Thursday, September 29, 2016

Quaker Grannies for Peace at Pine Gap



Three ‘Quaker Grannies for peace’ have set up breakfast on the road to Pine Gap and are inviting military personnel to sit down with them and negotiate.



Dawn Joyce, Helen Bayes and Peri Coleman this morning before setting up breakfast to share. Photo: Glenn Todd

The grandmothers have set up a table and chairs and prepared tea and croissants in order to engage in dialogue with personnel arriving for work at the base.

‘We are asking Australians whether it is appropriate for a foreign country to be operating a secret facility with no transparency on Australian soil; a base that may well be implicating Australians in wars that our government has not entered into’, says Helen Bayes, longtime Quaker, grandmother of thirteen and founder of the Quaker Grannies.

Pine Gap collects various kinds of data, mined from the Asia Pacific and the Middle East, which is used for drone strikes in nations where Australia is not meant to be at war.

‘Our Quaker peace testimony from 1661 says “We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fighting with outward weapons for any end or under any pretence whatsoever”.’ says Bayes.

Grandmother of five, Dawn Joyce said “This is sovereign indigenous land yet the US claim that all their bases are US soil. I support the claim of the Arrernte people who did not agree to this base being placed on their sacred lands”.

The action is one of a series marking the 50th anniversary of the secret US military facility at Pine Gap. Groups are advocating that it is time for the base to be closed.

Last year the Grannies appeared at the entrance to a military training area at Shoalwater Bay, outside of Rockhampton, during the largest US/Australian joint military exercise in history.


Quaker Grannies last year at Shoalwater Bay. From Left: Dawn Joyce, Jo Valentine, Helen Bayes. Photo: David Bradbury

Professor Richard Tanter from the Nautilus Institute will be present in Alice Springs for the Independent and Peaceful Australian Network (IPAN) Conference (29 September to 2 October).

He points out that from China’s perspective, the US-Australian military alliance is likely to raise the supposition that “Australia is not so much hosting US military bases, but is becoming a virtual American base in its own right”.

Anti-militarism advocates at Pine Gap this week are not the only ones who have been trying to raise these concerns. Malcolm Fraser wrote a book not long before his death called Dangerous Allies, which argues that the time when it was in our strategic interest to have a strong military relationship with the US is over, and that now Australia would be better off with a more independent foreign policy.


Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Fred Hellerman, Last of the Weavers Folk Group, Dies at 89

Fred Hellerman, Last of the Weavers Folk Group, Dies at 89
New York Times By WILLIAM GRIMES SEPT. 2, 2016

The Weavers in the early 1950s, clockwise from right: Fred Hellerman, Pete Seeger, Lee Hays and Ronnie Gilbert.
Fred Hellerman, a singer, guitarist and songwriter and the last surviving member of the Weavers, the quartet that in the 1950s helped usher in the folk music revival, died on Thursday at his home in Weston, Conn. He was 89.

With songs like “If I Had a Hammer,” “Goodnight Irene” and “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine,” the Weavers brought folk music to a mass audience, paving the way for singers like Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and Peter, Paul and Mary, who galvanized a young, politically conscious audience in the 1960s.

Mr. Hellerman’s mellow baritone, rock-steady guitar and songwriting talent made him a pillar of the group, whose other members were Pete Seeger, Lee Hays and Ronnie Gilbert. Mr. Hays died in 1981, Mr. Seeger in 2014 and Ms. Gilbert in 2015.

With the other members of the Weavers, who were based in Greenwich Village, Mr. Hellerman recast dozens of traditional songs, which were credited to the collective songwriting name Paul Campbell. He also wrote for the group, as well as for Harry Belafonte, under his own name or the pseudonym Fred Brooks. Many of his songs were later recorded by other artists.

His Weavers songs included “There Once Was a Young Man Who Went to the City,” “Tapuach Hineni” and, with Fran Minkoff, “The Honey Wind Blows” and the antiwar ballad “Come Away Melinda.” For Mr. Belafonte he wrote “I’m Just a Country Boy” (with Marshall Baker), “I Never Will Marry,” “Green Grow the Lilacs” and “Walkin’ on the Green Grass.”

After the Weavers disbanded in 1964, Mr. Hellerman kept up a performing and producing career. He played guitar on the debut albums by Joan Baez and Judy Collins, and produced Arlo Guthrie’s first album, “Alice’s Restaurant,” and its successor, “Arlo.”

He rejoined the Weavers for reunion concerts in 1980, documented in the film “The Weavers: Wasn’t That a Time!” He also produced the album version of the concerts, “Together Again.”

He was born Fred Hellerman on May 13, 1927, in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. His father, Harry, and his mother, the former Clara Robinson, were Jewish immigrants from Riga, Latvia. His father ran a small grocery store and later a clothing recycling business on the Lower East Side.

While studying English at Brooklyn College, he performed with American Folksay, a group of singers and square dancers, and in 1948 he recorded “The Little Cowboy” with Will Geer and Ernie Lieberman for Young People’s Records.

He soon came to the attention of Mr. Hays and Mr. Seeger, former members of the Almanac Singers, who were trying to organize musical backing for folk dancers at a Thanksgiving hootenanny at Irving Plaza in Manhattan being held by People’s Music, a leftist organization that sent folk singers to political events.

With Ms. Gilbert, whom Mr. Hellerman knew from their days as counselors at the leftist Camp Wo-Chi-Ca in northern New Jersey, they came up with a medley of international folk songs that turned out to be a crowd pleaser. Encouraged, they began rehearsing and appearing as the No Name Quartet until Mr. Hellerman suggested the Weavers, a name taken from the title of Gerhart Hauptmann’s play about a 19th-century workers’ revolt.

“We really got together for the fun of it, singing in Pete’s basement on Macdougal Street,” Mr. Hellerman told The New York Times in 1980. “We sang for unions, at picket lines and at hootenannies, but we had no anticipation of getting jobs. Even Pete, the most accomplished of us, could not get jobs on his own, so we couldn’t expect anyone to pay for four of us.”

A booking at the Village Vanguard in December 1949 changed that. It did not hurt when the folklorist Alan Lomax brought the poet Carl Sandburg to a performance, which he loved.

“The Weavers are out of the grass roots of America,” Sandburg told reporters. “I salute them. When I hear America singing, the Weavers are there.”

Decca signed the group to a contract. Their first record for the label, the Hebrew song “Tzena, Tzena, Tzena,” rose to No. 2 on the Billboard chart. The flip side, “Goodnight, Irene,” an interpretation of the Lead Belly anthem, sat atop the chart for 13 weeks. The record sold two million copies.

After Mr. Seeger was labeled a Communist by the influential publication “Red Channels in 1952, and an F.B.I. informant made the same charge against Mr. Hellerman and Ms. Gilbert, it became impossible for the group to perform on radio and television, or at most concert halls

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Massive Demonstrations Support Refugees

Thousands of people have rallied around Australia, calling for the government to immediately close its offshore immigration centres following the publication of the Nauru files.


Protests were held in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Newcastle, Hobart, Brisbane, Adelaide, Ballina, and at the Australian embassies in London and Tokyo on Saturday. Another rally is planned for Darwin on Sunday, the day after the Northern Territory election.



Chris Breen, a spokesman for the Refugee Action Collective and organiser of the Melbourne rally said about 2,000 people attended.


“The point was to keep the pressure up on the Turnbull government after the election. We think refugee policy is coming apart at the seams,” Breen told Guardian Australia.


A former teacher from Nauru addressed the Melbourne crowd and shared her experiences in the centre, including an incident when guards ran a mock serious response scenario, including ambulances and fake blood, but didn’t warn detainees. The exercise was held in front of the school, she said.

The publication of the Nauru files, which included more than 2,000 incident reports documenting the everyday trauma and distress of detainees on the Pacific island as well as widespread mental illness and frequent acts of violence, showed the ongoing urgency to close the camps and bring the asylum seekers and refugees to Australia, Breen said.


“The abuse isn’t a product of lack of oversight, it’s built into the detention system.”



Sunday, August 14, 2016

ABC Radio Documentary – Shit Happens


Going to the toilet is an everyday event for most of us. But what happens to our bodily waste after we flush? Where does it go, and how does it get there? And why do we rarely discuss it?

After her family endures the unique horror of a broken loo at home, Cath Simpson decides to investigate.

This program takes us on a journey along Sydney sewerage pipes, from a broken toilet in Newtown into the bowels of the sandstone cliffs at the Bondi treatment plant.

Along the way we learn fascinating faecal facts about the formation of western cultural attitudes to human waste.

  • Researcher Dr Cath Simpson 
  • Writer Maree Delofski 
  • Producer Sharon Davis, Maree Delofski and Cath Simpson 
  • Sound Engineer Steven Tilley

Shit Happens

Part 1 Download (mp3)

Part 2 Download (mp3)