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Movie Review: The Giver

September 16, 2014


Set in the not too distant future, Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.

The movie also stars Meryl Streep who constantly apologises whenever she appears, no doubt regretting ever agreeing to star in this mind-numbingly predictable, bland and uninspiring piece of cinema in the first place.


This movie is shit.




Margaret and David Call it Quits

September 16, 2014


The enduring film reviewing partnership of Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton will finally come to an end with the final episode of At the Movies on 9 December, the ABC has announced.

Pomeranz and Stratton, Australia’s best-known film reviewers, have been together on screen for 28 years, first with The Movie Show on SBS for 18 years, then at the ABC.

“After 28 years reviewing films on television with Margaret, 10 of them at the ABC, I feel it’s time to go,” Stratton said.

Stratton, who turned 75 last week, paid tribute to Pomeranz’s “enthusiasm, commitment and passion”, while noting she was “only occasionally irritating”.

Pomeranz said Stratton gave her credibility “just by being prepared to sit by me and discuss film when I am just a film enthusiast, not the great walking encyclopedia of film that he is. He’s a grand person, a most generous, decent man, even if a little stubborn at times.

“I’m very sad to have to call an end to our show, it started out as a very fragile thing and only survived because there are enough lovers of film in this country to support a specific program about cinema,” she said.

The ABC’s managing director, Mark Scott, said: “The fact that everybody knows them as Margaret and David demonstrates how much they are loved by the Australian public … We are so proud to have worked with them for over a decade at the ABC and we will miss them. I give them five stars.”

The ABC said At the Movies would not return with different presenters in 2015.





Terror Threat Raised to Eleventy!

September 15, 2014


The following article us by Greg Barns, a barrister and a spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance…

Today’s announcement by Prime Minister Abbott that he is raising Australia’s terror threat level from medium to high should be treated warily. Politicians have a habit of raising fears of terrorist attacks on Australian soil when the evidence suggests that this is a case of rhetoric and reality not meeting eye to eye.

Back in November 2005 former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks and Police Commissioner Christine Nixon announced that an imminent terrorist attack on Melbourne had been thwarted by the arrest of a number of young men and a self-styled sheikh in Melbourne.

I acted for one of those men in a subsequent Supreme Court trial in 2008 and can tell you that the evidence presented to the court in that case suggested nothing of the sort.

There was no planned terrorist attack by members of this group, just chatter and some bonding activities that made the police and ASIO nervous about their intentions.

Simply because ASIO and police might have heard some talk about terrorism and terrorist attacks by individuals does not mean that those individuals have any means of carrying out an attack.

But it will be enough for ASIO and police authorities to jump and tell the PM that a terror alert ought to be issued, because these organisations are suspicious by nature and often read more into things than might actually be the case.

The Prime Minister says that there are people with the “intent and capability” to carry out a terrorist attack in Australia. Of course there are. There always have been and there always will be.

Whether that intent amounts to anything and whether the capability is actual rather than simply perceived by jumpy spooks is the question. If no attack is imminent and Abbott says it is not, then why bother to make the announcement?

For political reasons that’s why. Nothing like panic and fear to trample liberties and freedoms.

Remember the aftermath of 9/11 when the Coalition and ALP both supported appalling new laws that criminalised thought and word in the guise of offences such as support for a terrorist organisation?

This time around Attorney-General George Brandis wants the Senate to pass laws that would see journalists and editors in jail for revealing illegal activities by ASIO and which would protect ASIO from scrutiny when it bugs phones of foreign leaders (as it did in Indonesia) or bugs the cabinet rooms of a neighbour (as in East Timor).

Mr Brandis has also mooted draconian powers, such as cancelling passports of Australians travelling to Iraq and Syria if ASIO thinks they might be supporting ISIS in some way.

One of the consequences of Abbott’s scare politics will be increased harassment of Australians from the Middle East and of Muslims.

The racism and prejudice of Australia is unfortunately tattooed across the underbelly of this land and as we saw when the Howard government reacted to 9/11 it did not take much for irrational attacks on Muslims and Australians from the Middle East to ramp up.

Work carried out the years after 9/11 by Edith Cowan University found:

As a result of personal experiences, Australian Muslims seem particularly susceptible to feelings of fear and anxiety about being objects of concern and suspicion in an increased security environment.

Be very aware of the possibility that the Prime Minister’s announcement today is not based on the strongest of evidence but is rather politically useful.

Some of us have seen terror threat announcements before and we know that this is an area where politicians and some in the media don’t mind gilding the lily.






Scotland must brave Independence

September 13, 2014


Next week Scotland will decide whether it will break away from its 300 year old association with the United Kingdom.  Currently, the likely result is too close to call.  Pete MacLeod, a Scottish expatriate who works for a Canberra-based NGO makes the case for independence in the following article…

Imagine a world in which Australia wasn’t an independent country. Your daily news comes from England, but the London news desk graciously gives you 20 minutes at the end of the bulletin to update you on Australian news.

All Australian place names are explained by the presenters in order to disguise British ignorance. Tax revenue from Australian companies is sent to London and then your government is given some money back to spend on local initiatives.

While Britain doesn’t have any natural resources, its media – which dominates Australia – tells you that you are “subsidy junkies” for receiving higher spending levels.

Any attempt on your part to argue that your country should be independent leads to Crocodile Dundee references, suggestions that you hate British people and a reply that despite Australia’s resources, educated workforce and strong exports, your country could never survive on its own.

Of course, this is a ridiculous scenario for Australians to envisage in 2014. This country long ago decided it would stand on its own two feet and make its own way in the world. Yet, this is what is happening to Scottish voters as they prepare for the referendum on independence from Britain.

On September 18, Scotland will be faced with the same choice. Having gained a Parliament with control over policy areas such as education and health in 1999, Scottish voters have backed the Scottish National Party in the last two elections, a party which has campaigned since the 1930s for independence.

In 1974 a confidential report by the British civil service acknowledged that Scotland would be “as rich as Switzerland” were it to become independent, due to the volume of oil that was being pumped out of Scottish waters in the North Sea at the time.

Scotland has more universities per head of population ranked in The Times Top 200 than any other country. Plus, an upside to our terrible weather is that Scotland has the best capacity for wind power in the entire European Union. All this wealth only has to go around 5 million people.
Yet, despite Scotland’s strengths, there is a fear campaign being waged by the British government, the media and, of course, other Scottish politicians who don’t want to cut the apron strings from the Mother Country.

The onslaught of scare campaigns would make Dick Cheney blush. Unfortunately the lack of belief that Scotland could prosper does not just exist in the big newsrooms in London.

Of the 37 newspapers in Scotland, only one supports independence. This is despite the fact that recent polls put both the “Yes” and “No” sides neck and neck.

This is a direct result of a culture Scotland has only started to grow out of recently.

I was perplexed when I first arrived in Australia to hear friends talk about a cultural cringe. It seems strange that a confident country such as Australia could have anything to cringe about.

While there was a time when Australia was controlled from afar, patronised and made the butt of jokes, barring the occasional Ashes defeat or the odd dodgy Fosters advert, there is not much that England can throw at Australia now.

So it seems natural to me that having battled through the phenomenon of cultural cringe, Australia would support Scotland in trying to be its own country.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s recent intervention in the independence debate, in support of the “No” vote, therefore was a surprise.

I suppose anyone who wants to bring back the Honours system and who studied at Oxford is going to have an Establishment perspective, but the question remains; why should any Australian really object to Scotland being its own country?

The attitude of most people I speak to in Australia is usually supportive of independence and our countries make natural allies. The mateship and informal culture of Australia could come straight out of Glasgow.

The general disdain for authority and putting on airs and graces is a strong part of Scottish culture. Cultural arrogance, the mocking of how other Anglophones speak, is not Scotland.

When you have recruitment consultants in London refusing to hire Aussies that speak with an inflection, you know you have an attitude problem. Australia’s fair-go attitude goes hand in hand with egalitarian Scottish values.

There’s no reason our countries couldn’t be the best of mates on the world stage.

Hesitant voters in Scotland only need to look to Australia to witness how at ease with itself a country becomes when it takes control of its own affairs.

We don’t need to swallow the lie any longer that we are a poor country. And we don’t need an out of touch elite in London deciding how much of our own money we should have to spend. We just need a bit of Australian confidence.





Verdict Imminent in Oscar Pistorius Trial

September 11, 2014


Oscar Pistorius will soon find out whether he’s been found guilty of the premeditated murder of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year.

Judge Thokozile Masipa is set to deliver her verdict at the high court in Pretoria, South Africa’s capital, after a 41-day trial that started March 3.

While the prosecution argues that Pistorius deliberately fired four hollow-point bullets at Steenkamp in a bathroom at his home after an argument, the defense says he mistook her for an intruder, and her death was a “huge, unfortunate mistake.”

Masipa can either acquit Pistorius or hand down one of three guilty verdicts: premeditated murder, murder in the second degree or culpable homicide, which is the negligent unlawful killing of a person.

More to come…




At the Movies with TB!

September 9, 2014


TB Queensland presents another movie review….


There is a lot of little tornados and a great big one … its noisy … people hide – some die, some don’t … lots of damage to cars, trucks and buildings … the storm goes away … The End

Me – :star: :star:

The Minister – :star: :star: :star:



Voters Still Hate Tony Abbott

September 9, 2014


The Abbott government celebrates its first year in power with a new poll showing that it has suffered a sustained and dramatic loss in both its primary and two-party preferred polling.

Voters are also disenchanted with the leaders of both parties, with satisfaction ratings of Tony Abbott and Bill Shorten tanking over the last twelve months.

The Newspoll, released this morning, shows the Coalition losing more ground with its two-party preferred standing dropping to 48 per cent and Labor up one point to 52 per cent since the last poll two weeks ago.

A rival Roy Morgan poll shows the government making up some ground in the past fortnight, with its two-party preferred polling up one point to 47 per cent, while Labor is down one point to 53 per cent.

The polls, both based on preference flows at the election, mean a swing against the government since the 2013 election of at least 5.5 points.

Labor would be swept into power if an election were held now.

The primary polling looks even worse for the government.

The Coalition won the 2013 election with 45.6 per cent of the primary vote.

Primary polling now puts that vote at between 38 per cent (Roy Morgan) and 39 per cent (Newspoll), a swing against the government of between 6.6 and 7.6 points.

Labor’s primary vote at the election was a dire 33.4 per cent. This has recovered slightly to between 35 per cent (Newspoll) and 37 per cent (Roy Morgan), a swing towards the federal opposition of between 1.6 and 3.6 points.

Labor is helped by the jump in the primary polling for the Greens.

The Greens received 8.6 per cent of the vote at the 2013 election, but the party’s primary polling has now increased to between 10.5 per cent (Roy Morgan) and 14 per cent (Newspoll).

The Palmer United Party had a primary vote of 5.5 per cent in the election and is now at 4.5 per cent, according to Roy Morgan. Newspoll does not split out the PUP vote.

The party polling shows that even though the government has achieved its headline promises to abolish the carbon and mining taxes and “stop the boats”, voters are still unimpressed.

This is despite strong support for the government’s military action in Iraq, with 62 per cent of voters supporting the action taken so far by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, according to Newspoll.

Mr Abbott’s personal standing has recovered slightly in the past fortnight but remains well below the electorate’s initial assessment of him last year.

The first post-election Newspoll, published last October, found almost half of voters (47 per cent) were satisfied with the then new PM’s performance. This compared to 34 per cent who were not satisfied and the one in five, or 19 per cent, who were uncommitted.

Newspoll now has only 35 per cent of voters satisfied with Mr Abbott’s performance. More than half (54 per cent) are dissatisfied with his performance and fewer voters – 11 per cent – are uncommitted.

Bill Shorten’s standing has also slumped in the past year, with a hardening of the views of many uncommitted voters.

Shorten’s satisfaction has increased from 32 per cent last October to its current 36 per cent.

But his dissatisfaction rating has jumped 19 points from 24 per cent in to 43 per cent, with the percentage of uncommitted voters dropping from 44 per cent to 21 per cent since last October.

Mr Abbott is now on equal footing with Mr Shorten as preferred prime minister, with both men preferred by 37 per cent of voters.

Interestingly, more than one in four voters would prefer neither Bill Shorten or Tony Abbott as PM.





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