12 June 2012

Newcastle - A Walk Through The East End


I discover that my tastes have changed in the years I was in Sydney. I'm rather less interested in pubs than I once was, and more interested in parks. Also, I've a taste for heritage and architecture I lacked in my feckless twenties. All this means is, there's parts of Newcastle I've never really explored before - and I'm having great fun doing so now. Today I headed to the East End (please click on pics to enlarge).


Customs House Hotel

Quirky bench


Laneway houses



Foreshore park, once a railway goods yard. The shed has been preserved, the turning circle reclaimed.
Heaven for a rail fan!



This is what actual damage done by tree roots looks like. NCC?


Playground reflecting the area's rail heritage

A swing for children who use a wheelchair - what a wonderful idea











I wish Felipe's was a real thing; then Newcastle really would be hipster central




11 June 2012

Planning A Trip To Max Brenner?

Max Brenner, am I right? Their hot chocolate is delicious. At upwards of $6 a cup, it would want to be. Life can be kind of uncertain and sucky these days and a hot chocolate at Max Brenner is a harmless treat, surely? Actually, no. Here's what you should know before deciding to shell out your hard earned for a steaming cocoa treat.

The Max Brenner chain is owned by the Strauss Group, Israel's second largest food and beverage company. And, whilst they've recently removed all references to it on their website, Strauss is a major supporter of the Israeli Defence Force, amongst other support supplying platoons of the IDF with Max Brenner chocolate gift packages. Now, of course Israel has a right to defend itself, which requires a defence force. The problem decent people have with the IDF is their actions in Palestine, which Israel has been illegally occupying for 45 years, committing sometimes terrible acts to maintain its illegal occupation. One of the brigades sponsored by Max Brenner was a key part of Operation Defensive Shield, where in the guise of preventing suicide bombings, the IDF bulldozed the homes of some 13,000 Palestinian civilians. to read more of the effects of the Israeli occupation on the Palestinian populace, go here. Or just imagine it was you. Imagine if before you were born the land your family had lived on for centuries was annexed, and you were born in occupied territory, unable to travel freely, unable to work, with essential supplies and infrastructure cut off, not even knowing if your home would be bulldozed, if your children were safe playing in the street.

Sadly, coverage of this in the mainstream media has been very skewed, with the boycott painted as the anti-Semitic actions of an extremist fringe. Max Brenner himself has been painted in a highly misleading article in The Australian as a "man of peace", with no links to the Israeli army other than by having completed his compulsory national service. The article gives no mention of the involvement of the Strauss group and their support of IDF brigades committing atrocities in Palestine. Israeli soldiers are munching on Max Brenner chocolates whilst bulldozing Palestinian houses, and by giving them your business, you're helping to pay for it.

Reasons not to give your business to Max Brenner have nothing to do with anti-Semitism - if it was about Max Brenner being owned Jewish-owned, surely there are bigger targets, like Westfield. It's not about Max Brenner's parent company being an Israeli company, either. I like the vast majority of those who support the BDS support the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish home state. Our problem is with the acts of the Israeli army in maintaining the Palestinian occupation. The media and governments are not holding Israel to account, so it's up to us as individuals to get the momentum rolling. Read more on the issue, learn what's going on, then please consider getting your hot chocolate somewhere else.

06 June 2012

Those Damn Bludgers

In all the noise over the sex worker who claimed she'd serviced Craig Thomson until it turned out she hadn't - but not before A Current Affair aid $60,000 for her never-aired interview - there was another story tonight, overlooked but in its way, just as nasty as anything Mr Thomson is subjected to.

ACA reported with breathless outrage on dole bludgers on the Gold Coast, interviewing a small group of young women who cheerfully claimed they were happy being Centrelink bludgers. They didn't want to work, and they're not alone - the unemployment rate on the Gold Coast is 12%. A whole city full of these bludgers! Well, I was furious, and it seems I'm not alone - the young women in the story have received death threats on Facebook.

 My outrage lies with ACA though. Kids say silly things. Kids in groups say even sillier things. Kids in groups with a camera in front of them, being egged on by a TV producer coaching them to get the appropriately shocking line, say downright stupid things - things like bragging of how proud they are of being on the dole. Who knows if it's really true? We don't know what else was said, we don't know what led to these girls being out of work, or why the Gold Coast has such a high jobless rate (global tourism slump? No, just full of bludgers). Never mind, ACA rolls on, whilst these kids are left to deal with the fallout forever - the threats, the judgements, the story appearing whenever a potential employer Google searches their names, for years to come. The girls were embarrassed even when showed the tape a week later. How will they feel in five years? They could have no concept of the consequences of their actions.

A Current Affair knows. And yet instead of conducting any real journalism, they take the lazy way out, exploiting vulnerable kids to get a story. Damn bludgers.