Choc Peanut Butter Raw Pills – Vegan Recipe

By Nick Pendergrast

I’m not sure how nice these look close up, but they taste good!

This blog has gone from politics to pop culture to now vegan food blog. These are a nice snack/dessert that I’ve put together from just copying and gradually modifying/adding to the ingredients of a store-bought raw treat I liked. I enjoy raw desserts but they’re often ridiculously expensive to buy – much cheaper to make! Unlike most online recipes, I won’t give my life story before giving the recipe – all I’ll say is that I like these and they’re quick and easy to make.

Ingredients:

  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Dates
  • Shredded Coconut
  • Peanut Butter (my fave is Mayver’s smooth peanut butter – since I tried that I’ve gone to the “dark side” of smooth peanut butter!)
  • Cacoa
  • Coconut oil
  • Chia seeds
  • Maple syrup
  • Vanilla essence
  • Salt

Directions

I usually follow recipes very exactly but this is one of the few things I make without measuring any of the ingredients. But the ingredients above are listed in approximate order of the most at the top, down to the least at the bottom ie most almonds, least salt.

Place all ingredients into a food processor and process until well combined. Taste and make any adjustments if necessary eg if not sweet enough, add more maple syrup. If too cacoa-y add some more shredded coconut and if still too cacoa-y after that, add some more almonds/cashews. If the mix is too dry, add some more coconut oil etc.

Once you’re happy with the mix, roll into balls and store in the fridge or freezer. I think they’re nicer straight out of the fridge than the freezer, so I put half the batch in the fridge and the other half in the freezer. Then, once those in the fridge are all eaten and I’m ready to eat some more, I transfer the second half from the freezer to the fridge.

Enjoy 🙂

My Favourite I Think You Should Leave Series 1 Sketches – This Show Is EXACTLY In My Q-Zone!

By Nick Pendergrast

I recently saw the article ‘Every I Think You Should Leave sketch, ranked’ on avclub.com – there are a bunch of other sites that do the same thing. I thought that this article didn’t get the order “right” AT ALL – comedy is subjective, who knew. Anyway, since I’ve been OBSESSED with this show I started watching it and also because series 2 is coming soon, I thought I’d share my own rankings of every sketch. See the article linked to above for more about each sketch – I won’t say much/anything at all about the sketches – I’ll mostly just rank them.

Before I get onto the rankings, because this is usually a political blog and my last few posts have been about identity and identity politics, I will make some token comments about tokenism or I guess representation more broadly in pop culture generally and this show specifically. In another show I’ve been watching Call My Agent, one of the characters, Sofia Leprince, has difficulty finding acting roles as a black woman. Often her agent is told that the character she wants to audition for can’t be played by a black woman because then the story will have to change to be about that character being a black woman. This has often been the case in pop culture, at least historically, with characters generally being from more privileged groups as the “default”, and for those who aren’t, often the jokes revolve around their ethnicity/gender/sexuality etc.

I Think You Should Leave shows that this doesn’t have to be the case. There are a wide range of ethnicities, genders, sexual preferences etc represented in the sketches without more marginalised ethnicities/genders/sexual preferences being what the jokes are about. For example, one my favourite sketches “Babysitter” (episode five) features two men in a relationship but that is merely “incidental” – it has nothing to do with the jokes in the sketch. Certainly shows shouldn’t get too much of a “pat on the back” for not making minority groups the “butt of the joke”, but this is all to say that I think it’s a positive thing that this show goes some way to representing the diverse range of people that make up the USA.

Anyway, onto the rankings – feel free to leave a comment with your agreements/disagreements/favourite quotes…

29. “Christmas Carol” (episode four)

28. “Party House” (episode six)

27. “New Joe” (episode three)

26. “Biker Guy” (episode two)

25. “Baby Of The Year” (episode one)

24. “The Man” (episode two)

23. “Wilson’s Toupees” (episode two)

22. “Chunky” (episode six)

21. “Both Ways” (episode one)

20. “Pink Bag” (episode two)

19. “River Mountain High” (episode four)

18. “Traffic” (episode four)

17. “Game Night” (episode three)

16. “Baby Shower” (episode six)

15. “Fenton’s Stables And Horse Ranch” (episode six)

14. “Choking” (episode five)

13. “Instagram” (episode one)

12. “Which Hand” (episode four)

“MAGICIANS SUCK!!!”

11. “Lifetime Achievement” (episode four)

10. “Gift Receipt” (episode one)

9. “Nachos” (episode four)

“What?”

8. “Has This Ever Happened To You” (episode one)

7. “Brooks Brothers” (episode five)

“No one’s getting spanked”.

6. “New Printer” (episode five)

“Did I stutter Meghan?”

5. “The Day That Robert Palins Murdered Me” (episode five)

“You said you wanted something spooky”.

4. “Babysitter” (episode five)

“Yeah, we did”.

3. “Focus Group” (episode three)

I think this is one of the best sketches, and I stand by it.

2. “Bozo” (episode six)

“Bozo did the dub”.

1. “Laser Spine Specialists” (episode three)

This sketch is EXACTLY in my Q-Zone!

Questioning Trickle Down Identity Politics

By Nick Pendergrast

In previous articles in this series on identity politics, I argued that some critiques of identity politics are overly broad and can sometimes oppose the important labelling of privileged identities. However, I do believe there are some valid critiques of a certain form of identity politics, something journalist Naomi Klein refers to as trickle down identity politics.

Klein argues that this form of identity politics, typified by people such as Hillary Clinton, prioritises achieving a more diverse range of people in positions of power. This thinking is based on the idea that if more women (for example) get into positions of power, these benefits will eventually “trickle down” to women as a whole. This is similar to the concept of trickle down economics, where the priority is ensuring wealth for those at the top, with the argument that in doing so, this wealth will eventually trickle down to everyone else.

Trickle Down Identity Politics in Practice

However, Klein argues that this trickle down does not necessarily occur in practice. For example, she points out that over the last few decades in the US, which has included 8 years of the first African-American President Barack Obama and a higher proportion of African-American people at the top generally, the overall wealth gap between white Americans and African-Americans has actually increased.

Likewise, Jacinda Ardern’s Labour government in Aotearoa (New Zealand) has seen greater representation of Māori people in government, while the over-representation of Māori people in prison and suffering from poor health has continued. Eleanor de Jong explains in the Guardian:

‘Despite a record number of Māori MPs in government, little has changed in the appalling socio-economic statistics that reflect the lives of New Zealand’s Indigenous people.’

Hip hop artist Lowkey has raised similar concerns in a UK context:

Weapons and Identity

Joe Biden’s approach to picking his cabinet has been consistent with this approach – a bit more representation of marginalised groups at the top to give the appearance that things are different, while continuing the same old polices of imperialism (and neoliberalism etc) that harm marginalised groups. As Oliver Milman explains in the Guardian:

‘Joe Biden is piecing together what he has promised to be a diverse cabinet, with Michele Flournoy reportedly top choice for US defence secretary…Flournoy was previously a senior defense adviser in Bill Clinton and Barack Obama’s administrations and is considered a political moderate. Since leaving government she has been involved in various consultancy roles around military contracts‘ (my italics).

Similarly, on the Vegan Vanguard podcast, they made the point that most of the biggest weapons manufacturers now have female CEOs, but these companies are still consistent with patriarchal values, such as a “might makes right” mentality.

Neoliberal/Reformist Feminism

My thinking on this issue has been heavily influenced by the ideas of Nic from Pynk Spots podcast. She has argued along the lines of there has been an effort from those in power to grant access to a small number of people from marginalised groups to positions of power instead of policies that would benefit that group as a whole.

She cites the book Feminism for the 99%: A Manifesto as being important in developing her ideas on the topic. A quote from this book that she has passed on to me is:

‘[Neoliberal feminists]…want a world where the task of managing exploitation in the workplace and oppression in the social whole is shared equally by the ruling-class men and women. This is a remarkable version of equal opportunity domination: one that asks ordinary people, in the name of feminism, to be grateful that it is a woman, not a man, who busts their union, order a drone to kill their parent, or locks their child in a cage at the border.’

Similarly, feminist scholar bell hooks has argued in her book Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics that reformist feminism has become the ‘route to class mobility’ for certain women who have been able to ‘maximize their freedom within the existing system’, while ‘accepting and indeed colluding with the subordination of working-class and poor women’ (p. 5).

Kamala Harris

I think Kamala Harris as the first female Vice President of the United States is a good example of this idea of trickle down identity politics. In her victory speech, Harris said:

‘Every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.’

Such comments work to obscure historical and ongoing sexism in the US, just as Obama’s election victory was used by some to ignore ongoing racism in the country throughout his Presidency. Similar to the points from hooks above, this approach to feminism means that while sexism does not end, some women are able to gain positions of power, at the same time as using the existence of a woman in that position to encourage people to overlook sexism faced by women more generally.

Not only is she the first female Vice President, she is also the first Black person in this position. Biden picking her for this role could, on the surface, be viewed as some kind of concession to the Black Lives Matter movement. However, Harris takes a punitive approach towards crime, with such an approach disproportionally affecting Black people. So Biden is able to give the impression of a change in approach by picking Harris, while continuing with similar punitive policies that he supported under the Clinton administration, which led to the mass incarceration of Black people in the US.

Final Thoughts

Of course having a certain identity/belonging to a certain group can put issues “on your radar” more prominently than those who do not experience a particular issue first-hand. For example, people who use a wheelchair may think of issues around accessibility in venues more than those who don’t. So having more representation of a certain group could lead a greater focus on the issues affecting that group as a whole. However, we shouldn’t automatically assume that such representation at the top will have this effect, otherwise we run the risk of a small number of people from marginalised groups being given positions of power and then being pointed to as a way to ignore the ongoing issues faced by that group as a whole.

For more on this topic, you can listen to my discussion with Nic and Callie from Bitchy Shitshow podcast – also check out Nic’s new podcast Pynk Spots!

This article is the final in a three-part series of posts on identity politics, you can check out the first two here:

1. What Do You Mean By “Identity Politics”?

2. Do You Identify Or Are You Identified?

Do You Identify Or Are You Identified?

By Nick Pendergrast

Herbert J Gans make some important points questioning who gets to choose an identity and who has identities imposed on them. These points, from the book The New Americans: A Guide to Immigration since 1965 are relevant to the backlash against “identity politics” that is coming from the Right and even some on the Left.

Gans explains:

‘Whatever limits the identification process puts on ethnic and racial identity, minorities are relatively free to choose the frequency and intensity of identity expression as well as the feelings, activities, and objects associated with it. Nativeborn whites do not care much whether immigrants feel racial or ethnic pride or through what objects they express that pride. They quickly become upset, however, if identity is expressed in ways that threaten the public order or white superiority in that order’ (p. 104, my emphasis).

The final point about being upset when identity challenges white superiority is where I think a lot of the criticisms of “identity politics” are coming from. Many discussions lumped under the very broadly applied term “identity politics” such as exploring who is given a voice in activist movements and who isn’t, labelling whiteness in discussions about race etc challenge white supremacy, or at least create an environment where such a challenge is more likely.

I think there are some valid critiques of certain kinds of identity politics, however, part of what I see as less legitimate criticisms come from white men (for example) and more privileged groups generally being annoyed at being labelled as such, reflected in comments I’ve seen online such as “I’m so sick of being called a white man!”. Generally in a white supremacist society those who are white are not labelled by others and get to choose whatever labels/identities they like. This definitely rings true in my own experience, as someone who falls into many categories of privilege and any labels that I associate with I have chosen myself, rather than being imposed from outside. In contrast, more marginalised groups such as PoC often have an identity imposed on them by a white majority in Western countries such as Australia and the United States. Gans gives an example of this in a US context:

‘However, Asian Americans, like Hispanics, take their identity from external identifications made by native-born Americans who are unwilling to make distinctions among the immigrants’ various countries of origin. If those speaking for the country’s native-born majority decide how to identify the newcomers, it is easier to call them Asian American than Chinese, Korean, or Japanese’ (p. 103).

Obviously those who are white may face other oppressions based on their gender, sexual preference etc and a similar labelling process is likely to apply, but more generally those with more privilege are more able to choose their own labels/identities and those with less are more likely to have labels/identities imposed on them. Despite the backlash against the naming of whiteness, labelling whiteness is very important.

Professor Aileen Moreton-Robinson has published important work on the topic of whiteness. Image from rmit.edu.au

Aileen Moreton-Robinson does a great job at explaining why this is the case in her chapter ‘Whiteness, Epistemology and Indigenous representation’ from the book Whitening Race: Essays in Social and Cultural Criticism. Moreton-Robinson (p. 75) explains that ‘In the West, whiteness defines itself as the norm’ and ‘race is deemed to belong to the other’. Therefore whiteness is ‘an invisible regime of power’ that underpins colonialism (p. 76). In an academic context, the failure to label whiteness has meant that knowledge created by white scholars has generally been perceived as objectives whereas the knowledges developed by Indigenous scholars are often dismissed as implausible and subjective (p. 85).

Whiteness as the “default” or the “norm” through not being labelled also plays out in sport. Moreton-Robinson explains that white athletes such as Dawn Fraser, Pat Rafter and Ian Thorpe ‘are not associated with a particular racial group’ and she asks us to ‘consider why Cathy Freeman is positioned as running for reconciliation, yet Ian Thorpe swims for the nation’ (p. 79). Freeman, as an Aboriginal Australian, is racialised and therefore is portrayed as running for a specific group within Australia, whereas Thorpe, as a white Australian, is not racialised, and is seen as representing the country as a whole. 

The famous image of runner Cathy Freeman carrying both the Australian and Aboriginal flags. Photo from Getty Images.

Rather than being upset at receiving such labels as “white man”, those of us with more privilege should embrace the naming of whiteness as an important part of the struggle to challenge white supremacy.

This article is the second in a three-part series of posts on identity politics, you can check out the others here:

Article 1:  ‘What Do You Mean By “Identity Politics”?

Article 3: ‘Questioning Trickle Down Identity Politics’.

What Do The Election Results Mean For The American Left?

Guest post by Jason Brownlee

Image from AP: Rebecca Blackwell

Americans are celebrating Biden’s win but this is looking like a pretty terrible election for the American Left, especially for any hopes that Democrats could advance an agenda tackling historic inequality or the climate crisis.

Overall, this was the narrowest of rejections of Trump specifically, but pretty much an endorsement of Republican politics and an implicit repudiation of the Democrats’ non-class appeals. Most importantly, a massive increase in turnout was almost as likely to benefit Trump as Biden. So far Trump has gotten 6 million more votes than he did last time (which adds up to 70 million some votes, more than Obama ever got).  

An extensive poll from AP captures what the polling projections did such a bad job of: Trump improved his vote share among pretty much all demographic groups (LGBTQ, Blacks, Latinos, women, etc.).

Image from the AP poll linked to above.

In addition, Nate Silver (whose prognostication business may never recover from the polling errors that projected a Democratic sweep of Congress) has a fine piece analyzing the actual vote patterns that have come in, i.e., not predicting but looking at actual votes. The map at the bottom, with arrows, shows where Trump did better than last time, including among Mexican-Americans in south Texas.

Image from the Silver article linked to above.

Long story short, Dems have long been selling the story that Americans, through demographic changes, will inexorably deliver their party national power. No such thing is happening, Instead, in a very Kang-vs-Kodos way Americans were left to choose between two anti-socialist parties. They rejected Kang this time, but they have endorsed his minions.

The Question of Trump and Authoritarianism

My scholarship these days is engaging the people warning of authoritarianism. Turkey is very much at the center of that debate and I appreciated Zeynep’s analysis. That literature, not necessarily Zeynep, has a tendency to be – unintentionally but ironically – pretty anti-democratic in the way it handles mass opinion and working class voters. See for example the political psychology studies on how millions of Americans who support Trump “are authoritarians.” 

As academics whose vocation is to cultivate critical thinking I generally get uncomfortable when large numbers of people become deferential to political leaders. But it’s also inappropriate, and elitist, to dismiss voters for Trump, Erdogan, Orban, Bolsonaro etc. as stooges and stormtroopers. After all, we tend not to do that for supporters of leftist populists.   

Turkey, like Venezuela, has crossed the line into heavy amounts of state coercion. But elsewhere – India, Poland, US, Brazil – one needs to reckon with the basically free choice of mass constituencies to repeatedly vest state power in nativist, patriarchal (etc.) politicians. That challenge is very much present right now, not just in 2024 under Trump again or a Trump 2.0 figure.

And what I think that means is we need more serious political economy work explaining how the abandonment of material left policies by parties like the Democratic Party contributes to a rise in support for the so-called rightwing populists. Calling the other side “authoritarian” is a mystification, not an explanation.

Final thing: the “f word” has come up on Progressive Podcast Australia a few times. A few weeks ago Vox asked me and some other scholars whether Trump should be called a fascist: ‘Is Trump a fascist? 8 experts weigh in’.

What Do You Mean By “Identity Politics”?

By Nick Pendergrast

I was recently reading the book The New Americans: A Guide to Immigration since 1965 in my academic work and I believe that the chapter ‘Ethnic and Racial Identity’ by Herbert J Gans makes some important contributions to current debates about identity politics.

Let’s start off with a definition of the term. Gans defines identity politics as:

‘…political activity devoted primarily to expressing and defending activists’ ethnic or racial identity’ (p. 102).

This seems like a reasonable definition to me and Gans also makes the point that a broad range of activity is lumped under the label of “identity politics”, even though it may not actually fit the above definition:

‘To what extent ethnic and racial groups become involved in politics to express their identity and to what extent they attempt to obtain the same decision-making influence, jobs, and related resources as other politically active groups is an important question’ (p. 102).

Often a really broad range of discussions about reducing racial inequality are dismissed as “identity politics”, which is assumed to be a negative thing, including even by some on the Left. I believe those doing so should question how broadly they apply this term and also their dismissal of “identity politics” generally. As far as I see, such a broad dismissal only serves to marginalise important discussions challenging racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism etc.

I posted some of the above on social media and ended up having a respectful, productive discussion with a friend on some of the critiques of identity politics. Such conversations seem rare online! I’ll get onto online etiquette below but the point was raised in this discussion that identity politics is often “misused” to prevent more nuanced conversation. They mentioned that:

‘For example I was once extolling the virtues of community gardens and was told that they are racist because community gardens can play a role in gentrification, which often benefits white people. Whereas the question could have been better framed along the lines of how, can we encourage community gardens without them being a vehicle for gentrification?’

In response, I argued that I don’t see bringing in issues of race to community gardens as shutting down the discussion. I’ve heard similar critiques from feminists regarding the slow food movement where we should all be making our own food and doing more food preparation at home in that within current gender norms, most of that extra labour will be done by women. I wouldn’t view that as shutting down a discussion on the slow food movement or “misusing” identity politics, but rather adding an important element to the discussion that is often left out.

Certainly we can all work on framing our arguments better, but again, I see those who challenge “identity politics” as often working to reduce the amount of times issues such as race and gender are brought into discussions around issues like food systems and environmental issues. In my opinion, avoiding bringing in these intersections is a negative thing. It seems to me that the problem identified is with activists framing their arguments in less productive ways and the take-home message is more for all of us to think about re-framing our critiques in more productive ways. This is an issue with online etiquette for everyone to consider, rather than a problem with identity politics.

I feel that framing such problems as an issue of identity politics rather than online etiquette can imply that these issues only apply to those who have marginalised identities and therefore their activity (online or otherwise) is more likely to be labelled (and often dismissed) as identity politics. This is not necessarily the intention of those making this critique but I’d argue it could be the effect. It seems to imply that it is People of Colour, women etc who are the ones that don’t engage well online, despite countless examples of those with more privilege going well beyond not framing arguments in the most productive way, and actually engaging in trolling, abuse and threats.

These discussions remind me of some points by academic Alana Lentin on 3CR Tuesday Breakfast. Lentin argued that some in the “White Left” try to make the case that racism is used as a stick to beat “ordinary” (coded language for white) people. She highlights this narrative as promoting the idea that “big, bad minorities” are “beating people over the head” for making a mistake.

On this point, I think there are important conversations to be had about call out versus call in culture, however, it’s also important for those of us who are white to be cautious about making arguments that feed into a “reverse racism” narrative. Such a narrative goes against all historical and structural evidence.

These discussions also remind me of critiques of the movie The Joker from Vegan Warrior Princesses Attack! podcast (which is now Bitchy Shitshow), where the hosts argued that a message from the movie is that more marginalised groups such as women and People of Colour have to be so careful to be nice to white men, despite how dangerous/scary etc we may be acting, and if they don’t, white male rage and violence is righteous and justifiable.

Image from Vegan Warrior Princesses Attack!

This is not to say that those criticising identity politics are advocating for violence by any means, just to say that we should be careful about feeding into a broader cultural backlash against marginalised groups having a greater say, or at least there being a broader discussion about the fact that some people are marginalised. Of course these inequalities unfortunately continue to persist but they are at least increasingly being challenged in more mainstream forums.

AFL players take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Surely this broader discussion is something that people should be celebrating, rather than viewing as an annoyance.

I encourage anyone critiquing identity politics in this really broad way that dismisses just about any attempt to raise issues such as racism as identity politics and views identity politics as a negative thing, to reconsider this view.

For more on these issues, I highly recommend the video ‘Dear Anti-Idpol Leftists…’ by Mexie on Youtube.

This article is the first in a three-part series of posts on identity politics, you can check out the others here:

Article 2: Do You Identify Or Are You Identified?

Article 3: ‘Questioning Trickle Down Identity Politics’.

Police Investigating Police: Business as Usual in Victoria

By Nick Pendergrast

Family and friends of Tanya Day, who died while in police custody.
Photograph: Julian Smith/AAP.

Calla Wahlquist has recently reported in the Guardian that a ‘coroner investigating the death in custody of Aboriginal woman Tanya Day has referred the case to the department of public prosecutions to determine whether criminal negligence has occurred’. This is a rare example where police actions in Victoria will be given oversight by a body separate from the police.

Earlier this year, this problem of police investigating police was highlighted in a passionate and informative Invasion Day speech by Apryl Day, the daughter of Tanya Day.

Apryl Day speaking at the 2020 Invasion Day rally in Melbourne.

This issue of police investigating police is something I’ve looked into further, by drawing on the latest Annual Report by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC), who investigate complaints against police in Victoria, where Tanya Day’s death occurred.

Table 23 of this report shows that only 27/3709 allegations related to Victoria Police in 2017/2018 were investigated by IBAC (0.7%). 1827 were dismissed (49.3%), 981 were referred to another body, including the Victoria police (26.4%), 864 (23.3%) were ‘Noted’ which means investigated by Victoria police, with IBAC have the option to review Victoria Police’s investigation and 10 (0.3%) were ‘Returned’ to Victoria police.

So police investigating police is certainly regularly the case in Victoria.

But out of the 0.7% of allegations that are actually investigated by IBAC, how many actually result in any consequences for the officer/s involved? It seems that this data specifically is not in the report, but Table 8 shows an overall figure of 35/6293 complaints (against a public body or officer OR Victoria Police employees) ending up with criminal proceedings or brief of evidence to Office of Public Prosecutions (less than 0.6%). Table 5 shows 81/6293 (1.3%) of overall complaints were investigated by IBAC, compared to only 0.7% of complaints against police, meaning that the total number of complaints against police specifically leading to criminal proceedings or brief of evidence to Office of Public Prosecutions is likely to be a lower proportion than the overall number, but even if we take the same overall rate (35/81 = 43%) and apply that to the police specifically, this would mean that only about 11.6 out of the 27 allegations against police that were investigated by IBAC led to criminal proceedings or brief of evidence to Office of Public Prosecutions – about 0.3% of total complaints against police.

Having this institution in society that acts with nearly total impunity and mostly investigates itself is very dangerous.

Nationwide media campaign to address the climate emergency

This is a campaign that Katie came up with and sent to a range of organisations that are advocating for the environment.

Objective: To facilitate an immediate change in Coalition policy on climate change so that we can respond appropriately to the climate emergency.

Platforms: Traditional media (newspaper, television, radio, etc), new media (blogs, digital news websites, etc) and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc).

Facilitators: Collaboration by any organisations willing to sign up. Those invited include Get Up, the Australian Greens, 350.org, Extinction Rebellion Australia, Animal Justice Party, Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Uni Students for Climate Justice, Beyond Zero Emissions, Australian Firefighters Climate Alliance, Doctors for the Environment Australia, Friends of the Earth Melbourne, Climate Action Network Australia, Climate Council, Climate Change Research Centre, School Strike for the Climate, Australian Conservation Foundation, Socialist Alliance, Socialist Alternative, Greenpeace Australia, Seed, Psychology for a Safe Climate, Science Teachers for Climate Awareness, the Wilderness Society, The Jewish Ecological Coalition, WWF, The Earth Systems and Climate Change, Australian Academy of Science, Lawyers For Climate Justice Australia, the AMA, the ACTU, We Mean Business, Australian Parents for Climate Action. Please invite any other groups you believe would be interested.

Demands: Decided by consensus by climate scientists through organisations such as Climate Change Research Centre and The Earth Systems and Climate Change. Demands listed below are taken from WWF Australia website but if climate scientists would like to add or amend them, they should have full control over the list of demands.

Funding: Crowdfunding through the public and donations sought from member groups.

Suggested script:

Dear Mr Morrison

We can no longer ignore the impacts of climate change on our country and the world.

People have lost their lives, over a billion animals have died and thousands of homes destroyed.

Businesses have collapsed, tourism has been decimated and the air quality in Australia has at times been the worst in the world.

And this is only with an average worldwide temperate increase of 1 degree.

We must take action.

We know from the Australia Talks survey that climate change is the leading concern for Australians.

84% of us say climate change is real and action should be taken.

It’s not about left or right, Liberal vs Labor.

It’s about listening to the scientists.

We are a coalition of lawyers, doctors, teachers, firefighters, business owners, parents and children.

We know there are things we can do on an individual level – eat a plant-based diet, reduce our consumption, change our transport.

But we need you too.

We need you to listen to the scientists.

It’s not something that can be negotiated.

In order to avoid catastrophic warming, Australia must do the following*:

• Help limit global warming to 1.5° Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century by leading the way with a global agreement at COP26 – to achieve this drastic action must be taken within the next decade.

• Achieving net-zero carbon pollution in Australia before 2050

• Achieving 100% renewable energy in Australia before 2050, including 100% renewable electricity before 2035.

• Keeping 80% of coal in the ground

*Demands adapted from WWF Australia website, but subject to change pending consensus of scientists.

The New Normal

By Katie

Today I woke up to the smell of smoke in my apartment. I couldn’t see the city. I rugged up for work on this summer’s day and walked out into the rain. The combination of rain and smoke haze is unsettling.

At work, colleagues discuss the need to buy face masks. Officeworks has sold out, as has Bunnings. I order three masks online but they won’t arrive for weeks. My manager has been sending out an email to our team, saying that the smell of smoke is not from a fire in the building. People are smelling smoke in the office and thinking there is a fire.

My workplace runs Disaster Legal Help, a special phone line for people who need legal support related to a disaster. We are inundated with calls today and the wait times reach 2 hours.

In the meantime, my headaches are triggered each time the haze returns. The rain hasn’t been strong enough to wash it away. It reminds me of Beijing, where the only day I saw the sun was after a typhoon.

I see many people wearing masks in the CBD, but most don’t have the proper ones for protection. I see one pregnant woman who has the correct mask. On the tram, visitors from the country are discussing the need to stock up on food and water supplies before returning home.

It’s a relief to get home and inside, although the smell of smoke still permeates the air. Welcome to the new normal.

Donald Trump

Hoping For More Prayers Rather Than Bombs: A Response to Donald Trump’s Comments on Venezuela

By Nick Pendergrast

US President Donald Trump speaks during a National Day of Prayer event.
Image from: Evan Vucci – AP.

Following the recent failed coup in Venezuela, Donald Trump said he is ‘sending prayers to the people of Venezuela’. This is great, hopefully he continues to send prayers to Venezuela and not the US military!

US Sanctions

Trump commented about the situation in Venezuela: ‘People are starving. They have no food they have no water, and this was once one of the wealthiest countries in the world’. There is no doubting the current economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela but what goes unmentioned not only by Trump but also all of the mainstream media coverage I’ve seen on Venezuela, is the role of US sanctions imposed by Trump’s regime that contribute to all of these problems Trump is apparently so concerned about.

These sanctions are responsible for the deaths of more than 40,000 Venezuelans since 2017, according to a new report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, co-authored by economists Jeffrey Sachs and Mark Weisbrot. Sachs makes it clear that this is a very imprecise estimate but nevertheless points out that:

‘What is certain, though, staring us in the face, is that there is a humanitarian catastrophe, deliberately caused by the United States, by what I would say are illegal sanctions, because they are deliberately trying to bring down a government and trying to create chaos for the purpose of an overthrow of a government’.

Threat of US Military Intervention

Trump has also said about the Venezuelan people that: ‘we wish them well, we’ll be there to help and we are there to help’. They’ve already “helped” through their sanctions but Trump has also repeated that all options remained on the table, including military action.

Regardless of Venezuelans having a wide range of views about President Nicolás Maduro, an overwhelming majority reject foreign military intervention. Different polls put this rejection at 54% and 86% of Venezuelans but in both cases there is a clear majority. 81% also reject the US sanctions referred to above. So this “help” Trump is speaking about has already had a disastrous impact on the “ordinary Venezuelans” that the Trump administration claims to care about, and both this and further “help” is not wanted by most Venezuelans.

It is very possible to be critical of the Maduro government and still reject US interference. The ABC News (USA) video that I discussed in my last article on Venezuela included footage of a Venezuelan state police/military vehicle deliberately running over anti-government protestors. This was not necessarily directed by Maduro or his administration and it is important to note, not as a way to justify the actions but for appropriate context, that these protestors were throwing fire bombs at these vehicles. Beyond this though Amnesty International has documented many human rights abuses by the Venezuelan government.

Nevertheless, journalist Federico Fuentes has pointed out that those critiquing the government from amongst the poorer and working class neighbourhoods have retreated in their protests against the government because they don’t want to be associated with the US-supported coup attempt from Juan Guaidó. As noted above, there is overwhelming opposition to foreign intervention, including from many who no doubt are not fans of Maduro.

There was a very good discussion on Democracy Now! recently that presented two very different positions on the Maduro government – Carlos Ron is a part of this government while Venezuelan sociologist Edgardo Lander is highly critical of this administration. But nevertheless they agree that it should be Venezuelans that decide the government and politics of that country, rather than the US or any other outside country.

Democracy Now! has had heaps of excellent coverage of the situation in Venezuela. I’d particularly recommend the 1st May and 2nd May episodes that discussed the failed coup attempt as well as some of the broader issues at play.