Saudia Arabia – making friends, making enemies

The Saudi regime won’t like this magazine. Nor will the Western governments who kowtow to it while exploiting its wealth and paranoia – which have been on full show recently.

The Saudi justice ministry threatened to sue a Twitter user who compared the regime with ISIS after poet Ashraf Fayadh was sentenced to death ‘for spreading atheism and disrespecting the prophet’. This was met with an international #SueMeSaudi campaign.

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Two and a half cheers for the COP21 climate talks outcome

George Monbiot got it about right with his assessment of the COP21 outcome:

By comparison to what it could have been, it’s a miracle. By comparison to what it should have been, it’s a disaster.

But no matter what, the Paris Agreement does mark a turning point, and sends by far the strongest signal yet to banks, investors and industry. One might ask where they have been looking in the past decade if they haven’t already read the signals. Has it been gross negligence or haven’t they read their own disclaimers that past performance should not be taken as an indicator of future returns on fossil fuels? How can it be that they’ve wilfully ignored the risk of stranded assets?

As May Boeve – Executive Director of 350.org – put it:

“This marks the end of the era of fossil fuels. There is no way to meet the targets laid out in this agreement without keeping coal, oil and gas in the ground. The text should send a clear signal to fossil fuel investors: divest now.”

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COP21 – Elephants in the Room and Chocolate

Today began with Elephants in the Room and Chocolate!

I joined Belgian friends to support an EU action outside Le Bourget to highlight the importance of including international aviation and shipping in negotiations, respectively responsible for 5% and 3% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Security restrictions meant that no pink elephants appeared on the scene, but leaflets were discretely distributed.

The Change Chocolate came from Plant a Tree for the Planet specially wrapped for COP21 with a message calling on us all to plant trees and support the planet. Combined with an apple picked 60km away, it made for an interesting breakfast .

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Do you unconsciously suffer from transphobia?

One of the bands I play in has a transgender drummer. It was a pretty tough transition for her in her day job in the jokey-blokey world of telecommunications.

The human rights of transgender people are routinely abused everywhere. Transphobia and prejudice have a heavy toll.

Globally the suicide rate is 16 per 100,000 people. But for transgender adults it is around 800 per 100,000.

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Book launch: The Abyssinian Contortionist – by David Carlin

I am delighted to be able to launch David’s book here in Adelaide – particularly as so many of you will remember him from his previous life as a South Australian playwright and theatre director.

David’s first acclaimed book, Our Father Who Wasn’t There, was connected to his early theatre writings performed at the Red Shed, but The Abyssinian Contortionist is a new departure.  It is – as he describes it – his first not-me book.

I got so much pleasure from reading the unexpected twists and turns of this story – particularly when I reached the heart of the book, David’s second visit to Ethiopia -that I don’t want to give too much away.

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Reflections on Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran

All Australians should feel deeply disturbed by the impending executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. The two Australian citizens, convicted in 2006 of attempting to smuggle 8.3 kilograms of heroin out of Bali into Australia, will, barring an improbable eleventh-hour reprieve, be put to death by the Indonesian state at an as yet undetermined time in the coming weeks. Once transferred to a prison island off Java, the men will be dressed in white, bound at the hands and feet, tied to poles alongside one another, and finally sprayed with bullets by a 12-member firing squad. If Chan or Sukumaran do not die immediately, the commander will step forward and shoot them in the head as many times as is necessary to achieve the desired result.

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