Friday, July 19, 2013

The huge thorn in Australia's side---refugees, people smugglers and where to put them.

Australia has always been a place where people wish to settle, but like any nation it has a right to have this happen in an orderly and safe manner. That many thousands attempt to jump the queue and enter Australia illegally is hardly Australia's fault but it is it's problem. It has become a political issue; one that Tony Abott shamelessly uses for his own political gain. Such is the nature of politics. Now, Rudd has acted in a manner that many will see as harsh. He has firmly closed Australia's borders to the people smugglers and made strong overtures to his neighbours to seek out a more permanent and humane solution. One can not expect these 'neighbours' to shoulder this responsibility without a great deal of help, both from Australia (and New Zealand) and most definitely the UN. These people smugglers are trading in human misery and the people who pay them out of desperation  are often ripped off and sometimes killed, if some of the stories we hear about what happens to them at sea are correct.
However, Australia's tough new approach must send the message back up the pipeline that simply jumping on a boat will not necessarily get them to Australia.
New Zealand must support all attempts to find a regional response to this terrible issue. Indonesia for its part must also be supported. Yes, no doubt corrupt officials there play their part in gaining from the misery of others, but Indonesia is hardly in a position where it should take all the responsibility for stopping people using it as a base to 'jump to Australia.' There are many thousands of refugees already in Indonesia, and that country has it's own economic problems without having to pay out for more. If Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia (with support from other SEA countries) can make it unattractive for refugees to attempt the difficult journey then maybe that can help. Of course the root to all of this 'people movement' is the lack of stability and poor economic and social conditions in the countries of origin, especially the Middle- East and other parts of Asia. Refugees have always sought greener pastures, but when people smugglers enter the scene, the issue becomes that much more dangerous. Australia is in a difficult position; one that no country would wish for.
Lets take the politics out of the solution and work on a wider scope. I guess we could start with Syria, because we all know that the situation in that country has just turned on another huge tap!

Studio Ceramics in Glen Eden, New Zealand--retro Crown Lynn, yet also so 'now.' Love it, buy it!!

Today I had the pleasure to be shown around the Studio Ceramics factory in Glen Eden. Phillpa was my friendly and passionate host. Phillpa and her partner, Ken took over this iconic New Zealand ceramics factory about two years ago. They have carved a place in the Newer Zealand pottery/ceramics scene that is second to none. You feel can the enthusiasm ooze from Phillpa as she shows you around the factory. I had no idea it was so big, even though the days when more than a thousand employees worked at the old Crown Lynn factory down the road in New Lynn are well and truly consigned to history, unfortunately. That is the price we pay for cheap, mainly Chinese imports. If we want to keep  firms like Studio Ceramics in NZ, then we have to meet the price. The quality of the products is of course way better with the NZ option.
Local clays are sourced for the production of the many items, some of which can be purchased from the shop at the front, for much discounted prices. Phillpa took us through the whole production cycle, telling us heaps about the different items being made. There is a strong accent on NZ themes and many of the old favourites, like the 'swans' and jugs are back in vogue. The newer designs are to die for, with vibrant colours and patterns. You can imagine me delight when I saw a flying duck. I never thought that they would reappear. I shall soon have  three gracing my walls, if I can get away with it.
One of the fun things one can do on an 'arranged' visit, is to decorate your own choice of product, be it a mug or one of the famous 'blasts from the past.' I can't wait to doing that.
Studio Ceramics is an institution that we must not let go the way of Crown Lynn. The oldies amongst us should go visit and tell people to buy these wonderful products. What better gift than an iconic New Zealand themed, New Zealand made example to give to your friends and family. Tell or visitors about them. They can also be purchased from a wide range of outlets now. Check out the site and enjoy the pictures I took. yes, I did purchase a range of items at very reasonable prices. I love Studio Ceramics.    Check it out people!
The shop at Studio
Ceramics--great selection

I know she wants one!
White ware---love them!
The clay goes in here and comes out for
the next stage, before processing into the huge range of products, like these!
And finishes like these.
Perdy stayed home to play 'dress-up.'


Who supports who in Syria!

I suggest that support for the various incumbents in Syria is based more on large power geopolitical considerations than it is for more basic humanitarian reasons. We have an indecisive Obama with his wishy washy policies, unable to support the President of Syria yet stumbling over his support for one of the factions aligned against the 'butcher of Damascus.' Then you have Hezbollah supporting the Syrian regime, but not the Government of Lebanon. Somewhere in the mix is  al-Qaida purported to have made a statement saying they wish to create a Sharia Law based region on the border near Turkey. With that prospect a distinct possibility we then have perhaps, but not necessarily a more moderate group who use the former claim to 'blackmail' the West into supporting their aims. Who are we to believe? If we took away the  interference of the major outside players, would the situation resolve itself? Maybe, but at what cost in human life and what sort of regime would emerge? Would it be one that has the support of the majority of Syrians, leaving of course  a 'rump' sector that would continue to fight for its deeply held cause? Therein lies the problem. If Russia, the USA and its cohort plus the Arab world in general cannot come to an agreed course of action then any interference to stop the carnage in Syria is doomed to failure. Will such an accord be reached. I very much doubt it. Look back to history to understand that statement. In the meantime, countless thousands of non- combatants will continue to die and have their homes destroyed. What a truly terrible future for this sad nation. The UN needs to step up to its founding principals and act as a body representative of all nations. So far that dream is nothing more than a deadly nightmare.