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Common Dreams Highlights | Monday, 30 March 2015

Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Featured…

Taking Aim at Clinton, Former Maryland Governor Says Presidency ‘Not a Crown’
by Lauren McCauley
Testing the waters for potential nomination bid, Martin O’Malley calls for a president willing to take on ‘wealthy, special interests.’

News…

TPP Opponents Mobilize as Powerful Forces Seek to Ram Through ‘Fast Track’ Trade Authority
by Deirdre Fulton
Lawmakers in favor of the pro-corporate trade deals hope to vote on Fast Track legislation in mid-April.
Syria’s President Assad: US Airstrikes a Recruiting Bonanza for ISIS
by Jon Queally
Americans would like to ‘sugar coat’ the situation, says Bashar al-Assad, but the situation in his country is only being made worse by airstrikes.
‘Heart Over Hard’: Thousands Protest Austerity in Brussels
by Deirdre Fulton
Demonstrators call for Belgian government to tackle fraud and enact higher taxes on the rich.
GMO Seed Theft Equals National Security Threat, Argues Government
by Lauren McCauley
Defense attorneys say spying on alleged Chinese seed plotters in trade dispute signifies ‘breathtaking’ overreach.
After Talking to Washington Post About Low Wages, Hotel Worker Fired
by Common Dreams staff
In original profile, journalist wrote that Shanna Tippen’s experience ‘reflects a more realistic picture’ of life on minimum wage.
As Chaos in Yemen Continues, Air Strike Kills Dozens at Refugee Camp
by Deirdre Fulton
Roughly 500 new families arrived in the camp over the last two days, escaping bombings in other parts of the country.
more news…

Views…

There’s a Reason the Big Banks Aren’t Mad with Hillary
by John Atcheson
And Why Those Emails Matter
Why the NCAA Should Move the Final Four Out of Indiana
by Dave Zirin
“Here is a time to say that despite the branding, the swooshes and the ads everywhere, money is really not the most important part of college athletics.”
Report: Big Education Firms Spend Millions Lobbying for Pro-Testing Policies
by Valerie Strauss
Four top testing companies collectively spent more than $20 million lobbying in states and on Capitol Hill from 2009 to 2014.
Balancing the Tensions of Afghanistan’s Ashraf Ghani
by Ralph Nader
“Above all, President Ghani wants to neutralize anybody or anything that undermines or distracts from his focus on building trust in government.”
You Owe Us, Corporations: Four Reasons Why, and One Way to Pay
by Paul Buchheit
Corporate profits are at their highest level in 85 years, growing by 171 percent in the first half of the Obama presidency.
Black America’s State of Surveillance
by Malkia Cyril
“Black people and other people of color have lived for centuries with surveillance practices aimed at maintaining a racial hierarchy.”
more views…

Newswire…

more newswire…

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Lanky Libidinous Lizards~

Thank you Cindy! Here we have the itsy bitsy anoles (of which our native green species is rarely seen in recent years, but the brown Cuban anoles are usually abundant when the criminal lizard-knappers of the pet trade aren’t around!) And the great big real alligator lizards (alligators). Crocodiles also make minimal appearance but so far to the south I’ve never seen one. I have heard of all sorts of interesting lizards and skinks in more rural areas in Florida but only the anoles and gators are common in my urban neighborhood. The little ones eat mosquitoes but despite much interest, no attempts to encourage the big ones to add annoying snowbirds to their diet have been successful (outside of Carl Hiassen’s hilarious novels);-)

DSC01421
The Holler always has drop in visitors. This is a quite large Southern Alligator Lizard species, scientific name, Elgaria multicarinata, who popped by to say hi!
DSC01738
The Holler has room for all sorts of critters, including LOADS of lizards.
DSC01390
This guy is around 20 inches in length.
DSC01414
My husband thinks he is bigger, and he may be right, because The Holler, as I may have mentioned to you before, is a very strange place. Do you notice him giving me the stink eye?
DSC01419
These aptly named “alligator” lizards will stand their ground and bite and latch on if threatened. I know this because they did it to me when I was a little kid. They have a hook in their upper palate that enables them to hold fast once they have bitten, errrr……something.
DSC01386
I have made it a practice, since I grew up, not to threaten lizards named after alligators…

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NorthPoint ASTROLOGY JOURNAL | March 30 to April 5, 2015 | Pam Younghans

Posted Sunday, March 29, 2015
NorthPoint
ASTROLOGY JOURNAL
Your Guide to Planetary Energies for
March 30 to April 5, 2015
By Pam Younghans
Photo: The Solar Eclipse on March 20, 2015, as seen from Adventdalen, near the capital of Svalbard (credit: Ivar Marthinusen, posted onSpaceWeather.com)

THE PAST meets the future this week, urging us to make intentional choices in how we go forward from here. The energies of the Choice Point are centered in the powerful Total Lunar Eclipse on Saturday.

In the chart for this lunation, the Sun in Aries is aligned with Uranus, Mercury, and the South Node; the Moon in Libra is aligned with the North Node; and Pluto in Capricorn is squaring all of the above. This creates a cardinal “T-square” in the chart, with Pluto at the “apex” of the formation.

IN HIS BOOK Dynamics of Aspect Analysis, astrologer Bil Tierney writes that a cardinal T-square provides:
“… growth-accelerating lessons concerning personal energy expenditure applied toward major here-and-now objectives… We will need to develop greater self-discipline, inner timing, outer patience, and a general sense of thoroughness and organization to succeed… We must consciously analyze the practical facets of our own impulses to see if they will actually help us move ahead toward the realistic attainment of our goals. The more self-aware we allow ourselves to become, the more purposeful our live changes become.”

With Pluto at the apex of the cardinal T-square, its influence becomes even more powerful. As Mr. Tierney explains:
“With apex Pluto, life forces us to undergo explosive endings of one phase of our personal development in order to make fresh new starts in another phase.”

CHANGE seems to be the strongest theme here — but Mr. Tierney cautions us that successful change must be well thought-out and implemented, not arrived at haphazardly.

This may be harder than it sounds. Not only is Pluto at the apex of the T-square, but this Lunar Eclipse fully engages the vibrational field created by the Pluto-Uranus square. We can expect that the unstable energies we’ve been feeling recently will increase this week. But, through situations that unfold, we should gain even more clarity about what systems are no longer sustainable and where change is imperative if we are to make forward progress.

THE NORTH AND SOUTH NODES always play an important role an eclipse chart, since it is the proximity of the Sun and Moon to the nodes that is a characteristic of an eclipse. This means that every eclipse, especially a Lunar Eclipse, propels us into the future, and challenges us to let go of our attachment to what has been. Adding the Pluto-Uranus energies to this mix amplifies these themes even further.

This particular eclipse has not only the Sun, but also Mercury and Uranus aligned with the South Node. To move forward now, we will need to become especially aware of how our thought patterns (Mercury) have been taking us down roads of conflict (Aries) instead of ways of harmony. We will also want to watch for the knee-jerk “my way or the highway” reaction (Uranus in Aries) to see if it is really benefiting us in the long run.

The North Node, always pointing us toward the best route, is in Libra, and aligned with the Moon for the eclipse. We are directed to make our emotional balance a priority now, with the awareness that finding peace internally is a necessary first step to creating harmony in our relationships and in the world.

THE SABIAN SYMBOL for the Moon’s location at the time of the eclipse reads:
“Circular paths: Coming to terms with the inevitability of establishing steady rhythms of social activity.”

The image of “circular paths” at first sounds very different from the way we’ve been describing the transformational energies of this Lunar Eclipse. In comparison, a circle sounds calming and perhaps even boring in its repetitiveness.

And yet, because eclipses activate the North and South Nodes, they often require that we revisit the past before we catapult into the future. As we circle back through old patterns of behavior, we will want to a maintain a heightened awareness of who we have become and where we want to go to from here. This self-awareness will help us create those “purposeful life changes” that this T-square Lunar Eclipse requires.

In peace,
Pam

NorthPoint Astrology Blog: To read occasional posts and add your comments, please visithttp://northpointastrology.blogspot.com/. See you there!

To Subscribe to the NorthPoint Journal: If you have been forwarded this issue of the NorthPoint Astrology Journal and would like to receive it directly every week, please click hereto access the “Journal” page of Pam’s website. Then, scroll down to the bottom of the webpage, fill out the subscription form, and click on Submit.

Highlighted Aspects This Week
MON: Pluto trine Venus, Sun conjunct South Node, Mercury enters Aries; TUE: Mars enters Taurus; WED: Chiron sextile Venus; THU: Saturn trine Mercury, Jupiter trine Sun; FRI: Ceres enters Aquarius; SAT: Lunar Eclipse/Full Moon 5:05am PDT, Mercury conjunct South Node; SUN: Pluto square Sun
About the Journal

Astrologer Pam Younghans writes this NorthPoint Astrology Journal based on planetary influences and guidance received. Her hope is to offer perspectives and insights that will assist you in utilizing current energies to enhance your life experience and accelerate your spiritual and personal growth.

Astrology Readings
To schedule your personal astrology reading with Pam,
please e-mail pam.

Or, see the “Readings” page atwww.northpointastrology.com
to learn more about personal astrology readings.

Please feel free to share
this NorthPoint Journal with people you think may enjoy it. When doing so, please forward it in its entirety, including all contact and copyright information.

Copyright NorthPoint Astrology 2015.
All Rights Reserved.


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Truthout Daily Digest | Saturday, 28 March 2015

Beyond Homan Square: US History Is Steeped in Torture

Adam Hudson, Truthout: When reports of torture in CIA black sites or Chicago’s Homan Square come out, it’s tempting to view them as historical anomalies, but they are not. Rather, state torture is the norm, a product of the slavery and imperialism on which the United States was built.

Read the Article

Louisiana Residents Convince EPA That Burning Explosive Waste Outside Is a Bad Idea

Mike Ludwig, Truthout: More than 18 million pounds of hazardous explosives are still sitting in bunkers at Camp Minden in Louisiana, after an explosion happened there more than two years ago. Officials haven’t agreed on how to clean up the wartime leftovers, but they have decided not to burn them in the open air.

Read the Article

Shaker Aamer: Hostage to the Special Relationship

Aisha Maniar, Truthout: Prisoner Shaker Aamer is not being held at Guantánamo Bay for anything he has done; he is a pawn in the power games of others.

Read the Article

A Window Into Congressional Intelligence Oversight

Jude Widmann, Truthout: The positions advocated in a recent essay in Foreign Affairs by Jane Harman, former ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, reflect how weak, incomplete and outdated US intelligence oversight is.

Read the Article

The Divisive Euro: National Struggles and International Solidarity

Lorenzo Del Savio and Matteo Mameli, Truthout: While nationalist rhetoric has often been exclusionary and utilized by racist, right-wing factions, national struggles can also be an inclusionary means to stimulate solidarity among the oppressed, in Greece and other disadvantaged European nations, against the political and economic elites of the European Union.

Read the Article

Endless War: As US Strikes Tikrit and Delays Afghan Pullout, “War on Terror” Toll Tops 1.3 Million

Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!: As the United States begins bombing the Iraqi city of Tikrit and again delays a withdrawal from Afghanistan, a new report has found that the Iraq War has killed about 1 million people. The Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War examined the toll from the so-called war on terror.

Watch the Video and Read the Transcript

The Fight of Their Lives: Can Adjuncts Finally Win a Living Wage?

Rebecca Burns, AlterNet: Seattle may have become one of the first cities to pass a $15 minimum wage last year, but the city’s adjunct instructors say that the dictum for fair pay has yet to penetrate the Ivory Tower. The next big fight for decent labor protections is heating up in academia.

Read the Article

Howard Zinn, “Finishing School for Pickets,” and Paula Giddings, “Learning Insubordination”

Howard Zinn and Paula J. Giddings, TomDispatch: In an excerpt from 1960, Howard Zinn observes the young women of Spelman College turning into protesters, while historian Paula J. Giddings vividly looks back on Zinn and the Spelman experience 55 years later.

Read the Excerpt and the Essay

Talk Climate to Me

Emily Schwartz Greco, OtherWords: While Florida Gov. Rick Scott openly questions whether climate change is occurring, he denies he’s muzzling his staff. But stories of Florida state workers and contractors getting the brunt of this censorship make his denial ring hollow.

Read the Article

Paul Krugman | Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal: Few Benefits, Many Questions

Paul Krugman, Krugman & Co.: Why do some parties want this treaty so much? Because, as with many “trade” deals in recent years, the intellectual property aspects are more important than the trade aspects. We should never forget that protecting intellectual property means creating a monopoly.

Read the Article

Household Debt Is a National Crisis

LeeAnn Hall, OtherWords: The Obama administration should investigate all forms of predatory lending, including student loans, payday loans, medical loans, mortgages and credit cards. Our children, our neighbors, our parents, the sick and the struggling aren’t cash cows for bankers and lenders to milk.

Read the Article

Deep Dive: The White House’s New Memo on Drones and Privacy

Rachel Levinson-Waldman, Brennan Center for Justice: Last month, President Obama released a presidential memorandum on the domestic use of drones by federal agencies. The memorandum addresses the implications for privacy, civil rights and civil liberties. The memorandum takes some steps in the right direction, but leaves many questions unanswered.

Read the Article

BuzzFlash

Those Who Want Peace Have the High Moral Ground; Those Who Want Conflict Have the Power

Mark Karlin, BuzzFlash at Truthout: The bottom line is that war needs to occur in order to justify the US military empire.

Read the BuzzFlash Commentary

Ted Cruz Is All About Repressing the Religious Rights of Non-Christians

Read the Article at BuzzFlash

Co-Pilot Appears to Have Crashed Germanwings Plane on Purpose, Prosecutor Says

Read the Article at Reuters

Wealth vs. Money

Read the Article at BuzzFlash

“False Witnesses” Publish Deeply Flawed Study on Abortion Mortality in Mexico

Read the Article at RH Reality Check

WikiLeaks Leaks TPP Draft!

Read the Article at Daily Kos

Bring Snowden Home? European Panel Says It’s Time

Read the Article at WhoWhatWhy

Saudi Arabia Launches Yemen Air Strikes as Alliance Builds Against Houthi Rebels

Read the Article at The Guardian


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The Sacred Feminine: A Teaching by Aleutian Elder Ilarion Merculieff

Thank you Jamie!

Sophia's Children

In this short video talk, Aleutian Elder, Ilarion (Larry) Merculieff speaks about the vital re-emergence of the Sacred Feminine, the long-ago prophecies and the ultimate effects of the cycle of “masculine imbalance,” and the roles of women and men in this re-emergence of the Feminine.

Note: the audio on this talk isn’t ideal, particularly at first, so listen closely; it’s an inspiring message, so worthwhile.

You’ll also see another, longer talk from Mr. Merculieff on “Going to the Heart of Sustainability.” I appreciated the inspiration shared in that one, too.

You can stir and strengthen your medial Feminine and Sacred Feminine gifts and mojo, too, with the audio programs in the Feminine Mojo Mystery School. Have a look (and a listen).

Big Love,

Jamie

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BREAKING: WikiLeaks Releases Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Working Document

Thank you Anita! I hope everyone will share this everywhere. The more people see what is being done behind closed doors to erase our rights, the faster it will be stopped. When governments work for corporations-that’s called Fascism. The same political set up as Hitler and Mussolini promoted and used. I don’t think most Americans are okay with that.

Challenging the Rhetoric

IMAGE SOURCE: popularresistance.org IMAGE SOURCE: popularresistance.org

By Anita Stewart for Challenging the Rhetoric and Wise Women Media

WikiLeaks site released the working document for the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) late yesterday. As usual, corporate media is saying little to nothing on this release at the time of this writing.

You can access the post from the WikiLeaks website or by clicking HERE.

The official Press Release is HERE.

The PDF document available for download is HERE or click the screenshot below.

IMAGE SOURCE: Wikileaks IMAGE SOURCE: Wikileaks

From the WikiLeaks website:

The TPP Investment Chapter, published today, is dated 20 January 2015. The document is classified and supposed to be kept secret for four years after the entry into force of the TPP agreement or, if no agreement is reached, for four years from the close of the negotiations.

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks editor said,

The TPP has developed in secret an unaccountable supranational court…

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What’s Shocking?

Thank you Grace!

Weaver Grace

When I was a kid
We shocked adults
By talking about the weather
Saying, “It’s colder than a witch’s tit.”

Now, as adults
We can’t shock our kids
By talking about the weather
Even when we say, “The glaciers are melting.”

Media Credit:
This video shows a time series of five-year global temperature averages, mapped from 1884 to 2014, as estimated by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York.
Published on Jan 16, 2015 by NASA Goddard.
The year 2014 now ranks as the warmest on record since 1880, according to an analysis by NASA scientists.
This video is public domain.

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Extrasolar Planets Are, Almost, Everywhere

Extrasolar Planets Are, Almost, Everywhere (Op-Ed)

Charley Lineweaver, Australian National University
Date: 21 March 2015 Time: 07:32 PM ET

Exoplanet discovered by Kepler satellite

The Kepler satellite discovers exoplanets by measuring the light drop from a star when a planet moves in front of it. Maths can uncover many more exoplanets.
CREDIT: Australian National University and the Niels Bohr Institute

This articleicon1.png was originally published on The Conversation. The publication contributed this article to Space.com’sExpert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

When Captain Cook sailed into Botany Bay in 1770, we did not know how many planets were in our solar system. We only knew about Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

Based on the orbits of these planets, 18th century European astronomers invented what is now called the Titius-Bode relation. It’s a simple empirical relation that describes the relative distances between the planets and the sun. It predicted the orbit of another planet beyond Saturn and another planet in the gap between Mars and Jupiter.

In 1781, William Herschel found Uranus – without relying on the Titius-Bode relation – but he found it in the orbit beyond Saturn where the Titius-Bode relation said it would be.

After this success, astronomers started looking for a planet between Mars and Jupiter in the orbit predicted by the Titus-Bode relation.

In 1801, Giuseppi Piazzi found a planet in the predicted position and called it Ceres. The Titius-Bode relation was on a roll.

But when Neptune was found in 1846 it wasn’t exactly where the Titus-Bode relation predicted it would be. And over the years so many small bodies have been found in orbits between Mars and Jupiter that Ceres was plutoed – demoted to an “asteroid”.

And so the Titus-Bode relation losticon1.png its shine. And like an old horse, it was put out to pasture. It was only taken seriously by numerologists and cranks.

The search for extrasolar planets

But then along came NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope. Over the past few years Kepler has been able to detect thousands of exoplanets and hundreds of multi-exoplanet systems.

Along with my PhD student Tim Bovaird and Master’s student Steffen Jacobsen, we reasoned that if the TB relation had been such a useful (if somewhat imperfect) guide for predicting planets in our solar system, maybe it would be useful in predicting planets in the new exoplanetary systems detected by Kepler.

We checked the hundred or so systems where Kepler had found at least a few planets and we found that the majority of these exoplanetary systems adhered to the Titus-Bode relation even somewhat better than our solar system did.

Thus, we became convinced that the horse still had some miles left in her – that the semi-taboo Titus-Bode relation could provide useful hints about the periods of as-yet-undetected planets around other stars.

Resurrection

Last year we used a generalised Titus-Bode relation to analyse 68 multi-planet systems with four or more detected exoplanets. We made predictions for the existence of more planets in these systems, based on the Titus-Bode relation.

So far, 5% of our predictions have been confirmed. This may sound like a small percentage, but given the inability of the Kepler telescope to see Earth-sized planets or smaller, a 5% detection rate is what you would expect to see if all the predictions were true.

Goldilocks or habitable zone, search for life
PinExt.pngThe Goldilocks zone or habitable zone around a star is where the temperature is just right to have liquid water. Our new result suggests that there are, on average, two planets in the habitable zone.
Credit: Aditya Chopra, ANU, adapted from NASA/JPL

Almost all of the exoplanets detected by Kepler are larger than Earth and very close to their host stars. This is almost certainly aselection bias.

It is very difficult for the Kepler telescope to spot planets that are far enough away from their host stars to be in the habitable zone (where the temperatures are in the range where H2O will be liquid water).

Using the Titus-Bode relation is a controversial indirect technique, but I think it’s the best one we have if we are interested in answering the question: How many planets (on average) are in the habitable zones of stars?

How many potentially habitable planets?

Our answer to this question is 2 ± 1 and was published this week in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The figures (above and below) illustrate our result.

Potentially habitable planets, search for life

PinExt.pngThe names on the left are the names of 31 Kepler exoplanetary systems. The blue dots are exoplanets detected by Kepler. Red and gray squares are our Titus-Bode-based predictions. The green horizontal band is the habitable zone. For comparison, the first system (at the top) is our solar system. The Earth is in the middle of the habitable zone.
Credit: Author provided

With about 300 billion stars in our galaxy, our result means there are 600 ± 300 billion planets in circumstellar habitable zones in our galaxy.

In the observable universe there are about 100 billion galaxies. Thus there are approximately 1022 stars in the observable universe and twice that many planets in circumstellar habitable zones in the universe.

That’s a lot of real estate for alien development. Not all of these habitable zone planets will be wet and rocky like the Earth, but a fair fraction (about 30%) should be. Now we need some zippy interstellaricon1.pngspaceships to colonise and over-populate all these worlds before the aliens do.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read theoriginal article. Follow all of the Expert Voices issues and debatesicon1.png — and become part of the discussion — on Facebook,Twitter and Google +. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. This version of the article was originally published onSpace.com.

http://m.space.com/28889-extrasolar-planets-are-almost-everywhere.html


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Australia Is Again Stealing Its Indigenous Children | Truthout

This is outrageous. It must be stopped. Why do these damn right wing fascist monsters always behave as if indigenous people are commodities? And seriously-WHO votes these freaks into office over and over after their behavior is plainly detrimental to our countries and most individuals? Is the brainwashing really so effective?
ohnwentsya

Australia Is Again Stealing Its Indigenous Children

Tuesday, 25 March 2014
By John Pilger, Truthout | News Analysis

Sorry day: Honor the stolen generation. (Image: <a href=" http://www.flickr.com/photos/pierre_pouliquin/2555742909/" target="_blank"> Pierre Pouliquin / Flickr</a>)Sorry day: Honor the stolen generation. (Image: Pierre Pouliquin / Flickr)Journalism with real independence and integrity is a rare thing. Truthout relies on reader donations – click here to make a tax-deductible contribution and support our work.

The tape is searing. There is the voice of an infant screaming as he is wrenched from his mother, who pleads, “There is nothing wrong with my baby. Why are you doing this to us? I would’ve been hung years ago, wouldn’t I? Because (as an Australian Aborigine) you’re guilty before you’re found innocent.” The child’s grandmother demands to know why “the stealing of our kids is happening all over again.” A welfare official says, “I’m gunna take him, mate.”

This happened to an Aboriginal family in outback New South Wales. It is happening across Australia in a scandalous and largely unrecognized abuse of human rights that evokes the infamous Stolen Generation of the last century. Up to the 1970s, thousands of mixed-race children were stolen from their mothers by welfare officials. The children were given to institutions as cheap or slave labor; many were abused.

Described by a chief protector of Aborigines as “breeding out the color,” the policy was known as assimilation. It was influenced by the same eugenics movement that inspired the Nazis. In 1997, a landmark report, “Bringing Them Home,” disclosed that as many 50,000 children and their mothers had endured “the humiliation, the degradation and sheer brutality of the act of forced separation … the product of the deliberate, calculated policies of the state.” The report called this genocide.

Assimilation remains Australian government policy in all but name. Euphemisms such as “reconciliation” and “Stronger Futures” cover similar social engineering and an enduring, insidious racism in the political elite, the bureaucracy and wider Australian society. When in 2008 Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologized for the Stolen Generation, he added: “I want to be blunt about this. There will be no compensation.” The Sydney Morning Herald congratulated Rudd on a “shrewd maneuver” that “cleared away a piece of political wreckage that responds to some of its supporters’ emotional needs, but changes nothing.”

Today, the theft of Aboriginal children – including babies taken from the birth table – is now more widespread than at any time during the last century. As of June last year, almost 14,000 Aboriginal children had been “removed.” This is five times the number when “Bringing Them Home” was written. More than a third of all removed children are Aboriginal – from 3% of the population. At the present rate, this mass removal of Aboriginal children will result in a stolen generation of more than 3,300 children in the Northern Territory alone.

Pat (not her real name) is the mother whose anguish was secretly recorded on a phone as four Department of Child Services officials, and six police officers, descended on her home. On the tape an official claims they have come only for an “assessment.” But two of the police officers, who knew Pat, told her they saw no risk to her child and warned her to “get out of here quick.” Pat fled, cradling her infant, but the one-year-old was eventually seized without her knowing why. The next morning a police officer returned to apologize to her and said her baby should never have been taken away. Pat has no idea where her son is.

Once, she was “invited” by officials to bring her children to “neutral” offices to discuss a “care plan.” The doors were locked and officials seized the children, with one of the youngest dragging on a police officer’s gun belt. Many indigenous mothers are unaware of their legal rights. A secretive Children’s Court has become notorious for rubber-stamping removals.

Most Aboriginal families live on the edge. Their life expectancy in towns a short flight from Sydney is as low as 37. Dickensian diseases are rife; Australia is the only developed country not to have eradicated trachoma, which blinds Aboriginal children.

Pat has both complied with and struggled bravely against a punitive bureaucracy that can remove children on hearsay. She has twice been acquitted of false charges, including “kidnapping” her own children. A psychologist has described her as a capable and good mother.

Josie Crawshaw, the former director of a respected families’ support organization in Darwin, told me, “In remote areas, officials will go in with a plane in the early hours and fly the child thousands of kilometers from their community. There’ll be no explanation, no support, and the child may be gone forever.”

In 2012, Coordinator-General of Remote Services for the Northern Territory Olga Havnen was sacked when she revealed that almost $80 million was spent on the surveillance and removal of Aboriginal children, compared with only $500,000 on supporting the same impoverished families. She told me, “The primary reasons for removing children are welfare issues directly related to poverty and inequality. The impact on families is just horrendous because if they are not reunited within six months, it’s likely they won’t see each other again. If South Africa was doing this, there’d be an international outcry.”

She and others with long experience I have interviewed have echoed the “Bringing them Home” report, which described an official “attitude” in Australia that regarded all Aboriginal people as “morally deficient.” A Department of Families and Community Services spokesman said that the majority of removed indigenous children in New South Wales were placed with indigenous caregivers. According to indigenous support networks, this is a smokescreen; it does not mean families and it is control by divisiveness that is the bureaucracy’s real achievement.

I met a group of Aboriginal grandmothers, all survivors of the first stolen generation, all now with stolen grandchildren. “We live in a state of fear, again,” they said. David Shoebridge, a State Greens MP, told me, “The truth is, there is a market among whites for these kids, especially babies.”

The New South Wales parliament is soon to debate legislation that introduces forced adoption and “guardianship.” Children under two will be liable – without the mother’s consent – if “removed” for more than six months. For many Aboriginal mothers like Pat, it can take six months merely to make contact with their children. “It’s setting up Aboriginal families to fail,” said Shoebridge.

I asked Josie Crawshaw why. “The willful ignorance in Australia about its first people has now become the kind of intolerance that gets to the point where you can smash an entire group of humanity and there is no fuss.”

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted withoutpermission.

JOHN PILGER

John Pilger is an Australian-born, London-based journalist, filmmaker and author. For his foreign and war reporting, ranging from Vietnam and Cambodia to the Middle East, he has twice won Britain’s highest award for journalism. For his documentary films, he won a British Academy Award and an American Emmy. In 2009, he was awarded Australia’s human rights prize, the Sydney Peace Prize. John Pilger’s films can be viewed on his website.

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