Australian priest blames victim for her murder


Jill Meagher, who was murdered in Melbourne. Photograph: Facebook/PR Image/AAP

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Jill Meagher‘s family criticise Catholic priest over ‘disgusting’ claim

Priest reportedly told students at a Melbourne primary school that if Meagher had been more ‘faith filled’ she would have been home and ‘not walking down Sydney Road at 3am’

This victim blaming is even worse for being part of a sermon to primary school children.

Merran Hitchick

Sunday 29 March 2015 06.36 BST

A Catholic priest in Melbourne has reportedly been criticised for a speech in which he said Jill Meagher would have been at home instead of out on the night she was raped and killed if she was more “faith filled”.

Meagher was murdered by Adrian Bayley after a night out Melbourne in September 2012. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The priest delivered his homily at an end-of-term service for a Catholic primary school in Melbourne on Friday and radio station 3AW reported he held up a newspaper article with a picture of Bayley on it to make his point. The report says he told a crowd of about 100 that if Meagher had been more “faith filled” she would have been home and “not walking down Sydney Road at 3am”.

Meagher’s family were outraged by the report and said it was a “stupid thing to say”.

“Adrian Bayley was out there that night looking for a victim and found her,” Joan Meagher, Jill Meagher’s mother-in-law told the Irish Independent. “He was looking for anyone, it didn’t matter to him who the person was.

Thomas Meagher, Jill’s husband, put a statement on Facebook calling the comments “disgusting”.

“What a truly abhorrent lesson to teach a child,” he wrote. “How a human being with such dangerous and misogynistic views can be allowed pass those messages onto children is depressing. Shameful.”

The Catholic Church has apologised for the comments, the Age reports, with one official saying the church did not support the “totally inappropriate” and offensive” comments.

Monsignor Greg Bennett, vicar-general of the archdiocese of Melbourne, went on radio to apologise.

“I’ve spoken with the priest; he acknowledges that the homily wasn’t appropriate and apologises for the offence and upset it has caused,” he told 3AW.

“The reference to Jill Meagher in particular was offensive and inappropriate and the people of Victoria and Ireland mourn her sad and tragic death.

Great Barrier Reef fish conservation works


This video from Australia says about itself:

Coral trout, Plectropomus leopardus, gather to spawn at dusk around the new moon in spring and early summer at Lizard Island on the northern Great Barrier Reef. Substantial research into the biology and ecology of this highly sought-after table fish has been conducted at the Australian Museum‘s Lizard Island Research Station.

From Science News:

No-fishing scheme in Great Barrier Reef succeeds with valuable fishes

Coral trout thrive but protection has less effect on other reef residents

By Susan Milius

12:15pm, March 26, 2015

An ambitious, hotly debated system of no-take reserves inside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park has boosted the population of its most commercially valuable fishes, says the first 10-year progress report.

Coral trout (Plectropomus species) are now more common and bigger in protected spots than in comparable places still being fished, researchers say online March 26 in Current Biology. The no-take zones also gave these fish populations more resilience, with ample coral trout that had grown large enough to survive when severe tropical cyclone Hamish hit in 2009.

Turkish World War I commemoration abused for militarist propaganda


This music video about Australia and the first world war is called The Pogues – The band played Waltzing Matilda.

The lyrics are:

When I was a young man I carried my pack
And I lived the free life of a rover
From the Murray’s green basin to the dusty outback
I waltzed my Matilda all over

Then in nineteen fifteen my country said Son
It’s time to stop rambling ’cause there’s work to be done
So they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun
And they sent me away to the war

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As we sailed away from the quay
And amidst all the tears and the shouts and the cheers
We sailed off to Gallipoli

How well I remember that terrible day
How the blood stained the sand and the water
And how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter

Johnny Turk he was ready, he primed himself well
He chased us with bullets, he rained us with shells
And in five minutes flat he’d blown us all to hell
Nearly blew us right back to Australia

But the band played Waltzing Matilda
As we stopped to bury our slain
We buried ours and the Turks buried theirs
Then we started all over again

Now those that were left, well we tried to survive
In a mad world of blood, death and fire
And for ten weary weeks I kept myself alive
But around me the corpses piled higher

Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over tit
And when I woke up in my hospital bed
And saw what it had done, I wished I was dead
Never knew there were worse things than dying

For no more I’ll go waltzing Matilda
All around the green bush far and near
For to hump tent and pegs, a man needs two legs
No more waltzing Matilda for me

So they collected the cripples, the wounded, the maimed
And they shipped us back home to Australia
The armless, the legless, the blind, the insane
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla

And as our ship pulled into Circular Quay
I looked at the place where my legs used to be
And thank Christ there was nobody waiting for me
To grieve and to mourn and to pity

And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As they carried us down the gangway
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared
Then turned all their faces away

And now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me
And I watch my old comrades, how proudly they march
Reliving old dreams of past glory

And the old men march slowly, all bent, stiff and sore
The forgotten heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask, “What are they marching for?”
And I ask myself the same question

And the band plays Waltzing Matilda
And the old men answer to the call
But year after year their numbers get fewer
Some day no one will march there at all

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me
And their ghosts may be heard as you pass the Billabong
Who’ll come-a-waltzing Matilda with me?

By Halil Celi in Turkey:

Centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign: Turkish elite commemorates imperialist bloodbath

25 March 2015

Turkey marked the 100th anniversary of the naval battle at Çanakkale last week.

During the 1915 battle, also known as the Gallipoli Campaign or the Dardanelles Campaign, Ottoman artillery held off British and French warships from taking the capital Constantinople (later renamed Istanbul). This would have given the Allied powers control of the Bosphorus and entry into the Black Sea, securing access to Russia against Germany.

The main ceremony was held in Çanakkale, attended by Turkish politicians, including Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, and military and civil officials from Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

Official ceremonies were held in other cities, including Istanbul, Ankara and Diyarbakir, attended by Turkish military officers, representatives of the political parties and civil society organisations. The Religious Affairs Directorate organised prayers across Turkey for those who died, who were described as martyrs.

As well as those killed in battle, thousands died from infection, enteric fever, dysentery, diarrhea and various fly-borne diseases. Others were burnt to death in out-of-control scrub fires. Some drowned in sewage, and others died from poor food and disease. While the exact number of casualties in the Gallipoli Campaign, which lasted about 10 months, is not known, one estimate puts the number of casualties on the Ottoman side at 250,000, with a similar number from the Allied forces. It was one of the most horrific slaughters of World War I.

In a Twitter post on March 18, Richard Moore, the British ambassador to Turkey, “congratulated the people of Turkey for the victory.”

In an attempt to cover up and sanctify the imperialist slaughter, he wrote, “Both the parties bravely fought during the war and Turks deserved the victory, Çanakkale is impassable!”

This was no different from the official propaganda, launched by the Turkish media weeks ago, that branded the imperialist slaughter of the Gallipoli Campaign as the beginning of the Turkish people’s struggle for independence.

Speaking during the ceremony at Çanakkale, Prime Minister Davutoğlu blessed the martyrs and said, “Turkish soldiers from different origins, including Kurdish, Bosnian and Circassian, started and won Turkey’s war of independence in unity and brotherhood.”

He used the centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign to make broader and more topical political points, saying threateningly, “Turkey is not a country that would succumb to either internal or external threats. It has the ability to immediately respond to any kind of treachery.”

Davutoğlu’s words followed the Prime Ministry’s Directorate General of Press and Information accreditation ban on media outlets critical of the government, including the Cihan news agency, one of the largest news agencies in Turkey, and the Zaman daily.

The centenary of the Gallipoli Campaign gave the Turkish government and the media a welcome opportunity to deflect the mounting anger of working people away from the burning social and economic problems at home, as well as to legitimise Turkey’s embroilment in the imperialist interventions and civil wars in the Middle East, in North Africa and potentially—as a NATO ally—in Ukraine.

As part of this broader campaign to distract working people’s attention away from deteriorating living conditions and prepare Turkish public opinion for impending military interventions in Iraq and Syria, all the bourgeois parties and media have joined in the official campaign of rewriting the history. There have been a series of activities, including conferences, lectures, films, and sporting and cultural events, with millions of dollars of government funding.

Ankara has used its best endeavours to rewrite the history of the Gallipoli Campaign to glorify the Turkish nationalist officers who years later waged the War of Independence against Britain and Greece, under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal, later known as Atatürk, founder and president of the Turkish republic. Ataturk first rose to prominence as a commander during the battle at Gallipoli.

Thus, the Turkish ruling elite has promoted the glorification of the imperialist bloodbath of Gallipoli as “the defence of the motherland.”

The pretence that the position of the Ottoman Empire in the Gallipoli Campaign was “the defence of the motherland” is bogus. The Gallipoli Campaign of March 1915-January 1916 was not a part of the Turkish national liberation war of 1919-1922. It was a tragic episode in the imperialist slaughter of World War I for raw materials, markets and geostrategic interests that resulted in the deaths of millions, in which the Ottoman Empire, albeit not itself an imperialist power, actively participated on the side of the Central Powers.

By the eve of World War I, the Ottoman Empire, described by Tsar Nicholas I as the “sick man of Europe,” had been weakened by economic crisis and military defeats by the imperialist powers, rival dynasties and national liberation movements. It had become a semi-colony of German imperialism, which enthusiastically supported the Young Turks’ regime led by the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), since 1908.

Germany provided significant financial aid and investment, training and re-equipping its army. In December 1913, Germany sent a military mission to Istanbul, headed by General Otto Liman von Sanders, who would serve as adviser and military commander for the Ottoman Empire during the war, and organise and lead the defence of the Dardanelles.

On July 30, 1914, only two days after the start of war in Europe, the CUP decided to accept Germany’s offer of a “secret alliance” against Russia. On October 27, the alliance was put into practice when two German warships set sail for the Black Sea and bombarded the Russian navy in Odessa. Three days later, the Ottoman Empire, with a view to recovering territories it had lost in previous wars in the Balkans, the Caucasus and the Middle East, officially entered the war on the side of the Central Powers led by Germany.

In early 1915, Tsarist Russia, then in combat with Ottoman forces and the German military in the Caucasus, appealed to Britain for relief. With the Western Front deadlocked, the British government decided to mount a naval expedition to bombard and take the Gallipoli Peninsula on the western shore of the Dardanelles, the narrow and strategic sea-lane near Istanbul separating the Aegean and Black Seas. The aim was to capture Constantinople, knocking Turkey out of the war, and link up with its tsarist ally.

The first attack on the Dardanelles began February 19, 1915, when a strong Anglo-French task force began the bombardment of Ottoman artillery along the coast, launching their main attack on March 18, 1915. The slaughter reached its peak as imperialist troops landed on April 25, after the failure of the naval attacks, commemorated by Australians and New Zealanders every year as “Anzac Day.”

In the following months, little progress was made and the Ottoman army took advantage of a British hiatus in the campaign to bring as many troops as possible onto the Peninsula. In a speech in April 1915, Atatürk told his soldiers in the 57th regiment, “I do not order you to fight, I order you to die. In the time which passes until we die, other troops and commanders can come forward and take our places.”

Few of the regiment survived the war.

The standstill was to lead to a political crisis in London in which the Liberal government was replaced by a coalition.

The deadlock in Dardanelles dragged on into the summer amid disease-ridden conditions. Nevertheless, the British government continued its attacks. It decided to end the campaign only after the unsuccessful landing of early August, finally evacuating the troops in January 1916.

In November 13, 1918, almost three years later and after the deaths of hundreds of thousands of soldiers from both sides, the Allied Forces would occupy Constantinople in accordance with the Armistice of Mudros that ended Ottoman participation in the First World War, as they hoped, a prelude to the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire and Turkey itself.

The Gallipoli Campaign was one of the most tragic battles of the imperialist slaughter, a war worthy not of glorification but of condemnation. It should act as a spur to opposition in Turkey and internationally to the ongoing eruption of imperialist militarism and war-mongering.

Erdoğan plan for super-presidency puts Turkey’s democracy at stake. The Turkish president’s attempted power-grab is slated from within his own party as divisions between the country’s executive and legislature deepen: here.

Marine biology discoveries off Western Australia


This video from Australia says about itself:

Deep-sea secrets of the cryptic Perth Canyon unveiled

15 March 2015

Scientists have completed a successful two-week mission unlocking the secrets of Perth Canyon, a deep ocean gorge the size of the USA’s Grand Canyon.

From LiveScience:

Huge Underwater Canyon Is Home to Amazing Deep-Sea Creatures

by Laura Geggel, Staff Writer | March 23, 2015 03:51pm ET

A two-week-long seafaring mission off the coast of western Australia has helped illuminate a deep and dark underwater abyss the size of the Grand Canyon.

During the trip to Perth Canyon, researchers encountered countless deep-sea organisms, including Venus flytrap anemones and golden coral. They even found a lost piece of equipment — an autonomous ocean glider that had gone missing two years earlier.

The scientists, from the University of Western Australia‘s Oceans Institute, began their mission on March 1 on the Falkor, a research vessel owned by an American nonprofit organization. Once aboard, they sailed about 19 miles (30 kilometers) from Fremantle, a city on the western Australian coast. They then used a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to explore the underwater canyon, which extends from the continental shelf for more than 2.5 miles (4 km) to the ocean floor. [Marine Marvels: Spectacular Photos of Sea Creatures]

“We have discovered near-pristine, sheer-drop cliffs of over 600 meters [1,968 feet] and mapped structures that are rarely found in other parts of the ocean,” Malcolm McCulloch, the project’s leader and a professor of earth and the environment at the University of Western Australia, said in a statement. “It is truly a huge canyon.”

The canyon likely formed more than 100 million years ago, the researchers said. Back then, it appears that an ancient river cut the canyon during rifting that separated western Australia from India. Nowadays, the submerged canyon is a hotspot for marine life, attracting blue whales and other sea life in search of a tasty meal.

Researchers knew little about the canyon’s structure and the creatures that inhabited it until this expedition. Using the Falkor’s cutting-edge mapping systems and ROV, they explored Perth Canyon at depths of more than 1.2 miles (2 km). By the end of the mission, the research team had traveled more than 1,118 miles (1,800 km) to map the canyon’s 154 square miles (400 square km).

The canyon’s deepest point is 2.6 miles (4,276 m) below the ocean’s surface, McCulloch said.

“It is at a depth where light can’t penetrate, making a dark water column where there are no signs of light from above or below,” he said.

Still, the researchers found a surprisingly rich community of deep-sea creatures that cling to the canyon’s walls. For instance, about 1 mile (1.6 km) below the surface, they found brisingid seastars and mushroom soft corals. Other researchers have documented these animals living in Perth Canyon before, and now these creatures have been found in other deep-sea areas around the world.

The team also used the ROV to collect samples of the deep-sea corals. In the coming months, the scientists plan to determine the coral‘s age, how fast they grow, and whether global warming or ocean acidification has changed their habitat.

The work may also help other researchers, especially those who study deep-sea ecosystems and the factors that threaten survival in these places, they said.

During the project, the researchers also stumbled across an old piece of equipment — an autonomous ocean glider that went missing while it was exploring the canyon more than two years ago. When the team spotted the bright-yellow glider at a depth of about 0.4 miles (700 meters) underwater, everyone celebrated, said Chari Pattiaratchi, a professor of coastal oceanography at the University of Western Australia.

Next up, researchers will use the Falkor to test underwater robotic vehicles at Scott Reef, off the coast of northwestern Australia.

Australian government helps reviving Japanese Kempeitai secret police


This video is about the history of the Kempeitai, the Japanese military secret police during World War II.

By Peter Symonds:

Australian spies assist Japan’s plans for intelligence agency

23 March 2015

In a front-page article on Saturday, the Australian revealed that the country’s overseas spy agency, ASIS, has been assisting in the training of Japanese agents and the reestablishment of a centralised foreign intelligence apparatus in Japan akin to the CIA or Britain’s MI6.

The re-establishment of a foreign intelligence agency is bound up with the revival of Japanese militarism, which is being encouraged by Washington as part of its “pivot to Asia” and military build-up against China. ASIS’s involvement demonstrates just how closely Canberra is intertwined with US war plans, which rely heavily on its allies in Asia, especially Japan and Australia.

The Japanese government signalled last month that it intended to accelerate the creation of an overseas intelligence body. Seizing on the killing of two Japanese citizens by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militias, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared that it was vital “to strengthen the government’s intelligence functions” to inform “the state’s strategic decision-making.”

Japan’s notorious military intelligence agencies and internal secret police were dismantled following World War II under the US occupation. Intelligence operations continued, in collaboration with the CIA, through several agencies. Over the past two decades, however, the push for a centralised body has continued to mount. In 2006, a parliamentary committee report called for a new agency operating from Japanese embassies to collect foreign intelligence and another to perform centralised intelligence analysis.

The Australian explained: “Since 2008, members of Japan’s national security community have been travelling to Australia to be trained by ASIS so that Japan can slowly build up its espionage capability.” According to the newspaper, at least 20 Japanese agents have been trained, including several at ASIS’s highly secretive training centre on Swan Island in Victoria where exercises also involve elite Special Air Service (SAS) trainers.

The ASIS training has been critical to the Japanese intelligence apparatus which lacked foreign agents schooled in all dirty tricks and subterfuge of so-called spy craft. A WikiLeaks cable recorded a 2008 conversation in which Hideshi Mitani, the director of Japan’s Cabinet Intelligence and Research Office, told Randall Fort, head of the US State Department’s bureau of intelligence, that a “human intelligence collection capability” was a priority.

“The decision has been made to go very slowly with this process as the Japanese realise that they lack knowledge, experience, and assets/officers. A training process for new personnel will be started very soon,” the US cable read. Undoubtedly, Japanese spies have received training from the CIA and other allied agencies.

The re-establishment of a foreign spy agency is deeply unpopular in Japan. During the 1930s and 1940s, military intelligence services were intimately involved Japan’s wars and in suppressing opposition to the colonial occupation of Korea, China and other countries. The secret police in Japan ruthlessly cracked down on domestic opposition, especially from the working class, to the militarist regime in Tokyo.

The US think tank Stratfor noted that “persistent anti-militarist sentiments” remained a major obstacle to the establishment of a new spy agency. “The Japanese constitution famously contains an article, Article 9, that forbids the use of war to solve international conflicts. Though there is no intelligence equivalent to Article 9 forbidding a clandestine intelligence service, in the eyes of the public, intelligence and militarism are deeply intertwined. Memories of World War II still run deep,” it commented.

The Abe government is remilitarising across the board. Since coming to office, Abe has increased military spending, established a National Security Council to centralise foreign policy and strategic affairs, “reinterpreted” Article 9 to allow Japan to participate in US wars, and is campaigning for an end to all constitutional restrictions on the military. While the training of Japanese spies has been taking place for years, moves to re-establish a centralised overseas intelligence service will also speed up.

Currently, Japanese intelligence activities are dispersed between various agencies: the Cabinet Intelligence Research Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Defence Intelligence Headquarters, the National Police Agency and the Public Security Intelligence Agency.

Abe’s ambition to forge a powerful spy agency is bound up with his determination to have the means to aggressively prosecute Japanese imperialism’s economic and strategic interests—whether or not they coincide with those of the US. A Japanese intelligence apparatus would reduce Tokyo’s current dependence on the CIA and other Western spy agencies that developed during the Cold War.

According to the Australian, “the proposal to train the [Japanese] spies was put by ASIS boss Nick Warner and approved by the previous Labor government.” As Australian governments, Labor and Coalition, have integrated more and more closely into the US “pivot to Asia,” the US has also encouraged closer military and strategic ties between its two closest allies.

During a visit to Tokyo last year, Coalition Prime Minister Tony Abbott held discussions on elevating “the bilateral security and defence relationship to a new level.” Abbott and Abe resolved to reach “a framework agreement” on cooperation on military science, technology and equipment. The deal was to pave the way for the possible multi-billion dollar purchase of Japanese Soryu submarines to replace the aging Australian submarine fleet.

Abbott foreshadowed even closer military cooperation. “We want to see more interoperability between our militaries, we want to see more exercises between our militaries, we want to see over time more significant intelligence co-operation,” he said.

The Australian’s foreign editor Greg Sheridan sought to play down the significance of the newspaper’s revelation about ASIS’s training of Japanese spies. “It is good news that Japan is building a foreign intelligence agency and that the previous Labor government offered Australia’s assistance in training its personnel … There is nothing sinister about this.”

The opposite is the case. It is one element in the far broader preparations of the US, Japan and Australia as well as other allies and strategic partners for a war with China that would have devastating consequences for the working class in Asia and internationally.

The author also recommends:

Japan pushes forward with plans for overseas intelligence agency
[12 March 2015]

Black swan babies, video


This video is about young black swans. They are greyish, not yet black like their parents.

Inge Duijsens from the Netherlands made this video.

Black swans are originally from Australia.