Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Facebook won't remove abuse page targeting Aborigines

I can't find the page concerned so maybe it has now been blocked or taken down.  I guess we must not be allowed to make our own judgments of the matter.  But there have been frequent media reports of high rates of criminality and alcohol abuse among Aborigines so I am inclined to suspect that truth might have been a defence to what the page said

FACEBOOK is continuing to defy petitions to remove an Australian "fan page" dedicated to stereotyping Aborigines as hopeless drunks.

The page, which has more than 4000 "likes", posts pictures of indigenous people with captions that some Facebook users say are offensive and, in some cases, hate speech, The Australian reports.

"How do you kill 1000 flies at once? Slap me in the face," reads one of the photo captions.

The page, created on on June 4, has attracted hundreds of vitriolic comments on at least a dozen offensive posts.

 Other Facebook users have created online petitions calling for the page to be removed.

 One campaign titled "Take down racist Facebook page" has 10 signatures, while another has 31 members.

The outrage has spread to Twitter with numerous people calling for the page to be shut  down.

 A Facebook spokeswoman told The Australian the site had no current plans to take action.

Aboriginal elder Ian Hunter, from the Wurundjeri tribe, said he wasn’t opposed to Aboriginal humour but was offended by the anonymous posts on the page.

 “If it is another Aboriginal person I don’t have any problems but if it is a so-called redneck putting these things up on the internet I’m offended by it,” Mr Hunter said.


'WE ARE NOT MUSEUM PIECES': Aboriginal Elders blast Greens crusader Bob Brown

An Aboriginal elder in Western Australia's Kimberley region has hand-delivered a stinging letter to Bob Brown, urging the former Greens leader to back off from his protest against a major gas project.

In the letter, Jabirr Jabirr elder Rita Augustine tells Mr Brown that "The only thing we need saving from is people who disrespect our decisions and want to see our people locked up in a wilderness and treated as museum pieces".

She also says, "what saddens me most is your complete disregard for Aboriginal people. I know you care about the whales and the dinosaur footprints, but what about people?"

Mr Brown joined the environmental activist group Sea Shepherd this week as mission leader of a two week trip in the whale calving grounds around James Price Point, site of the proposed $45 billion Browse gas development.

The Browse project was negotiated in conjunction with Woodside, the WA Government and the Kimberley Land council (KLC), which is the native title representative body for Kimberley traditional owners.

As part of the deal, traditional owners in the Kimberley will receive a whopping $1.5 billion in assistance over the next 30 years. The money will go towards housing, education and health programs and will go directly to the people rather than being funnelled through the KLC.

Traditional owners told that they accept the Browse project will be "a minor environmental hit", but they believe it was wiser to negotiate one massive development rather than as many as 20 smaller projects up and down the coast.

But there remains opposition to the Browse project from the local Goolarabooloo people, who share the same native title claim as Rita Augustine's group, the Jabirr Jabirr.

It is the Goolarabooloo people who invited Brown on the Sea Shepherd mission, and the two groups may be set for a legal showdown.


Queensland Premier Campbell Newman to defy union and poll members

PUBLIC servants will be polled by the State Government on a new pay deal as early as this Thursday in an effort to resolve the potentially damaging deadlock.

The public sector union Together were expecting the government to ballot workers on the new pay deal from this Thursday, to try to reach agreement without union involvement.

A direct ballot of employees is allowed under new Industrial Relations laws passed by the Government in June.

Yesterday a government source said they believed the ballot would reveal the majority of public servants supported the pay offer.

But Mr Scott said he believed the ballot would show the union was more on touch with its members than the government was with its workforce.

"This will become a referendum on whether they trust the Campbell Newman leadership, and a referendum on the way that this government is governing Queensland," he said.

Together Queensland would suspend any industrial action for the duration of the ballot, expected to be two weeks, Mr Scott said.

The union dared the Queensland government to take the new pay offer directly to public servants,  and expects it will be roundly rejected.

The public sector union Together says the new offer restores conditions that were stripped away and would have amounted to a pay cut for public servants.

A government spokesman has told AAP the new deal will mean a 2.2 per cent pay rise, something Together secretary Alex Scott says is a step in the right direction.

But he says members will almost certainly reject it because it appears to do nothing to address their primary concern - job security.

Mr Scott dared the government to take the offer directly to a workers' ballot, which it can now do under changes to industrial relations laws.

"We would certainly be very surprised if members accepted it," he told AAP.

The State Government is offering a new pay deal this week designed to break the deadlock.

The new offer retains the 2.2 per cent a year pay rise but does not include the freeze on pay level rises that unions had strongly condemned.

It comes after a volatile week in which unions threatened prolonged strikes in response to a new government directive that removed "employment security" from work agreements.


Former NSW Labor government:  Black loans, burnt boats and fast cars

Sir Lunchalot (Ian Macdonald) in happier days

A SPECTACULAR boat explosion, pointed guns, BRW rich listers and secret shareholdings in the British Virgin Islands are just some of the intriguing elements involving former government ministers, investors and controversial coalmining deals worth tens of millions of dollars.

The dramatic allegations of corruption against three former Labor ministers - Eddie Obeid, Ian Macdonald and Eric Roozendaal - are now part of an inquiry that will begin on November 1 and run at least until April.

At the heart of the investigations by the Independent Commission Against Corruption are the mysterious dealings involving the granting of coal exploration licences to friends and associates of the family of Labor kingpin Eddie Obeid, who quit politics last year.

Also under scrutiny is the disgraced former mining minister Ian Macdonald, whose department was responsible for awarding the licences. This will be the second ICAC inquiry into Mr Macdonald's alleged abuse of his government position to do favours for mates.

Last Friday ICAC began serving summonses on witnesses to give evidence at a public inquiry. Apart from the main players Mr Obeid, Mr Macdonald and Mr Roozendaal, the only one still in Parliament, there is a fascinating cast of support players.

Take Sydney playboy Justin Kennedy Lewis, 41, who is a close friend of Eddie Obeid's son Moses. Mr Lewis was one of those who, along with the Obeid family, bought land in the Bylong Valley, near Mudgee.

Like the Obeid family, Mr Lewis later received a multi-million-dollar windfall from Cascade Coal for an option over his property.

Friends of Moses Obeid claim he was furious when Mr Lewis then splashed out on a $500,000 Lamborghini Gallardo. "Mo said it was stupid of him to do that because it drew attention to himself," said an associate.

Documents tendered in a recent court case involving the Obeids show that in October 2010 an Obeid trust company made a $100,000 payment to Mr Lewis.

The previous year Mr Lewis received a $300,000 insurance payout after his seven-metre luxury yacht was destroyed by fire while in dry dock at the Rozelle Bay Superyacht Marina.

Associates of the Obeids have said the coalmining venture was an ill-kept secret and some of those who are alleged to have invested in it are colourful figures and sporting identities who are unhappy at the way things have panned out.

One insider has told the Herald he had a gun pointed at him in broad daylight after tensions boiled over. "Do you have any f---ing idea who you are dealing with!" he was told.

Of particular interest to the inquiry will be the identities of the investors in Cascade Coal, a private company that tried to sell its two coal licences - acquired for $1 million - to the publicly listed White Energy for $500 million.

Travers Duncan, Brian Flannery, John McGuigan, John Atkinson and John Kinghorn, through associated companies, were shareholders in Cascade Coal but they were also directors of White Energy. Duncan and Flannery are BRW rich-listers.

A backlash by White Energy shareholders resulted in the deal, which would have netted the five an estimated $60 million each, being scrapped. But who was to pocket the rest of the Cascade windfall remains a mystery as 40 per cent of the company is hidden through nominee companies.

When asked the identity of the other shareholders, Mr McGuigan said this year: "There's a bunch of, you know, well-known business people … I am not going into that because it is a private company."

Also of interest to the commission will be the Obeid associate Andrew Kaidbay.

While working as a mortgage broker at Yellow Brick Road with Mark Bouris's son Dane, Mr Kaidbay's $1 company successfully tendered for three of the 11 licences, despite having no experience in the resources industry.

Mr Kaidbay proceeded with only one licence. Shortly after its acquisition he sold most of his stake for $2.4 million to a big player, Coalworks.

Again, the identity of the shareholders, who still hold a minority stake in this coal licence and stand to make tens of millions of dollars if a mine goes into production, are hidden behind various companies.

One of these is registered at the office of the Obeid family's long-time accountant, Sid Sassine. The other is a company registered in the British Virgin Islands which belongs to Gardner Brook, an elusive merchant banker now living in Singapore. Mr Brook, then a Lehman Brothers executive, promised one prospective tenderer an inside run on the controversial Macdonald tender.


Global cooling hits my home town

IT felt like a fridge in parts of southeast Queensland this morning but clear skies and sunshine should keep daytime temperatures warm until Friday, when the Ekka south westerly hits the region.

The cool conditions are part of Brisbane's longest single-digit cold snap in 17 years, after 11 days straight where overnight temperatures haven't reached double figures, and it will continue into the Ekka tomorrow.

In Brisbane this morning the mercury bottomed out at 6.7C and 5.6C at the airport. At Archerfield temperatures dropped to 4.4C but Ipswich was -0.5C.

It was -3.9C at Oakey on the Darling Downs, -1C at Gatton and a freezing -4.6C at Applethorpe.

Coolangatta recorded an overnight minimum of 5.9C while the Sunshine Coast dropped to 6.1C early this morning.

Bureau meteorologist Amber Young said the cool nights and beautiful days were all thanks to a static weather pattern affecting the region for almost two weeks.

"There's been a persistent static pattern with stable conditions, clear skies overnight, very light winds and because there have been no showers and moisture around it has just been able to dry out, giving us dry air as well," she said.

"As a result of those three things, the temperature has been dropping out overnight. And we're seeing that further west and in inland parts as well, all the way to Mount Isa."

Despite cold overnight conditions, Brisbane's days have been fabulous.  It hit 23.1C yesterday and will get to 24C today and 26C tomorrow, the first day of the Ekka.[Show]

Weather bureau forecasters expect the temperature to ease to a chilly top of just 18C on Friday. Although it will remain sunny, it will be cold, with a substantial wind-chill factor.


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