Baby echidna recovering from bulldozer in Australia


This video from Australia says about itself:

Meet Newman the Echidna Puggle at the Taronga Zoo

17 April 2015

Newman was rescued after its burrow was damaged by a bulldozer, injuring the little echidna. Keepers have nursed the baby back to health and it is now thriving under their care.

More, including photos, about this is here.

Drone assassination news


This video from Britain says about itself:

6 November 2013

Jemima Khan, interviewed on Channel 4 News, says Barack Obama has replaced a policy of detention without trial with his policy of assassination without trial. Using drone warfare, Obama has launched over 300 attacks in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere, killing over 3000 innocent civilians.

US government targeted second American citizen for assassination: here.

A front-page article in last Friday’s Australian reported that, for the first time, an Australian citizen—Mostafa Farag—had been placed on the Obama administration’s “kill list” for assassination by drone attack. The lack of any response, let alone criticism, from any section of the Australian political and media establishment underscores not only its support for Washington’s criminal actions but its contempt for democratic rights at home: here.

It looks like there is a double standard: fanatical Muslim preachers have a good chance of landing on a drone assassination list. Meanwhile, fundamentalist Christian ‘Reverend’ ‘Tea Party‘ preachers can preach about killing President Obama and killing gay people, without spending a single minute in jail or paying a one dollar cent fine. ‘Free speech’ for some United States (and Australian) citizens, not for others …

Bird news from Australia


This is a little woodswallow video from Australia.

From Birdline New South Wales in Australia:

Sunday 12 April 2015: Little Woodswallow, Pacific Swift

Euligal State Forest, Kenebri

At least 15 Little Woodswallows at the southern end of Cadet Rd (-30.784096,149.176005). They were perched, feeding young, flying overhead and bombing me. There were also good numbers of White-browed Woodswallows nearby.

Six Pacific Swift over the creek crossing just east of Kenebri an hour earlier. Two White-backed Swallow and 10 Turquoise Parrots were seen at The Aloes en route.

Max Breckenridge 13 April 2015

New Zealanders shun governmental World War I 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 Tom Peters in New Zealand:

New Zealanders shun Camp Gallipoli WWI celebration

10 April 2015

The Australian-based Camp Gallipoli Foundation announced the cancellation on Monday of its New Zealand event, telling the media that by April 1 it had sold just 102 tickets. It had aimed to attract 10,000 people to an overnight camp-out at Auckland’s Ellerslie Racecourse on April 24 to celebrate the centenary of Australian and New Zealand (Anzac) troops landing at Gallipoli in the First World War.

The abysmal ticket sales are a debacle for the foundation and the co-sponsors of the event—the Returned and Services Association (RSA), the state broadcaster TVNZ, and the New Zealand government, which had promoted the camp as part of WWI centenary commemorations.

Considerable effort had gone into promoting Camp Gallipoli. It was to feature entertainment by pop-rock band Evermore and reggae group 1814 with appearances by TV psychologist Nigel Latta and former All Blacks rugby coach Sir Graham Henry. The camp’s “ambassadors” included players from the Black Caps national cricket team and the Breakers basketball team.

Despite these high-profile celebrity endorsements the public shunned the event, which was aimed at glorifying one of the bloodiest battles of WWI. The organisers ran up against widespread and deep-seated anti-war sentiment among workers and young people, the vast majority of whom regard World War I as a never-to-be repeated catastrophe.

Camp Gallipoli Foundation CEO Chris Fox lashed out at the public for failing to buy tickets. He told Monday’s Dominion Post: “You didn’t get off your backside… I’d check your pulses to make sure that you’re still breathing.”

This prompted a deluge of 167 comments to the newspaper’s web site, most of them expressing hostility to Fox and his insulting comments.

Several readers denounced Camp Gallipoli as “tacky,” with one describing it as “an appalling ‘commercial event’ purely designed to make money out of an event in history that saw tragic losses of life on both sides.”

While advertised as “not for profit,” the camp had numerous corporate sponsors, including TVNZ, Australia’s Bendigo Bank, and the top sports bodies of Australia and New Zealand. Profits from ticket sales were to go to the RSA.

Many comments expressed revulsion at the event’s glorification of militarism. One described the camp as “rather bizarre and not my way [of] remembering thousands of senseless deaths in a war started by crazy leaders who were more than willing to send multitudes of young men to their deaths.”

“Why don’t we stop commemorating war and death?” asked Clinton Jackson. “We invaded another country. While the memory of the brave lads who were forced to kill for the pleasure of European royalty should be honoured, the actual battles should be confined to history along with its causes, religion and the narcissistic royal families.”

“I 100% agree with Clinton Jackson’s comments,” said another reader, who described WWI as a “crime” and added: “NZ was never at risk from WWI. Our young men were encouraged to go and fought for the ‘mother country’ and were told it was their duty… If you ask a lot of kiwis what they reflect on over ANZAC Day it’s most likely to be the futility of war and mankind’s continued view of it as a way to solve problems.”

Joannie similarly wrote: “I remember all our war dead on Anzac day including my dead son who served his country but to me this Gallipoli hysteria is just so over the top that it is becoming crude. Gallipoli was a disaster caused by the British which slaughtered thousands on both sides. Best buried in History I think.”

Another reader bluntly stated: “Kiwis and Aussies were used by the English masters as cannon fodder in an invasion that history tells us would have not made any difference anyway. We should not be celebrating this, but we should never forget.”

The 1915 invasion of Gallipoli, in Turkey, was a failed attempt by Britain and its allies to gain control of the shipping lanes through the Dardenelles. The fighting killed more than 87,000 Ottoman soldiers and 44,000 Allied troops, including 8,500 Australians and 2,779 New Zealanders. Hundreds of thousands more were maimed or became sick.

As a junior partner of British imperialism, New Zealand’s ruling class joined WWI to expand its wealth and seize more Pacific island colonies. In the course of the 1914–1918 war, 18,500 New Zealanders died and 40,000 were injured, out of a country with a population of about one million. In other words, approximately 6 percent of the population were killed or maimed in WWI.

Successive Australian and New Zealand governments have recast the catastrophe of Gallipoli as an occasion for nationalist celebration. The April 25 holiday, Anzac Day, is at the centre of the WWI centenary campaign, which promotes the battle as central to the “national identity” of both countries.

Several comments denounced Camp Gallipoli as an Australian import, with one declaring that “Australia have turned ANZAC day into some jingoistic fervour.” In fact, while Fox’s organisation has managed to sell many more tickets to its events throughout Australia, there are other signs of public hostility to the celebrations of militarism. Channel Nine was compelled to “burn off” its much-publicised Gallipoli television series after audiences turned off. An article berating the public for failing to watch prompted a stream of angry responses.

The Camp Gallipoli fiasco reflects widespread, albeit still latent, opposition to this intensifying militarist and nationalist campaign. At the same time, the comments to the Dominion Post indicate that there is little understanding of the purpose of the WWI commemorations.

For the ruling elite, the Anzac centenary is not simply a historical commemoration. On the contrary, the government and the corporate media are seeking to suppress anti-war sentiment and promote unquestioning respect for the military in order to condition the public, especially young people, to support future imperialist wars.

The National Party government, with the support of Labour and all the parliamentary parties, is spending more than $150 million on WWI related projects, including a new National War Memorial Park and major museum exhibitions.

A government-produced book, universally praised in the media, hailed New Zealand’s participation in WWI as “largely successful and profitable.” It endorsed the police state measures put in place during the war and covered up the opposition to the war that emerged in the working class.

Today, the world situation increasingly resembles the cauldron of inter-imperialist tensions that dominated in the period prior to World War I. The US has launched non-stop wars and interventions over the past two and half decades in a bid to counter its economic decline through military means. The National government is currently preparing to send New Zealand troops to join the renewed US-led wars in Iraq and Syria.

At the same time, the government and opposition, along with the pseudo-left organisations, have endorsed the Obama administration’s confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, and Washington’s strategic “pivot” to Asia—aimed at a military build-up against China.

The mounting popular opposition to war finds no expression in the political establishment. Every political party supports the military and intelligence alliance with the US. In 2003, tens of thousands of people marched in New Zealand against the invasion of Iraq

The celebration of WWI must be taken as a warning that the ruling elite will not hesitate to drag the country into a Third World War to defend its predatory interests. While anti-war sentiment revealed by the Camp Gallipoli fiasco is significant, unfocussed hostility will not halt the drive to war. What is required is the building of an anti-war movement of the international working class to put an end to capitalism—the root cause of war.

Australian quokkas and plants, new study


This video from Australia is called Quokka with baby.

By Shannon Verhagen in Australia:

April 9, 2015

Mapping the future of Rottnest‘s furry friends

We all know Rottnest Island‘s iconic quokkas (Setonix brachyurus) love eating treats from tourists and poking around inside public buildings but local researchers have identified plant species on the island that the quokkas need for food and shelter.

The Murdoch University study identified eight plant species used for food and four used for shelter by the quokkas and mapped their extent and distribution using hyperspectral remote sensing data.

They collected fresh faecal samples from 210 quadrats across the islands’ twelve native vegetation types over a two week period in 2011 to conduct dietary analysis.

The study found a clear preference for Guichenotia ledifolia, a non-significant food source for Rottnest Island quokkas 50 years ago, which suggests compositional changes in island vegetation over time may have caused this species to be more dominant in the landscape.

Researcher Patricia Fleming says a history of grazing, fire and land clearing has altered Rottnest’s vegetation structure and composition and therefore the quokkas’ vegetation use.

“The diet of these animals is likely to have changed over the last 50 years and probably has shifted from that of over 200 years ago,” Ms Fleming says.

“The vegetation on the island has changed markedly over that time, largely due to anthropogenic influences.”

Quokkas were found to have a clear preference for Melaleuca lanceolata and Acacia rostellifera for shelter, highlighting the importance of dense, protective vegetation.

They used remotely sensed, hyperspectral airborne imagery to map the principal food and shelter species in order to determine the locations where the preferred species are evident and where the principal species overlap.

Ms Fleming says managing these key habitat locations is essential as the Rottnest Island population suffers severe seasonal crashes due to a lack of permanent water bodies and intense browsing pressure from other quokkas.

“There are definitely times of the year for example, at the end of summer when the first cold nights hit those that are in worst condition, that animals are likely to be physiologically stressed,” Ms Fleming says.

“The forest [on the mainland] has more resources and the animals can probably access a much greater area to obtain their requirements.”

“The Rottnest Island population is resource limited.”

“It is likely that loss of a key plant species will alter the carrying capacity of the island,” she says.

More information: “Spatial analysis of limiting resources on an island: diet and shelter use reveal sites of conservation importance for the Rottnest Island quokka.” Wildlife Research, 41(6), 510.

Scottish composer Ronald Stevenson, RIP


This music video says about itself:

Ronald StevensonPassacaglia on DSCH“, Mark Gasser: Piano (Live in Australia – 2012)

21 September 2012

The Passacaglia on DSCH is a large-scale composition for solo piano by the British composer Ronald Stevenson. It was composed between 24 December 1960 and 18 May 1962, except for two sections added on the day of the first performance on 10 December 1963. The composer presented a copy of the score to Dmitri Shostakovich, its dedicatee, at the 1962 Edinburgh Festival.

The work takes the principle of the passacaglia or chaconne – namely, strict variations on an unchanging subject, usually a ground bass, and applies it across a very large single-movement structure that divides into a cumulative design of many different musical styles and forms. It is based on a 13-note ‘ground’ derived from the musical motif D, E-flat, C, B: the German transliteration of Dmitri Shostakovich‘s initials (“D. Sch.”). (Shostakovich used these four notes as a musical ‘signature’, for example in his Eighth String Quartet).

Stevenson’s work takes more than an hour and a quarter to perform and may be the longest unbroken single movement composed for piano. It is extraordinary in its scope, the range of its reference to historic events, and the musical influences absorbed. The work includes a Sonata form first section, a suite of dances (incorporating a Sarabande, Jig, Minuet, Gavotte and Polonaise), a transcription of a Scottish bagpipe Pibroch, a section entitled To Emergent Africa involving percussive effects directly on the piano strings, a section resonating to Lenin’s slogan ‘Peace, Bread and the Land‘.

The penultimate section is a huge triple fugue over the ground bass, the first fugue on a 12-note subject derived from the bass, the second combines the DSCH motif with Bach’s monogram BACH (B-flat, A, C, B), and the third, on the Dies Irae chant, is inscribed In memoriam the six million (a reference to the victims of the Holocaust of World War II). The work ends with a series of variations on a theme derived from the ground marked Adagissimo barocco and organized on the principle of Baroque ‘doubles’, with the basic unit of metre halving with each variation.

Plan of Work

Pars Prima Sonata Allegro
Pars Prima Waltz In Rondo-Form
Pars Prima Episode 1. Presto
Pars Prima Suite. Prelude.
Pars Prima Suite. Sarabande.
Pars Prima Suite. Jig.
Pars Prima Suite. Sarabande.
Pars Prima Suite. Minuet.
Pars Prima Suite. Jig.
Pars Prima Suite. Gavotte.
Pars Prima Suite. Polonaise.
Pars Prima Pibroch (Lament For Children).
Pars Prima Episode 2. Abaresque Variations.
Pars Prima Nocturne.
Pars Altera Reverie-Fantasy.
Pars Altera Fanfare.
Pars Altera Forebodings. Alarm.
Pars Altera Glimpse Of A War Vision.
Pars Altera Variations On ‘Peace, Bread And The Land’ (1917).
Pars Altera Symphonic March.
Pars Altera Episode 3. Volante Scherzoso.
Pars Altera Fandango.
Pars Altera Pedal Point. ‘To Emergant Africa‘.
Pars Altera Central Episode. Etudes.
Pars Altera Variations In C Minor
Pars Tertia Adagio. Tribute To Bach
Pars Tertia Triple Fugue Over Ground Bass: Subject 1. Andamento
Pars Tertia Triple Fugue Over Ground Bass. Subject 2. Bach.
Pars Tertia Triple Fugue Over Ground Bass. Subject 3. Dies Irae
Pars Tertia Final Variations On A Theme Derived From Ground (Adagissimo Barocco).

By David Betteridge in Britain:

RONALD STEVENSON, composer, pianist and writer March 6 1928-March 28 2015

Wednesday 8th April 2015

FOR many reasons, the name of Ronald Stevenson, who died on March 28 at the age of 87, should be more widely known.

He composed the epic Passacaglia on DSCH, one of the longest works in the piano repertoire, which is a comprehensive survey of a whole world of music and includes homages to Dmitri Shostakovich, Johann Sebastian Bach and an anonymous drummer whom Ronald once heard practising on a home-made percussion set in a South African township.

That 80-minute single movement work, once heard, is never forgotten — as is the case with many other works forged in Stevenson’s creative furnace.

These range from a violin concerto commissioned by Yehudi Menuhin through choral works — including a group of peace motets and his more recent Praise of Ben Dorain, performed at a Celtic Connections concert in Glasgow — to a rich body of piano works, where the long tradition associated with such giants as Franz Liszt and Ferruccio Busoni is furthered in a novel way.

There was too a cornucopia of songs, settings of Scottish folk songs and works by Hugh MacDiarmid, William Soutar, William Blake and other favourite poets, among them the pure gold of A’e Gowden Lyric to words by MacDiarmid, a friend and collaborator.

This miniature, in the words of one critic, constitutes a sort of gift from Scotland to itself.

Ronald leaves a huge gap in the lives of an international network of “comrades in arts,” as he called them, with whom he corresponded over many decades, as well as in the lives of his family and close friends.

Any comrades-in-arts who made their way to the door of his house in West Linton, on the flanks of the Pentland Hills south of Edinburgh, were certain of a kind welcome both from Ronald and from his lifelong partner, his wife and archivist Marjorie Spedding.

As in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, this was a latter-day “house of the interpreter,” where the visitor is shown “excellent things, such as would be an help to me in my journey.”

One such fellow traveller was Percy Grainger, the Australian-American folklorist, composer, and pianist. The letters that they exchanged, recently published by Toccata Press, take the reader on an intricacy of fascinating journeys, notably the life and work of Walt Whitman, whose embrace of the world in all its contradictions was a big influence on both men. Like Whitman, Ronald could have said: “I am large, I contain multitudes.”

Born into a working-class home in Lancashire in England, settled in Peeblesshire in Scotland and a wandering scholar and sometimes professor on several continents — he worked in Cape Town, Shanghai, New York and Melbourne — Ronald was an advocate and precursor of world music, along the lines of Goethe’s world literature.

Here, east and west meet, folk traditions and classical traditions inform one another and all barriers of genre and style and class and ethnicity are removed in an open conversation.

In a book that he wrote half way through his career, Western Music: an Introduction, Ronald nailed his colours to this democratic and peace-loving mast.

In his closing chapter, he envisaged a kind of music “which is created by a musician aware of the unity and conflict of the different musics of different nations,” and which, while conscious that “conflict is the law of divided society,” is aware also that “unity is equally a law of that great harmony which is music and which one day will reflect the reality of society united.”

Unsurprisingly, this mountain of a musician was for a while vice-president of the Workers’ Music Association where, along with his friend Alan Bush, he pursued through music the causes of peace, social justice and internationalism.

He is survived by his wife Marjorie and by his daughters Gerda, a playwright, poet, singer, actor and theatre director, Savourna, a clarsach player and composer and by his son Gordon, an instrument maker and repairer.

His funeral will be held at the Warriston Crematorium in Edinburgh on Tuesday April 14 at 1pm.

EDL nazi flop in Oxford, England


This video from England says about itself:

Many English Defence League (EDL) supporters have extreme views, and many have shown to support Nazism. Here is a compilation showing EDL supporters giving the Nazi salute.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Anti-racists beat back EDL thugs in Oxford protest

Monday 6th March 2015

THE racist English Defence League (EDL) flopped miserably when it tried to demonstrate in Oxford at the weekend.

Hundreds of trade unionists, students and anti-racism campaigners were joined by Oxford’s Mayor Councillor Mohammed Abbasi, councillors and parliamentary candidates when they staged a counter-demonstration against EDL thugs on Saturday.

More than 300 people attended the counter-demonstration against the EDL’s gathering of 100.

Police mobilised 500 officers — meaning that yet again the EDL added to the tax burden of residents in the communities it targets.

A police officer was injured by a missile thrown from the EDL demonstration and three men were arrested.

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: “A Thames Valley Police officer sustained a minor head injury during the operation. He suffered cuts to his head after objects were thrown but is okay.”

The counter-demonstration was supported by trade unions and anti-fascist groups including Unite Against Fascism (UAF).

UAF joint secretary Weyman Bennett said: “The response from the town was brilliant. The mayor and councillors came, trade unionists came.

“The EDL tried several times to attack the counter-demonstration. What was clear was the fact that it failed to divide the town and also that the EDL failed to intimidate the anti-fascists mobilised against the members. It failed in numbers and the anti-racist message prevailed.”

Several thousand people joined “Say no to racism” demonstrations last Sunday, opposing anti-Islamic and racist “Reclaim Australia” rallies called by extreme right-wing groups in 16 capital and regional cities across the country. The largest turnout was in Melbourne’s Federation Square, where about 2,000 people outnumbered the 500 or so anti-Islam protestors: here.