Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

A peculiar Country and the holy water.

January 15, 2019

Image result for holy water stoups with flaming hearts

The hope of getting some good news in the New Year is diminishing as the days roll by. Just now, a newsflash that the skyscraper in Sydney named ‘Opal Tower’ needs significant structural repairs done. One can’t imagine the trouble this causes to those people who are renting or bought an apartment affected by the ‘cracking’. The usual noises are made about how Australia has stringent building regulations with strict compliance to proven engineering methods at ever level of construction.  Yet those that give the compliance certificates are private contractors themselves working to maximise profits. Which construction company will seek compliance approvals from those that are strict and known for refusing to give those certificates to building works that don’t comply?

Next on the list is that children in detention were threatened by troops all dressed in combatant gear pointing assault weapons at unarmed children. Yet those that are charged with running this detention centre are fully supportive of this blatent abuse of force and totally behind it. What sort of behaviour is that? And we point the finger at North Korea or some crackpot regime in Africa.

Have a look at this video; https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-14/don-dale-youth-detention-cctv-police-weapons-detainees-nt/10712664

We are having a bad heatwave but the good news on TV this morning was that everyone should try, and look after those that are vulnerable to heat exhaustion, especially the elderly. Neighbours ought to inquire about each other on how they are feeling. Many escape to air-con shopping malls or at least stay indoors. I get the shivers when I see all those thousands on a scourging hot sun baked beach. And then they lie in the sun!

Image result for Heatwave beach conditions

The vacuuming was done this morning in our household. I wondered why it wasn’t working as it should. I decided to investigate and discovered the foot or the suction end of our lithium powered vacuum cleaner ( Hoover-Freedom) was blocked by bits of paper and cherry stalks.  I must say that the stone fruit this year has been excellent. Those white peaches…mmm! Yesterday my brother and I spent half a day assembling a new barbeque. The old one just did not give enough heat for fast grilling a nice piece of meat or chargrill a rib of pork.

We plan to carry the old one to the street as a freebee. It has a regulator and a lid and very clean. People often put usable items on the ‘nature strip’, and this gives new meaning to re-cycling. The charity shops are now complaining that too much is being donated, and it is claimed that donating to charity is often used as getting rid of total rubbish. I suppose, consuming too much is the real reason.

This reminds me of when we were young, and a still devoutly catholic family living in Holland. From my youngest memory we had at the entrance to our bedroom a holy water stoup decorated by a sacred flaming heart screwed to the door-frame. We were supposed to dip a finger in it, cross ourselves and then go to bed with a clear conscience. I remember being a bit suspicious of it, and whether some benign Beneficiary spirit would forever guide us for a good life, provided we would dip our fingers. My earliest memories of bombed out buildings and screaming hunger did not make for nurturing a strong belief in a good and just deity that would reward the ‘true’ believers.

It was after we moved from Rotterdam to The Hague that some deviousness crept stealthely but assuredly in my being. Again, dad screwed on the holy water stoups with the flaming sacred hearts. I was really starting to question that this water was somehow different from tap water, and decided to test it. I drained the holy water and filled it up with just tap water. I was awake all night fearing punishment but nothing happened. I knew my mother had a special container of holy water which she kept under the sink. This was specially blessed holy water sanctified by the priest of our local church. I think it was a yearly event when this blessing took place inside the church to which our parents took us. I still then tried to look a bit religious but from what I had done to the holy water recently, it might now well be seen as acting very sanctimoniously.

I had started to lose my belief in a deity that would reward the unquestioning pious. I think today the science might well be behind this.

In the meantime the heat is merciless as well.

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Solving homelessness the Finnish way.

December 30, 2018

photohomeless-man-at-byron-bay.jpg

With the value of housing now plummeting with probably a long way down to go yet, no better an opportunity than to get away from housing mainly seen as an investment rather than a human right. A roof above our head wasn’t always seen as having to own it. It came about when the granting of ‘titles’ was invented. From then on it a became a thing of monetary value rather than a necessity for humans to have shelter away from the elements.   So, it was and the world of ‘real estate’ was born.  The last few years the whole of the Australian home ownership went on a bender with exploiting, speculations  and an explosion of the cost of real estate. I am just writing this when coming across an article about the growing problem of homelessness and how it is being solved in Finland.

“The Finns have turned the traditional approach to homelessness on its head.

There can be a number of reasons as to why someone ends up homeless, including sudden job loss or family breakdown, severe substance abuse or mental health problems. But most homelessness policies work on the premise that the homeless person has to sort those problems out first before they can get permanent accommodation.

Finland does the opposite – it gives them a home first.

The scheme, introduced in 2007, is called Housing First. It is built on the principle that having a permanent home can make solving health and social problems much easier.

The homeless are given permanent housing on a normal lease. That can range from a self-contained apartment to a housing block with round-the-clock support. Tenants pay rent and are entitled to receive housing benefits. Depending on their income, they may contribute to the cost of the support services they receive. The rest is covered by local government.”

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/02/how-finland-solved-homelessness/

Australia now has a golden opportunity to get back to social housing and solve the thousands of those that miss out on a roof above their head. It has been clear that most couples now find it impossible to get into the housing ‘market.’ The Government can try and get people to move to smaller and cheaper towns but the past has shown that sooner or later most are drawn to the large cities. Australia is one of the world’s most urbanised countries. Housing is a social right for a civilised country. It is shameful that now more and more people end up sleeping on the streets or in their cars. The answer seems so simple.

Provide decent shelter. The alternative is much more expensive.!

Christmas and the Pavlova.(667 recipes)

December 24, 2018

IMG_0052 a horse, a horse

We have bought the ingredients for the pavlova including the cream. Helvi thought that the cream was overdoing it, but reading the recipe on the box, it clearly stated that cream was needed. The supermarket was in a total pandemonium. Some people so swept up, they grabbed whatever they could get hold of. As if possessed by voodoo magic. It is the same each year. People try and remain calm but then totally loose it during the last few days. Hospitals are on standby, broken bones, bloodied faces and marital whiplash are so common during the Christmas festivities. For some it just gets too much. The say; ‘uncork and unwind’ does come with consequences!

My Christmas started early when I found an abandoned trolley with its 2 dollar coin still in its little holder near my car.  I suspect some shoppers might well think it costs two dollars to go shopping. They walk to the car with the full trolley and after loading the car just leave the trolley to its own devices. All the better for the canny shopper on the look-out for trolleys with 2 dollars. Something for the school kids to latch onto.

Getting back to the pavlova. Its history continues to be a much disputed item over a sweet dish made in honour of the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova who toured New Zealand and Australia during the 1920’s. It is a dish made in honour of her. Till this day both countries still claim ownership of this dish. Some even totally dispute the Pavlova being of NZ and Australian origin, and say it was invented in the US. Another in-depth study claims its origins are Austrian.

This from Wiki.

“Keith Money, a biographer of Anna Pavlova, wrote that a hotel chef in Wellington, New Zealand, created the dish when Pavlova visited there in 1926 on her world tour.[7]

Professor Helen Leach, a culinary anthropologist at the University of Otago in New Zealand, has compiled a library of cookbooks containing 667 pavlova recipes from more than 300 sources.[8] Her book, The Pavlova Story: A Slice of New Zealand’s Culinary History, states that the first Australian pavlova recipe was created in 1935 while an earlier version was penned in 1929[2] in a rural magazine.”[1]

And now for the good news!

December 10, 2018
https://www.sbs.com.au/news/torture-crimes-against-humanity-class-action-for-nauru-manus-asylum-seekers-launched
It could not get any better. A bumper Christmas coming your way.The polls have deepened the gap between the LNP and Labor, with the opposition now polishing their victory speeches after the election.  On top of all that my feverish hope that one day this dreadful government would be taken to court for having committed crimes against humanity, now a reality. It has come to it. Our prayers answered.
True, it will not be on the scale of the Nuremberg trials but at least it will show the world that no matter how pretentious a government is, you can’t get away with committing crimes against people that have done no more than asking for asylum.
At this point it might be worthwhile pointing out that the alleged crimes against humanity (refugee’s children and their parents) would never have happened if only Australia had a ‘Bill of Rights.’
I am perplexed that Australia is the only country without a Bill of Rights.

“A non-profit law firm has launched two class actions in the High Court on behalf of the roughly 1,200 remaining refugees and asylum seekers in offshore processing centres on Manus Island and Nauru.

 

The case will be brought against the Commonwealth of Australia, rather than the Home Affairs Department or the minister specifically.

 

The group will claim they have been subjected to “torture, crimes against humanity and the intentional infliction of harm by the Australian government,”

 

 

Next time you buy ‘fashion’, look at how and where it is made.

December 7, 2018

 

Most Fashion items are made in third world countries. I have also been guilty of buying items and not looking at where they are made. Worse is, often we buy goods made using child labour. To add to the misery we end up choosing a Prime Minister who delights in locking up those that are trying to escape the misery. Even when Australia is finally turning a corner and most of us want the refugees freed from detention, Scott Morrison our PM, is going nuts and will do ‘Anything’ to prevent the legislation from changing that would alleviate their misery. He is a true hater of compassion and a fervent believer in his brand of Christianity!

Family and Migrating.

November 22, 2018

IMG_3364Grandfather

My Paternal Grandfather.

I remember my grandfather more than my grandmother. He was a joker often playing pranks on me but without malice. I remember their house. It was large and had a garden in a very beautiful part of Holland not far from Amsterdam. My grandfather and grandmother with so many other relatives we never saw again. It was a goodbye forever. We did see my mother’s sister and one of my father’s sister on a few occasions when we visited them. My father never saw his parents again.  I wonder how it must have felt for my parents saying goodbye all those many years ago?(1956)

IMG_3363Grandmother

Paternal Grandmother.

The above painting of my grandmother is the only image I have of her. It would have been painted by her husband, my grandfather. He was a painter of church murals as well as designer in glass in lead works. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Jan_Oosterman

I remember less of her than granddad. I don’t know why. I recently discovered a letter my granddad wrote to my parents in Australia. A rather formal letter which made me think that in those earlier times relationships were perhaps more formal between parents and children than today. Looking at old photographs people often look more serious. Perhaps getting a photograph taken took time and one can only keep a smile for that long.

. imagesCAGVCW15

Granddad painting while smoking a pipe.

The above photo portrays an idyllic afternoon. At the bottom it show my grandmother carrying a cup of something. Perhaps there were guests?

imagesCA3UWFVI

Pensive grandparents wearing slippers.

This photo might well have been one of the last taken. Granddad died in an ‘old age’ home in Amsterdam at the respectable age of 87.

And that’s how it goes.

 

A peculiar lack of Empathy.

October 22, 2018

IMG_1163Violets etc

The new member of Parliament in the Federal seat of Wentworth is now Dr Kerryn Phelps.  She is an independent. A stunning victory whereby this seat held since Federation by the Liberals has changed for the first time overcoming a 19% majority held by the previous ex-Prime Mister, Malcolm Turnbull. He vacated the seat after he was turfed out by his own Government. He quickly left Australia for NYC.

Dr Kerryn Phelps was known for her strong stance on Same Sex Marriage with Wentworth being one of the most progressive pro SSM seats during last year’s referendum. She now wants the Government to take notice of climate change. The refusal to act on climate change is partly due because the right wing of the Liberals, including the present PM, Scott Morrison, don’t believe in climate change. The right wing of the Liberal party primarily believe in keeping the status quo. They like nothing better than sticking to burning coal and a fearless unrelenting punishments for off-shore held refugees.

The present Liberal-National party has lost their one seat majority. Things are going to be difficult to pass legislation with the independent cross benchers now holding the strings.

Dr Phelps promises to  use her independence to get the Government to take urgent action on climate change, and to bring the refugees home to Australia. At present they are held on off-shore islands; Manus, Nauru and Christmas Island. A petition signed by thousands of doctors presented to the Government is demanding that the children and their parents be allowed into Australia for processing. http://medicalrepublic.com.au/doctors-unite-drive-change-refugee-policy/17267

The Government might well have to be forced to take action on the refugees. The rumblings of international criticisms of our present policy on refugees are getting louder. The abhorrence on learning that children of ten are googling how to commit suicide, the sacking of all Medicine sans Frontier personal from Nauru is pointing out the cruelty of off-shore detention.

The Government is now also finally heeding the offer from New-Zealand willing to take 150 refugees from Nauru. So far the Morrison and previous Turnbull Government have refused to consider this proposal.  They argue, that it would give the refugees a ‘back-door’ chance to visit Australia. However, the US has taken a couple of hundred refugees without this apparent condition being attached to their freedom from the Nauru hell-hole! Is it so much more difficult to come to Australia from the US as it is from New Zealand ? The mind boggles.

Where does this urge to keep punishing those vulnerable refugees come from? I found some observation by the Australian Author and academic,  Jill Kerr Conway enlightening. Jill Kerr Conway was the first woman to take the Presidency of the Smith College in the US. She found Australia to be lacking in appreciating women for top jobs and moved permanently to the US. She died a few months ago, aged 84. Her book, ‘The road from Coorain,’ is a masterpiece.

She seems to argue that the hundreds of  thousands of emigrants who left their European homelands to go to the US, Canada, and Australia, must have keenly felt the pains of being up-rooted  suffering aching alienation. The children of the great European migration made up for this loss by, in the US at least, making Hollywood the purveyor of happy endings. This convention was a comfort for those who might have felt or were unwilling to face the possibility that the journey was not worth the uprooting.

In Australia I always thought that the migrants made the best of it by going wildly overboard by the ‘own-home’ on ‘own block of land’ achievements. A peculiar Australian phenomenon. It seems to have calmed down lately. Many young people are happy to ditch this form of idealisation and are now happily renting.

In any case, not much seems to have been studied on how this migration has been part in forming the Australia psyche. How many have studied the history of how it felt like to be transported to Australia, by the convicts, or the children of men and women condemned to forced labor? Has this early convict start and continuation of it by those hundreds of thousands of migrants milling around the fore-shores and migrant camps given the foundation to this ‘muddling through’ within our own political milieu?

Again,  our Prime Minister Mr. Morrison has reiterated that if some of the refugees were to be transferred to New Zealand from Manus, its (New Zealand) Government must give an iron clad guaranty that none of them or their children, will ever be given or allowed a visa to Australia. Not even for a holiday.

Ignoring why refugees would even want to visit the land of their torturers, how insanely revengeful is this proposal? It shows how deliberate and wilful the utter degradation of refugees, so desired by some of our politicians, has become. What have the refugees done?

Let’s all hope Dr Phelps will help to make an end to this sad history and restore Australia’s world standing.

Where does the cruelty come from though?

 

The King Parrot is happy too.

October 18, 2018

IMG_0144King Parrot.PNG

Jeffrey Sachs spelled it out on one of our Q&A TV programmes a couple of weeks ago. Good social conditions and support makes all the difference. Paying liveable incomes to the unemployed, pensioners or the disabled does not cause cultural collapse as is often touted by extreme capitalist leaders. The list of ‘happy countries’ proves that. Our PM and cohorts often cite that giving ‘free’ money makes people avoid work and lazy, encourages decadence as seen by SSM community now demanding wedding cakes. Unbelievable!

Countries that seem to be on top of the happiness scale each year, by and large, are also enjoying social democratic Governments. Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Iceland  Finland. They prove that good social conditions improve employment, reduces crime and homelessness. It makes for ‘happiness.’

IMG_0139Bowral garden.JPG

 

“Based on a global ranking of happiness levels across 156 countries, Finland has claimed the No. 1 spot in this year’s World Happiness Report.

Now in its sixth year, the World Happiness Report is produced by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

The organization, along with three economists from Columbia University, the University of British Columbia and the London School of Economics’ Center for Economic Performance, created the report using data from the Gallup World Poll to reveal which countries are happy and why.

The report was released on March 14, less than a week before the United Nations celebrates World Happiness Day on March 20.

This year, the United States ranked No. 18 — falling four spots from last year and five from two years ago — “in part because of the ongoing epidemics of obesity, substance abuse and untreated depression,” according to World Happiness Report co-editor and Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs.

Over the past two years, the world’s top 10 happiest countries have remained the same, but have slightly shuffled positions. Through a measurement of happiness and well-being called the “Cantril ladder,” Gallup asked nationally representative populations to value their lives on a scale from 0 to 10, with the worst possible life valued at 0 and the best valued at 10.

The top countries frequently have high values for all six of the key variables that contribute to overall well-being: income (GDP per capita), healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust (absence of corruption) and generosity.”

Will the Refugees on Nauru be allowed into Australia?

October 15, 2018

Inside the race for Wentworth

Inside the race for Wentworth

A storm is brewing in Sydney’s fanciest suburbs, where some lifelong Liberal voters have told the ABC they are preparing to break ranks for the first time at the looming Wentworth by-election.

It is a fair bet, and I hope it will, that this blue-ribbon seat will go to the independent Kerryn Phelps. This Liberal seat was last held by our former Prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who was  sacked a few weeks ago by his own party. The present PM, Scott Morrison is a fervent Pentecostal  believer holding anti SSM opinions. He is now fighting to keep a law in place that will allow Government funded private religious schools keep the right to sack gay or LBGTQ teachers. This has caused a furore in Australia whose residents voted overwhelmingly in favour of Same Sex Marriage less than a year ago. The seat of Wentworth has been held by the Liberals since Federation.

This Prime Minister also proudly displays a small trophy on his desk showing a metal coloured boat, backed by a timber board with the lettering, “we stopped the Boats.”Mr Morrison is mightily proud he was so successful in keeping thousands of refugees on several off-shore islands, including the small island nation of Nauru. As you all know, the tragedy of those that have spent years on those islands have been subjected to the worst torture of all, the loss of all hope. Last week the Government of Nauru kicked out the only few remaining people volunteering for Medicine Sans Frontières who helped the refugees with their unimaginable plight of staying alive.

The residents of Wentworth, although traditionally liberal, do hold a much more progressive ideology and were second of having the most votes in favour of SSM. They also do not like the way both the Liberals and the Labor party keep refusing to abide by international law to allow refugees, irrespective of their mode of travel, to be dealt with humanely and on-shore. There is now an increasingly growing disquiet about the plight of refugees held off-shore. It has become a large issue in Wentworth and the rest of Australia. People are concerned about the international consequences of flaunting international law.

Will Australia say ‘I am sorry’ in a few years time? Please read the link below.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/oct/14/kerryn-phelps-urges-wentworth-voters-to-use-byelection-to-protest-inhumane-refugee-policies

View from inside.

October 10, 2018

 

IMG_0129 our garden.JPG

The view from inside.

This photo was taken from inside our home through the open sliding glass doors. So, no matter how the outside world sometimes seems, the real world is how we deal with the chaos. No better way than to look at a garden. It brings back the importance of  things that matter. It cannot but lift the spirit. Talk about spirit. Our PM Mr Scott Morrison claims to be a spiritual man. Yet, he had no hesitation to promote Sydney’s Opera house to be used as Australia’s biggest billboard. I don’t understand how such a self proclaimed Pentecostal spiritual  pious and religious man can have no qualms about assaulting such an important spiritual cultural Icon. One wonders if he ever contemplates the beauty of a garden or listens to music, read a book! There has to be a hiatus there. Something us missing. Something is wrong!

You know the ducks know a thing or two. One seems to be looking at one of the clivias. The other one, his mate, is looking direct at my camera. On top of the little table is a plate with mixed seeds that the birds flock to. It really is a world on its own. The Alyssums do help create magic together with the Mock Orange, the Spathiphyllum  and white Cyclamen.

Here is a beautiful piece of magic singing. One of my favourites. It never fails to bring tears to my eyes. I don’t know why.