Is the Second Amendment anti democratic?

February 24, 2018
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The Pagoda of Buddhist temple near Sydney.

A long time ago now, my Australian friend was advised to make sure to be back at the hotel before 9pm. ‘It’s not safe in LA after that hour’, the hotel concierge told him. My friend did hear gun shots during the night. He very much enjoyed his visit to the US and thought the restriction of being back in the hotel before 9pm a somewhat quirky event that he still likes to regale to this day.

While the bearing of arms in the US is regarded as a democratic right protected by the constitution including the second amendment, I am beginning to wonder if it actually is so democratic. With a fear gripping the country where even children are afraid to attend schools. Is this freedom to bear arms now restricting the enjoyment of the free and democratic society that the US is so well known for?

“The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

This all very well, but what about the children? What about the children? This ‘freedom’ is killing them now and what are you going to do? You must know that more guns will kill more.  The statistics are apocalyptic and horrifying. It is now restricting your freedom, your people. You keep on putting trade restriction on North Korea because you feel they are a threat to your security, but what about your own internal security? The lack of security is rampant, and in the hands of assault weapons held by millions of citizens well within your own borders.

You are not a Cow-boy country anymore and the British ceased to be a threat. What and who are you so afraid of that makes you want to bear those Arms at forever increasing numbers? Just because it is in a constitution does that mean that no matter the effects to thousands of victims each year, this country is too lame now to change it?

I pray that at the next election the opponents of a US democracy,  including the NRA, will be taught a lesson they will never forget.

 

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Is killing children now the norm?

February 22, 2018

One doesn’t have to go to Syria to witness killings. Wave after wave of high tech bombers drop their loads on targets which are known to house civilians. They do this with pin-point laser guided precision. Words now fail the UN and many other peace organisations in condemning the slaughter. Footage on the News show, with regular monotony, civilians running and carrying the dead or wounded over piles of rubble. One gets the impression that  running hither and dither is about the only activity still possible. After all, some victims are being carried out of hospitals that were not spared the slaughter either. Where does one run to? If the world’s empathy hasn’t stopped the slaughter of innocents where does one go?

Of course, we don’t have to visit Syria for the slaughter of innocents. The US is in an even worse predicament, and the only war involved is the one of their own making. The Florida school massacre is one of the many school shootings that occur with the regularity and predictability of a grandfather’s clock ticking away. We know that from statistics and past massacres that they will continue. Knowing that, could one  ask if the killing of innocents in the US including the killing of children is now deliberate? Not doing anything by changing the law on gun ownership it must be known that school massacres will happen again. At present it happens about once a week, and since 2013 there have been 300 school shootings. More guns have been bought since, so, more shootings will happen. Guns do shoot!

https://everytownresearch.org/school-shootings/

Australia too, had its massacre. The Port Arthur Massacre

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Arthur_massacre_(Australia)

was the turning point and a law was passed in 1996 whereby guns would be bought back from the general population by the Government. It was called the Gun Buy Back programme. It was hugely successful and crimes and murder involving guns dropped immediately. Every now and then a moratorium enables another period to continue buying back arms whereby guns that have entered Australia illegally can be bought up again. No questions asked. It is sensible and saves lives. The original change of law in Australia was established by a conservative Government.

What happened after the gun buy back was introduced in Australia?

From Wikipedia.

“Australian independence didn’t end. Tyranny didn’t come. Australians still hunted and explored and big-wave surfed to their hearts’ content. Their economy didn’t crash; Invaders never arrived. Violence, in many forms, went down across the country, not up. Somehow, lawmakers on either side of the gun debate managed to get along and legislate.”

The latest from the US;

D. Trump while listening to a delegation of students from different schools, suggested he is willing to look at arming teachers and have trained guards patrolling the schools. He is knowingly advocating that more school children will get killed! He must know that.

There was a snippet of hope when reading that one man who was very pro gun, deciding he had enough of the killings and publicly cut his gun in three pieces. It is now going viral on the internet. It is a start!

Let’s hope he will be followed by millions more. Is there finally a change in the air?

Sex ist streng verboten in Parliament.

February 17, 2018

 

 

untitledpicasso

Picasso with Brigitte Bardot.

After our PM, Herr Malcolm Turnbull forbade sex between parliamentarians and staffers, the country has become eerily silent. People are now seen huddled together on street corners and many chemist shops in Canberra  have put up steel shutters. Shares in condom manufacturers have plummeted but the sale of gas masks have gone up. Ever since the rumors of sex between the Deputy Prime minister, Barnaby Joyce and one of his staffers came out in the open, the good people re-coiled in horror. How could a man so against Same Sex Marriage and a fighter for the sanctity of marriage (but only between a man and woman) so get off the rails bonking a staffer? Not just bonking but a babe on the way as well. Was it this same sex that led him so astray? I always wondered why Barnaby had such a red post conjugal face.

The newspapers are full of it and are not letting up. Massacres in Syria and Florida are thrown aside as mere pulp and is not making a dent in it. The ‘affaire’ and its details is keeping this whole nation occupied,  is soothing down even the promise of Tax concessions to the business world or Dutton’s ever popular and vigilant Border Control, stoking fear of terrorism stalking our suburban streets.

The ban on sex by Turnbull has given the subject a new lease of life. The Labor Party are rubbing their hands together. What a gift, and the longer it lasts the more dividends this story will pay. The deputy PM has dug in his heels, and surprisingly gave a sound rebuff to his master, Mr Turnbull.

There is still a lot of life in this story left. Bonking is very well established and despite laws against it and raised eyebrows, it always finds a way to a coupling in one way or other. If truth be known, there would be very few that haven’t done it. Of course in Barnaby’s case one would have thought him to show less hypocrisy, but… Let those without any sin cast the first stone etc. (John 8:7, viz.)

Why doesn’t the Parliament building in Canberra have a special space for the hard-working parliamentarians to get some light relief? A rest and recreation space, or in plain terms;  A bonking Bunker.

 

Australia needs to pay more tax.

February 14, 2018

 

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garden

Listening to our politicians one ends up feeling we are paying too much tax. The figures from those whose job it is to come up with clear facts tell a different story. Our Prime Minister is forever ramping up the idea that if we only lower tax, Australia will boom like never before. The slightest hint that already now, with the present level of taxation, we are struggling to keep our hospitals and schools going is met with howls of derision.

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/07/countries-where-people-pay-most-tax/

We seem to be doing the Fox Trot in tandum with the US where the people are also told the furphy that if only  tax would be lowered, fortunes are there for the taking. Boom times lay ahead for those that will accept taxation lowering, especially for the large Corporations. Now, like a bolt from the sky, canny journalists have discovered that most large Corporations in fact don’t pay any tax. Giving them tax cuts makes little sense.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-14/company-tax-rate-cut-arguments-missing-evidence/9443874

No, if we would only look at countries that have much better and stronger economies including generous welfare,   pensions, unemployment money, sickness benefits  etc., we would be following the Scandinavian countries, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, France and many more. All the above countries have much higher overall taxation regimes, including a social tax that pays for welfare.

The opposite can also be shown that lowering tax rates go hand in hand with increasing poverty, decrease quality health services, underfunded education , infrastructure decay, public transport creaking, and much more.

Of course, the lure of lowering tax rates is music to the ears of Corporations and the rich but inevitably will show up with an increase in rough sleeping, social crumbling, and more misery. If you look at low taxation paying countries you will also see increase in incarceration, crime, shootings and  poverty.

Don’t fall for it.

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Does Australia attract ‘hard-line’ diplomats now?

February 11, 2018
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The appointment by America of Harry Harris as the ambassador for Australia is hardly something I would normally pay much attention to. Of late, community nurses and lymphatic drainage has been much more part of our world. Not a day goes by without a medical event. Even so, we try and keep up with the ‘real’ world. This morning we discovered through Barry Cassidy Insider program,  that the appointment of the Ambassador was welcomed with open arms by both the Libs and Labor. A warm bosom awaits Harry in ‘hard-line’ Australia.

Harry is known for his ‘hard-line’ approach to China. I would have thought that a ‘diplomat’ and ‘hard-line’ were a bit of a contradiction. But, not anymore it seems.  ‘Hard-line’ is very much in and with the Jim Molan as a new senator, also known for fondness of ‘hard-line’, many politicians are scrambling to be at the forefront of ‘hard-liners’. I fear the day both Harry and Jim will meet up. Can we expect more wars and pyrotechnical devices raining down on hapless populations in sandy regions? I think Harry had something to say about China’s sandy diplomacy referring to islands being used by China to build airfields. Not an unreasonable response seeing Asia is surrounded by the US military might.

I don’t know where this fondness for allowing extremism into our political arena comes from. I do admit not knowing anything about both those men. They might well be very nice and honourable. On our ABC ‘The Drum’ I once experienced Jim Molan giving vent to his rather harsh opinion of refugees, especially the survivors of boat people now locked in indefinite detention on Manus and Nauru. He seemed to have a very ruthless and, in my mind, a cold and heartless view, on how to deal with refugees. Recently he posted extreme right anti Islam videos on his blog. It all went through without too much upheaval. I reckon Dutton was heartened by it all. He too is a hard liner.

I so wish Australia would be kinder to China. I don’t notice the Chinese are trying to culturally impose on us. I don’t see the Chinese equivalent of KFC, or Big Quarter Pounder MacDonald’s plastered all over the place. Instead I notice that sometimes the top HSC students often feature students from Eastern backgrounds.

On top of that, I prefer a nice Chop Suey over a foot long Subway.

Read here about Harry. China’s Foe, Australia’s friend.

https://www.sbs.com.au/news/australia-s-friend-china-s-foe-new-us-ambassador-harry-harris

 

 

The annual obsession with School uniforms raises its ugly head.

February 7, 2018

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“Students in NSW, Victoria and the ACT are not required to study maths at all in Years 11 and 12”.

Australian schools continue to fall behind in maths and science – ABC .”

“Maths should be compulsory at school: our future jobs depend on it”
With those alarming headlines one would hope that educational information would be at the forefront of all schools that are touting for students.  Lofty statements would be made at all schools, that maths was already compulsory. (together with a language apart from English as well).
But what do we get?
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5355581/Hundreds-Brisbane-students-detention-shoes.html
Over a hundred students were send home because their shoes did not fit the regimented size thickness of sole or heel, perhaps both. The head-master was seen to take the tape out and measure students shoes. A few millimetres out, and the students was marched outside the gate. It is a surprise the head-master had the skill in measuring seeing he probably also went without the compulsory maths. I am gobsmacked.
Maths in Australian schools is not compulsory but uniforms are?
Where does all this originate from?
If education is meant to take a young person to its full potential, surely letting them dress freely ought to be the norm. Isn’t the expression of the individual not at the forefront of the unfolding of a growing person? Why do parents put up with that? It is so stifling.
And while we are at uniforms ,why do we show our love of such blatant inequality when we have high fee charging Posh private schools and Bog public schools.
All schools should be equal and no divisions. All schools have both boys and girls. All teachers have minimal Masters Degrees and be well-paid.
Here another link to a good article by Jane Caro.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-07/school-catchments-best-public-schools-best-private/9381942
No compulsory math?

Elder abuse.

February 4, 2018

A few days ago I noticed an ABC news item that struck me as relevant. It dealt with the growing queues of elderly people missing out on levels of subsidised in-home care. Often people need respite and care either for themselves or another person such as a partner or family members. A segment on TV news dealt with same issue.

Footage was shown of an elderly woman hoisting her severely affected Alzheimer  and Parkinson husband up in a sling from one side of the house to the other. A steel beam was bolted onto the ceiling and an electric block and tackle system was used to move her husband about the house. Another case was how a woman needed to be helped from her bed into the electric chair in which she could perform most house-hold duties. It is the relentless care day in day out that many need respite from. But, as always the money for those essential services is lacking. Yet we talk about tax cuts!

The article is here: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-03/govt-scrambles-amid-growing-queue-for-home-care-packages/9387692

Here is a sample of the article; “The latest figures reveal there are now 101,508 people in the queue for appropriate home-care packages.More than 60,000 have no package at all, and 40,000 have a package at a lower level than what they need”.

And then this morning on the TV, ( where else)? The Prime Minister being interviewed, waxing lyrically how tax cuts to corporate Australia was going to help employment and profits. He followed this up with while looking up,   prophesying by seemingly divine inspiration, that this would then guarantee increased wages to the workers. Surely he must have felt thickening of his insincerity.

I mean, look at America. Do the wages there go in tandem with corporate profits? In Australia profits in businesses between 2016/17 went up 20%, yet wages a mere 1%. The trickle down effect is a huge joke.

 

It seems a logical conclusion, that if countries keep giving tax cuts, it eventually means no tax will be raised at all. Pity for those that are waiting for home-care packages.

If you want to take an example to follow. Look at Northern Europe ,especially the Scandinavian countries were taxes are very high, but so are  welfare levels. AND, their economies are booming. Our Prime Mister, Mr Turnbull, should try and raise revenue. A sugar tax alone would bring in hundreds of millions a year and save billions on health care. Our GST could be raised on a level with overseas countries. Why does the government never mention raising revenue and income?.

And right on the heels of the above article, another one popped up this morning about elder abuse which now seem more often than not to come from within the family.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-04/the-silent-epidemic-of-elder-abuse-in-our-suburbs/9383812

I know if I get ripped off by own family or need to be moved around in a sling suspended from a steel beam, totally gaga, I will, before that arrives, have the sanity and means to get-out-of-here-quick smart.

Family news-flash.

February 2, 2018
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Japanese Windflower

Well, as they say, ‘there is never a dull moment.’ There isn’t a nook or cranny that we are now not familiar with in regard to our local hospitals. How a fortuitous choice we took some eight years ago in the decision to live almost next door to not one but two hospitals. It’s a toeing and froing not just of ambulances but also care-flight helicopters whirring over our roof-top picking or delivering patients that are in a hurry to receive life saving procedures. What a prime position! At our age one needs to be within metres of caring nurses and doctors. Better than water views. We are also blessed with two hospital cafes. So both, the alcohol laced hand sanitisers and the lattes are never far away.

Going back to ‘never a dull moment’, Helvi came home from her operation two days ago. The lumps and nodes that were cancerous, removed by the surgeon. We are now waiting for the community nurse to exchange the plastic bag into which her lymphatic fluid is being directed to flow in.  Compared with her chemo therapy, the breast operation was a pic-nic. Yesterday we joined the community care organisation and met two of their staff who will now take care of Helvi’s post operation recovery.

Helvi doesn’t really like any attention to herself and her plight, so I have been somewhat reluctant to write about something which she feels is unimportant in the general scheme of things. She is more interested and concerned in issues of others.

Even so, she is happy how many people have shown they care and is grateful for the attention and well-wishing she received and is still receiving. It is amazing. The dedication and sheer hard work of hospital staff admirable.  Helvi is thanking all the blog followers and friends and will keep you informed.

This journey is ongoing.

Hugs, Helvi and Gerard

 

 

Australia day, where is the ‘joie le vivre?’ It seems a bit lacklustre.

January 26, 2018

 

Almost ThereThe night before last we watched our PM Malcolm Turnbull, lavishly praising himself while handing out the ‘Australians Of The Year Awards.’ Sam Kerr who won the  Young Australian, was my favourite. There is just no one like her, and she has put soccer in the limelight not seen since Dutch Abe Lenstra in the fifties. Of course, the Quantum Computer builder, Michelle Simmons is the worthiest recipient of this award ever since it was introduced. And what about the other two recipients? Eddy Woo. Amazing, an inspiration to all. The taciturn Senior, Graham Farquhar was outstanding, such talent.

Next day, Helvi and I got up early to go out and sample the exuberance of Australia Day in Bowral. There could be no doubt, there would be music and all-round jollity with neighbours forgetting old feuds, congratulating each and all on the all inclusive and diverse nature of this lucky brown sun-kissed land of Australia. But, it was all eerily silent and quiet. No tooting of horns nor flag waving. We noticed many shops were closed and the few elderly people that were about looked a bit lost. I quickly hovered over the idea if they too were struggling with accessing ‘Aged Care’ and perhaps had lost their ID numbers!

Some years ago, canny estate agents had put out little flags stuck in lawns in front of every house. Not this time. In fact not many flags at all. We went home and had a coffee, pondering about what the reason was for this lack of Australia Day fervour. Was it the previous heatwave that had sapped remaining energy already depleted through over-indulgence during Christmas? I know I had witnessed mothers loosing their cool with kids’ demands for ever more ice creams or mango slushies. I overheard one mum telling her son, ‘wait until I tell your father’, an ominous warning for the poor boy.

I suggested to Helvi we have another go at sampling Bowral exuberance some time late in the afternoon, when heat had sunk below horizon giving people time to re-charge and give outbursts of National pride a fair chance. I also suggested to Helvi I might ask some of the passing pedestrians how they celebrated this momentous event and it if they knew where there might be music or even public dancing?

We waited till about 8,30pm, and for the second time went about sampling Australia Day. The evening was lovely and balmy. I wore sandals without socks. It was almost dark anyway. Again, there were not many people about. The main street was empty and a black crow was screeching its head off sitting on top of a telegraph pole. At least the bird was giving festivities a bit of a leg-up. There was no music. In the distance we noticed three people coming our way and I had my question ready. When we were level with each other, I noticed they looked dark, possibly Indian. They were three men with one of them wearing a large dark coloured T-shirt with AUSTRALIA emblazoned across it.

I congratulated them on Australia Day which surprised them. They smiled and I quickly asked them if there were any celebratory events they might be looking for. I explained we too were celebrating Australia Day and were looking to share this. ‘It is very quiet,’ I said, and followed this up, ‘where are the celebrations’? And there was this immediate response of recognition. ‘Oh, always very quiet,’ Australia is quiet country,  one man smiled broadly. ‘Maybe across the road in the pub is a bit of life,’ another offered.  It was true.

We all had reached common ground.

Is it all that’s it cracked up to be?

January 23, 2018
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Birds always understand

 

With all the activities of the last few months, time has arrived for reflection and ponderings. I leave it to the readers to judge the veracity of my claims. What are those claims? Well, amongst many that I hold, one dearest to my heart has always been that many hold Australia high up the ladder when it comes to the level of social benefits. We often read that our system of welfare is being exploited by loafers and bludgers. Single mums are deliberately having babies so they can siphon financial support which they squander on drugs, clothes, and make-up. Refugees, especially those from bombed out sandy regions near the Euphrates and Tigris river systems are also on the list of exploiting Australia’s wonderful social, almost paradisiacal systems. ( the best in the world) They invade Australia, take our women, jobs, and wear funny clothes.

I don’t hold that view. In fact we believe the opposite to be closer to the truth. The proof is in our social benefits expenditure. Just peruse this site;

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-03/kevin-andrews–makes-unfounded-welfare-claim/5215798

It might be a couple of years old but if anything, it has gotten worse. Or, look at this!

https://www.crikey.com.au/2014/05/30/australias-overly-generous-welfare-in-context/

Statistically, Australia lags  behind  most OECD countries in welfare spending, so why do we persist in calling Australia a social paradise?

From AIM; “There is  a ruthless and selfish ruling oligarchy in this country that has a badly inflated and misplaced positive view of itself that continues to inflict injustice on Australia’s poor and disadvantaged in general and even on the working and much of the middle class. For example wealth inequality has returned to the levels of over 100 years ago.”

Our expenditure equals that of the US in about 19.5 % of GDP spending on social welfare. In the US many also hold the view that too much is spent on welfare while clearly that is not the case. The difference that I believe, is that many of the inhabitants of most OECD countries hold a view that pensions, unemployment money, sickness benefits and more are a ‘right’ and not a ‘hand-out’  as is often suggested here. Just the term ‘dole’ or ‘dole-bludger’ is diminishing and belittling. It seems to suggest a beggar with cap in hand. A term that would certainly not be allowed to be used in many countries. A well governed country holds the view that the old, the sick and the unfortunate need to be cared for. Enough revenue (taxation) has to be raised to pay for it.

We had some experience with the creaking social welfare. It was suggested that with continuing health issues and advancing years Helvi would be entitled to ‘aged care’. We had a lengthy interview from a Commonwealth officer and a plan was put into action where she could be provided with some subsidized services.

A domestic service with assistance to house-cleaning was suggested. The other,  a transport service also falling under ‘Community Service.’ It all sounded very good. However, the Government seems to have sub-contracted those services out to private institutions. Many have religious names such as Anglo-Care, Presbytery care, Community Transport (volunteer). The suggested services were all full and had no open positions for home cleaning. The above services are subsidized but payment is still requested. So far we have been unable to get much traction on the home-cleaning front and the social event of a river cruise is put on a poll basis. Names are pulled out of a hat because the demand is bigger than they can accommodate. I wonder why a bigger bus is not used or a bigger boat. In any case, I had not been assessed on receiving ‘Community Aged Care.’ Only Helvi might be allowed on this river cruise. It all sounds so strange. I am Helvi’s husband (for over 55 years)! I was subsequently assessed as well from a kind lady spending another afternoon tapping away on her laptop. I too am now entitled to house cleaning and a river cruise. A second suggestion is a trip to the War Museum in Canberra.

We can’t wait to look at cannons, guns and roses.