When the British decided to end slavery, Wilberforce set up a slave market  

Posted by Big Gav

Climateer Investing has a great little comment on carbon trading, prompted by my "Can Greed Be Green ?" post:

When the British decided to end slavery, Wilberforce set up a slave market.

Oh wait, that would have been stupid.

Canada's "Report On Business" reports that UBS is analysing the impact of climate change on European stocks.
Every single sector in financial markets will be touched by the climate change debate, though companies will be affected in different ways, a major global bank is saying.

UBS Investment Bank examined how companies will be influenced by climate change, and found six global stocks that represent the most “interesting opportunities.” They are all European: ABB, EDF, Intertek, Saint Gobain, Siemens and Swiss Reinsurance.

The report comes as a growing number of investment banks are issuing research reports on climate change and how it will affect investments.

“We believe that no sector is untouched,” Julie Hudson, head of socially responsible investment research, told Business News Network, adding that the issue has now become a facet of risk management for companies.

The Christian Science Monitor has an article on the greening of US corporate car fleets.
Call it the greening of the fleet.

Corporate America is starting to look at the millions of cars it owns or leases for traveling salesmen, executives, and technicians as an area where it can cut down on greenhouse gases and save money on increasingly expensive gasoline.

• Abbott, a large pharmaceutical company, has shifted 20 percent of its fleet to green status – more fuel-efficient vehicles. In analyzing its carbon footprint, the company found 4.5 percent of its emissions in the US came from its 6,500 vehicles.
• Last month at an expo of the National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA) in Houston, managers of corporate fleets waited in line for test rides in hybrid vehicles and cars that use alternative fuels. It was the first time in the 46 years of the expo that NAFA has featured a "green zone."
• Last week, Hertz Corp., owner of one of the largest automobile fleets in the nation, said it would buy 3,400 hybrids, an investment of $68 million, over the next two years. Enterprise, with the largest US rental-car fleet, will have more than 3,000 hybrids this year.

This shift in corporate thinking is relatively new but has the potential to make an impact. Automobiles that are part of the corporate fleet have double the miles of the family vehicle. In the case of rental-car companies and executive car services, the mileage can be even higher.

Whether the shift in thinking is for the public-relations value or because it saves money, companies are suddenly trying to change their ways.


TreeHugger has a look at turning waste into energy in India - "Bio-Digesters in India: Nothing Wasted, A Lot More Gained" (via Alt Energy Stocks).
In the tropical green south Indian state of Kerala, there is a fresh strategy of dealing with an old problem of waste: specially designed, efficient organic 'digesters' that turn solid waste into energy.

Beginning in 1994, a local NGO called Bio-tech pioneered the development of their ‘integrated waste recycling plant,’ where large amounts of organic waste generated by the markets, slaughter houses, and restaurant kitchens are treated and converted into methane (cooking gas) and fertilizer.

Saji Das, the man behind Bio-tech, then chose town of Kadakkal in Kollam district (which fortuitously had the largest dump in the state) as the location for the first integrated recycling plant. Today, the plant is capable of digesting daily one tonne of waste – producing three kilowatts of energy – enough to power 120 street lamps.

The conversion process begins with the manual segregation of wet waste, dry biodegradable waste and recyclable solids like glass, metal and plastic. The plant utilizes five technologies in order to complete the transformation of waste to energy in the form of biogas, namely biomethanization, biocineration, leach beds, waste water treatment and vermicomposting.

Wet waste – including blood and other waste matter from the slaughter house – is critical in producing biogas and is actually run through a pre-digester in order to boost the bacterial action that will break the waste down further. Once the process is complete, it generates biogas that can be used as fuel, in addition to electricity used for lighting and organic NPK (Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potash mix) fertilizer.

No waste is left behind, as the different components of the Bio-tech integrated recycling plant are designed to address specific types of waste, which distinguishes them from traditional, less-efficient treatment plants. For instance, the biocinerator unit is designed to handle wastes that degrade slowly, such as paper, dry leaves and plants, while the biomethanization unit processes all organic waste. The leach beds dispense with vegetable matter. Anaerobic waste treatment takes place in another separate unit and the final process incorporates earthworm action in a vermicompost unit.

Back at Kadakkal, this thorough efficiency is reflected in the reuse of water that is extracted and recycled so that it can be sent back to flush out abattoirs. Electricity produced by the plant is used to run all the equipment, while the incinerator runs only on the biogas produced by the methanization unit.

Das has now set up ten such integrated plants all over Kerala. In towns such as Kumbalangi, environmentalism and tourism have joined forces in transforming it into a “model tourism village” where, with government support, 140 Biotech domestic units have been designed to run on human waste from lavatories, in addition to 800 units that convert biogas from other wastes. Other municipalities, such as the tourist-friendly Kovalam, are following suit as well. ...

Tom Konrad at Alt Energy Stocks has a post on one important component of our smart grid future - "Smart Metering: A Smart Investment in Energy Efficiency".
Browsing AltEnergyStocks new CleanTech News page I came across one of the best articles I've seen yet on Smart Metering. Smart metering is one of the biggest win-wins available when it comes to reducing our carbon footprint by providing real time feedback on our electricity use. It allows us to see how we are wasting electricity and choose to take action. When Woodstock Hydo's customers were given this information (without any other encouragement to save electricity), their average usage fell by 15%.

In addition, Woodstock Hydro discovered that participants complained much less frequently than other customers. By giving people real time information about their electricity usage it empowers them to make their own decisions, and the better information they have (if accompanied by the tools to manage the new information), the better decisions they will make.

My own utility, Xcel Energy (NYSE: XEL), is just completing a year long trial of time-of day pricing, and the preliminary results indicate that when customers have the controls necessary to program or cut their usage of high consumption appliances such as air conditioners, either ahead of time or remotely, their usage decreases most.

Smart metering is just the sort of less-than-sexy energy efficiency sector I think cleantech investors should focus on. Because it's not as sexy as, say, solar, there are fewer investors bidding up the price of the companies (although, like everything in this sector, they are far from value plays,) yet the strong economic case for smart meters means that smart meters could easily be one of the first energy efficiency measures rolled out by many utilities.

The leading pure-play company in smart metering is Itron, Inc (NYSE: ITRI.) Itron does not have the field to itself, since energy management companies such as EnerNOC (NasdaqGM:ENOC) (previously covered here), and Comverge (NasdaqGM: COMV) offer similar products and services to utilities. Also, conglomerates such as GE and networking services companies such as Echelon ,(NasdaqGM:ELON) also compete in the area..

The competitive forces in this rapidly growing sector are intense, and it is difficult to pick winners in a market whose customers are dominated by regulated utilities. Because of these factors, I prefer acquiring small stakes in as many smart metering players as possible, rather than trying to pick an eventual winner.

The Times has an article by Tim Flannery on "Ten predictions about climate change that have come true".
1) That the Earth would warm as more CO2 was put into the atmosphere (Svante Arrhenius in 1893)
2) That we'd begin to see noticable changes to Earth's climate by around 2000 (some IPCC scientists ).
3) That sea-level would start rising
4) That Earth's Ice would start melting rapidly (James Hanson)
5) That hurricanes would increase in intensity (this one goes back to Alfred Russel Wallace in 1900)
6) That species would start going extinct as a result of climate change.
7) That Australia would start drying out (Hadley Centre scientists)
8) That tropical diseases would increase
9) That food crops would be adversely affected
10) That the CO2 would begin to acidify the ocean

After Gutenberg has a post on "Climate Science, Politics and Solutions", poking some fun at the ignorance prevalent amongst fossil fuel worshipers.
Joe Romm responded to a typical post from Planet Gore. The post attacked Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) for trying to drag the car industry into the 21st Century with fuel economy standards. (The operative word here is try.) In his attack on Reid, PG poster Henry Payne presumed to claim:
Of course, it’s Ford’s ingenuity that invented the gas engine, a vastly superior technology to steam and electrics that has given Americans unprecedented freedom. It remains superior today (along with oil-cousin diesel) even against new challengers like biofuel.

A claim that was a source of amusement at Climate Progress (An Insider’s View on Climate Science, Politics and Solutions):
Uhh, no. Not even close… Ford’s big contribution was inventing the moving assembly line around 1913, decades after the gas engine was invented. It would probably stun Payne to learn that Henry Ford’s Model T was the first flexible-fuel vehicle, running on gas, ethanol or both… The automaker foretold the future when he said fuel could be gotten from fruit, weeds, sawdust, or anything else that could be fermented.

Unfortunately, such an observation fails to acknowledge that the dominant paradigm did become petroleum, which was fine with most everyone (”Yes, we know we stuck you on this reservation, but you would be much more comfortable in this other God forsaken place where the ground does not weep with black tears”) for most of the 20th century.

Technology Review has an article about the folks from one of Craig Venter's companies, this one looking at biological techniques for extracting fossil fuels from the ground - a waste of good scientists really, but an interesting topic anyway.

As a weird aside, I mentioned one of his other ventures recently that was looking at bacteria to turn plants into oil, which quickly found its way to the company then shortly thereafter to their lawyers. Presumably there was some consternation about my mention of SP's "brown goo" theory (the biotech equivalent of nanotechnology's "grey goo" fear), though on the whole I'm mildly supportive of this sort of research, which holds some promise even if the risks need to be kept in mind. Thankfully I didn't hear anything from them and my long run of not being told to unsay things or being threatened with legal consequences remains intact (well, I'll ignore the invisible search ink apparently poured over one post - which was quite impressive - very subtle).
Microbes dwelling in oil fields and coal beds could inspire new methods of extracting fossil fuels from the depths of the earth. That's the hope of Ari Patrinos, a genomics pioneer who helped run the Human Genome Project and is now the president of Synthetic Genomics, a Maryland-based biotech startup founded by J. Craig Venter. Synthetic Genomics's goal is to use genomics to develop new energy technologies. As part of a new partnership with oil giant BP, Synthetic Genomics will study microbes that naturally feed off hydrocarbons for clues into biological means of extracting and processing oil and coal.

After several decades at the Department of Energy (DOE), Patrinos is a strong advocate of using biotech solutions to the world's energy problems. He helped found the DOE's Joint Genome Institute and created the agency's Genomes to Life program, which, among other things, develops energy-related applications for microbes. Patrinos was lured away from the DOE by Venter last year. He talks with Technology Review about Synthetic Genomics's plans and the future of biofuels.

Technology Review: Why look to microbes as sources of alternative energy?

Ari Patrinos: Microbes are the virtuosos of the living world. They have been around about four billion years, a third of the time the planet has been in existence, and they have developed tremendous variability and diversity. We have a lot to learn from them as we face global warming and try to learn to use our resources more efficiently.

TR: How is genomics helping us take advantage of microbes' diverse functional repertoire?

AP: As a result of genomics, we have discovered there are microbes everywhere, living at every temperature and pressure. They can survive at 100 times the atmospheric pressure and at temperatures almost 100 degrees Celsius. People have identified microbes that can withstand huge amounts of radiation. Microbes play a crucial role in the carbon cycle, taking up carbon dioxide in the ocean. More than 50 percent of living biomass on this planet is microbial in nature. That's why we should be looking to microbes to solve some of our problems. They have become extremely effective in life's processes. We need to understand them and then mimic them for some of these applications.

TR: Synthetic Genomics recently formed a partnership with BP. What is the emphasis of that deal?

AP: We have huge reserves of heavy oils in this continent, but their extraction is difficult. It requires energy and water, and produces a lot of carbon dioxide. There may be ways to use microbial communities to improve the quality of the oil while still in the subsurface. So we'll look at microbes that live in coal beds or oil fields and oil sands.

TR: How will that help fuel production?

AP: The idea of oil fields as a reservoir you can tap is naive. Oil exists as a matrix in different layers. When you produce oils from wells, you leave as much as 50 percent behind. As many as 30 to 40 years ago, people were contemplating microbially enhanced oil recovery--ways they could manipulate microbes to enhance oil recovery from wells. But their ability to discover and study these microbes was impaired because of primitive microbiology tools. This never made it into commercial practice, as far as I know.

We have significantly more accurate and powerful tools than our colleagues back then, and we suspect the number and diversity of microbes we discover will be much higher than was contemplated back then. ...

AutoBlogGreen has a look at why the Transformers movie is terrible. On the subject of movies which could have been much better, I watched "Apocalypto" recently which measured high on the stress meter but didn't really do the green apocalypse subtopic justice. Guess its time to try "Children Of Men" next...
As the editor of this here blog, I thought perhaps there's some green angle to the movie that we could mention and get in on the Transformers hype. I emailed the production company a few months back, and they called back saying this film doesn't really have any green car connections. I forgot about it and moved on.

Then, with the increased coverage in the media - the latest issue of WIRED devotes a few pages to Transformers and our friends over at Autoblog can't seem to get enough - and after watching a few trailers for the film, I realized that Transformers, as exciting as it might be, will suck.

First, let me make it clear that I haven't seen the movie. I'm basing this column on a.) what the movie company told me and b.) what we can all guess from the previews and the press.

OK, the reason Transformers will be a terrible movie is that it gives zero credibility to alternative fuel cars. If there's one movie where a hydrogen or hybrid car could have saved the world, this is the one. Now, I'm not asking for a Prius Transformer (but you can go ahead and admit that you'd like to know what a Tesla Roadster would look like in robot form), but I think that with all the creativity used to give Optimus Prime flames, he could also burn ULSD or biodiesel? These green car messages wouldn't have to be delivered in a PSA format (i.e., Optimus turns to the camera and says, "this burns cleaner and is better for the environment, kids"), but there could be a sign in the background. I've seen enough Industrial Light & Magic films to know that those folks could have easily come up with a clever way to tell everyone what's going on.

Or how about this: Bay and team could have used the silent movement capability of an EV to great effect in a tense, quiet scene. Bay is totally in love with the U.S. military, and it's surprising that his Armed Forces partners didn't suggest the plot to him. The Army's Shadow (a Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Targeting Vehicle (RST-V), pictured), for example, would have fit perfectly with Bay's ideology and given electric cars a new look in the public eye.

You can ask James Woolsey, who used to head the CIA and is now a vocal advocate for alternative fuel vehicles, about how our oil supply and our freedom go hand-in-hand. If the Autobots are really here to fight for our freedom, then what we have here is a story that writes itself.

From what I've read, this film makes a lot of changes from the old animated Transformers TV series. You know most of them, I'm sure. The biggest is that Bumblebee is no longer a VW Bug but a Chevy Camaro. So perhaps the one to blame for the lack of green thinking in the film is General Motors.

Bay is no stranger to product placement (just watch The Island. Actually, don't. It's terrible) and his big deal for Transformers is a partnership with GM. With all the work GM has been putting into giving their brand a green shine in the last few months, what cars are they pushing in the big July 4 blockbuster? A GMC TopKick (Ironside), the Camaro, the Pontiac Solstice (Jazz) and the Hummer (Ratchet). Perhaps they is someone at GM kicking themselves for not forcing a Volt transformer into the movie. At the very least, shame on GM for not adding a hybrid badge to Jazz. Sure, there's no actual Solstice hybrid, but there's no Solstice that turns into a freaking robot, either. ...

Jerome a Paris has a post on what he has dubbed "The Anglo Disease" - something that is unfortunately likely to bite Australia when the China driven resource boom eventually busts.
I've been developing ... a concept which I think can usefully describe our current economic system, that of the Anglo Disease, mirroring the "Dutch disease", a term coined in the 70s to describe the economic effects of the rapid development of one sector (in that case, natural gas, today, the financial industry) on the rest of the economy.

...In the Netherlands, the discovery of the large Groningen gas field which brought about a boom in that resource sector, with a lot of - highly profitable - investment concentrating in that sector. The reason that something which sounds like good news is called a disease is that the investment in that profitable sector tends to cause a drop in investment in other industrial sectors, because it is so much more profitable; at the same time, there is a lot of extra revenue from the export of the resource, which generates new demand which cannot be fulfilled by domestic production and gives rise to increased imports. The fact that resource exports grow strongly also tends to cause the domestic currency to get stronger, thus further penalising other sectors of activity on international markets. The result is a weakening of the rest of the economy, and increased reliance on the resource sector.

This then becomes a problem when the new sector is based on finite resources, and eventually goes into decline. At that point, exports dry up, but the rest of the economy, having become uncompetitive and fallen behind, can no longer pick up the slack and has become too small to carry the economy over. Thus the overall economy suffers.

In effect, the displacement of existing activity by the new sector is, to some extent, irreversible, and thus, when the resource dries up, the overall economy is permanently weakened. It's also part of the "resource curse", which usually includes additional symptoms like corruption and weakening of democratic rules as a lot of money gets concentrated in relatively few hands (those that own and those that regulate the resource industry). In the worst cases, it can include militarisation of society (weapons being an easy way to spend a lot of foreign currency and being occasionally useful against those that might want to take your sweet spot overseeing the cash cow).

I think that the above is increasingly relevant to describe the economy of the UK and, to a lesser extent, that of the US, which are increasingly dominated by the financial services industry.

That prevalence of the financial world is no longer a matter of dispute. In fact, it is celebrated with increasingly euphoric words in most business publications and current affairs books. There is an air of hegelian (or marxist) inevitability about the triumph of markets and Anglo-Saxon capitalism, led by the powerhouses (banks, hedge funds and assorted accomplices) in the City of London and on Wall Street. ...
Unfettered finance is fast reshaping the global economy (by Martin Wolf, senior editor, Financial Times, 19 June 2007)

It is capitalism, not communism, that generates what the communist Leon Trotsky once called "permanent revolution". It is the only economic system of which that is true. Joseph Schumpeter called it "creative destruction". Now, after the fall of its adversary, has come another revolutionary period. Capitalism is mutating once again.

Much of the institutional scenery of two decades ago - distinct national business elites, stable managerial control over companies and long-term relationships with financial institutions - is disappearing into economic history. We have, instead the triumph of the global over the local, of the speculator over the manager and of the financier over the producer. We are witnessing the transformation of mid-20th century managerial capitalism into global financial capitalism.

Above all, the financial sector, which was placed in chains after the Depression of the 1930s, is once again unbound. Many of the new developments emanated from the US. But they are ever more global. With them come not just new economic activities and new wealth but also a new social and political landscape.

The front page of the SMH today led with "terrified (Aboriginal) families flee in panic" from the police and army the Rodent and his minions are sending in to sort them out (I'm going to go off topic and examine a few pieces on this subject - if you want more energy news scroll down to the "Links" section).
PANIC about the Howard Government's crackdown on child sexual abuse has spread widely throughout remote Aboriginal communities, where parents fear their children will be taken away in a repeat of the stolen generation.

Some families have already fled the first community to be targeted, Mutitjulu at Uluru, but the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Mal Brough, blames "liars" who have something to hide from police and military personnel for terrorising people and spreading hysteria. ...

Marion Scrymgour, a Northern Territory Government minister, said: "There's a lot of fear, particularly among elder woman. Not so long ago - 30 to 40 years - children were being taken out of the arms of Aboriginal mothers. There is real fear that is going to happen again."

The Northern Territory Chief Minister, Clare Martin, told MPs yesterday to travel to their bush electorates as soon as possible to tell people "what is fact and what is fiction" in an effort to halt the panic.

The minister that the natives are fleeing in terror from has been dubbed "Cyclone Mal" by The Australian. Apparently he is ex-Army and views a military operation as the appropriate way to handle healthcare and criminal justice issues. Just wait and see what they have planned for the obesity crisis...
JOHN Howard's Hurricane Katrina analogy was at least half right. As a textbook example of how governments can contrive to ignore and/or bungle a life-threatening problem, events in New Orleans and remote Australia are probably on a par.

Lead time is where the comparison ends. While the Louisiana weather department had a few days' notice of impending catastrophe, the sinister clouds of indigenous child abuse have been hanging ominously over these parts for years. Not that any of this deters Cyclone Mal.

Long before he addressed his attention to pioneering the audacious faux takeover of the Northern Territory, Mal Brough has been eschewing niceties. "The point is about protecting children, not arguing about technicalities," has been his mantra since landing in the indigenous affairs portfolio last year.

Cyclone Mal is now the closest thing in federal politics to a force of nature. During the past few days, he has cobbled together the Coalition's drastic response to the Northern Territory sex abuse report, harangued the states into jumping on board and formed a taskforce to oversee the federal takeover.

When not video-conferencing territory ministers and bureaucrats, Cyclone Mal is mobilising police, soldiers, doctors, psychologists, paramedics, nurses, social workers, pharmacists and anyone else who might be interested for what South Australian Premier Mike Rann gently derides as a "shock and awe" campaign.

While Brough has been playing down the military element to the federal Government's response, it's clear he is revelling in his return to a familiar role. Before entering parliament in 1996, Brough marketed hair products - not much help, you'd think, in curbing this crisis. Before that, Cyclone Mal spent a dozen years in the army, and doesn't it show? ...

Cyclone Mal is howling around the country like a politician plainly enjoying his job. In his army, there is no tolerance for dissent along the chain of command. Alan Carpenter, the West Australian Premier grizzling loudest about the NT invasion, is summarily court martialled for bloody-minded bleating.

It's frankly impossible to envisage anyone with more discipline, energy and optimism than Cyclone Mal, but these admirable qualities get you only so far. When he began tackling child abuse, he declared: "They're complex issues, but I don't think they have complex answers."

Cyclone Mal can furiously huff and puff, but he's dead wrong about that.

Guy Rundle at Crikey declared the crackdown "a new apartheid".
Last week, the Howard Government, via a sleight of hand connected to the grant of lands in the 1970s, imposed a de facto apartheid system on Australia. You may want to argue that this was necessary, desirable, a last resort, etc etc, but first you have to acknowledge that this is apartheid. A section of the population will be prevented from exercising their legal rights in the places where they live and rarely leave.

This denial will extend to what they can buy, how they raise their children, what they can do with the benefit money to which they, as citizens, are entitled to receive. In other words, such people have been legally ruled – if the law survives a High Court challenge – to be denied the right to equality under the law. Aborigines in these areas are once again the exceptional case.

How did the editorial writers of The Australian mark this occasion? By arguing that it marks the end to "Aboriginal exceptionalism". That’s pretty much the screwy non-logic that has dominated this episode, and which will dominate the inevitable failure of what is de facto, the military occupation of Aboriginal Australia.

Forty years ago the Aborigines got full citizenship and the beginnings of land rights. Neither of these were due to white beneficience, but to the pressure put on sluggish governments by political movements – the ‘freedom rides’ in the first place (started by Charles Perkins and black and white members of the Communist Party of Australia) and the Wave Hill strike on the other (sparked at least in part by communists such as Frank Hardy, who would later draw Fred Hollows, another communist, into Aboriginal Australia).

İn the '70s these grew into full-scale urban and remote political campaigns, which generated medical services, legal services, campaigns on land control and ultimately the successful Mabo et al lawsuit establishing native title.

To understand this is to understand why Howard’s initiative, should it be implemented, will inevitably fail. Nothing that Aborigines have won or achieved has come from outside. İt has come, as it can only come, from movements built from within that force white Australia to cede power, not to re-extend it.

Yet much of the criticism of Howard’s initiative has been misplaced or misunderstands why it is wrong and counterproductive. That it has a political dimension is without doubt. Howard, who can retrieve a majority with a thimble and a line of thread, has performed a dialectical two-step that would have done Lenin proud. Moving on Aboriginal suffering makes him look like a man of action and compassion, and using the police and the army to do it appeals to the right who would dismiss any other type of move as more wasted money. Rudd is left with nothing to do, except bleat agreement. Going to the liberal-left of it and talking about rights would be suicide. Going to the right of it – well there is no right of it, save for reintroducing forced child removal.

But the political maneouvring is beside the point. İf the policy was right its genesis and motive wouldn't matter. İts inevitable failure is obvious with a moment’s consideration.

İ mean really, try and think about it, really think about it for a minute. What are the constituents of the policy? That troubled Aboriginal communities will develop self-determination and autonomy by having key decision-making powers over their own lives taken away from them? That school attendence will be enforced by the army? That chopping up land into freehold title will magically introduce the idea of home ownership and bourgeois individualism into a culture that had not yet developed agriculture when Europeans encountered them? Come on.

Can you think of somewhere where this policy of military modernisation has been tried before? That’s right. İraq. The place where 24-year-old interns were sent to establish stock markets and private health systems etc, where it was assumed that, once a dictator was deposed, a society pretty much like Akron, Ohio, would emerge.

As it unaccountably failed to do so, relations between occupier and occupied detoriarated to the point where a situation of open conflict developed. So, too, will it occur in the north when Aboriginal Australia unaccountably fails to become a southern Switzerland, organised crime breeds from prohibition (as it always does) and Aborigines increasingly define themselves against the army of experts – military and therapeutic – sent in to "help" them.

And as in the Middle East, such exuberant manoeuvres will delegitimise a whole generation of failed leaders. Abbas, Al-Maliki, Khazai have now been joined by Noel Pearson, rubber-stamping the surrender of Aboriginal power when the minister calls.

One consolation of this policy is that it will fail more quickly and more visibly than previous ones, and people can then move on to really thinking about how power is formed and held. Another is that the next generation of leaders will be formed not in the muddy waters of ATSİC and reconciliation, but by seeing their parents and elders bullied by cops and social workers, with vastly more powers than they now possess. Given the way prohibition usually works, the cops will be running the illegal market in booze within six months anyway.

What this new initiative represents above all is cowardice. İt is cowardly because it has little to do with blacks, the movement they have to rebuild, the power they have to take from us.

This policy is for and about white people. İt is about assuaging their guilt and shame of white people by being seen to be doing something, anything, in the face of horror, the unwillingness to look deep into the heart of colonialism and face what really needs to be done with determination and resilience.

To my mind (ignoring my belief that this is primarily a distraction formulated by the Rodent to take attention away from all the other issues the government is getting hammered on in the polls), this is what happens when you swing to far out to either "side" of politics - the authoritarians grab control and once the other "side" has disappeared from the political map (as the left has now) they then start on the dissenters in their own ranks, as this "conservative" lunatic blaming libertarians for the state of Aboriginal Australia demonstrates. Does anyone remember the appalling history of conservative paternalism ? how is returning to it going to fix the current problems ? The final stage of these trends seems to be when relations between governments and their citizens become miltarised, as we are now seeing all over the place...
CRITICS of Prime Minister John Howard's tough new policy for indigenous communities have insisted on the need for Aboriginal ownership of the new regime. Of course, society works better when people accept and internalise the rules that govern them. But you can get a long way with incentives and disincentives. ...

Australia is a long-established capitalist society. You would assume the work ethic is well entrenched in most of the population. But what would happen if the rules, or rather the lack of rules, in an Aboriginal community operated in our world? Say you were paid your wages no matter how late you turned up for work, or if you turned up only every other day (if you never turned up you might need a close relative in the salaries office).

Some would immediately take advantage of the new laxity. Many people out of habit or love of the work or a sense of responsibility would still turn up on time every day. But who does not believe that over time laxity would have an effect on their behaviour, too?

Consultation and ownership may be effective modes for securing change in social organisations, though the open exercise of power would often cause less resentment than the pretence the governed are in charge. But in many Aboriginal communities, social organisation has completely broken down. The people have shown they are incapable of governing themselves. There is no point in consulting them about the creation of authority; authority has to be created for them. ...

Among the many misfortunes of Aborigines is that they were freed from civil disabilities and controls just when the libertarian wave swept through wider society. They became eligible for the dole when the dole became a right not to be interfered with. The prohibition on their drinking of alcohol was dropped just as wider society moved to make alcohol more readily available. Schools were provided for Aboriginal communities just when truant officers were deemed no longer necessary. As the missionaries went out, pornography came in.

The wider significance of the Government's takeover of Aboriginal communities is that it is a spectacular official announcement of how poisonous the libertarian approach has been to marginal people. ...

Among all the difficulties of implementing the new measures will be finding the right personnel to take charge of these troubled communities. Anyone trained in social work and expert in the language and modes of consultation and ownership must be excluded. They've had their turn. Officers and men from the army who have served as peacekeepers would be good candidates, as would school principals or small business people. Anyone, in short, who has the habit of command and senses without formal consultation what can realistically be achieved. White people in charge of Aborigines: it has been criticised as a return to paternalism. Is it an official recognition of Aboriginal failure at self-determination? No. The failure was in those who thought a group of a few hundred or thousand people should run, on a co-operative basis, a store, a school, garbage collection, the health centre and a cattle station. Nowhere in wider society would such madness be contemplated. Even at our local government level, councils become dysfunctional and have to be suspended. An administrator is sent in. Let that be the parallel to what is happening now.

Aboriginal society is least suited to co-operative action, since the people's first loyalty is to kin. A girl working at the checkout in a community store is under pressure to let her aunt shop free. The manager lets his brother take goods out through the loading bay at the back. And in these communities there are frequently different tribal groupings whose hostility undermines joint action.

Paternalism's claim is to full control of someone else's life. This is not what is contemplated here. If outsiders restore social order and run services, traditional leaders can get on with traditional business. When the men are drunk and the kids are sniffing petrol, traditional knowledge and ritual will not be passed on. This move will help preserve traditional culture.

As this is a family blog I won't type in my internal reaction to that lot of claptrap.



The Age points out that the community first in line is the one where the owners of Uluru (Ayers Rock) live. I hope this isn't just some miserable undercover land grab for key tourist attractions and uranium mines...
A letter read to them by elder Donald Fraser, recounted first in English, then in the Pitjantjatjara tongue that is still the first language of the old people, polititely advises that a small contingent of federal and territory officials, together with at least one Federal Police officer, would like to visit and talk to them this morning. The letter is couched as a request, respectful of the process, which still requires the restricted community to give authority for strangers to visit, although the permit system limiting access to remote communities will be scrapped under the planned changes.

The letter urges calm. It offers reassurance. Much of what people are hearing and are frightened about, it says — like the stories of coercive health checks of children, or the whispers that children will again be taken, stories that are said to have already sent families scurrying into the sand dunes— are exaggerated and unfounded.

The officials want to "explain to the community the Australian Government's response to the Little Children Are Sacred report". This was the recent analysis, which distilled years of reports documenting sexual abuse and violence suffered by Aboriginal children throughout the territory into a testament that compelled Prime Minister John Howard to announce last week that he would wrest control of remote communities from Darwin.

But "why us?" and "why now?" are the questions underpinning this afternoon's long meeting outside the Mutitjulu Community Office, painted in the colours of the Aboriginal flag. A three-week investigation of allegations of abuse in the community by a joint police task force last year — including over 100 interviews with local people — failed to find evidence of abuse capable of prosecution in this community, local elders say. "Where is the evidence? Put up or shut up."

Here in the shadow of Uluru, the locals are not so much angry as deeply cynical. They question how much this action is to do with abuses and problems alleged to have occurred in their community — some of which they recognise, though they say they are now in the past — and how much relates to their proximity to the huge rock representing some of the richest tourist geology on the planet. "That bloody rock," observes one old woman, is the problem. Every day, to enter or leave their community, the people of Mutitjulu pass the parading silhouettes of the "minga" — literally ants, but colloquially, tourists — filing up and down the world famous climb.

Five years ago, when local and visiting youths addicted to petrol fumes regularly terrorised this community, local elders say they could not even secure funding for street lights to make the community safer. When concerns emerged that a man was endangering their children, they could not get assistance from authorities to remove him. He is now long gone. But despite his departure, and the arrival of fume-less Opal fuel and a rehabilitation effort that doused the petrol sniffing crisis, a "national emergency" will now summon police and military.

Over the occasional brawls of scavenging dogs, and the distractions of small children nursed by old women, Donald Fraser tells the community that he wants the minister to "come and sit down with the elders face to face" and explain what is going on. "We look up to the Government to help us," he says. "Now the government has become a camel, and kicked us out." He says that people are frightened of the Federal Police coming "because we do not know what they look like". We know our police, he says, we are confident of them.

He passes the microphone to Harry Wilson, an angrier, younger man, who proclaims to his community that this is the Tampa again. This is "black children overboard … this Government is using these kids to win the election". His words echo a joke drily recounted earlier to The Age by one local official that Mr Howard, the magician politician, has pulled a rabbit out of his hat. "Only it is a black rabbit"....

And the last one on this subject - Crikey letting the locals have their say.
Mutitjulu community leaders Dorothea and Bob Randall write:

We welcome any real support for indigenous health and welfare and even two police will assist, but the Howard Government declared an emergency at our community over two years ago -- when they appointed an administrator to our health clinic -- and since then we have been without a doctor, we have fewer health workers, our council has been sacked, and all our youth and health programmes have been cut.

We have no CEO and limited social and health services. The Government has known about our overcrowding problem for at least 10 years and they’ve done nothing about it.

How do they propose keeping alcohol out of our community when we are 20 minutes away from a five-star hotel? Will they ban blacks from Yulara? We have been begging for an alcohol counsellor and a rehabilitation worker so that we can help alcoholics and substance abusers but those pleas have been ignored. What will happen to alcoholics when this ban is introduced? How will the Government keep the grog runners out of our community without a permit system?

We have tried to put forward projects to make our community economically sustainable -- like a simple coffee cart at the sunrise locations -- but the Government refuses to even consider them.

There is money set aside from the Jimmy Little foundation for a kidney dialysis machine at Mutitjulu, but National Parks won’t let us have it. That would create jobs and improve indigenous health but they just keep stonewalling us. If there is an emergency, why won’t Mal Brough fast-track our kidney dialysis machine?

Some commentators have made much of the cluster of s-xually transmitted diseases identified at our health clinic. People need to understand that the Mutitjulu health clinic (now effectively closed) is a regional clinic and patients come from as far away as WA and SA; so, to identify a cluster here is meaningless without seeing the confidential patient data.

The fact that we hold this community together with no money, no help, no doctor and no government support is a miracle. Any community, black or white would struggle if they were denied the most basic resources. Police and the military are fine for logistics and coordination, but health care, youth services, education and basic housing are more essential. Any program must involve the people on the ground or it won’t work. For example, who will interpret for the military?

Our women and children are scared about being forcibly examined; surely there is a need to build trust. Even the doctors say they are reluctant to examine a young child without a parent’s permission. Of course, any child that is vulnerable or at risk should be immediately protected, but a wholesale intrusion into our women's and children’s privacy is a violation of our human and sacred rights.

Where is the money for all the essential services? We need long-term financial and political commitment to provide the infrastructure and planning for our community. There is an urgent need for tens of millions of dollars to do what needs to be done. Will Mr Brough give us a commitment beyond the police and military?

The Commonwealth needs to work with us to put health and social services, housing and education in place rather than treating Mutitjulu as a political football.

But we need to set the record straight:

* There is no evidence of any fraud or mismanagement at Mutitjulu – we have had an administration for 12 months that found nothing.
* Mal Brough and his predecessor have been in control of our community for at least 12 months and we have gone backwards in services.
* We have successfully eradicated petrol sniffing from our community in conjunction with government authorities and oil companies.
* We have thrown suspected p-dophiles out of our community using the permit system which the Government now seeks take away from us.
* We will work constructively with any government, state, territory or federal, that wants to help Aboriginal people.



Links:

After Gutenberg - Sizzling CSP, Canucks, Lizards in Toronto?
After Gutenberg - Membrane Technology for Dewatering Ethanol
Clean Break - Lowering cost, carbon footprint of ethanol production
TreeHugger - LED Replacement for Fluorescent Fixtures
TreeHugger - The Cheaper PC, the Smaller PC, and the Greener PC
TreeHugger - Recycling Plastics Reaches New Milestone in Japan
Gunther Portfolio - Sol3g talks M40 HCPV Solar Modules and Systems at Intersolar
Energy Bulletin - Global efforts to substitute for oil: Learning by doing ourselves in. Overly pessimistic from my point of view (since when was World War 2 a "minor adjustment in the global order" ? and why do people continually say it is hard to increase production of solar power - is a bunch of metal mirrors and some salt really that hard to put together ?).
TreeHugger - Tate Modern: Global Cities
The Australian - Underground Rail For Sydney ?
The Age - Tidal Wave Of Debt Engulfing The Young
The Guardian - The Middle Classes Have Discovered They have Been Duped By The Super Rich. Warren Buffett warned that top down class warfare would eventually have this effect...
Tom Paine - Informed Witness Vs. Ignoramus
Think Progress - FLASHBACK: Cheney Argued Energy Task Force Probe ‘Interfered With Executive Branch’
CNN - Bloomberg Could Have Perot-Like Effect On 2008 Race. Ron Paul support rising.
Washington Post - A Day Of Silence: Internet Radio Goes Dark
Freenet project - What Is The Freenet Project ?.
Technology Review - Artificial Societies And Virtual Violence

And in the most important news of the day, Paris Hilton has been released from prison. Never let it be said that Peak Energy fears to consider the most important issues of our time, or the stories the mainstream media won't touch...

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