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New Media Goodness!

So here we are. 2 new podcasts and a new vid – enjoy

R4nger5 BOB – episode 7

or you can click HERE

R4nger5 OZ – episode 1

Or you can go to the page HERE
Please note that there was no running order, due to the fact I was woken up at 05.30 by an insistent Harlequin wanting to record a show – be amazed it’s there at all!

And finally, R4nger5 Radio 2.0 – Episode 2

Or you can get it HERE

Hope you enjoy them and please give us your feedback!




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  1. avatar
    harlequinNo Gravatar 10/01/27

    Show notes for r4nger5.oz

    Not as polished as your stuff but there you go I think that’ll give us enough to talk about.

    Albury’s Hungry Jack’s burns – the bordermail

    ALBURY’S Hungry Jack’s restaurant has been ravaged by flames. The fire broke out just after 5pm today.

    Staff were forced to evacuate the eatery and neighbouring KFC also closed as a precaution.
    Initially only smoke could be seen from the rooftop but soon flames about 3m high soared from the building.

    Firefighters worked to control the blaze which eventually saw part of the roof of the store collapse.

    Customers praised the quick actions of staff who worked to get everyone out of the restaurant and made sure no one was injured.

    It’s believed the fire was sparked by flames from a meat grill being sucked into an air exhaust fan.

    After firefighters arrived and realised no lives were at risk, the decision was made to tackle the fire only from the outside to avoid putting crews at risk.

    “We’ll assess it as we go, these crews are trying to get in there and put out little pockets of fire without endangering themselves because they’re very aware that the roof might collapse,” Albury Civic station captain John Vandeven said.

    Crews are expected to remain on site overnight to monitor the situation.

    And income control for all -The Australian

    WHEN Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin unveiled her sweeping revisions to the Northern Territory emergency response this week, not only did she neatly defuse the intervention’s discriminatory aspects, she foreshadowed a transformation of welfare policies on a national scale.

    Macklin and Kevin Rudd have disclosed their long-term strategies for welfare: the lever of income management, in place for more than a year in Aboriginal communities, will be applied across the whole Territory. The system will receive a two-year trial before being extended to other disadvantaged regions.

    Faced with the choice of watering down the intervention’s core coercive provision or broadening it, Macklin, the Prime Minister and their cabinet colleagues have taken the boldest option.

    For years to come, policy experts will be weighing the effects of the new measures. For years to come, the struggling and disadvantaged will be adapting to their sharp consequences.

    This is heroic reform: its administrative cost is set at $350 million in its initial four-year phase: more than half the total funds committed for the commonwealth’s emergency housing program in the Territory.

    Macklin’s initial releases of information revealed a far-reaching, elaborately structured new architecture. The most crucial test of the system, which is to be launched from July next year, will be its effect on bush indigenous communities, but it will wash over the Territory’s bleaker suburbs, too, and have local political consequences. The chief measure is a recalibration of income management: the quarantining that channels half an individual’s welfare payments into a special card that can be used only for basic household supplies.

    A system of exemptions will be operated: aged and disability pensioners can be exempt from quarantining, as can committed students and work-seekers.

    An incentive system lies at the heart of these new measures, which build on other welfare reform trials. How will this play out in the Aboriginal bush? At present, 15,100 indigenous people in the Territory are being income-managed. The new welfare reforms are expected to include about 20,000 Territorians. This suggests that a good proportion of will be from the mainstream.

    Since shopping with a “basics card” is inevitably a form of social humiliation and constraint, the extension of the policy will prove unpopular at first, both with its non-indigenous victims and with social justice advocates, who have condemned the measures as “class-based discrimination”.

    The immediate effect of the changes in the scores of small indigenous societies being micro-managed is also problematic. In a typical community of 400 indigenous people, mostly related, mostly unemployed, the incentive to apply for exemptions may be strong, as family pressure is brought to bear, since only untied, cash money can be used to satisfy the demand for drugs and alcohol.

    Almost as important as the controls on welfare is the network of financial counselling, training and employment programs that will be explored in tandem.

    The Aboriginal bush is becoming a vast open laboratory for one of the greatest experiments in social engineering Australia has seen. A battle of ideas has just concluded: it would be simplistic, but not inaccurate, to say that the school of social thinking associated with Noel Pearson, the school that wants social responsibilities to be emphasised as much as communal rights, has prevailed.

    Just as significant as the revision of unconditional welfare, and the pronounced turn from passive welfare to active direction, is the shift on alcohol policy. Regional alcohol management programs will be introduced on the model pioneered in Groote Eylandt.

    The blanket ban on drinking in communities proved unenforceable. Now individual communities will be able to develop systems for responsible drinking.

    If the Groote model prevails, local community-based panels will give out drinking permits for use in certain homes and clubs; infractions will result in a drinking ban. Vexed issues lurk here. Will managed drinking cut back the marijuana tide? Will licensed drinking stamp out grog-running?

    The key approach Macklin and the social designers in her department have committed to holds that giving communities back a small degree of say over their own affairs should breed a healthy desire to move forward and build a new world of work and self-management. After the shock of the first intervention comes the balm of more considered policy.

    The strategic subtlety of Macklin’s move is considerable: she reinstates the Racial Discrimination Act and appeases her party’s ideological Left; she retains income management yet begins to move beyond its cruder provisions; she deepens the most practical measures of the interventions mid-phase, such as licensed community stores. All a dream of progress, at least on paper.

    Now for the hard yards on the ground, in the many communities, not just in the Territory but in remote Western Australia and Queensland, where drastic controls must somehow be dovetailed with social invigoration. And policy reform can only go so far. Not even the best-engineered policy can wipe away the sense of disadvantage and despair in the heart.

    One inevitable consequence of this flurry of far-reaching initiatives is its effect on the Territory as a jurisdiction.

    Politically unstable, economically dependent, the Territory is serving as a test-bed for Canberra to try out its boldest experiments.

    Territory Chief Minister Paul Henderson, in parliament in Alice Springs, affected to welcome this remarkable further intervention into his own government’s affairs. In truth, Canberra has just demonstrated how vital a dependent Territory is in the present Australian system, a place where the federal powers are omnipotent and can redraw the policy map instantaneously, at will. The Territory’s prospects for statehood, already minuscule, have just been reduced to a distant dream.

    In a week of extraordinary headlines, this social policy reform was the true banner event. The Rudd regime has disclosed the scale of its ambition. This is a significant expansion of control over the nation’s poorest and most vulnerable population. It is a token of the will and force of a strong bureaucratic state that means business and wants results.

    Proving yourself to Centrelink – On line opinion.

    How many of us could justify how we spend our money to a middle level officer from Centrelink? How do we prove we are engaged with our community and responsible in our spending? What about the utilities bill that we paid late or the bargain case of booze with Christmas coming up? How do you prove that you bought heaps of fruit and veg at the local market and that is why the supermarket bill covers less healthy crap? Most of you won’t have to but the government is planning to require sole parents, the unemployed and the young on government payments to prove they are not wasting money and are not isolated or have half their payments put onto a basic card, useable only in designated stores.

    This proposal is a slight improvement on the current model applied to 73 Indigenous Northern Territory communities. There, everyone on income support, including age, disability and veterans’ payments, found they had lost control over half their payments and all bonuses. This was justified by claiming it would reduce risks of violence to women and children, as this was the claimed basis of the emergency measures. This scheme did not allow any exemptions to those without children, or those who were responsible parents. This required the Racial Discrimination Act be suspended to allow this unfair process to be introduced and not be challenged.

    As the government has promised to reinstate the RDA, it has now proposed extending the process to non Indigenous communities, with high levels of disadvantaged residents. The proposal is to exempt veteran, age and disability pensions but target the less politically popular unemployed and sole parents, and allows those people that can prove their bona fides to ask for an exemption. It will start next year in the NT and then be extended to the rest of Australia.

    Is Closing the Gap to be achieved by reducing non Indigenous advantage by extending to a wider population the lack of dignity that has already being felt by the prescribed community residents? The government’s own data on the NTER shows few respectably valid indicators of improvements in nutrition and living standards, or reduced alcoholism and violence, despite their claims. It currently covers about 8,000 recipients and recent consultations identified many problems in its administration, let alone the shame and anger of those who feel stigmatised by being included.

    One of the main interesting findings of the social determinants of health is the importance of a sense of agency. It is hard to find an example of a policy that robs people more of any sense of autonomy or control than nannying their spending.

    Melissa Sweet has raised the health consequences of this initiative and we need to assess the cost benefits of maybe a bit more fruit and veg versus feelings of impotence and shame.

    Sir Michael Marmot, in his work on health outcomes, defined a new factor in the incidence of stress in adults as being control of destiny, i.e. that if people have a sense of mastery in their lives, and the commitment to their job, without feeling imposed upon, enforced or restricted by their superiors, they are much more likely to be successful and healthy.

    Newer data from Richard Wilkinson (The Spirit Level) shows that perceptions of inequality are more toxic than poverty, probably because they generate anger at unfairness. In the absence of any direct data, it is likely that this income maintenance and other controls are increasing stress and damage well beyond the benefits that are claimed and not proven.

    Then there are the serious doubts that Centrelink can manage the massive increases in workload that such changes suggest. This is an organisation that already has problems dealing effectively with its large and complex workload but is about to be lumbered with 12,000 more “customers” in the NT for income maintenance and maybe in 18 months with 100,000 more.

    Can you imagine what it would be like arguing your needs or proving your character to the satisfaction of a stranger in an office?

    Centrelink makes many mistakes with payments and legal advice. It was forced to overturn more than a third of its decisions because staff continually get facts and legal advice wrong. Complaints surged 104 per cent in the last two years, making it the most complained about government agency in the country according to the Welfare Rights Centre. Appeals against Centrelink’s decisions cost taxpayers more than $33 million a year.

    Income maintenance in the NT has offered many more problems than benefits to many of its recipients. The Basics card, for instance, can only be used for certain purchases and in approved stores. This has caused many problems in the NT and advantages stores which capture local trade. No wonder they gave good reports on the Intervention, it adds to their profits.

    Imagine extending this complexity to other populations and in big cities. It undermines capacity, if on a limited budget, to check prices and look for bargains. Tough! Sources are defined and you buy what they offer. No more chasing specials, buying from sales or finding stuff at Vinnies or garage sales.

    Ever tried living on a very small income? I lived on a sole parent payment for some years while completing a university degree in the 70s. Making ends meet was hard so finding bargains became a way of life: second hand clothes for my daughter; a trip to the markets late to pick up cheap fruit and veg; finding cheap wholesale butchers and other sources of bargains.

    I was a uni student with a child and an end in sight, but know others who are stuck long term on payments, trying to manage the tensions and constant crises of daily life. People need government payments to allow them to pay bills and survive while caring for children, upgrading skills, trying to find a job or dealing with a life that fails to leave time and/or energy for earning money.

    Most are responsible and cope better than expected. In 2006 we surveyed some sole parents affected by welfare to work changes. They were a very mixed group: a few finishing studies, while parenting at a level that precluded sufficient paid work; others were coping with children who had difficulties with health and well being and needed intermittent attention that made regular paid work difficult. Others have been overly mindful of the traditional roles of motherhood and had left the workforce many years before to find themselves without a breadwinner in their late 40s.

    A few were in their teens, some are well into their 50s. Some have little English, and good qualifications, some have little education in their countries of origins and few literacy of language skills. Few wanted to be on Centrelink payments, most want paid work and were employed when they could find appropriate work.

    Soon those in NT will have their regular payments quarantined in the NT, closing the gap by exposing non Indigenous sole parents to the same unfair level of control that has been affecting Indigenous families. They will have to queue up with other stigmatised beneficiaries at approved stores and tender a piece of plastic to have certain types of purchases approved and maybe offer other money if they want to buy a beer.

    This silly system has no evidence that it will, to quote Macklin: “protect children and families and help disengaged individuals. The Government is committed to progressively reforming the welfare and family payment system to foster responsibility and to provide a platform for people to move up and out of welfare dependence. The reforms will help fight passive welfare and mean that more money goes to food, clothes, rent and less money goes to buying alcohol and gambling.”

    There are serious questions whether this change will achieve any of the aims stated above. It hasn’t done so in the NT, and extending it will find many more people failing to manage the Centrelink pitfalls of snakes and ladders. With the best of goodwill from all, there will be many that will not cope with extra bureaucratic processes, the surveillance and loss of dignity and control that is manifested already in the relatively simple NT example.

    It is also expensive, more than $88 million has been spent on extra bureaucratic processes in the NT, alone, but not on the needed services that could really create change. Welfare agencies are mostly not supporting it: “it will demonise more people on flawed evidence that it benefits disadvantaged communities”, said a range of social service, charity and church groups.

    This is an expensive piece of social engineering, playing into prejudices.

    ‘Police cancel’ China gay pageant

    A Chinese gay pageant, said to be the first held in the country, was ordered by police to close an hour before opening, organisers say.

    The Mr Gay China event was thought to mark a new openness toward the gay community in China.

    Organisers said police informed them it could not go ahead because they had not applied “according to the procedures”.

    Homosexuality was illegal in China until 1997, and officials described it as a mental illness until 2001.

    The event’s organiser, Ben Zhang, said he had been hoping the event would mark another step towards greater awareness of gay people in China.

    One of the judges, Weng Xiaogang, told the AFP news agency: “In my opinion, I believe it [the cancellation] had something to do with the issue of homosexuality.”

    The eight contestants were competing for the right to represent China at the Worldwide Mr Gay pageant next month in Norway.
    “ The whole world was thinking China was doing a very good thing. But now I think everybody will be disappointed. ”
    Jiang Bo

    Mr Gay China contestant

    The event, in an upmarket Beijing nightclub, would have included a fashion show and question-and-answer sessions with the contestants.

    Some 150 people who turned up to watch, many of them from media organisations, were left to view a deserted stage.

    Contestant Jiang Bo, 29, told Reuters: “It’s a disaster. I’m full of disappointment. I thought the government was becoming more and more tolerant.

    “They were making a big step. The whole world was thinking China was doing a very good thing. But now I think everybody will be disappointed.”

    In June last year, the organisers of China’s first Gay Pride Festival were told to cancel two of their sessions – and that they would face “severe consequences” if they went ahead.

    Bed sharing ‘drains men’s brains’
    Sharing a bed with someone could temporarily reduce your brain power – at least if you are a man – Austrian scientists suggest.

    When men spend the night with a bed mate their sleep is disturbed, whether they make love or not, and this impairs their mental ability the next day.

    The lack of sleep also increases a man’s stress hormone levels.

    According to the New Scientist study, women who share a bed fare better because they sleep more deeply.

    Sleepless nights

    Professor Gerhard Kloesch and colleagues at the University of Vienna studied eight unmarried, childless couples in their 20s.

    Each couple was asked to spend 10 nights sleeping together and 10 apart while the scientists assessed their rest patterns with questionnaires and wrist activity monitors.

    The next day the couples were asked to perform simple cognitive tests and had their stress hormone levels checked.

    Although the men reported they had slept better with a partner, they fared worse in the tests, with their results suggesting they actually had more disturbed sleep.

    Both sexes had a more disturbed night’s sleep when they shared their bed, Professor Kloesch told a meeting of the Forum of European Neuroscience.

    But women apparently managed to sleep more deeply when they did eventually drop off, since they claimed to be more refreshed than their sleep time suggested.

    Their stress hormone levels and mental scores did not suffer to the same extent as the men.

    But the women still reported that they had the best sleep when they were alone in bed.

    Bed sharing also affected dream recall. Women remembered more after sleeping alone and men recalled best after sex.

    Separate beds

    Dr Neil Stanley, a sleep expert at the University of Surrey, said: “It’s not surprising that people are disturbed by sleeping together.

    “Historically, we have never been meant to sleep in the same bed as each other. It is a bizarre thing to do.

    “Sleep is the most selfish thing you can do and it’s vital for good physical and mental health.

    “Sharing the bed space with someone who is making noises and who you have to fight with for the duvet is not sensible.

    “If you are happy sleeping together that’s great, but if not there is no shame in separate beds.”

    He said there was a suggestion that women are pre-programmed to cope better with broken sleep.

    “A lot of life events that women have disturb sleep – bringing up children, the menopause and even the menstrual cycle,” he explained.

    But Dr Stanley added people did get used to sharing a bed.

    “If they have shared their bed with their partner for a long time they miss them and that will disturb sleep.”

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