Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Burrup peninsula rock art: Western Australia to seek World Heritage Listing

 

‘A Senate report warning of damage to the 50,000-year-old treasures
has persuaded the state government to act’ Calla Wahlquist 
@callapilla,27 Aug 2018 

‘The Western Australian government has formally committed to
pursuing world heritage status for the Burrup peninsula,
one of the oldest and richest examples of rock art in the world.

‘It comes five months after a Senate inquiry report into managing the site warned that the cumulative emissions from heavy industry on the peninsula, centred around the north-west shelf gas project, could be damaging
the surface of the rock art and causing it to degrade.

‘The step towards nomination has been welcomed by rock art experts,
who say it is one of the most significant archeological sites in the southern hemisphere.

‘“The thing that is unique about this is that it covers almost the entire origin  of the north-west coast of Australia, and it is hunter-gatherers from the bottom to the top,”
director of the University of Western Australia’s centre for rock art
research and management, Jo McDonald, said.
“Nowhere else has it covered 50,000 years of hunter-gatherer human history.” … ‘  Read more of Calla Wahlquist‘s ground-breaking & comprehensive & well-researchedarticle:
www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/aug/27/burrup-peninsula-rock-art-western-australia-to-seek-world-heritage-listing

 

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August 29, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, art and culture, Western Australia | Leave a comment

Black Mist Burnt Country: art under the nuclear cloud of Maralinga

 https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/black-mist-burnt-country-art-under-the-nuclear-cloud-of-maralinga-20180823-p4zz7i.html, By Karen Hardy 24 August 2018 On September 27, 1956, the British exploded an atomic bomb on Pitjantjatjara land in South Australia. The place would become known as Maralinga, which means “thunder” in the now-extinct Garik Aboriginal language.

Black Mist Burnt Country tells the stories of the atomic tests in Australia in the 1950s and ’60s, revisiting the events and locations through the artworks of Indigenous and non-Indigenous contemporary artists across the mediums of painting, print-making, sculpture, photography, video and new media.

Now showing at the National Museum of Australia, it has been touring with great success since September 2016, opening then to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the first test at Maralinga.

Curator JD Mittman, from the Burrinja Dandenong Ranges Cultural Centre, grew up “under the nuclear cloud” in Germany during the 1980s and when he came to Australia he was surprised to learn there had been atomic tests here.

In the collection of the small community arts centre he found a large canvas work by Jonathan Kumintjarra Brown entitled Maralinga Before the Atomic Test.

The question for me was what did ‘after’ look like?”

When he began his research he was surprised to find so many works concerning Australia’s place in the nuclear race.

Artist Arthur Boyd participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations in the 1960s and his Jonah on the Shoalhaven – Outside the City (1976), features a tiny mushroom cloud, blending biblical imagery with contemporary landscape and personal symbolism.

Sidney Nolan’s Central Desert: Atomic Test (1952-57) is part of a classic series of desert landscapes Nolan began in the late 1940s. He added a mushroom cloud on the horizon at a later date.

“This exhibition doesn’t look at any one artist’s body of work,” says Mittman, “but displays how varied the approaches were, how different the perspectives were, and what the original stories were.

“Every generation has taken a different approach.”

There are large canvases by Kumintjarra Brown, one Frogmen, shows three men in masks and protective suits, another Black Rain tells the tragic story of a group of Anangu people who were found huddled together, dead, in a crater near the bomb site.

Mittman says it’s important for Australians, particularly generations who may not have even heard of the testing, let alone those of us to whom Maralinga is a familiar word but were unaware of such details as then prime minister Robert Menzies did not even consult cabinet when he gave permission to begin the testing.

“And it’s not just a story of the past,” he says.

“There is great concern among the indigenous community, and I don’t want to speak on their behalf, about the ongoing repercussions of the testing on country.

“And it’s even more than that, the multi-media work from Linda Dement and Jessie Boylan builds a bridge between the past and the present. “There are 15,000 warheads in the world at present, many of them on planes, in submarines, ready to strike within minutes.

“The Cold War might have ended but the nuclear threat has not gone away.”

He says it’s somewhat fitting that the exhibition opens in Canberra in the same week the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons protest arrives in Canberra heading to parliament to urge politicians to ratify the nuclear weapon ban treaty.

Black Mist Burnt Country at the National Museum of Australia until November 18.

August 26, 2018 Posted by | aboriginal issues, art and culture, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Data ethics heavily influenced by the biases of well-off white males

Data ethics is more than just what we do with data, it’s also about who’s doing it, https://theconversation.com/data-ethics-is-more-than-just-what-we-do-with-data-its-also-about-whos-doing-it-98010?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest%20from%20The%20Conversation%20for%20June%2022%202018%20-%20104699242&utm_content=Latest%  James ArvanitakisProfessor in Cultural and Social Analysis, Western Sydney University, Andrew Francis, Professor of Mathematics, Western Sydney University Oliver Obst, Associate Professor in Data Science, Western Sydney University

If the recent Cambridge Analytica data scandal has taught us anything, it’s that the ethical cultures of our largest tech firms need tougher scrutiny.

But moral questions about what data should be collected and how it should be used are only the beginning. They raise broader questions about who gets to make those decisions in the first place.

We currently have a system in which power over the judicious and ethical use of data is overwhelmingly concentrated among white men. Research shows that the unconscious biases that emerge from a person’s upbringing and experiences can be baked into technology, resulting in negative consequences for minority groups.

These biases are difficult to shed, which makes workplace diversity a powerful and necessary tool for catching unsuspected bias before it has a chance to cause damage. As the impact of data-driven algorithms and decisions grows more profound, we need to ask: how is this going to change in the future?

Unfortunately, the indicators suggest the answer is: not much.

What consequences are we talking about?

Algorithmic bias is now a widely studied problem that refers to how human biases creep into the decisions made by computers.

The problem has led to gendered language translations, biased criminal sentencing recommendations, and racially skewed facial recognition systems.

For example, when an automated translation tool such as Google Translate is required to translate a gender-neutral language (such as Turkish) into a gender-specific one (such as English) it makes a guess as to which gender to assign to the translated text.

People noticed that Google Translate showed a tendency to assign feminine gender pronouns to certain jobs and masculine pronouns to others – “she is a babysitter” or “he is a doctor” – in a manner that reeked of sexism. Google Translate bases its decision about which gender to assign to a particular job on the training data it learns from. In this case, it’s picking up the gender bias that already exists in the world and feeding it back to us.

If we want to ensure that algorithms don’t perpetuate and reinforce existing biases, we need to be careful about the data we use to train algorithms. But if we hold the view that women are more likely to be babysitters and men are more likely to be doctors, then we might not even notice – and correct for – biased data in the tools we build.

So it matters who is writing the code because the code defines the algorithm, which makes the judgement on the basis of the data.

Who holds the power?

Only ten years ago the first smartphones were making their mark. Today some of the most powerful people on the planet are those who control data gathered through mobile technologies.

Data is central to the functioning of the modern world. And power over business, democracy and education will likely continue to lie with data and data-dependent tools, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Currently, the people who have the power to make ethical decisions about the use of data are typically white males from high-earning, well-educated families.

One research company, Open MIC, which describes itself as “investing in racial diversity in the tech world”, reviewed data from some of the biggest tech firms and found a consistent pattern: disproportionate percentages of white employees compared with the wider working population.

Adobe’s workforce is 69% white, Apple’s is 56% white, Google is 59% white and Microsoft is 58% white. The list goes on:

Black people, Latinos, and Native Americans are underrepresented in tech by 16 to 18 percentage points compared with their presence in the US labour force overall.

This is made far worse by a crippling lack of gender diversity.

In a 2017 Microsoft report, a survey of UK IT and tech leaders found that on average, the gender mix among their teams was 80% male and 20% female. A staggering 35% of respondents had no plans in place to change this imbalance.

The numbers are similar in Australia, according to a study of Australian professional profiles on the social network LinkedIn.

It revealed that just 14% of executive roles in the local tech industry were held by women. Of the 435,000 people in IT listed on LinkedIn in Australia, only 31% were women. Even these numbers may be optimistic, according to Australia’s Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, who noted that women make up less than one-fifth of Australians qualified in science, technology, engineering and maths.

Will this change?

Those likely to be in charge of developing the algorithms of the future are those who are studying computer science and mathematical sciences right now. Sadly, the groups dominating those subjects at schools and universities largely reflect the current workforce.

Australian domestic students enrolled in tertiary level information technology dropped from a peak of 46,945 in 2002 to 27,547 in 2013. While the numbers have improved slightly according to AEN University Rankings, females in engineering and IT still represent less than one in five students.

Meanwhile, the number of girls at the senior high school level taking the advanced computing and mathematics subjects needed to enter these roles remains resolutely low.

This ship is taking a long time to turn around.

What can we do about it?

If the coders of the future are today’s middle-class boys, how are we preparing them to make unbiased ethical choices when they become the Zuckerbergs of tomorrow? And how can we steer the ship so that the wealth and power that will continue to flow from mastery of such technical skills is not denied to those who are not white and male?


Read more: Unconscious bias is keeping women out of senior roles, but we can get around it


Our education system is unwittingly allowing boys to train as technical people without the skills to put their work in a social context, and allowing girls to do the reverse.

Indeed, while many of the smartest young women are choosing to go into medicine or law, these professions are vulnerable to the advance of artificial intelligence – paralegals, radiologists, and those making preliminary diagnoses.

We are in a structure in which the same old imbalances are strengthening and look to persist. But this is not the way it should be. Unless we confront the culture through big shifts in educational trends, nothing will change.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | art and culture, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Nuclear scientists have lower awareness of risks, compared to “life”scientists

Research has found disturbing differences in the attitudes of scientists in different areas, to health and environmental risks of the nuclear industry.

It is even more disturbing that policy-makers and politicians prefer to support  and value the opinions and work of the very scientists who are least informed and least interested in those risks.

Politics and Scientific Expertise: Scientists, Risk Perception, and Nuclear Waste Policy, Richard P. Barke Hank C. Jenkins‐Smith.   – To study the homogeneity and influences on scientists’perspectives of environmental risks, we have examined similarities and differences in risk perceptions, particularly regarding nuclear wastes, and policy preferences among 1011 scientists and engineers. We found significant differences (p0.05)in the patterns of beliefs among scientists from different fields of research. In contrast to physicists, chemists, and engineers, life scientists tend to: (a)perceive the greatest risks from nuclear energy and nuclear waste management; (b)perceive higher levels of overall environmental risk; (c)strongly oppose imposing risks on unconsenting individuals; and (d)prefer stronger requirements for environmental management.

On some issues related to priorities among public problems and calls for government action, there are significant variations among life scientists or physical scientists. We also found that–independently of field of research–perceptions of risk and its correlates are significantly associated with the type of institution in which the scientist is employed. Scientists in universities or state and local governments tend to see the risks of nuclear energy and wastes as greater than scientists who work as business consultants, for federal organizations, or for private research laboratories. Significant differences also are found in priority given to environmental risks, the perceived proximity of environmental disaster, willingness to impose risks on an unconsenting population, and the necessity of accepting risks and sacrifices. more https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1539-6924.1993.tb00743.x

April 25, 2018 Posted by | art and culture, Christina themes, safety | Leave a comment

We need to change the culture of Christmas

No real gift in giving: culture of Christmas must change Brisbane Times 19 Dec 17 Christmas, we’re assured, brings out our best selves. We’re full of goodwill to all men (and women). We get together with family and friends – even those we don’t get on with – eat and drink and give each other presents.

We make an effort for the kiddies. Some of us even get a good feeling out of helping ensure the homeless get a decent feed on the day………

there’s a darker, less charitable, more Scrooge-like interpretation of what Christmas has become since A Christmas Carol.

Under the influence of more than a century of relentless advertising and commercialisation – including the soft-drink-company-created Santa – its original significance as a religious holy-day has been submerged beneath an orgy of consumerism, materialism and over-indulgence.

We rush from shop to shop, silently cursing those of our rellos who are hard to buy for. We attend party after party, stuffing ourselves with food and drinking more than we should.

All those children who can’t wait to get up early on Christmas morning and tear open their small mountain of presents are being groomed as the next generation of consumerists. Next, try the joys of retail therapy, sonny.

But the survey also reveals a (growing?) minority of respondents who don’t enjoy the indulgence and wastefulness of Christmas.

A fifth of respondents – more males than females – don’t like buying gifts for people at Christmas. Almost a third expect to get gifts they won’t use and 42 per cent – far more males and females – would prefer others not to buy them gifts…….

Rich people like us need to reduce our demands on the environment to make room for the poorer people of the world to lift their material standard of living without our joint efforts wrecking the planet.

This doesn’t require us to accept a significantly lower standard of living, just move to an economy where our energy comes from renewable sources and our use of natural resources – renewable and non-renewable – is much less profligate.

This is the thinking behind the book Curing Affluenza, by the Australia Institute’s chief economist – and instigator of the survey – Dr Richard Denniss……

the first thing we need is a shift in the culture that makes more of us more conscious of the damage our everyday consumption is doing to the environment. That putting out the recycling once a week ain’t enough.We could start by changing the culture of Christmas. https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/opinion/no-real-gift-in-giving-culture-of-christmas-must-change-20171219-h070oc.html

December 20, 2017 Posted by | art and culture, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Planet Ark introduces their  12 DOs (and don’ts) of Christmas

Planet Ark declares war on festive waste http://www.examiner.com.au/story/5129343/planet-ark-declares-a-war-on-festive-waste-this-christmas/?cs=95 Jessica Willard

December 20, 2017 Posted by | art and culture, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

Walkatjurra Walkabout: For country, against uranium.

September 23, 2017 .Lauren   http://www.riverredgum.com/walkatjurra-walkabout-for-country-against-uranium/

‘This is my first post in my ‘Real Life Ideas’ area and I wanted to share this as an idea because what I experienced on over the last month really made me think about different types of activism, what the word really means and how we can connect to the planet in a spiritual way while involving ourselves in activism and campaigning.

‘I also truly hope that the idea of a nuclear free world is one that will spread throughout
the world before more beautiful beings are harmed by its dangers. …

‘As the global nuclear free movement grows, so too will the attention given to this land.
It is in for a turbulent next few years, but no matter what any corporations, or selfish politicians say,
there is no denying the dangers and outright absurdities of uranium.

‘Too many people have been and will be hurt by nuclear weapons and nuclear power failures
and many more in the future will be effected by radioactive waste that we are accumulating.

‘Here’s an idea to say no to uranium, leave it in the ground.

‘Here’s an idea to say no to colonialism and exploitative western powers.

September 25, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, art and culture, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

‘Utopia’, the film, can be viewed for the first time online

Bronwyn Lucas Fight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA, 20 Mar 17, 

‘Utopia’, the film, can be viewed for the first time on this site http://johnpilger.com/articles/-utopia-the-film-can-be-viewed-for-the-first-time-on-this-site
If you’ve ever wondered whether the federal government might be trustworthy, whether our first nation peoples have been treated fairly and whether they have the right to have a whinge, then this film might make wake you up, if you’re like most Australians and asleep at the wheel … my biggest surprise was the integrity of ABC’s Lateline … oh … and Dave Sweeney who spoke at Hawker at our latest gathering? He appears briefly too!

Do we believe what the Feds say? It’s propaganda +++ and poor Kimba, about to have a three-month intensive ‘community consultation’ roadshow …

John Pilger – johnpilger.com … a great Australian journalist! https://www.facebook.com/groups/344452605899556/

March 21, 2017 Posted by | aboriginal issues, art and culture, Audiovisual, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL | Leave a comment

In South Australia, artists are at the forefront of the nuclear-free movement

Artists paint the truth of SA nuclear la la land https://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=50616#.WKpGiNJ97Gg Michele Madigan |  12 February 2017

‘It will be your artists: the poets, painters, actors, dancers, musicians, orators — they will be the ones to lead the changes.’ It was one of the many international invited guests, a Maori woman speaker, who made this prediction to the huge 40,000 strong crowd; to the 30,000 First Nations people from across the nation and 10,000 of us non-Aboriginal supporters who had joined them enroute to Hyde Park, Sydney, on 26 January 1988.

In South Australia almost 30 years later, this prophecy continues to unfold in the ongoing high-stakes battle for country that surrounds the proposed nuclear waste dump.

The orators have been long leading the way. ‘We can’t sell that country — we can’t sell it. Just like selling your own kid, own grandmother, own grandfather,’ said Arabunna Elder Kevin Buzzacott at the 1998 Global Survival and Indigenous Rights Conference in Melbourne 1998.

Tjunmutja Myra Watson told the Olympic Games international media, Botany Bay, 2000: ‘We already lost everything at Maralinga’ — the site of the 1950s and 1960s British nuclear tests.

‘We thought that Maralinga would be the last one … We love our land … We got the Dreaming, we got the songs and we got the culture. We’re going to fight to keep it. Let’s keep it, let’s keep the country, not this man coming in and digging up our spirit and our land and all our songs. They’re spoiling it when they put the poison in. They’re taking everything and they did it before.’

They are joined in the struggle by other artists: painters Eileen Wani Wingfield and Eileen Unkari Crombie; dancers Eileen Kampakuta Brown, Edie Nyimpula King and other Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, dancing for protection of country in the bush; singers like Ivy Makinti Stewart, whose astonishing voice filled the Adelaide Town Hall with the lament of the Seven Sisters: Irati Wanti — the poison — leave it! Continue reading

February 20, 2017 Posted by | art and culture, South Australia | Leave a comment

Review of Black Mist Burnt Country – Maralinga – focussed art exhibition

Lester,-YamiBlack Mist Burnt Country review – exhibition covers devastation of nuclear war, Guardian, , 12 Oct 16  With works by Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd and Jessie Boylan, Black Mist Burnt Country homes in on the 1956 British atomic tests in the Great Victoria Desert.

In the new exhibition Black Mist Burnt Country, one photograph by Jessie Boylan sticks out. Yankunytjatjara man Yami Lester stands on the deep red earth next to a single skinny tree. His brown jacket reflects the muted landscape. His hands are clasped on his chest as if in pain, and his eyes, tilted to the sky, are scrunched shut. Yami Lester, you see, is blind.

Lester was just a child when the British tested the atomic bomb near his home in the Australian outback, in what came to be known as Maralinga. “It was coming from the south – black, like smoke,” he later recalled. “I was thinking it might be a dust storm, but it was quiet, just moving through the trees.”

Elders thought it was an evil spirit and tried to use woomera (spear-throwers) to disperse it. But the damage was done. Lester’s family soon fell sick. He lost his sight. The trees, too, shrank, shrivelled and died.

The national touring exhibition, which runs until 2019, commemorates the 60th anniversary of the Maralinga atomic tests through painting, sculpture, printmaking and installations. Spanning 70 years, from Hiroshima to today, it covers artistic reactions to nuclear warfare from more than 30 artists, Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

Black Mist Burnt Country may be broad in scope but it concentrates heavily on the infamous 1956 Maralinga tests in South Australia’s Great Victoria Desert……….Black Mist Burnt Country is at the SH Ervin Gallery and will tour NSW, VIC, SA and QLD until 2019   https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/oct/12/black-like-smoke-exhibition-covers-devastation-of-nuclear-war-in-outback-and-beyond

October 13, 2016 Posted by | aboriginal issues, art and culture | Leave a comment