I'm an ecologist, not a leftist. My motivations are maybe a little different from yours. We founded a small NGO called Noe21 (visit <http://www.noe21.org>) and we are evaluating solutions to climate change, among which of course are the Clean Development Mechanism projects. According to what we read so far, not all projects are as disastrous as the Plantar Project in Brazil you mention in your article in GLW #693. (By the way, this one has been refused by the CDM executive board).
My evaluation is that at least half of the projects are environmentally and socially positive, and that the CDMs are there anyway so it's better to try to improve them than trying to stop them all.
We are trying to re-create a CDM watch website like the one Ben Pearson made two years ago.
In her letter in GLW #694, Karen Gurney wrote: "People with transsexualism seek both surgical and hormonal realignment of their physical sex characteristics with those of their brain. Their gender is fixed and they are happy with it; it's just the external body that needs rehabilitation. Transgender people have a fixed physical sex and a variable gender identity."
These sound like good definitions to me of the ways these words are used in Australia (in the US it's different.) Supporters of transgender and transsexual people should respect this language. Yet, as I understand it, even though this is the general consensus, these words are still subject to intensive debate. (Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.)
Even though Rachel Evans' use of the word "transgender" as an umbrella term for transgender and transsexual people might not be strictly correct in Australia, it is common for the word to be used in this way. For example, on the Sydney Gender Centre website.
Another issue that Gurney raises is the exclusion of transgender and pre-op transsexual clients from Mission Australia's womens' services. Gurney supports Mission Australia's position. Yet there are many transsexual and transgender women who have not undergone genital realignment surgery. Surgery is a big deal. I'm told that after genital realignment surgery you have to lighten your workload for a year. Poverty is one reason why many transsexual and transgender women have not undergone surgery. Surgery is expensive. Another reason is the fear of a loss of sexual function. All of these reasons are valid, they do not mean that somebody is not a "real woman".
Transsexual women should not be excluded from a womens' service because they are poor, particularly given the economic pressures on transsexual women due to discrimination in housing and in the workplace. Non-op and pre-op transgender and transsexual women are particularly vulnerable to violence and in desperate need of the services that Mission Australia provides. When you can't "pass" as a woman you're more likely to be attacked.
Transgender women might not identify unambiguously as women. Yet they are still subject to sexist violence and discrimination.
The Gender Centre plays a terrific role in NSW. Generic women's services like Mission Australia should also accept non-passing transsexual and transgender clients.
Sheikh Taj al Hilaly has said various absurd and offensive things. Nevertheless, his recent statement that Muslim immigrants who bought tickets to Australia are more entitled to live here than the descendants of convicts is worth responding to.
People's family history, and religion, should be irrelevant to their rights. Yet it is worth comparing people who have to pay to gain access to Australia with people who don't.
On purely practical grounds, the children of Australians must be entitled to live here. But this group is very lucky. They simply automatically inherit life in an excellent country. Migrants, by contrast, must meet entry conditions, pay to get here, and adjust to life in a new place.
If the sheikh had merely called for some levelling of the playing field between people born in Australia and people born overseas via greater public generosity towards migrants or a higher migrant intake, he would have had a case. However, he gratuitously referred to convicts and Muslims.
PM John Howard said that "it would be crazy not to build (25) nuclear energy plants" using the biased report produced by his cronies and his new-found concern about climate change as justifications. Voters would be crazy to accept his economic rationalist reasoning — the very opposite of a cautious, conservative, approach. Nuclear power plants (a) are extremely costly to build and dismantle (b) provide energy that is not "cleaner and greener" (c) have the major problem of storing radio active waste and (d) are not a renewable energy.
Exporting yellow cake to other countries means losing control over its final destination and use. The ALP may offer something that is little better depending on the outcome of their forthcoming national conference. Major party failure on this — and many other issues — again leaves the Senate as the only safeguard against their follies, but only if major parties do not control it. Voters should start using their Senate votes more wisely than they did in the recent past.
Proportional representation provides ample opportunity to elect minor party and independent senators who are not crazy when it comes to deciding what is to be done with Australia's massive uranium ores reserves.
Pearl Beach, NSW