Friday, 30 November 2012

Veteran’s deepest wounds

I enjoy listening to ABC radio The Conversation Hour with Richard Fidler and not so long back there was an interview with John Cantwell.

It is interesting to learn of John Cantwell’s career, born in country Qld, joined the army & rose through the ranks from a humble private to reach the rank of Major General. He served in the 1990/ 1991 Operation Desert Storm campaign as a major in charge of a British tank squadron. In 2006 he returned to fight in the second war in Iraq. He was given command of all Australian troops in Afghanistan, 2010. After 38 years’ service he retired to Cooroy, Qld. A more complete bio is available at Wikipedia.

The good thing about radio or audio is that you can take in another world, gain insights and learn while you continue with your daily tasks. The audio is available [here] of Richard Fidler’s interview with retired Major General John Cantwell; I thoroughly recommend you doing so. Cantwell does well in expressing what attracted him to the military and why he felt the challenge to prove himself in the field of battle. He gives accounts of his times in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan and lays open his life to the main subject of the book, Exit Wounds, that he released earlier this year, post-traumatic stress.

Radom House offers the following observation in its brief review of Exit Wounds 

Exit Wounds is the compassionate and deeply human account of one man's tour of the War on Terror, the moving story of life on a modern battlefield: from the nightmare of cheating death in a minefield, to the poignancy of calling home while under rocket fire in Baghdad, to the utter despair of looking into the face of a dead soldier before sending him home to his mother. He has hidden his post traumatic stress disorder for decades, fearing it will affect his career.

Exit Wounds: One Australian's War On Terror, John Cantwell With the article, Home safe,but left torn by the horrors of war, the Canberra Times published a lengthy extract from John Cantwell’s book. Here we are introduced to the book when Major General John Cantwell returns home from Afghanistan and retires from the army and was forced to face what he had worked hard to supress for many years.

 Released from responsibility, it is as though a dam in my mind has cracked, flooding me with despair. The barriers I built and shored up over the years, especially over the past 12 months, start to shift and buckle, releasing a pent-up misery.

The sadness and regret that I had pushed deep down inside resurface, amplified. Memories flood my mind: cold bodies in a morgue, torsos violated by bullets or explosives or a shattered helicopter; the pain and uncertainty of the wounded whose lives have been forever changed; the horror in the eyes of men who have picked up pieces of their mates. My nights are tormented by ghastly nightmares, punctuated by sudden shouts as I come awake, shaking and confused. The melancholy that has lurked in my heart begins to tear at my sanity.

In retirement John Cantwell does what he can to support veterans with PTSD. In a Herald Sun article, General says he has no mortgage on PTSD, defense force chief General David Hurley is quoted as saying:

“But for some the stigma remains, with soldiers reluctant to come forward because of fears their careers will suffer.

"What I really felt we needed, and John provided an answer there, was for someone of seniority and significant experience to come forward and say, 'Hey, it's okay to be open about this,'"

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Peter Spencer Update November 2012

The following has been submitted by Ian Hampton. Ian has tried to keep Peter Spencer followers informed on the other site only to have his discussions & comments repeatily deleted by the person who holds the creator status.

“The latest hearing in the on-going Spencer b. Commonwealth of Australia case was held on Monday 12 November in front of 3 judges including Chief Justice Keane constituting the Federal Court of Appeal.  Peter Spencer was represented by barrister Peter King; the Commonwealth is represented by the Commonwealth Government Solicitor (CGS).

Peter Spencer has appealed a decision by Justice Emmett denying Spencer access to Cabinet documents as these documents are subject to “public interest immunity”.

The day was fundamentally about the Commonwealth of Australia opposing Spencer’s appeal on the basis that the evidence produced for the Appeal is not applicable.

This turned out to be a gruelling day.

Peter King started his oral submission and spoke for a long time…  re-stating Spencer’s position that (in the light of the High Court decision), Spencer should have access to the cabinet documents he has requested.

Then Howard (for the CGS) went through Spencer’s statement of claim disputing King’s submission on points of law.

King then disputed Howard’s arguments, including putting forward the morality of the case.  Peter King was very good in his oral submissions arguing his interpretation of two High Court precedence cases with regard to parliamentary privilege, he certainly has given the judges something to think about.

The 3 judges then reserved their decision – to be handed down at a later date.  These 3 judges have previously (supported Justice Emmett and) ruled in favour of parliamentary privilege; whereas the unanimous decision of the High Court in September 2010 in Spencer’s case is that parliamentary privilege is not absolute and is open to discretion if it will result in a loss of justice to Mr Spencer.    In effect the Federal Court judges are between a rock and a hard place.  If they support Emmett and the Commonwealth – they are finding against the High Court decision. 

To say the least, the decision of the 3 Federal Court judges will be interesting.

The tactics of the Commonwealth are obvious – with infinite resources the CGS can keep on putting up delaying tactic after delaying tactic to continue to frustrate and hold up progress of Spencer’s case in every way possible.  And unfortunately, the law responds and deals with this matter very very slowly….  It can be seen that the Law (as a whole) only gets stirred into action (and becomes responsive) when there is real public pressure.”
Later published related discussions

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Irony seen as 'dirty jobs' go and clean industry folds

As published recently in the new independent Queensland Telegraph newspaper.
By John Mikkelsen
A FORMER senior technical manager at Gladstone Power Station has hit out at the irony of wide spread “dirty industry” job losses in Central Queensland, at the same time a major “clean energy” manufacturer laid off hundreds of workers in Brisbane.
According to Cameron Hoare, who has a science and environmental engineering background,  more than a thousand job losses flagged in Gladstone and some CQ coal mines in recent weeks are “only the start”.

When the Gillard Labor Government introduced its controversial carbon dioxide tax in July, workers  in the aluminium, coal and other energy intensive industries were assured any job losses would be more than offset by new jobs created in the clean energy sector.
But that has not been the case with Australia’s largest manufacturer of clean energy wind turbine towers, which recently collapsed spectacularly.  More than 300 workers at the RPG Group’s Wacol factory were laid off recently and the company called in voluntary administrator, Ferrier Hodgson.
This happened in the same week that Queensland Alumina Ltd (QAL) announced jobs would be cut at its Gladstone refinery, which is the city’s oldest major industrial site dating back to the 1960’s.
And in the same time frame, hundreds more jobs have been lost in CQ coal mines.  In the latest announcements, Ensham Resources has slashed the workforce at its Emerald open cut operation from 900 to 500 on top of 150 previous reductions and 200 more likely by the end of the year.
A further 300 reductions were announced at BHP’s Gregory Open cut while last month Xstrata flagged 600 cuts without specifying which of its mines in the Hunter Valley or Bowen Basin might be affected and at Wesfarmers Curragh coal mine 1200 contractors were warned their jobs could go. Rio Tinto has also warned of cuts.
However, what sets QAL apart was its reference to “new taxes” among factors influencing its decision.
In a brief statement, the company said plans were in place to "restructure" its operations and “new taxes” were part of the challenges it faced.
"The aluminium structure in Australia is facing extremely difficult market conditions due to a high exchange rate, higher costs of production, low metal process and new taxes," QAL chairman Armando Torres said.
He said the restructure would involve a reduction in the number of support roles across the site, with no "front line roles" made redundant.
"This is a challenging time for QAL. We will work hard to protect jobs wherever possible and we are committed to ensuring that all affected employees are treated fairly,"
 he said.
The company revealed that128 roles have been cut since July 1, with 93 of those from natural attrition and 35 from redundancies.
“New taxes” was seen as an obvious reference to the carbon tax, which Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, and Federal Member for Flynn Ken O’Dowd, have repeatedly blamed for hundreds of other job losses in the aluminium and mining industries. This has always been denied by the Labor Government, which points to low prices, the high Australian dollar and increased State royalties.

The QAL restructure follows 90 job cuts announced at the nearby Boyne Smelters Limited in August.
Widespread cuts come as no surprise to Mr Hoare, who worked in the electricity industry for about 30 years before retiring as engineering and technical services manager at NRG’s Gladstone Power Station in 2009.

“The losses of jobs in Gladstone and Central Queensland mines are only the start, as the industries here are all energy intensive,” he said.

“To introduce excessive regulations and taxes, such as the Carbon Dioxide Tax, on these productive sections of the economy at a time when the world economy is in the doldrums and the Australian dollar is at such a high value, is economic vandalism,” he said.

Solastgia by Mardi Sands

Long time Wandoan resident Mardi Sands has captured the current state of her community caught at a time of rapid change with alarming clarity in this brilliantly sad poem, Solastalgia.
Wandoan is my closest town, Mardi has recorded all too accurately the sense of loss of a community that once was a major beef cattle centre transforming beyond the control of locals to coal & gas. 
Solastalgia * by Mardi Sands
(* Feeling homesick when at home) 
My town is under siege by columns
of clean white vehicles
large black numbers stamped on their doors
flying flags and with piercing beep beep beep
reversing over our lives.
Shops replaced with offices with names
of coal and gas
their HQ in far capital cities or foreign countries
making decisions on our lives. 
Three offices – one grocery shop – the ratio is wrong 
The Post Master who cheerfully delivers
letters addressed to “Grandma Jones”
and knows the secretaries of all the organisations
in six months has  lost fifty addresses. 
There’s talk he will retire 
Friends have fled, tourists pass us by,
replaced by uniforms fluoro red and yellow
The friend who yelled ‘Hi Mardi’ across the street
has left to work with strangers, his house rented
cars clutter the driveway, weeds replace his roses. 
Drive in – drive out have no time to care. 
On Sunday we stood outside the Church
and talked of this and that and who needed help.
The building is going to the Historical Society
We are trying to decide what to do with the font
given in memory of my children’s grand-father. 
For sixty years friends met at the Show – cattle horses cakes fun of the fair
I stand in the sun and help the kids with their ponies
encourage the shy, quieten the fractious.
The judge says ‘I like coming here, the kids are great.’
But will there be a Show next year? 
fewer volunteers growing older 
Clubs merge in the hope of survival
The CWA rooms are closed
The library cluttered with tomes
of  EIS’s and progress reports with maps of
‘proposed development’ 
School buses now stand silent
Not enough children to keep them rolling
The school itself a shadow
The future unclear 
The town has surrendered its spirit.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Real Climate


by Dr Vincent Gray



In several recent newsletters I have attacked the plausibility of the basic climate model promoted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC.)

Its assumptions include the following:
  • The Earth is flat;
  • The sun shines all day and all night with equal intensity;
  • Energy interchange in the climate is almost entirely by radiation;
  • Energy flow parameters are constants with no variability;
  • Energy flow is "balanced" with input equal to output;
  • Change in this system is entirely caused by increasing human-induced trace gases in the atmosphere.

These assumptions are completely at odds with meteorological science.......

Read more HERE

Monday, 26 November 2012

Turtle, dugong deaths 'directly linked to dredging'

Another article based on the findings of aquatic disease expert Dr Matt Landos, as previously published in The Queensland Telegraph and The Great Barrier Reef Blog

By John Mikkelsen

AQUATIC  disease expert Dr Matt Landos believes the sharp increase in turtle, dolphin and dugong deaths in Gladstone waters was likely to be a direct consequence of the Western Basin Dredging and Disposal Project.

In his final scientific report, Dr Landos says in his opinion, the mechanisms contributing to the deaths were likely to be algal, metal and metalloid toxicosis and secondary disease generated by resuspension of contaminated sediments.

The scientific report is the third in a series produced for the Gladstone Fisheries Research Fund following extensive surveys and tests by Future Fisheries Veterinary Services, of which he is a director.

This young green turtle was one of many not kept for tests. It died on the beach at Tannum Sands in July. No cause of death was determined.

 Dr Landos says the rate of turtle, dolphin and dugong mortality in Gladstone was dramatically elevated above annual averages and significantly different to other parts of the Queensland coast, which also received substantial freshwater inflows almost two years ago..

“The deaths were occurring synchronously after the commencement of the Western Basin Dredging and Disposal Project (WDDP) and are still occurring according to media reports by John Mikkelsen (Queensland Telegraph) in August and September 2012.

“No sampling has been undertaken to ascertain the cause of these recent deaths.

“No histopathological or toxicological data are publicly available for the dugongs and turtles which were
processed by the University of Queensland and EnTox for GPC, in mid-late 2011”.
The turtle deaths were initially attributed to activities with commercial fishers, but subsequent Fisheries
Queensland observer monitoring had absolved them of responsibility.

The former Queensland Environment Minister, Vicky Darling, then announced that the turtle deaths
were from starvation due to a lack of seagrass, as turtles were described to be thin.

“Weight loss in animals… is not always due to insufficient feed availability. It can also be due to inadequate intake in animals which are diseased or suffering from toxicosis.

“The seagrass monitoring does not support the contention that the animals starved to death because
there was an absence of food available. The necropsies of dugongs, performed around the same time as the turtles, identified ~ 10 kg of seagrass in the gut of each dugong ….indicating there was still seagrass available in Gladstone.

“Toxicology and pathology was performed on several turtles during the mortality event from April 2011.
Sources advised FFVS that arsenic was a compound of concern identified in turtle blood, however results have not been able to be obtained”.

Dr Landos says that Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP 2012c) water quality results recently released, demonstrate elevations of dissolved arsenic in harbour waters, hence it would be expected that exposed animals are likely to have elevated arsenic levels. Arsenic is known to be a highly toxic element.

“FFVS is unaware whether any turtles were tested for algal toxins in 2011 or in further strandings as
recently as August, 2012 (Mikkelsen, 2012).

 “Sampling of recent turtle strandings in the Gladstone region has not been undertaken to try and ascertain the cause of death. Considerable expertise is available through the Australian Wildlife Health Network to assist with such investigations…

“FFVS considers metals and algal toxicosis, in addition to secondary intense parasitic infestations, are a
more likely explanation for Gladstone turtle deaths, rather than acute starvation from inadequate feed

“Given the detection of Lyngbya blooms in Gladstone Harbour, concern should exist for the potential effects on turtles given publications by Arthur, Limpus, and Whittier (2008) and Arthur, et al. (2008) indicating turtles can consume and absorb the toxin, which has been linked to blood chemistry changes and potential induction of the disease, fibropapillomatosis”.

Dr Landos says the most recent transect study of inner harbour seagrass beds in Gladstone in August 2012, identifies that there has been “a near complete failure of seagrass to recover” as had been predicted.

“Seagrass has been reported in areas remote to Gladstone (eg Tin Can Bay) to have now fully
recovered from flood damage in January 2011, back to pre-flood levels. This is not the case inside
Gladstone Harbour as documented by McCormack, Sankey, Davies, Carter and Rasheed (2012).
“Seagrass has critical light requirements that can be impaired by excessive turbidity in the water. In order to protect the seagrass in Gladstone Harbour, the project conditions set limits for turbidity, which were monitored.

“The conditions required dredging operations to cease when condition levels were exceeded
over a period of more than 48 hours. FFVS notes that under the Transitional Environmental Program
(Gladstone Ports Corporation, 2012b) dredging was permitted to continue operating, even when
turbidity exceeded the original project conditions for more than 48 hours.

“Turbidity exceeded the limits at monitoring stations throughout a period of six weeks through July and early August as GPC tried to seal the leaking bund wall.

“Deterioration in water quality due to sediment resuspension, from the Western Basin Dredging and
Disposal Project is likely to be a significant factor in causing the decline, and hindering recovery of

Flow-on negative effects to the fishery productivity are likely to be substantial, the report states.

A bloody awesome real man's barbecue

While the serious sycophants in a parallel universe are busy solving the world's woes or their own versions of them,  it's getting time to concentrate on life's core values - like Chrissie parties, family gatherings, bloody awesome barbecues ...

Another from the Mikko parts bin originally published at The Punch but still timely:

MANLINESS or the right to be the opposite remains a hot topic so here’s something that might kindle the flames and get things smoking.
A mate sent me an ad from Ebay for what could be the ideal gift for the Aussie bloke who has everything. It’s billed as “A real man’s barbecue – not for metrosexuals or latte drinkers.
“Features: Manliness, awsomeness …. free sausage fat, free spiders, seasoned pollen plate…
“Just in time for Christmas, here is the ultimate in old school culinary accessories.  Do you remember the days before soy latte double decaf drinkers redesigned the humble barbecue and took it from a thing of beauty to a multifunctional disaster? 
“I mean, how many of you have one of these monstrosities; do you really need a side burner for a wok?  Do you need to know what the temperature is on the plate? 
“Hot or cold, cooked or raw, these simple terms seem forgotten in these modern days when you can cook a fish with thai spices and a side of dahl and some gazpacho soup (WTF ???  Who does this ???).

“Hark back to the days when the measure of a man was how he handled the tongs and a beer, not how shiny the hood of his barbecue was ? Lets face it, a real man’s strength, honor and vision used to be proven regularly to all by the way he cooked his meat. 
“A barbecue was more than just a glorified business meeting or a get together with the other girls, it was life itself to a man.  You could have your mates around, stand around it and feel the burn on your skin of the spattering fat from the snags, the smoke from the scorched meat and finish it all off with an ice cold beer – each man remembering those days not so long ago when we would hunt, kill and eat whatever prey we felt like. 

“This amazing find is solid and sturdy, with plenty of seasoning to the plate - including a special blend of eucalypt blossom and assorted native pollens to give your creations a great Australian taste and demonstrate to all that you are no double decaf soy latte drinking metrosexual, you are a man, cooking meat on your barbecue. 
“No, you cant steam vegetables or make a soup, nor will it tell you the temperature or massage your feet, but you will regain your masculinity and strike a blow against metrosexualism.

“Sure, some of the bright shiny things aren’t as bright and shiny as they used to be so if you are trying to impress your boyfriends then this probably isn’t the thing for you.

“Starting at only $1, you can see that this sale is more of a community service helping us all get back to the days when all you needed to know about a barbecue was put the cold stuff on the hot stuff, drink a stubbie, pull off the hot stuff and bloody well eat it.

“Pick up preferably by ute, with dog”.
The seller attracted five pages of questions, including one from a bloke wanting his mate brought back to reality when he sold his Landcruiser, bought a Prius  and started body waxing after an encounter with a double latte sipping metrosexual.
It’s too late the real man’s barbecue eventually sold for $51. But the good news is, I’ve got its twin downstairs and it’s even ‘ bloody awsomer’

Up to our necks in it

Raiding the Mikko files for a reflection on climate alarmism which might be funny if it wasn't true..
 AL GORE told us sea levels could rise seven metres “in the near future”, then an ex-environment minister Peter Garrett gave us the good oil, it could be six metres.

So I suppose we should be grateful more recent reports have pegged the rise at 1.1 metres over the next 90 years.
Great, if one of them is part right, instead of walking the dogs a few hundred metres to the beach, we should be able to dive into the surf off the front deck of our home. But the news is not good if you happen to own one of the million dollar-plus properties just behind the dunes.
According to the images regularly flooding our TV, learning to dog paddle would be a good idea if you can’t already swim. Take this:
“The Federal Government’s new Climate Change Risks to Australia's Coasts (CCRAC) Report says up to 250,000 Australian homes are at risk of inundation by the turn of the century. The findings are based on a sea level rise of up to 1.1 metres by 2100, and more extreme weather events. As a result, more than $60 billion worth of residential property faces flooding. In addition 120 ports, 1,800 bridges, power stations, water treatment plants and airports close to the coastline are also under threat. ..” Did I mention this CCRAC (love that acronym) estimate was more a “guesstimate” worst-case scenario based on computer modeling; obviously not the same as  the play stations Peter Garett and Al Gore  relied on. But it was  used to try to push the “urgent need” to adopt an ETS  in the lead-up to the abortive Copenhagen climate change conference almost three years. Did they really expect us to believe we would either be treading water or fried to a crisp if we at least waited to see what moves were made by the big hitters in the climate debate?
Turned out a frozen fizzer in any case but now history and a hung parliament have given us the carbon tax we were promised we would never have under Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Even the most ardent supporters have to admit  our forced cost of living rises won’t  lower world temperatures in any measurable way.
Far from the “science being settled,”  thousands of prominent international scientists  have signed a petition denying our CO2 emissions are driving climate change. The ranks of “sceptics” are growing as many Australians see it as a scam, including  some  SMS textsters: “Combet thinks Curtis Island is going to be under water soon Hmm… wet LNG… scared of this,” and, “Credible evidence that CO2 causes global warming is like finding WMD’s in Afganistan!”
But heed this warning,  all you damned sceptics: “… As all the ice at the two poles melt, a stupendous volume of water will be released. Fish will swim in Buckingham Palace … the Sahara Desert will be a great inland sea … New York will be marked by taller skyscrapers … the climate will be as when dinosaurs roamed the earth…”
Yeah, right. It’s not from The Day After Tomorrow or another Nobel Prize winning Al Gore science fiction epic.  This alarmist piece published in the respected New York Times is dated - May 15, 1932.
Better book those swimming lessons but keep the toes out of Gladstone Harbour.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Assembling & Rebuilding

Thank you Geoff for making this web site available for us to remain contact with each other and rebuild on the original ideals on which the Just Grounds site was set up.

This web page is an emergency evacuation point for us to reassemble & to work out what we want to do in the future. I will try not to be too negative in my comments on this new site, I plan to try to leave them behind.


There may not be too much to this site at the moment. It will be a temporary home until a well planned site can be built.
There will be discussions posted in the near future about current events or issues from regional Australia.
At the moment there seems to be difficulty for people to make comment, so please bear with us.

The best way to read any comment & to post a comment is to click on the headline of a discussion on the main page & a new page will come up.



To old friends, a warm welcome.

We needed an assembly point, and Dale asked for me to organise this.

The  easiest way to make a comment or to view comments is to click on the title of a dicussion (in this case Welcome) and a new page will come up.