. He agrees that it needs to be in the hands of the medical and educational professionals. Criminalising abortion does not make it go away. We do however agree that we do need to find an alternative to the large number of abortions in Australia per annum.

The Greens are not pro-euthanasia. Colleen Hartland introduced a 'Dying With Dignity Bill' which acknowledged the fact that, everyday, doctors and nurses help people to die with dignity by overdosing them on morphine. Their aim is to reduce pain but their actions are in fact illegal. The Dying With Dignity Bill aims to reduce the risk of doctors being sued for this common compassionate act, while at the same time giving patients a greater say in their medical treatment/palliative care.

The Greens policy does not intend to take all funding away from Catholic schools but rather to stop funding those profit making institutions which have plenty of resources and equipment such as Xavier, Genazzano, Scotch College and Trinity College. Low income, not for profit schools would be exempt.

And that leaves same sex marriage. The Church is happy enough to support a civil union for same sex couples but argues that it shouldn't be called marriage. Does that mean that civil unions are not considered marriage? Tell that to the many millions of men and women who have been married in registery offices around the world. A civil union is marriage. Even in the eyes of the church, a civil union is a marriage. I was taught that the sacrament of marriage takes place between a couple and God. The priest simply blesses the union. Why not bless a same sex couple who want to love, honour and cherish each other for the rest of their lives? Well? Who are they hurting? How does that hurt marriage?

And what of the children? There was a recent study done on child abuse in lesbian households. The study found that there was no child abuse amongst lesbians.

'Nuff said.
Lisa Owen

This is the community welcome on the church bulletin of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church Daytona Beach Florida. Go OLLC!

We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor, yo no habla Ingles. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rail or could afford to lose a few pounds.
We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or like our pastor who can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing,” just woke up or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church since little Joey’s Baptism.
We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like “organized religion,” we’ve been there too.
If you blew all your offering money at the dog track, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.
We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts … and you!


The Ballarat Diocesan Ecological Sustainability Group

Vision Statement


As part of God’s creation, humans are celebrated as a part of all creatures, the natural environment and the universe itself.  Genesis demands of humans that we look after and care for the Earth as ‘responsible stewards’.

In January 2001 Pope John Paul 11, in commenting on the environmental health of Earth stated that, “we immediately see that humanity has disappointed God’s expectations degrading that “flowerbed” which is the Earth, our dwelling place”. He called all humanity to avoid ecological “catastrophe” and called Catholics especially to an ‘ecological conversion”.

In an address in Berlin in 2011 Pope Benedict XVI said, “Young people had come to realize that something is wrong in our relationship with nature, that matter is not just raw material for us to shape at will, but that the earth has a dignity of its own and that we must follow its directives. If something is wrong in our relationship with reality, then we must all reflect seriously on the whole situation and we are all prompted to question the very foundations of our culture. The importance of ecology is no longer disputed. We must listen to the language of nature and we must answer accordingly.”

Our Vision

To foster and encourage communities to understand and embrace the ecological conversion at a local, national and world level

We aspire to achieve these objectives by promoting:

1)                 an environmental spirituality that is essential to the spiritual life of Church communities

2)                 the linkage between the sustainability of the environment and social, spiritual and physical health.

3)                 the attitude that a safe ecological environment is a universal right for all species including humans

4)                 the view that a sustainable ecology is required for present and future generations

5)                 that humankind has a duty to strive for a sustainable environment to overcome poverty and injustice.


We desire to sustain the ecological conversion called for by Pope John Paul 11 and achieve ecological sustainability, reduce the human ecological footprint and avoid the loss of ecosystems and species.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Welcome stranger

PEACE BE UNTO THEE, STRANGER by Ernest S Holmes 'The Science of Mind'

Peace be unto thee, stranger, enter and be not afraid.
I have left the gate open and thou art welcome to my home.
There is room in my house for all.
I have swept the hearth and lighted the fire.
The room is warm and cheerful and you will find comfort and rest within.
The table is laid and the fruits of Life are spread before thee.
The wine is here also, it sparkles in the light.
I have set a chair for you where the sunbeams dance through the shade.
Sit and rest and refresh your soul.
Eat of the fruit and drink the wine.
All, all is yours, and you are welcome.

Peter's Project will fix it!


Just as well I don't believe the letters to the editor in our local newspaper are truly representative, because if I did I'd think that the majority of the people in South West Victoria are climate change denying, refugee hating bigots, who are only interested in gambling, horse racing and jumping, football, sport, bringing back the death penalty, hunting, fishing, shooting (did I mention 'sport'?) and of course the issue embraced by everyone as virtuous and 'safe' by all sides of politics, Peter's Project.

Peter's Project is the campaign to build a cancer clinic and treatment centre in Warrnambool and its popularity is demonstrated by the number of photos in the paper of  the project's leader Vicky Jellie and also the many heart wrenching, feel good pictures supporting the campaign.  

I'm all for the cancer clinic. It has raised a lot of money and much awareness even though after 5 years, it hasn't yet reached its goal. The success of this campaign, at least as a media worthy topic, is of course due to the fact that cancer directly effects so many local people. No matter your colour, creed or political persuasion, everyone  is effected by this disease either personally or by association.

It is therefore a socially acceptable cause and consequently free of controversy. (I have met the odd naysayer but they are generally those who nay say about everything.) All politicians are quick to jump on board the 'Peter's Project' bandwagon (...despite the fact that neither side of politics have actually managed  to to make it happen. Get of yer soap box and actually do something I say!) with the most enthusiastic wagon jumper being the local newspaper.

The bottom line is, the non-threatening issue of Peter's Project... buys votes and sells newspapers. I know, I's the way of the world but I do so wish we could extend the same awarenesses to the many other important issues, that are actually causing cancer and  threatening our existence and the existence of life on Earth itself.

People are not as immediately aware of the effect that the environment is having on their lives and their health. They are not aware of the staggering increase in the rate of cancer over the passed 50 years from 1 in 50 to 1 in 3 women and 1 in 2 men, nor the link between the increased usage of insecticides, herbicides and all chemicals and the increased incidence of cancer in this agricultural region.

I digress. Back to the letters in the paper. If I believed that these letters truly represented the people of Warrnambool and environs, I would think the people of this region were actually contributing to, rather than helping to fix all the problems we face with the pollution of the Earth and resulting injustices to humanity. The letters reflect a degree of prejudice and selfishness that is shocking in the extreme. They actually demonstrate an attitude that I believe is...well...evil.

Last year, Matt Neal, a Standard journalist, posted a sensible opinion piece on the scientifically accepted issue of human induced climate change and said that for our common survival, we should have taken strong action on climate change years ago but have been stopped by corporate greed and its promotion of climate change denial, influencing many who really should know better. This article spawned a number of climate denial letters, some saying that human activity has had no effect on the climate whatsoever and that we should continue to pollute and exploit the earth; business as usual.

Sadly, many are beginning to believe the deniers. I think that this is partly due to laziness and the fact that if we could get away with it, we'd rather do nothing and carry on regardless. Hell, if I could, I'd rather do nothing and carry on regardless!

But, because of what I know and because I believe in risk management and because of the obvious increases in extreme weather events including bush fires, droughts, floods, hurricanes, fish kills and species extinction... I cannot ignore it.

I have life insurance and private health insurance not because I am sick but because I know that the likelihood is at some stage in my life, I will get sick and will need some financial help. I wear a seat belt because I know it will help me if I have an accident and I expect everyone else to do the same. That's why we legislated to make seat belts compulsory and I believe that's exactly what we need to do to deal with pollution and human induced climate change. If seat belts weren't compulsory with consequent fines, would people still use seat belts at all? The answer is, seat belts would probably only be used by the careful people among us and this is true too of climate change. Only the careful among us are actually trying to do something about it and most of them are also trying to have our legislation changed so that we can all try to do something about it.

The brutal fact is that if we don't go through the difficult process of changing our lives and legislation in order to fix climate change and stop polluting our world, our only home, it will kill us, our children and much of life on earth.
The more people who believe the deniers, the less action is taken to try to prevent the greatest threat to life on Earth: human induced climate change.

Where is the logic in taking no action when 98% of scientists tell us that if we don't, it will be very difficult for us to survive? Well? Anyone?

Why continue to pollute the Earth until the rate of cancer in humans is 100%? Anyone? No no...I understand. We must have horse jumping and better roads and no wind farms because wind farms are evil and we must be able to shoot every duck and kill every fish. Our fun is far more important than the survival of life on Earth. Absolutely...not!

Anyway, if the issue doesn't sell newspapers or win votes, especially in this country, then forget about it!