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