My Not-On-Bucket-List List

I don’t know about you but I find it incredibly liberating when I come across an idea or a potential that I definitely DON’T want to try.

That’s because most of the time (when I’m not grumpy with it) I find this ol’ world so incredible full to overflowing with stuff that I reeeaaaaaallllly want to do. My bucket list needs the organised housewife to de-clutter it. In fact, I couldn’t even make a bucket list because I’d kick the bucket before I finished writing it.

In the last nine months as I project manage our house build and find that there are hundred shades of white and a trillion different tile shapes to choose from, I’ve discovered the thrill of finding something I don’t like. It’s like when you find a bit of clothing you can’t afford but can’t live without and you try it on and it looks shite and you breathe a sigh of relief, pop it back on the hanger and skip out feeling flushed with cash.

So I’m going to make a ‘Not on my bucket list list’ and then take everything else if the opportunity comes up and the time is right. Here goes:

I NEVER WANT TO:

1) Go to Antarctica

Never ever. I know, it’s beautiful and all but I can look at it in pictures and I hate being cold. It’s quite competitive to get there I think and so I’ll step aside for those people who are keen for ice magic and go to that Island called Mystique that was on a Bacardi ad in the 80’s. Always wanted to go there.

2) Jump out of a plane

I don’t go much on bodily risk, I’m a wimp. And that thing ones face does when falling is just plain fugly. I’m not paying hundreds of dollars for that, I already fork out enough on face creams that will supposedly delay flaccid face syndrome. I’d probably pass out from the fright and not remember any of it anyway. Pass.

3) Buy a remote beach house

I already live in a house by the beach, miles from anywhere. Bugger spending my holidays in another one, probably with less comfortable amenities, no foxtel and a lot of shells on the bathroom window ledge. I have enough country quiet (possums rooting on the roof) in my life, gimme a lovely inner city guest house with day spas and theatres nearby for my holidays. And people; people everywhere please.

4) SCUBA dive

I’m the one who clings on for dear life when water skiing in case I fall off in deep water and have to talk myself out of Jaws thoughts. I’m the one who hurries over the kelpy underwater bits for the sandy blue bits and has to consciously not looks down or think about Steve Irwin or Harold Holt. I know, it’s the wimp thing again. But putting on a giant suction mask and some breathing apparatus so I can get up close to those very things I nightmare about is to me just out of the question. A snorkle and a clown fish is about my limit and even then I’m jumpy.

5) Go around Australia in a caravan with my kids. 

Refer here to see why this is another no-no for me. At least not for the next few years.

6) Go to Las Vegas 

Maybe I’ve watched too much telly but that place looks ghastly. The Gold Coast on ‘roids, with extra pokies. I don’t care if there’s a fuck off big canyon nearby, I don’t want to see a big old dusty earth crack either.

7) Get a Thermomix

I know they’re brilliant, I’ve seen one in action, heard all about them and tasted the results. I know they change lives and expand palettes and encourage good health, but for about $2K, if that baby doesn’t fold the washing and shag your husband then I’ll stick to my cast iron pots thanks. And I don’t want a green smoothie anyway – those foul beverages are surely going to be found carcinogenic one day.

8) Run a marathon

I ran a half marathon a few years ago – that’s 21.3 km. I ran the whole way in under 2 hours and felt very proud of myself. But the only way I got across the finish line was because my friend was chanting, “Labour was worse, labour was worse” in my ear and I needed desperately to do poos. My-body-is-in-protest kind of poos. I nearly sprinted the last bit because there were photographer’s everywhere who might well capture me in an explosive moment. No one tells you that long runs can bring on the trots (the sprints) but I’m telling you, they do. 42 km would see me plop out my tonsils.

9) Go in a hot air balloon

I’ve read Ian McEwan’s ‘Enduring Love’ and have been disturbed by the image of that poor man falling to his death from a wayward balloon ever since. It’s one of those images that comes back to me at random times and makes me shudder, a bit like the vision of a wedgetailed eagle flying off with a new lamb. Never going to end well. Pass on this one too.

10) Make love in the hay

I am so allergic to hay that if I rolled naked in it for long enough the hives would be bigger than my boobs, my lips would swell up and I’d sneeze out the contents of my brain. Romance at its best.

And that’s 10 things I can ditch, making more time for the infinite other things on my bucket list.

What’s on your not-on-bucket-list list?

 

 

 

 

From me to you: “HORMONES, THE MUSICAL”

Here’s my surprise… SURPRISE! “Hormones, The Musical” –  online and all yours my friends.

You may have already seen it and are now feeling let down by the surprise after all my build up – sorry about that. I should have had a sub-surprise for you like a free copy of something profound or a picture of a bottom (not enough bottom pictures in the world I don’t think).

But anyway, bottoms aside, Hormones, The Musical is now live and yours to watch, like (or otherwise), laugh at (or otherwise) and share (please share).

I – along with a bunch of fabulous people – made this film last year basically inspired by my pre-menstrual experiences and the upheavals they present to myself and my family every month. It’s exaggerated of course – I actually turn into a sort of angel figure when I’m pre-menstrual. And I NEVER fart.

Special thanks to all the cast and crew of Hormones (particularly Dominique Hurley and Abi Binning), Wide Angle Tasmania and Screen Australia.

It was broadcast on ABC2 a little while ago and will come back to ABC i-view at some stage, but we’re giving it to you to keep. You’re welcome.

Please share it with your friends and family – we worked so hard on it and even if you don’t like the film much, you’d be helping a film community be seen and heard and maybe help them stay in work because we’d love to make more and we have so many stories to tell that will make you cry a little bit maybe but mostly make you laugh and bring you joy and perhaps the feeling that you’re not the only one that’s a bit crazy and maybe you’re not a bad mother/person for thinking and feeling the things you do and behaving the way you behave and maybe there’s no such thing as normal anyway and who wants to be normal because normal is ordinary and ordinary is usually pretty boring unless it’s apple pie because you don’t want reinvented, tizzed up, silly apple pie you just want ordinary apple pie but you’re not apple pie you’re human and silly is pretty appropriate for most human scenarios – TAKE BREATH – so in short, PLEASE SHARE THIS FILM WITH YOUR FRIENDS, we’d be eternally grateful for your support and good sportage. Thank you.

(For your ultimate viewing experience and because the film is shot in High Definition, it’s best to watch this in a resolution of 720p – unless you prefer me blurry which of course may be preferable. If you would like to change the resolution, you need to watch it from my youtube channel  You can change the resolution by clicking on the little cog icon at the bottom right of the screen and selecting the high definition resolution which is 720 p. Thanks for your help with this Craige).

 

 

And now for the good news…

Maybe the world mightn’t look so great sometimes; but you just have to look harder. There is always good news.

Here’s some you might already know but which is such good news it’s worth mentioning again:

1) Someone has invented undies that filter fart smells. I know, this is the best news ever. My entire family need a pair each for car trips (except for me, my delicate bottom-wafts smell like either licorice or daphne depending on what I’ve been doing that day. I’m like a large ambi-pur, plug me into the air vent for extra efficiency or dangle me from the mirror). What’s even better about flatulence filtering underwear is the campaign that accompanies it – “Fart with confidence” and a hot bloke sniffing/kissing a hot girl’s butt. (This isn’t a sponsored post – they don’t need to pay me to say these knickers are the best thing since sliced bread, in fact better, we can all slice bread but we can’t always hold in farts,)

Fart with confidence

Fart with confidence

2) Cuttlefish return. The Giant Australian Cuttlefish has been another one of those “numbers declining” stories that we are getting so familiar with. In the 1990’s, about 200,000 of them gathered in the Spencer Gulf in South Australia, the only place in the world where the breeding ritual takes place. Numbers have steadily declined and last year, only about 13,000 swam in for their shag-fest. State and Federal Governments invested about $700,000 into investigating the drop in numbers but it was looking grim. Scientists, based on recent patterns, didn’t expect there to be any cuttlefish at all this year.

But low and behold, about 120,000 giant cuttlefish turned up for the winter nookie. Experts say they need to see another increase to prove it’s not just a temporary thing, but they are thrilled nonetheless. Craig Wilkinson, CEO of the Conservation Council of South Australia, says, “Oh, it’s great news. It’s surprising, it’s perplexing, it’s exciting and it just shows how little we actually know”.

So who says they hadn’t found a new breeding ground somewhere else? In my experience the nightclub industry is a fickle business, particularly in winter. They probably all got sick of the riff raff at Spencer Gulf and have just rediscovered it again as kind of retro cool. Like Regines. Extra points to you if you know what I mean by that.

Hey baby, come here often?

Hey baby, come here often?

NB I wondered how these cuttlefish relate to those white things you find on the beach than Granny used to feed to her budgies. We find them all the time, the dog enjoys a little gnaw on them too. They, as it turns out, are a cuttlebone, which is the internal shell of the cuttlefish. It is chalky and light and filled with calcium which serves as a great calcium supplement for birds (in case you were worried about your canary getting osteoporosis – more good news, you’re welcome).

3) I saw a skink in the wood box today. This to me means one thing – the sun has enough warmth in it to heat up the blood of a reptile. That, if you are not Tasmanian and don’t quite understand, is VERY good news.

Also, I love skinks in my garden because they eat dandelions, slaters and flies, some of the many nemeses of a country wife. Interestingly, the love veggies but only eat them if they’re cooked. Oh I’m soooo sorry Master Skink, I’ve underdone your sprouts.

4) Kale is not a superfood. It’s enjoyed a massive surge in popularity (back in 2010 it was probably a mere leafy weed) as the superhero of green juices and The New Lifegiving Chip (Broccoli and spinach are sooooo cut). But as it turns out, the free-radical absorbing/anti-oxidant rating of Kale is bettered by such “evils” as red wine, chocolate and peanut butter. Yes it is a green and yes it is good for you, but no more so that other greens that aren’t as chewy as a dock leaf or so likely to give you a nasty dose of halitosis (try eating home made kale chips and you’ll smell what I mean).

5) Art always happens.  A purely escapist but for the most part well written book, Longbourne by Jo Baker is in development for the big screen. This is the book that helped me through Hamas and ebola etc (I know, poor me reading about this horrible stuff while sucking on a fruit tingle in my safe, warm home).

This is good news, not this particular book or this particular film (which is 90% certain to be a disappointment after the book as they all are except maybe Chocolat and Gatsby but especially The Power of One), but for the fact that while war rages and things die or break or are lost, people are still making films and writing books that give much needed pleasure or escape or meaning. Or laughter. This is perhaps the reason why Winston Churchill asked that question when arts funding was cut to bolster the war effort: “What are we fighting for?”

Thank goodness for people telling stories, whichever way they choose and whatever funding cut they face.

5) Baton twirling is alive and kicking. I was twiddling a cricket wicket today and was struck by the sudden thought, ‘Whatever happened to baton twirling?’ Did it die out with Fergal Sharkey and Australis perfume? As a child I wished wholeheartedly to be struck suddenly with the gift of baton twirling. That and a broken arm, and all the attention and cast signing that comes with it. Not sure what I would have done if I’d been hit with both at the same time.

Anyway, turns out that baton twirling, whilst perhaps not as big as it was in the 80’s, still has a following – I know because Baton Twirling Australia is on Facebook and has 736 followers, which is more than I have. And they have a world championship, which was in Nottingham this year. They pride themselves as an anti-doping sport.

It’s ballet, jazz and gymnastics all in one and I want in.

6) There is hope for World Peace. It seems like everyone’s wish on a star/beauty pageant fall back, but there are real life brainy academic people doing theses on how peace might be achieved.

I sort of thought it was all in the impossible basket but of course there are people looking into it, I mean if there’s a thesis on the stools of foxes then there’s bound to be someone looking at world peace.  Of course you can’t squeeze 7 billion people onto one modest sized planet and expect things to be hunky dory without really trying. But still I thought the best try I could give was wish on a birthday cake or maybe a dandelion.

But then I listened to a wonderful speech by a wonderful man – Tasmania’s late and great Governor Peter Underwood, who sadly died while in office on the 7th of July this year. He spoke passionately and profoundly on the topic of peace in his ANZAC day speeches and he gave me the very strange idea that perhaps peace is achievable. In his 2014 ANZAC Day speech he said,

 Surely, now that the curtains have closed on mankind’s greatest century of violence, the least we can do is start the next century with a Year of Peace and commit to setting up and maintaining, or otherwise fully financing, a centre that is dedicated to the study of the nature of social conflicts, causes of violence and definitions of peace, as well as engage in research into new approaches for resolving conflicts. That would be a fitting call to remembrance.

He talked about the Rudd Government’s commissioned initiative to open an Anzac Centre for the Study of Peace, Conflict and War and how, while the initiative was rejected at the time, it is one that should be revisited, particularly when money is flying around to commemorate a century since the start of WW2. And then failing that, if we can’t achieve that, that we should at the very least support the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS) at the University of Sydney, which has depended for 26 years on sponsors, membership subscriptions and volunteers. The centre teaches “the causes of conflict and the conditions that affect conflict resolution and peace. Research projects and other activities focus on the resolution of conflict with a view to attaining just societies.”

The Sydney Peace Foundation is an initiative of CPACS which further helps support practitioners of peace by connecting with nice corporations and individuals with bags of money. Some of those Peace Partners are worth naming: Singapore Airlines, Well Mannered Wines and Four Seasons Hotel Sydney – support these peace lovers if you get the opportunity. Or better still, dip into your own money bags if you have some and donate something yourself.

And  there are other peace study schools too – one at ANU, Uni of SA, University of QLD…this is just in Australia. That is good news.

This is not all the good news of course, but it’s all the good news I have time for tonight. I feel more at peace for it all though. Especially the baton twirling, those twirlers could twirl the world into happiness I reckon, especially if they thrust their batons into a few terrorists’ eye sockets and into the mealy mouth of Putin. But that’s just souring the tone, so I’ll sweeten it again with this little dose of positivity:

We are Megoracle have a little happy, good news surprise for you next week. Something to hopefully make you smile, chuckle or laugh. Keep your eyes peeled for announcements. 

Meanwhile, the bureau forecasts fine weather for both Saturday and Sunday.*

And that, ladies and gentleman, is the good news for this week. Have a splendid weekend, and goodnight.

xx

* PS here’s some trivia for you – I was once the Win News Tassie weather girl. Here’s me (in the blue coat, in front of an impressive old camera complete with autocue) with some other weather girls. I was terrible at it and once got some fan mail from an old man.

weather

“And that’s it from me, back to you John” (Photo by David ‘Crawf’ Crawford)

 

 

 

Catch Up On: WORLD NEWS – Part 4: War in Gaza

And for my final installment (because this is all the bad news I can take for one week)…

GAZA GOES BIRKObirko

How did it all start?

Well the simmering Israel/Palestine conflict over Gaza has been on the boil for an incredibly long time and has its roots in ancient history (get your full background here). This deeply entrenched animosity is partly why a solution is so very hard to find.

Very basically: Palestine was, in times BC, named Judea and was home to an embattled ethnic group who practiced a particular religion called Judaism. Judea was conquered by Romans and then in early AD, by Muslim Arabs from the Islamic Empire. The people of Judea were forced to scatter.

Fast forward to the 20th century after World War Two, when the UN felt the pressure to assist the Jewish diaspora and gave a chunk of Palestine to them. They named their land Israel and considered it to be their traditional home after centuries of persecution and dispossession.

The Palestinians have disputed and fought – often violently – this decision ever since. They were forced to leave their homes and settle in the Egyptian controlled Gaza Strip and the Jordan controlled West Bank.

So what is it about Gaza? And who is Hamas?

About 1.5 million Palestinians live in Gaza. The Israelis believe firmly that it is rightfully theirs and have tried to move the Palestinians out by force without success. In 2005, Hamas were elected by the Palestinians to lead Gaza. For its violent acts and pledges to restore their homeland and remove the Israelis, Hamas has been described as a terrorist organisation.

Consequently, Israel has held Gaza under blockade, tightly controlling its borders, its coastline and who comes and goes. Life for Palestinians in Gaza has been very hard – they can’t easily get in and out, employment is low and standard of living lower still. Hamas has over the years, regularly sent rockets out into Israel and in return, Israel has conducted organised offensives.

Why did things get nasty this year?

Don't google Gaza images unless you're feeling super duper stoic.

Don’t google Gaza images unless you’re feeling super duper stoic.

Well this was another organised offensive by Israeli defence forces, called Operation Protective Edge, which was kicked off in response to a series of unfortunate events:

  • 3 Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas members
  • Israel cracked down on Hamas in the West Bank
  • Non Hamas factions began retaliatory air strikes on Israel from Gaza.
  • Israel commenced air strikes on July 6 2014, killing 7 Hamas militants.
  • Hamas itself begins firing rockets into Israel.

On 17 July, the operation was expanded to a ground invasion with the stated aim of destroying Gaza’s tunnel system, which is a maze of interconnected tunnels built by Hamas to bypass tight Israel-imposed restrictions and get food, supplies, KFC (yep, complete with seven secret herbs and spices) weapons and people in and out.

tunnel

What followed was a lot of firing rockets at each other, blowing the shit out of stuff, people dying, other people ignoring ceasefires and the world getting all frenzied about who should or shouldn’t be doing what.

Then on 26th August, 2014, an open ended ceasefire was ordered and the rockets stopped.

Is that really the end? For the moment maybe, but this ground is hollowed and and shaky and one day soon I predict it will all start to collapse again.

Statistics? Yep I have them.

As of today (Sept 4th, 2014), the 2014 Gaza war made this stuff happen:

  • Gazan deaths – up to 2,143, including up to 578 children (up to 75% deaths were civilians)
  • Gazans wounded – up to 11,100
  • Israeli deaths – 66 soldiers, 5 cicilians
  • Israelis wounded – up to 530
  • Displaced Gazans – up to 520,000
  • Gazan homes destroyed or damaged – 17,200
  • Displaced Israelis – up to 8,000 (most temporarily as their homes are still intact)

PLEASE NOTE – These figures have been sourced from reports from the UN High Comissioner for Human Rights and given the proximity of the events and the difficulties of collating stats in a war zone, could be subject to change. Thank you very much.

Who won?

I’m not going to answer that. I don’t see any winners here.

Conclusion

Man, if there’s a cure for this one it’s going to take some scientist to find it, some sort of savant emeritus professor of peace. I don’t know who is right or wrong, I am too far removed to make that call. All I can say is, please stop killing people, no matter what your stance or cause or passion or desperate situation, killing is never ok. Ok?

No more bad news for now. I’m spent. I’m going to cap off the week with some Good news. Stay tuned. x

A FEW EXTRA WORDS:

My friend and co-blogger Emily, who lives i tel Aviv and knows a thing or two about this topic, has kindly given me these points/ammendments to consider, PLEASE READ THEM, she knows about this stuff far better than me…Thanks Emily.

1.The historical summary didn’t mention that there has always been a Jewish presence in the area and that increased immigration started in the late 1800s by Jews and Arabs both. Jews didn’t start to consider Israel their homeland after the state was created in 1948 but have considered it to be their home for 4000 years. It is in their daily prayers repeated since ancient times.

2. After the state of Israel was created, the surrounding Arab countries immediately declared war (Eygpt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon), and during this conflict not only were over 700 000 Arabs displaced and forced out, but 1 000 000 Jews were forcibly removed, or fled the surrounding Arab countries for Israel. There was mass upheaval on both sides, which is terrible, but a consequence of war.

3. Israel has not tried to take over or remove people from Gaza, they have always considered Gaza part of the occupied territories, and in fact Israel tried to hand Gaza back to the Egyptians in 1979 and this was refused.

4. Hamas was not declared a terrorist organization in 2005 because they wanted to provide homelands for their people. They were declared terrorists after they formed a religious based group in the 1980’s and perpetrated (by their own admission) 97 suicide bombs over 14 years that blew hundreds of Israeli men women and children into tiny pieces in the city streets and on buses.

5. Non Hamas factions did not start sending rockets into Israel as a result of the crack down in the West Bank. Hamas intensified their rocket fire that is for sure, but rockets are constantly sent into southern Israel on a daily basis and have been done for YEARS. In fact daily rocket fire is such a fact of life for communities in the south that it doesn’t even make the national news, let alone international news.

6. The tunnels are principally for carrying out terrorist operations in Israel and were built with Israeli and EU donated concrete for housing, while Palestinian child labour was used to build them.

7. Casualties reported by the UN, are directly provided by the Palestinian Health Authority – i.e Hamas. See this article for further explanation.
http://www.forbes.com/…/the-media-intifada-bad-math…/

 

 

Catch Up On: WORLD NEWS, Part 3: EBOLA VIRUS

From Jihad terror to a deadly virus. Of course, no bad news week can be without one…

EBOLA STRIKES… 

This is war of another kind – against a virus, which is extra scary because while we think it’s impossible to rationalise with a Jihadist, try convincing an almost invisible molecule not to kill and maim people.

What is a virus? 

A virus is “an ultramicroscopic infectious agent that replicates only within the cells of living hosts – mainly bacteria, plants, and animals”.

So they need a host to survive, while bacteria can survive on their own. All viruses cause disease, ranging from mild to deadly, while many bacteria are friendly and necessary for good health. 

Viruses mutate and evolve according to their host, in order to replicate and spread most effectively. Efficient little numbers then.

Most of my family was hit by a virus a few weeks ago and it always amazes me how swiftly those sneaky little molecules grab you. One minute you’re assessing apples for lunchbox-fit in the fruit aisle and the next you’re feeling hot and cold and needing a lie down.  

What is the Ebola Virus and how is it spread? 

ebola

The Ebola Virus, also known as hemorrhagic fever is a particularly nasty one that causes, amongst other symptoms, internal and external bleeding, and in 90% of cases, death. It is spread via contact with affected animals or bodily fluids. It spreads only when the symptoms are present, so someone harbouring the virus without symptoms – such as in the early stages – is not contagious.

Fruit bats are thought to carry the virus without showing symptoms. It was first encountered in the Ebola River region of Congo in Africa in 1976, when a school headmaster contracted it and died. There have been a few outbreaks of the virus in the decades since.

What is the source of this year’s outbreak?

bat

I knew I didn’t like fruit bats.

It has been traced back to a 2 year old child who was killed by the virus in the Western African nation of Guinea back in December 2013. It is thought that the child caught the virus from an animal, probably a fruit bat (zootonic infection). It spread pretty rapidly into Liberia and Sierra Leone (as if those poor buggers don’t have enough on their plates).

A key event in the spread of the virus was the funeral of a faith healer in May 2014. The healer died after being infected by the virus when she was treating victims. Many people attended her funeral in Sierra Leone and 12 of these people were infected.

What is the fallout?

On the 8th of August, 2014, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the situation an international public health emergency.

To date, there have been more than 3,000 suspected cases including some 1,500 deaths, the biggest outbreak of Ebola virus on record. The WHO warns that these numbers may be vastly underestimated. Tens of thousands of people in the affected countries have been quarantined and are without food.

ebolaSuspicions of the outbreak being a hoax have sparked riots and protests, only increasing the spread of the disease. Hospitals and emergency clinics are poorly managed and aren’t adequately protecting their staff.  Aid agencies are doing their best but the situation is deteriorating rapidly; the WHO predicts that the worst is yet to come and the UN is saying that up to 20,000 people could contract the virus.

Will it spread to the Western World? 

Apparently it is very likely. A feverish man recently boarded a plane from Liberia to Nigeria. On arrival it became evident that he had Ebola, he later died. The passengers and crew of this plane are being followed up and assessed, but it is likely that this will happen again. The virus does not, however, pose such an outbreak risk in developed countries as infection control is highly efficient.

Conclusion: I don’t have any wise words. Or silly ones. Wash your hands? Pray? Give to Red Cross? How bloody awful. Maybe I’ve been watching too many movies but I could easily get all catastrophic over this. For the moment, let’s all go outside in the sunshine, breathe our fresh air and feel very very lucky.

I WILL BE POSTING SOME GOOD NEWS SOON I PROMISE.

 

 

 

 

Catch Up On: WORLD NEWS – Part 2: The Islamic State

Here’s me with day 2 of Head out of Sand. I’m very tempted to pop it back in with this lot I tell you…

THE ISLAMIC STATE GETS HIGH, MIGHTY AND VERY BLOODY SCARY

This is the stuff of my nightmares – religion of the the extreme and brain washy kind leading people to think atrocities are warranted and that it’s them against the world. I don’t understand religion. I respect the beliefs of others, but for me it’s up there with ghosties and goblins and mind reading and Father Christmas. So to feel the need to kill people over it seems like madness on madness.

But what’s especially scary about this is that these people aren’t actually mad, their beliefs are as much a part of them as their arms and legs, and to them just as real. You can’t medicate evil that is rooted in belief, unless it’s with very strong sedatives. Anyway, facts…

What is The Islamic State/ISIS/QISIS or whatever the hell those fuckwits call themselves?

They are a jihadist (which roughly translates to being evil and scary in the name of Allah) who have assumed the status of a ‘caliphate‘. This is an Islamic State lead by a supreme religious and political leader known as a caliph (a successor to Muhammad). They were previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and are now (for the moment at least) simply IS.

When did IS form?

In April 2013 by a group of extreme Islamic terrorists, some of whom were leaders squashed during the war in Iraq, so well connected and with piles of left over weapons. IS has been described by some as Al Quaeda rebranded. They have since grown to become one of the most powerful jihadist groups fighting the Governments of Iraq and Syria. There are thought to have recruited thousands of people – many of them foreign.

Who is their leader? 

They are apparently lead by the creepily mysterious Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who wears a mask even when addressing his own

This is supposedly Abu Bakr al -Baghdadi.

This is supposedly Abu Bakr al -Baghdadi.

army. There are a myriad of theories about him – some say he is dead, others say he is the creation of some CIA conspiracy Under him, the organisation has recruited thousands from all over the world and formed one of the most cohesive and well organised militias in the Middle East.

What are their goals?

To create a single politically and religiously united Islamic empire and to erradicate any non Arab, non Sunni-Muslim ethnic minorities. This ethnic cleansing is the same goal as other Islamic Terrorist groups, but IS displays frighteningly astute strategic planning, organisation and direction.

In early 2013 they took control of the Syrian capital of Raqqa. In January this year they seized the Iraqi city of Fallujah near Baghdad and in June they took Mosul. It is in Mosul where, buffeted by civilians, the IS leadership is based. They are reportedly running religious schools, bakeries and power plants, as well as continuing their overseas outreach operations and fighting their opponents on various fronts.

iraq map

 

They apparently rule their occupied territories with extreme brutality and train their recruits with terrifying efficiency. And just to add to the general violence, other rebel Jihadist groups are getting pissed off by them and rebel in-fighting has resulted in thousands of deaths.

What happened with the Yazidis?

One of the more recent (and ongoing) IS horrors was the targeted attacks on the Yazidis. They are a secretive Kurdish ethno-religious community based in Northern Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Their religion is ancient and a birthright (meaning you can’t convert to it), It involves the worship of a “Peacock Angel” who is capable of both right and wrong and has been likened to Satan by Islamic communities. This perceived Satan worship has lead to centuries of Yazidi persecution.

Displaced Yazidis. Look at that poor family. My kids grizzle if they don't get a snack on a ten minute car trip.

Displaced Yazidis.

In August this year, IS took it upon themselves – as part of their ‘purification’ regime – to invade the regions occupied by Yazidis and threaten them with execution if they refused to convert. Around 200,000 Iraqis – including 40,000 to 50,000 Yazidis – fled into the mountains, bound for Iraqi Kurdistan. On Mt Sinjar, they were surrounded by IS forces and faced dehydration if they stayed, execution if they left.

Many Yazidis escaped with assistance from US air strikes and Kurdish fighters, but hundreds – perhaps thousands of Yazidis are believed to have been killed, many more – up to 5,000 not strong enough to escape – are evidently still on the mountain.

How is IS funded?

During their rampages, IS have taken control of oil fields and have robbed banks and as a result have an alleged stock pile of $2 billion. Fark, those cockheads could get seriously nuclear with that kind of dough.

What is being done?

When the Yazidi plight hit the public conscience, Barrack Obama ordered targeted air strikes designed – so he said – to protect US forces as they brought in humanitarian aid (food and water) to those poor people under siege. These air strikes, along with help on the ground from Iraqi and Syrian Kurds – allowed the majority of refugees to escape. On the 14th of August, Obama declared the siege broken, but many were not saved.

Meanwhile, IS took a blatant swing at the US by releasing a video of American journalist James Foley being beheaded by an IS terrorist with an English accent. More recently they have released pictures of what they claim to be the execution of 200 or so Syrian soldiers following the capture of a key military air base.

The UN is making calls of war crimes (no kidding) and every western country is on high alert for IS recruits coming and going. Reports say there are up to 60 Australians identified as fighting for IS in Iraq and Syria. Anti-terrorist enforcement will increase, particularly in our airports.

The US has commenced air strikes on IS fighters near the Shiite town of Amerli where the besieged population is mostly minority ethnic Turkmen. Obama has authorised further, broader strikes while France, Britain and Australia have sent in planes delivering aid to civilians and weapons to Kurdish fighters.

At this stage, Tony Abbott says we will not be sending ground troops but there is the possibility we will send some elite SAS (Special Air Service) forces, as well as further humanitarian aid.

My thoughts

It’s the overseas recruitment factor that makes this whole bloody mess extra unsettling. And the religious schools run by IS – they are educating people with their same horrible beliefs and methodologies. We should be running schools too – for young Muslims who might otherwise be on the path of extremism, jihadism or terrorism.

We can blow the bejesus out of these dickheads and involve the whole world in war (and I sort of think we should give this a red hot crack too) but ultimately it will not stop them. They will only stop when the brainwashing stops. For as long as these jihadists believe that Jihad is something and virgins are awaiting them if they kill people and wipe out other religions, their evil will not be stopped. Jihad and evil-extreme Islamic beliefs need to be rendered uncool to young Muslims – we HAVE to get in early and teach teach teach, preferably using teachers who are normal, nice, peace loving Muslims who understand and love Allah without feeling the need to kill for him.

In the meantime, where’s James Bond when you need him? This shadowy Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi fella has $10 million on his head. Imagine what you could do with $10 million? Ready set go.

NB (whatever that stands for): Here’s some stuff about Islam (in case you need to brush up) and some more stuff about Civil Liberty.

Catch Up On: THE WORLD NEWS – Part 1: Ukraine

In the last few months the news has got so nasty and my sensitivities so raw that just a glance at the news headlines made my eyes smart. I’ve had to switch to waterproof mascara and in lieu of the foetal position take time out in book shops, which sends me briefly to other nicer worlds. I bought two really good escapy books* and read them instead of the newspapers. Newspapers just had me feeling all cold war-ish like it was 1985.

But then there was the impossible to ignore news that Robin Williams chose to opt out. This just added confusion to the mess because he was always a reliable ray of light. “If he can’t laugh anymore, what hope is there for the rest of us?” thought I, as my waterproof mascara ran.

Anyway, I can’t live in nowhere-land forever, and figuring that there’s nothing like a smack of harsh reality to up the gratitude and stop the inner whinge, I thought I should ditch the blinkers. So I have set about to finally catch up on the news (some of it now olds) and share my findings with you in case you are equally emotionally bewildered.

I got so behind that I’ve had to break it up into installments so that I’m not posting one enormous slug of bad news all at once and lose you at hello. So I will bring you four world news installments this week, which I’m afraid makes it a bit of a bad news week. BUT, at the end, in a very special fifth installment I will bring you some GOOD NEWS. Yipee.

So here we go, emerging from the emotional bewilderness with Part One…

CRIMEA GETS MANHANDLED BY RUSSIA AND PUTIN IS A COCKHEAD

 

ukraine

Quick background

Ukraine was part of Russia until 1991, when it gained independence and became a (corruption riddled) democracy with a crappy economy, with a population divided between those who believed Ukraine to be part of Europe and those who believed it is a part of Russia.

Please note: we no longer refer to it as The Ukraine, just Ukraine, as ‘The’ tends to indicate a region as opposed to a country, just to be clear.

The Current Crisis

I briefly outlined this at the beginning of this year but let me repeat myself in case you were among the almost 7 billion people who missed that particular post and need to start from the beginning of the chaos:

(In late 2013) Ukraine was on the verge of signing a trade and political agreement with the European Union, a move that would seem to make good economic sense. But increasing pressure from the Kremlin in Moscow (Ukraine’s former ruling centre) in the form of trade sanctions and other political moves caused the Ukraine government (lead by President Viktor Yanukovych) to turn their back on the EU agreement. Instead it was announced that Ukraine would engage in new partnerships with a competing trade bloc of former Soviet states.

European leaders got suitably crapped off and several hundred protesters gathered in Independence Square in Kiev. Carrying European flags, they chanted, “Ukraine is Europe!”. (This was the first of the “Euromaidan protests”). She was on.

Kiev (wonder if there are any chickens in there). (Photo taken without permission from AlJazeera)

Kiev (wonder if there are any chickens in there). Photo taken without permission from AlJazeera.

Just after I wrote this post, Yanukovych was run out of the country by pro-West protesters and Vladimir Putin (the peculiarly pointy, paranoid and pervy president of Russia) reacted by invading and taking over the Ukrainian region of Crimea, a peninsula in the Black Sea that has long been fought over for its strategic importance.

As Putin reportedly sees it, Crimea is rightfully and historically part of Russia and has been liberated from Ukraine. He evidently feels threatened by the ‘westification’ (my word, not his) of Russia and longs for the old days when Russia was grand and golden. At least, that’s the ideology that seems to be working for him and he’s evidently going to run with it.

Meanwhile in Eastern Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists grew increasingly narky with the Ukraine Government and Ukraine’s divide grew deeper still. Crimean people – in a distinctly fishy smelling pressure cooker election controlled by Russian forces – voted overwhelmingly for their region to become part of Russia. Putin got what he wanted – a strategically important piece of land and the deluded satisfaction that he has saved a bit of his country from the “Evil West”.

Given that he has fabricated and propagated the message that the West is a looming threat to Russia, Putin’s takeover of Crimea met with delight among the Russian people and increased his popularity. It probably isn’t too hard to win over the Russian public either given their general state of dissatisfaction as well as becoming leader on the heels of that embarrassing alcoholic Boris Yeltsin. Putin has discovered that his bad tempered, bully style leadership translates into protectiveness in the minds of the Russians and has hence been lauded and encouraged. This may explain those seemingly out-of-nowhere public warnings he has sent toward the west about the strength of his nuclear power (the stuff that sends me into nuclear winter nightmares).

The west responded to the Crimean take over by slapping some trade sanctions on Russia. Tensions between the west and Russia hit a serious low, exacerbated by the shooting down of Malaysian Flight MH17 over Ukraine in July, killing all 298 people on board. Russian-backed separatists initially claimed responsibility and then retracted it. Evidence points directly at them, yet Putin is pointing the finger at the Ukrainian Gvernment. The crash site is still under investigation and the bodies still being retrieved and identified.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Government ignored the Pro-Russian rebel’s calls for a ceasefire and pummeled the bejesus out of them. Russia sent a convoy of trucks on an aid mission into the Crimea, which reportedly ended up being a fake gesture of Putin goodwill for the sake of the west – the trucks were empty. Last week,  Putin and the current Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko shook hands and said they were beginning talks. Ah the old talks eh? Another ruse by Vlad Putin to make the UN believe he is making an effort it seems, because this week, it’s looking more and more like full scale war between Ukraine and Russia. The UN has imposed a few more sanctions on Russia but they haven’t seemed to have any effect on The Poot. He’s just enjoying having his ego inflated every time he says something threatening. This is what makes him so dangerous.  Eeeek, let’s hope it keeps inflating until he self destructs.

Conclusion: This piece of writing is clearly biased and suspicious but frankly there’s kind of no other tone I can use. I have long held the belief that Putin is an evil sonofabitch  more than capable of pushing the red button and blowing stuff up on a large scale. He will go down in history as one of the great villains and could easily be the source of my cold war. Creepy, egotistical little man with Surely Small Doodle.

Pervy Putin with one of his stock "I love myself" expressions. He has a few.

Pervy Putin with one of his stock “I love myself” expressions. He has a few.

Rest in Peace MH17 passengers and may their families carry on in peace.

* “Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend” by Matthew Dicks and “Longbourn” by Jo Baker. Loved both.

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