At about 6:30am on Friday 17 May 2013 a truck collided with a car on the southbound lanes of Citylink approaching the Bolte Bridge. The truck was left hanging precariously from the freeway. The driver of the truck fell 15 metres onto the road below and is in a critical condition in hospital. I collated some tweets and photos from the incident on Storify. Most of the tweets and photos are from the MFB’s official Twitter account.
Following on from the list in 2011 and for several years before that, here is a list of movies I saw at the cinema in 2012. Unfortunately the list is a lot shorter than it has been in previous years. I hope it will be longer in 2013.
- The Ides of March
- Hugo 3D
- This Must Be the Place
- Wish You Were Here
- The Dark Knight Rises
- The Sapphires
- The Bourne Legacy
- The Wedding Party
- Safety Not Guaranteed
I haven’t seen enough movies to make a best of 2012 list, but I’ll just comment on a few of them. I loved the 3D cinematography of Hugo. The three Australian films I saw this year—Wish You Were Here, The Sapphires and The Wedding Party—were all quality productions. I also thought the indie sc-fi flick, Safety Not Guaranteed, was awesome.
The European Union (EU) has won the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize. A press release from the Nobel Committee cited the EU’s “[contribution] to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.”
I can see why the Nobel Committee have judged the EU to have made a significant contribution to peace. Europe is one of a few regions in the world where democracy and human rights are of a consistently high standard.
However, the Nobel Committee have a habit of awarding the prize to large institutions and establishment figures. That is what I have a problem with.
I don’t think the work of the European Union will significantly change as a result of receiving the prize. It doesn’t need the prize money. The award won’t really change its level of power and influence either.
The Nobel Committee should consider how much the recipient would benefit from the prize. For some recipients the attention generated by the award has made a significant contribution to their struggle.
When Bishop Carlos Belo and Xanana Gusmao received the award in 1996 many would have considered that independence for Timor-Leste was an unrealistic dream. Yet a few years later the people of Timor voted for their independence.
When His Holiness the Dalai Lama received the award in 1989 he was little known as was the struggle of the Tibetan people. Today the Dalai Lama is one of the world’s most well known religious leaders and the Tibetan cause has won worldwide support.
Liu Xiaobo still languishes in a prison cell since receiving the award in 2010. However, the prize has given him a level of recognition far greater than he would otherwise have had.
The Nobel Committee made a big mistake in awarding the prize to Barack Obama in 2009. Since becoming President of the United States, Obama has continued to support the US military in its so-called “war on terror” and done nothing to advance the cause of peace. Being elected to the White House holds an extraordinary amount of prestige and power. The Nobel Peace Prize doesn’t really add anything to that and it only discredits the award when that power is used for the opposite of peace.
Other recent recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize, such as Kofi Annan and the United Nations (UN), and Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), haven’t sullied the award in the way that Obama has. However, the award hasn’t necessarily increased the effectiveness of their work.
I wish the Nobel Committee had considered how much giving the award to Sima Samar would have contributed to the struggles of women and Hazaras in Afghanistan.
I wish the work of Gene Sharp could gain more recognition. This theorist of nonviolent revolution works from a small office with limited resources, yet his ideas have inspired change around the world.
Perhaps it is time to stop paying so much attention to the Nobel Peace Prize. There are many other awards that recognise the efforts of those that struggle for human rights, democracy and justice. There are the Right Livelihood Awards, also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize.” Sima Samar and Gene Sharp, both mentioned above, were recipients of the awards this year.
The Goldman Prize recognises the efforts of environmental activists. There are many other prizes that similarly recognise the work of grassroots activists. Recognition of these unknown champions of peace and justice will help them to achieve change.
Kanyini is a 2006 Australian documentary directed by Melanie Hogan. The documentary is based on an interview with Aboriginal elder Bob Randall interspersed with archival and contemporary footage.
Bob Randall is a Pitjantjatjara man. He grew up on the land around Uluru in Central Australia in the 1930s.
At the start of the documentary Bob talks about the meaning of home: “When I see Uluru I feel as though I am home. And that home is a comfortable, secure, relaxed feeling; mentally, spiritually, psychically as well as physically.” He goes on to articulate the deep sense of interconnectedness his people felt with the land.
The film is a rare opportunity to hear an Aboriginal elder talk so openly about their spiritual worldview. Bob speaks of it with a sense of openness, joy and compassion.
Bob then goes on to discuss the impacts of colonisation. He emphasises how it resulted in a loss of connectedness. There is an element of despair about how his people have become lost, but there is also a sense of hope that both black and white cultures can recover the spirit of connectedness. This is what makes the documentary so poignant: it communicates the great wisdom of Aboriginal cultures as well as explaining the impacts of colonisation and dispossession.
I just invested a small amount of money to support the making of a film via the crowdfunding website Pozible. The project is an independent, Australian science fiction film called Arrowhead. I’ve embedded the video of a short film above which is a teaser/pilot for the final product. It looks like the team behind the project should be able to come up with an interesting film on a shoestring budget.
Crowdfunding seems to have become a huge trend in the last couple of years. I have supported a few projects on Indiegogo and Pozible. My main interest in supporting people making films and music that otherwise might not get made. It is not really about profit, but connecting artists with fans. Over the years I have enjoyed a lot of indie music and films. I know that the artists make a lot of sacrifices and rarely get much financial reward for their efforts. Paying admission to live shows or film screenings is one way of supporting the artists. Crowdfunding adds another avenue of support.
Recently a project to manufacture a LED lightbulb made the news when it raised $270,000 of its $100,000 goal in just 24 hours on Kickstarter. Obviously the lightbulb was a great design and tapped into some good networks for support. However, I feel projects like this are not really in the spirit of crowdfunding. The lightbulb is obviously a product that could be manufactured in commercial quantities and return a good profit. As such it could be financed by venture capital or bank loans rather than crowdfunding.
When the amount of money involved in a crowdfunding project gets so large there is also a question about accountability. It is understandable when a small film project fails, but the producers are hardly going to get rich on a few thousand dollars of crowdfunding. However, what if a project raises hundreds of thousands of dollars and doesn’t get delivered? For this reason I will choose any projects I put my money into carefully.
There was a great interview with Gus Speth published on Grist today. Speth has worked in a number of important roles including as an environmental adviser to Presidents Carter and Clinton, Administrator of the United Nations Development Program and Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He is currently a professor at the Vermont Law School (Wikipedia). These are all credentials that make one very much part of the establishment. However, in recent years Speth has become a vocal critic of the political and economic status quo. His critique is spelt out in his most recent book America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy which also seeks to envision a brighter future.
In the interview published on Grist Speth doesn’t hesitate to criticise the environmental movement. He says:
Well, my sad conclusion is that the environmental community is stuck in a rut and losing. If we just keep doing what we’re doing now, without any growth in the economy and population, we’ll ruin the planet. And yet the environmental community is still mainly working within the ambit of the things that succeeded in the ’70s. The main line of environmentalism in the U.S. — the big national groups — were highly successful in the ’70s and did not make a series of strategic changes that were needed in the period that followed.
However, more importantly Speth offers some suggestions about how to achieve real change. He cites how the Occupy movement has put the issue of economic inequality on the agenda. He also credits Occupy for stirring up a ruckus and putting their bodies on the line in the same way the Civil Rights movement did in the 1960s.
Speth sees climate change as the critical issue. However, measures like a carbon tax are only part of the solution. He places more importance on genuine democratic reform to create a political system that can actually solve the problem. Continue Reading »
The violent protest in Sydney on Saturday involving a group of Muslims has sparked a plethora of commentary — both good and bad — in the media. In the midst of this media storm, which may well blow over in a few days, it is useful to focus on who is doing the talking. While the usual commentators will continue to get the column inches it is also important to hear the voices of the Muslim community directly. According to the 2011 census, 476,300 people, or 2.25% of the total Australian population were Muslims (Wikipedia).
I have compiled a list of Muslim Australians who have featured in some form of media and provide commentary on issues related to Islam. A few of these people have been quite prominent in the last few days. For example, Waleed Aly’s piece in the Fairfax papers and Mariam Veiszadeh has spoken on several ABC radio programs including Radio National’s Sunday Extra. This list is by no means complete. If you want to suggest any additional names just leave a comment or tweet me at @davidreid1.
- Samah Hadid (Director of the Global Poverty Project; Twitter: @samahhadid; website: http://samahhadid.com.au)
- Waleed Aly (lecturer at Monash University; presenter of Drive program on ABC Radio National)
- Mariam Veiszadeh (lawyer and human rights advocate; Twitter: @MariamVeiszadeh;website: http://mariamveiszadeh.com)
- Afroz Ali (Imam; website: http://afroz-ali.alghazzali.org/)
- Ed Husic (Federal Member for Chifley (Labor); Twitter: @edhusicMP; website: http://www.edhusic.com/)
- Susan Carland (sociologist at Monash University; Twitter: @SusanCarland; bio: http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s2521155.htm)
- Joseph Wakim (former Victorian Multicultural Affairs Commissioner; Twitter: @WakimJ; website: http://josephwakim.com.au/)
- Miran Hosny (law student and freelance writer; Twitter: @MiranHosny; website: http://miranhosny.wordpress.com)
- Samina Yasmeen (Director of Centre for Muslim States and Societies at UWA; bio: http://www.cmss.uwa.edu.au/welcome/people/samina_yasmeen)
- Randa Abdel-Fattah (writer and lawyer; Twitter: @RandaAFattah; website: http://www.randaabdelfattah.com)
- Shakira Hussein (researcher at University of Melbourne; Twitter: @shakirahussein)
- Sara Saleh (Chair of Australian Youth Forum; Twitter: @SarsSaleh)
Update: How did I forget Yalda Hakim, co-host of SBS Dateline.