Friday, January 20, 2017

Ancient Aboriginal site a step closer to UNESCO World Heritage status

Budj Bim Landscape: Ancient Aboriginal site a step closer to UNESCO World Heritage status
An ancient Aboriginal settlement and aquaculture site in south-west Victoria is a step closer to being named a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Key points:

The site is 6,600 years old, older than Stonehenge and the Pyramids

The Federal Government has submitted a nomination for the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape at Lake Condah to be included on Australia's World Heritage Tentative List.

If the nomination is successful, Budj Bim would be the Australia's 20th World Heritage site and the only place listed solely for its Indigenous cultural value.

It marks a significant turning point for the Gunditjmara traditional owners who have worked tirelessly for several years to see Budj Bim gain a tentative World Heritage nomination.

Denis Rose, project manager for Gunditj Mirring Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, said there was a sigh of relief when the group was informed of the tentative nomination.
  • "We've worked on this process for quite a few years, we've had to get our evidence together and we're just really glad and excited that we've finally been accepted on Australia's World Heritage Tentative list," he said.
  • The Gunditjmara people used Lake Condah and surrounding wetlands to form channels to harvest eels in the area thousands of years ago.
Today the remains of intricate stone traps used to form the channels can be seen at the site, and it is one of the oldest aquaculture sites in the world.

Mr Rose said the site is a hidden treasure and traditional owners were confident a World Heritage nomination would boost tourism.

"We take quite a few tours out on country and the general consensus is 'Oh, I didn't realise this was here'."

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Zinn Education – Reconstructing the South

In popular culture, the most memorable depiction of Reconstruction was D.W. Griffith's film, Birth of a Nation. Scalawags and carbetbaggers conspire with newly freed Blacks to ruin the South until the Ku Klux Klan arrives to save the day.
Missing from this racist portrait of Reconstruction ---- and from too many textbooks ----was the extraordinary experiment in grassroots multiracial democracy this period represented ---- land reform, public schools, expanded voting rights, greater equality.

Reconstruction was the key turning point in U.S. history ---- a period of democratic promise like no other. But a promise foreclosed by the terrorism of the defeated white elites seeking to hold on to "their" South.
The Zinn Education Project commemorates the Reconstruction period with new curriculum. We have just posted a new lesson, "Reconstructing the South: A Role Play," written by Zinn Education Project co-director Bill Bigelow. It is accompanied by a chapter on land reform in the post-Civil War South from the American Social History Project's important book, Freedom's Unfinished Revolution.
Download these teaching resources and share them with colleagues. Stay tuned. More to come. 

Chelsea Manning – Obama Commutes Sentence

President Obama on Tuesday largely commuted the remaining prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the army intelligence analyst convicted of an enormous 2010 leak that revealed American military and diplomatic activities across the world, disrupted the administration and made WikiLeaks, the recipient of those disclosures, famous.

Chelsea Manning Demonstration – 2015
The decision by Mr. Obama rescued Ms. Manning, who twice tried to kill herself last year, from an uncertain future as a transgender woman incarcerated at the men’s military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. She has been jailed for nearly seven years, and her 35-year sentence was by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction.

The act of clemency could be seen as a reversal, at least in part, of the Obama administration’s unprecedented criminal crackdown on leaking: The administration has brought charges in about nine cases, about twice as many as under all previous presidents combined.

At the same time that Mr. Obama commuted the sentence of Ms. Manning, a low-ranking enlisted soldier at the time of her leaks, he also granted a pardon to Gen. James E. Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and one of the highest-ranking officials ensnared in the leak crackdown.

General Cartwright had pleaded guilty to lying about his conversations with reporters when questioned by F.B.I. agents in an investigation into leaks of classified information about cyberattacks on Iran’s nuclear program.

In addition, Mr. Obama commuted the sentence of Oscar L√≥pez Rivera, who was part of a Puerto Rican nationalist group that carried out a string of bombings in the late 1970s and early 1980s; the other members of that group had long since been freed. Mr. Obama also granted 63 other pardons and 207 other commutations — mostly of drug offenders.

Under the terms of Mr. Obama’s commutation announced by the White House on Tuesday, Ms. Manning is set to be freed on May 17 of this year rather than in 2045. A senior administration official said the 120-day delay was part of a standard transition period for commutations to time served, and was designed to allow for such steps as finding a place to live after her release.

The commutation also relieved the Department of Defense of the difficult responsibility of Ms. Manning’s incarceration as she pushes for treatment for her gender dysphoria — including sex reassignment surgery — that the military has no experience providing.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Friday, January 13, 2017

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Bette Davis – Taking on McCarthyism in 1956

The first Hollywood movie to overtly take on McCarthyism, Storm Center appeared in 1956. Bette Davis "plays a small-town librarian who refuses, on principle, to remove a book called 'The Communist Dream' from the shelves when the local council deems it subversive.

Time Ball – Sydney Observatory 1858

When the Time Ball was installed atop Sydney Observatory in 1858 it used the movement of the stars to calculate the correct time, culminating with the daily dropping of the Time Ball.
This allowed ships in Sydney Harbour to synchronise their chronometers in order to safely bring new passengers to Australia, deliver mail to loved ones overseas, and to plant the seeds for our growing nation. The Time Ball connected and informed us.

Nearly 160 years later, the Time Ball, is now one of less than ten still in operation around the world, continuing to drop daily at 1.00 pm and serving as a constant reminder of the technology that permeated our daily lives before the advent of radio, television or wristwatches.

But the Time Ball has seen only one improvement since its installation and we need your help to conserve it, ensuring we can continue to look to our history to inform our future.

With your gift, you can help ensure the Time Ball operates for the next 160 years.

All donations over $2 are tax deductible.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Meryl Streep – Powerful Speech at the the Golden Globes 2017

William Shakespeare gets his job back – No Aristocrat's need apply

Dr Heather Wolfe
Dr Heather Wolfe is one of the world's leading experts on early modern English manuscripts, and Curator of Manuscripts and Archivist at the Folger Shakespeare Library.

'In my scholarship, I build arguments based on documentary evidence. 'Through my work on the website Shakespeare Documented, I was fortunate to examine hundreds of manuscripts and printed works relating to Shakespeare, his family, and his works. 

It is known William Shakespeare was baptised on April 26, 1564 and that he died on his birthday 52 years later.The poet and writer was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, the third child of eight to his middle-class parents, John and Mary Shakespeare.

Over the next 30 years he would produce 37 plays, and countless poems and other works, making him one of the world's most celebrated playwright five centuries later.

'This over-abundance of evidence, some of it linking the gentleman from Stratford with the London playwright, leaves absolutely no reason to doubt his authorship.' 

Having scoured Elizabethan archives, Dr Wolfe has unearthed evidence including previously unknown depictions of Shakespeare's coat of arms from the seventeenth century which cast new light on William's status as a gentleman-writer.

'This new evidence really helps us get a little bit closer to the man himself,' Wolfe said. 
'It shows Shakespeare shaping himself and building his reputation in a very intentional way.'

Speaking about the significance of the discoveries to The New York Times, Shakespeare scholar and Columbia University professor James Shapiro said: 'It's always been clear that Shakespeare of Stratford and 'Shakespeare the player' were one and the same.'

But if you hold the documents Heather has discovered together, that is the smoking gun.'

Shakespeare Signatures

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Protect Sherwood Forest

Sherwood forest, home to ancient trees, rare wildlife and Robin Hood is in danger. A huge energy company, Ineos, is trying to get permission to explore underneath it for gas. Britain’s most famous woodland could soon be filled with lorries, heavy machinery and explosions.

A government agency, called the Forestry Commission, can decide whether to let the energy company into the forest. They manage all the forests in the UK and are supposed to protect them. They know the risks of letting Ineos into Sherwood - but are probably coming under pressure to let the deal go ahead.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Broome Gunada Band – 1989

Gunada Band  in 1989. Wayne Barker, Bob Wright, Arnhem Hunter, Wolfgang Reusse and Guy Ghouse.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Tolpuddle Martyrs' old chapel to be restored as a place to 'sit and think'

A small derelict agricultural building beside the main road through the Dorset village of Tolpuddle is to be restored as “a quiet place” to sit and think, in honour of the structure’s little known role in British trade union history.

The listed building was built in 1818 by two of the martyrs
A sycamore tree in the centre of the village, a few hundred yards from the old barn, is famous as the meeting place of the six agricultural labourers who became known as the Tolpuddle Martyrs, after they were sentenced to transportation to Australia in 1834 for daring to collectively demand better wages and working conditions, as their already miserable pay was being cut from nine to six shillings a week.

Andrew McCarthy, the chairman of the Tolpuddle Old Chapel Trust
They were pardoned two years later after their cause became a national campaign, and a petition was signed by 800,000 people. Their history is celebrated in a festival and rally organised every summer by the Trades Union Congress, and told in a small museum in the village.

Few who come to the rallies know that years before the meetings under the the tree, most of the men met regularly in the little building, which was originally the plainest and most modest of one-room Methodist chapels.

It was built in 1818 by two of the martyrs, George Loveless and Thomas Standfield on a tiny patch of land they leased beside the latter’s cottage home. The pair were almost certainly the two who were recorded as returning with “their hearts glowing with sacred flame” after walking the 20 miles to and from a Methodist meeting in the town of Wareham. At least four of the six martyrs were Methodist.

It became redundant when the village got a larger Methodist chapel in 1862, and was altered to become a small barn and stable.
An artist’s impression of how the restored chapel will look
Andrew McCarthy, who lives a few houses away, thinks the two martyrs must have built it with their own hands. “It looks like a barn because essentially that’s what it was – the type of building they saw every day, made of simple cheap materials, cob with a bit of brick and flint, sticks and branches and thatch for the roof.”

McCarthy chairs the Tolpuddle Old Chapel Trust, which bought the building just in time to save it from collapse and learned a few weeks ago that it had won a development grant of almost £65,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund – and is on track for a full grant of almost £350,000.

The building is listed Grade II*, the second highest category, in honour of its importance not just for the martyrs’ story but as a rare survival of one of the simplest early Methodist chapels. The trust succeeded in buying it for £25,000, after the farmer had turned down approaches both from the Methodists and the TUC. The building had spent many years on the at risk register of nationally important buildings in danger of being lost forever, too derelict even for storage.

Jeremy Corbyn attending a rally in Tolpuddle in 2016
The old chapel will be restored as simply as possible, reinstating the original entrance door and restoring the one attempt at grandeur, a gothic arched window. But the interior will be left empty, apart from a bench, and an old Methodist bible given to McCarthy by a garden centre owner who found it – wrapped in plastic – in one of her polytunnels.

The village has lost its shop, but still has a village hall, a pub, and the museum.

“We don’t need to duplicate any of those things,” McCarthy said. “What we want is a place where people can escape from the busy world for a little while, and just sit down on the bench and be quiet for a bit – and think about the history of the martyrs, what they believed in, their connection with the land and this building. Or – they can just sit.”

Monday, January 02, 2017

The Hollywood Ten (1950)

"Who were the Hollywood Ten? This 1950 documentary gives us a closer look at the ten blacklisted film writers and directors who defied the government and the sentiments of their day by refusing to testify during the HUAC anti-Communist hearings. John Berry, who directed the documentary, was blacklisted himself upon its release." (Ironweed Films)

Red Leaves of Red Books

….…Red leaves of red books
….…In white palms and black palms
….…Slowly in the mute hours of the night
….…In the fingers of women and the fingers of men
….…In the fingers of the old and the fingers of the young
….…Under the nervous flickering of candles
….…Under yellow gas sputterings
….…Under dim incandescent globes
….…In the North and in the South
….…In the East and in the West
….…Ceaselessly and reveal your printed hope
….…Until your crispness leaves you
….…Until you are dog-eared
….…Until the calloused hands that grip you
Are hardened to the steel of unretractable purpose!

Richard Wright

From New Masses, April 30, 1935