Wednesday, 21 February 2018

George Christensen running a little distraction for his 'mate' Barnaby Joyce?


Far-right federal politicians tend to stick together in the face of negative media coverage and on 17 February 2018 thirty-nine year old George Robert Christensen, Liberal-Nationals MP for Dawson, apparently decided to give social media something else to talk about other than his 'mate' Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce.

Unfortunately when picking a topic George showed all the maturity and sound judgement voters have come to expect from members of the Turnbull Coalition Government.



Cristensen's Facebook caption reads "You gotta ask yourself, do you feel lucky, greenie punks?"

Unfortunately for George at least one member of the public reported his Facebook post to the police and the prime minister. So it wasn't that long before he changed the captioning of this gun-totting image.

Some time later he also removed the image with a silly show of petulance.

 Perhaps he finally got around to considering whether his prime minister might be as unamused as many other Australians given these facts about those so-called "greenie punks".



Conservation Watch, 07.03.2017

“Two hundred environmental activists, wildlife rangers and indigenous leaders trying to protect their land were killed in 2016, according to the watchdog group Global Witness – more than double the number killed five years ago.” [The Guardian, 13 June 2017]

"A New South Wales farmer who shot and killed an environment officer involved in land clearing prosecutions against his family has been found guilty of murder." [ABC News, 25 May 2016]

Speak Up for Battery Hens Before It's Too Late: NSW Government taking submissions on Model Code of Practice for Poultry until 26 February 2018



AAP MediaNet Release:

15 Feb 2018 4:00 AM AEST - Australians Urged to Speak up for Battery Hens Before it's too Late

15 February, 2018

Australians Urged to Speak up for Battery Hens Before it's too Late

Australians are being encouraged take part in a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help end the cruel use of battery hen cages by making a submission to the poultry code review.

With polls indicating 84% of Australians believe that battery cages should be banned, it's alarming that 11 million hens still suffer in cages in Australia today.

Deemed cruel and unacceptable in many other countries including Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the entire European Union, Australia is now lagging behind the rest of the world by continuing to allow the use of battery hen cages.

The reasons to act now and make a submission to the poultry review are clear. Battery hens in Australia are permanently locked in small cages, denied the freedom to walk around and stretch their wings for their entire life. Furthermore, scientists estimate that four in five caged hens suffer from crippling osteoporosis due to the conditions they are forced to live in.

Setting the standard for the treatment of farmed birds, the review of the Model Code of Practice for Poultry is now open for public consultation. But the process hasn't been without scandal, with documents acquired under the Freedom of Information Act indicating collusion between the egg industry and the NSW Government to ensure battery cages remain in use.

With industry interests dominating the agenda, now is the time for the public to raise their voices for animal welfare standards to reflect community expectations.

"This is the first time in 17 years that the laws that allow cage egg farming have come under review. Currently, more than 90,000 Australians have made a submission through the Animals Australia website, which is staggering. It's already the biggest response to a public consultation for farmed animals that Australia has ever seen. This demonstrates the depth of concern in the community about this issue," said Animals Australia's Campaign Director Lisa Chalk.

The expectations of the community have changed significantly within the last decade, with many consumers already voting with their wallets. Most Australians no longer buy cage eggs and while major companies such as Woolworths, Aldi, McDonald's, Subway, Hungry Jack's, Arnott's, Nestle and Heinz are removing cage eggs from their supply chains, cage egg corporations are still permitted to operate in Australia.

Cage egg farming in Australia is dominated by three multi-million dollar corporations whose combined annual revenue is over half a billion dollars. They can well afford the 2.5 cents per egg it would cost to give hens a better life.

With support for cage egg farming waning, some egg producers are now looking to export cage eggs overseas. A legal ban on battery cages would ensure Australian hens aren't condemned to suffer in cages to lay eggs for other countries. 
    
"Australian Governments like to project the nation as a world leader on animal welfare but in reality, Australia is lagging well behind other developed nations, particularly in failing to acknowledge the unacceptable cruelty caused by battery hen cages," said Lisa Chalk.

"What we have before us is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to secure a better life for millions of animals."

The poultry code review provides a rare opportunity to secure a legal ban on the cruel and archaic battery hen cage. Running until February 26, the public consultation process enables everyone in the community to join well-known Australians - Judith Lucy, Mick Molloy, Sam Pang and Lehmo - to be part of history in the making and help free hens from cages.

Submissions take only a minute and can be made by visiting AnimalsAustralia.org before February 26th.

Video and images are available for download at:

Submissions can be made via email or post. 

Please email submissions to publicconspoultry@animalhealthaustralia.com.au 

Or 

Post submissions to: Animal Welfare Standards Public Consultation PO Box 5116 Braddon ACT 2612


Tuesday, 20 February 2018

US Dept of Justice-FBI investigation of Russian links to Donald Trump's election campaign inexorably rolls on


On 17 May 2017 the probe into Russian influence on US political processes and collusion between the Russian Government and individuals associated with the election campaign of President Donald J Trump became an investigation which would inevitably lead to charges being laid.

To date both President Trump's former campaign manager and campaign deputy-director have been indicted, along with thirteen Russian nationals and three corporations.

Trump's former security adviser, along with a former member of his foreign policy advisory team and an individual who unlawfully supplied US bank accounts to Russians associated with the alleged political interference, have plead guilty to charges.

Current State of Play according to US Dept. of Justice

U.S. v. Internet Research Agency, et al (1:18-cr-32, District of Columbia)
A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned an indictment on Feb. 16, 2018, against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities accused of violating U.S. criminal laws in order to interfere with U.S. elections and political processes. The indictment charges all of the defendants with conspiracy to defraud the United States, three defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants with aggravated identity theft.

U.S. v. Richard Pinedo, et al (1:18-cr-24, District of Columbia)
Richard Pinedo, of Santa Paula, Calif., pleaded guilty on Feb. 12, 2018, to identity fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1028.

U.S. v. Michael T. Flynn (1:17-cr-232, District of Columbia)
Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn (Ret.), of Alexandria, Va., pleaded guilty on Dec. 1, 2017, to making false statements to FBI agents, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001.

U.S. v. Paul J. Manafort, Jr., and Richard W. Gates III (1:17-cr-201, District of Columbia)
Paul J. Manafort, Jr., of Alexandria, Va., and Richard W. Gates III, of Richmond, Va., have been indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 27, 2017, in the District of Columbia. The indictment contains 12 counts: conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. The case was unsealed on Oct. 30, 2017, after the defendants were permitted to surrender themselves to the custody of the FBI.

U.S. v. George Papadopoulos (1:17-cr-182, District of Columbia)
George Papadopoulos, of Chicago, Illinois, pleaded guilty on Oct. 5, 2017, to making false statements to FBI agents, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1001. The case was unsealed on Oct. 30, 2017.

So will the Turnbull Government come clean about ministers' VIP travel over the last eighteen months?



It would appear that Australian federal politicians have a long history of using RAAF VIP jets in an extravagant manner.

Take current Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals MP for New England  Barnaby Joyce as an example. 

News Mail, 28  December 2012:

One Coalition heavyweight, Queensland Senator Barnaby Joyce, racked up one of the highest percentages of ghost flights among non-government parliamentarians.
Senator Joyce’s travel bill totalled some $47,955 for 10 taxpayer-funded flights, primarily between Melbourne or Canberra and St George.
But he was only on board for three of those flights, with the remaining seven costing nearly twice as much as the flights he was on board for - racking up $31,395 worth of ghost flights.

BuzzFeed, 28 July 2017:

BuzzFeed News has confirmed the deputy prime minister billed taxpayers almost $9,000 for "special purpose" defence force charter flights on the same day he attended a rugby league game with his family……
On Mother's Day last year, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) was charged with collecting Barnaby Joyce and Nationals deputy leader Fiona Nash from two regional NSW towns, and flying them to Canberra ahead of the first day of the federal election campaign…..

The RAAF's logs revealed that the first flight on May 8 [2016], from Canberra to Tamworth with no passengers, cost $3,348. The second shows Joyce was picked up in Tamworth and flown to Parkes for $2,930.

The Daily Telegraph, 13 August 2017:

In March that year [2016], the empty VIP plane flew from Canberra to Melbourne, at a cost of $4604, to collect Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and fly him to Tamworth at a cost of $5441. The plane then returned to Canberra without any passengers, at a cost of $4185.

Herald Sun, 2 January 2018:
RAAF planes took nine trips [in last half 2016] without passengers between Tamworth and Canberra to provide chartered flights to Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, with each flight costing more than $4000. 

The New Daily, 18 February 2018:

Barnaby Joyce charged the taxpayer to stay overnight in Melbourne after attending an AFL game last year [2017], before chartering a $6000 “special purpose” defence force flight back to Tamworth the following day…..
Parliamentary documents show Mr Joyce claimed $442 in travelling allowance on May 13 last year for an overnight stay in Melbourne, citing “official business” as Deputy Prime Minister.
The Nationals leader declared in his register of member’s interests that he was a guest for the City vs Country at the May 13 AFL night match between Geelong and Essendon at the MCG, with the gift including “hospitality in the form of food and drinks”.
The New Daily can also reveal Mr Joyce was then the sole passenger on a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) flight from Melbourne to Tamworth the following day, which was Mother’s Day.

Defence Department documents show the cost to the taxpayer for the charter flight was $6440.

So it is no wonder that questions are being asked at this particular time.

Australian Parliament Senate Hansard, 14 February 2018:

Senator Kitching to move on the next day of sitting:
That there be laid on the table, by 5 pm on 15 February 2018, by: (a) the Minister for Defence, details of any Special Purpose Flights taken by members of the executive in 2017, noting that no reports on the use of Special Purpose Flights since 3 July 2016 have been tabled.