The mysterious collapse of Australia's Nugan Hand bank (SLYT) has long been a favorite subject of the espionage mythos, with its chairman's suicide, the disappearance of its former CIA co-founder Michael Hand, the bank's ties to the CIA, apparent drug money laundering... basically, talk of ties to every CIA conspiracy theory of the last 30 years... the stuff of legends. Except, of course, that Michael Hand has been found by Australia's 60 Minutes, living in Idaho Falls, where he runs a business manufacturing combat knives for the special OPs crowd. Here is the full 60 Minutes report.
"Are Think Tanks Undermining Australian Democracy? The past decade, for example, has seen powerful American think tanks (link is external), headed by political elites and backed by significant philanthropic funding, fundamentally re-shape key aspects of schooling. This has raised serious questions about whether elite economic and political actors are ‘working through’ think tanks to undermine democratic processes and the ideals of representative democracy."
The story of Peter Norman, the Australian sprinter and third man in the Black Power salute picture from the 1968 Olympic Games. [more inside]
Prominent anti-abortion campaigner Troy Newman had his visa cancelled while he was en route to Australia. This follows Sunday's denial of a visa to musician Chris Brown due to previous domestic violence offences (and a previous cancellation of Julien Blanc's visa while in the country). Visas have been denied under S. 116 of the Migration Act 1958, where the Minister may exercise his power where the presence of its holder in Australia is or may be, or would or might be, a risk to the health, safety or good order of the Australian community.
Zootaxa article: A new species of death adder (Acanthophis: Serpentes: Elapidae) from north-western Australia. Guardian: These snakes are super-camouflaged - its idea is to look like a rock or a bunch of leaves. Unlike a brown snake they aren’t designed for speed at all, they are quite slow. They use their tail like a lure, they will dangle it down while it’s hidden until a lizard or something comes close and then it will strike. Telegraph: The new species adds to the impressive list of poisonous creatures in Australia, which is believed to have 20 of the world's 25 most deadly snakes, including the entire top ten. [more inside]
Baobab Trees I was not aware that baobab trees grew anyplace but Africa, so it blew my mind to find out that they also live in India and Australia. They were likly introduced by Africans in both cases.
What’s Rangoon To You Is Grafton To Me is a forty-five minute long radio play about a long, strange road trip from Brisbane to Sydney. (transcript) First broadcast in 1978 on Double Jay (now Triple J), it was written by Russell Guy (link) and starred news reader James Dibble (MBE) as its “whacked-out road warrior protagonist”. The piece has gone on to become something of a cult classic, and inspired a recent homage by broadcaster Mike Williams: A Kangaroo Has Three Ears
Chooks in dinner suits. The Maremma dog project to protect the Little Penguins of Middle Island (previously) is going so well it's being continued.
The eighth Rugby World Cup (@) kicks off tomorrow in England (and Wales), contested by twenty qualifying teams. While the All Blacks are unbackable (5/4) favourites to be the first team to retain Bill, the Cup is equally a celebration of the diverse world rugby family, offering the minnows a chance to pit themselves against the best. [more inside]
There has been a leadership change in the ruling Australian Liberal Government Live blog - Guardian
Next Saturday the electorate of Canning, in Western Australia, will go to the polls for a by-election triggered by the death of the sitting member, Don Randall. All eyes* are on Canning because its outcome will likely determine the fate of Australia's current Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. In February, in the aftermath of an attempted leadership spill of his position and amongst flagging opinion polls, Abbott declared 'good government starts today' and pleaded with his party room to give him six more months in which to turn his position in the polls around. Canning is currently a government-held seat, sitting on a margin of 11.8%, and it seems that the metric on which Abbott will be judged is how much that margin shifts. [more inside]
The Night Terrors present Megafauna, a composition for organ, theremin, drum set, and synthesized bass. [more inside]
Overgrown sheep rescued near Canberra receives some much-needed help from four-time Australian Shearing Championship winner Ian Elkins. As carrying full fleece can be dangerously unhealthy for the animal, RSPCA Australia will assess any injuries and provide updates.
A plan to conduct Operation Fortitude, a joint operation between the Victorian Police and the newly-created paramilitary Border Force as not been well received by the people of Melbourne who, to put it mildly, did not like the idea of being forced to show their papers in spot checks this Saturday. As Lenore Taylor says, Australian Border Force has united the nation against it. The Police say it was all a terrible misunderstanding over the wording of a press release typed by a "low level official". The original release has been removed. [more inside]
Behind the Wire is an oral history project documenting the stories of men, women and children who have experienced Australian mandatory detention over the past 22 years. It seeks to bring a new perspective to the public understandings of mandatory detention by sharing the reality of the people who have lived it. [more inside]
It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with. It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop. (SL Guardian video) It's a koala.
First you had changing the Australian migration zone, then the Pacific Solution, and then boat turnbacks (and paying people smugglers for the same - a policy supported by both major parties), and then a murder in custody on Manus Island, and then allegations of rape, trafficking and traumatising children (some of whom try to hang themselves at 6yo) and spying on parliamentary oversight, and now a whistleblower says staff members at the Australian detention centre on Nauru - "a diverse workforce and provides continuing cultural awareness training" - employed waterboarding on asylum-seekers. [more inside]
Richard Cooke visits Rohingya refugees in Malaysia and looks at Australia's history of collaborating with human-rights abusers: "There’s a strange feeling in the room. An unusual aspect of being subjected to a 21st-century genocide-in-progress is that there are templates, blueprints, precedents. They know the fate of the Bosnian Muslims, of the Vietnamese boat people, of the Tutsis. They know this will take a long time, that their fate is uncertain. There is patience, and much more humour than I anticipated." [more inside]
Once upon a time, three Australian friends decided to take their private jokes and characters and turn them into a cartoon. Then something unexpected happened: they actually did it. This is THE BIG LEZ SHOW. Here's the compiled first season - links to episodes from all three seasons are after the break. Oh, and here's a recent podcast episode about it I just discovered. Warning: series contains profanity and depictions of drug use, yeeeewww fukken druggo. [more inside]
Adnyamathanha and Narungga man Adam Goodes is an Australian Rules football (AFL) player, two times winner of the highest individual award for the fairest and best player, as well as playing in two premiership winning games over his eighteen year career with the Sydney Swans. He works with indigenous youth in detention and co-chairs a foundation (with Michael O'Loughlin) working to empower the next generation of indigenous mentors. Goodes is a former Australian of the Year (2014) who recently said that "If people only remember me for my football, I've failed in life." So why are people booing Adam Goodes? [more inside]
Starting in the late 70s and throughout the 80s, Australian Rock strode the earth like a tiny, screaming colossus. Whether Hard Rock (drummer convicted of death threats), Pop Rock (lead singer dead from autoerotic aspyxiation), Pub Rock (lead singer's kids no longer forced to play), or what we'd now call Indie (they broke up, get over it) the 80s was the high water mark in Aus/NZ music history.Then the nineties and naughties ushered in an ero of reality-TV driven drivel... [more inside]
In the last decade, some cities have created unusual municipal projects using personal and institutional technologies and Open Data, to keep things running smoothly. In Chicago, there’s a text-based pothole tracker. Pittsburg, Chicago, NYC and other cities have snowplow trackers during winter storms. Boston asked people to adopt-a-hydrant and shovel them out after snowstorms. In Honolulu, you can adopt a tsunami siren. In 2013, the city of Melbourne assigned email addresses to 70,000 trees as part of their Urban Forest Project, so citizens could report problems. Instead, people wrote thousands of love letters to their favorite trees, and in many cases, the "trees" wrote back. [more inside]
BriggsGE, aka Adam Briggs, from a town called Shepparton, just dropped his latest track The Children Came Back featuring occasional collaborator Gurrumul, and Dewayne Everettsmith. It's not just a track though, it's an homage to Archie Roach's They Took the Children Away, in and of itself about The Stolen Generation. It features, amongst others, Samara Muir . It namedrops some of the best and brightest, and makes it clear - always was, always will be, Aboriginal land and this struggle is not over.
The Taman Shud case has been one of the world's great unsolved mysteries. Is an amateur enthusiast now on the verge of finally cracking the case? [more inside]
A short explanation of why an Australian state's parliament officially declared Eddie McGuire to be a boofhead. [more inside]
"Vivid Sydney is an 18 day festival of light, music and ideas bringing Australia's Emerald City to life as winter approaches. This year Vivid began on 22 May and finishes on 8 June. Just for once, I'll let my camera do the talking..." Example of a light show on the Customs House (YouTube, Doctor Who 50th Anniversary). [more inside]
The 2015 Eurovision Song Contest winner has now been crowned (previously), but the real stars of the contest were the fabulous and entertaining International Sign interpreters. [more inside]
Interview with a fast talker. Interview with a hand model. Interview with a Joss Whedon. Interview with the relentlessly positive. Interview with a cat lady. Interview with a racist. [more inside]
Episode 1 - In the toughest renovation show to ever hit our screens, New Zealand couple Marwyn and Jess have purchased Australia to turn it into the home of their dreams. Episode 2 - In this episode, our couple finally get a contractor to help them fix the national identity. Episode 3 - In this episode, our couple tackle the climate--and a big air con is beyond their budget. [more inside]
At Maralinga, the British Government treated Aborigines, Australian servicemen and even its own troops as scientific guinea pigs. John Keane, whose father was there, looks at the dirty games that were played in the desert of South Australia.
Remember this? The date-entry form no longer works, but that's okay, because now RAGEagain is here to automate (more than ever before) the process of reliving episodes of the beloved long-running minimalist Australian music video program rage from 1998 onwards, by automatically pulling songs listed on rage's archive of playlists from YouTube. [more inside]
The Minister for Men: a web series by Gretel Killeen. As background, it probably helps to know that Tony Abbott, Australian Prime Minister, appointed himself the Minister for Women. But the series is entertaining even without a background knowledge of Australian politics. [more inside]
The Australian Government has announced that parents who refuse to vaccinate their children (on the basis of a 'conscientious objection') will no longer have access to key government benefits, including taxpayer funded child care benefits, child care rebates and family tax benefit A. The plan is backed by the Australian Medical Association, and has bipartisan support. More coverage: Sydney Morning Herald. The Australian. Sky News. [more inside]
Belle Gibson and the Pernicious Cult of 'Wellness.' Jenny McCartney writes in The Spectator about the unraveling business empire and reputation of Australian celebrity "wellness" blogger and "cancer survivor" Belle Gibson. [more inside]
In a few short hours the final of the Cricket World Cup will be held at the 'G. With some games of the World Cup reaching a billion viewers globally, it has now come down to a dream final between co-hosts Australia, who have won the cup four times, and first time finalists New Zealand. [more inside]
Lee Lin Chin is an Australian television presenter best known for anchoring SBS World News for over a decade. She is also utterly hilarious, most recently attracting attention for her own take on a 'mean tweets' video. [more inside]
The Gympie Gympie is an Australian plant with spindly stems and heart-shaped light green leaves. Brushing your hand against it can make you throw up from the pain. Using it as toilet paper has made people shoot themselves. (SLio9)
With all of the national selections now made, let's take a look at how the Eurovision Song Contest's 60th anniversary is shaping up. Terribad songs ahead; enter at your own risk. [more inside]
"What I couldn't say" by Anita Sarkeesian, part of the "What I couldn't say" session at the All About Women Festival at the Sydney Opera House this week [more inside]
The UN has released a report finding that Australian policies may breach the international convention against torture. Prime Minister Tony Abbott's response? "I really think Australians are sick of being lectured to by the United Nations." * Not so much. Meanwhile, thousands of letters of support to detainees in Nauru have been returned, undelivered. [more inside]
Flood Live in Australia. They Might Be Giants has released a live cover of their album, Flood. Songs are recorded in reverse order because, you know, Australia.
While a few still fret about the ongoing fisticuffs in the eastern parts and the reluctance of Greece to repay a few bucks borrowed for the weekend from Germany, the real surprise, anger and confusion enveloping contemporary Europe is the admittance of Australia. [more inside]
'waiting for a heart attack': Ali Cobby Eckermann writes about her first-hand experience of the Northern Territory National Emergency Response as the Art Centre Manager at Titjikala. This includes poetry based on her experiences and this may trigger upsetting emotional issues for some readers as it deals with fall out of colonisation, alcoholism and domestic violence.
Kinja user "Curious Squid" is an Australian woman who moonlights as a prostitute. She keeps a diary of her life as a sex worker, writing about the banal (arranging jobs) to the very interesting (sexual violence against sex workers).
It's summer in Australia and that can only mean one thing: lots and lots of cricket! (Some previous discussions of cricket on Metafilter.) Cricket has long had a reputation as a "gentlemanly game", which quietly ignores the increasing popularity of women's cricket that has existed since 1745. Times change and some substantial technology is now being used to assist the umpires and referees. As the sport becomes more professional and attracts more money, controversy is increasing in these less genteel times. However, there is now one great ethical dilemma facing cricketers: should the batter voluntarily walk (dismiss themselves) when they know they are out, even if the umpire fails to give them out? [more inside]