Australia Channels California’s Golden Age

The Economist paints a golden picture of Australia these days, and says that if the country added a healthy dose of “self-belief” to its typically introverted way of thinking it could be the next California, in a special report.

“IMAGINE a country of about 25m people, democratic, tolerant, welcoming to immigrants, socially harmonious, politically stable and economically successful; good beaches too. It sounds like California 30 years ago, but it is not: it is Australia today.”

The special report section covers Australia’s rich natural resources, its ability to have avoided what it refers to as the GFC (“global financial crisis), the strength of its dollar, its model retirement (superannuation) system, its relationship with Asia (namely, China), its green game and the demographics of its population.

Overall, the report on Australia as the place to be is highly positive. Click here to read more (subscription required, but it’s free).

Photo courtesy of Derek Bacon via The Economist.

First Sunny Day in Vancouver? Head for Go Fish

Indulge me, if you will. A personal piece, originally published on We Blog the World.

You can get here by foot from the city’s downtown or West End if you are feeling ambitious with a walk or bike ride over the Granville Street Bridge.Or, you can take the Aquabus or a water taxi to this tiny island locale in the middle of two hunks of Vancouver mainland. But however you cross False Creek on a sunny day simply have one goal in mind: lunch at Go Fish Ocean Emporium on a non-touristy bend of Granville Island.

In trying to pinpoint the exact location of this corrugated metal shack serving up freshly caught takes on the day’s catch – lightly battered halibut with hand cut chips destined to be doused with malt vinegar, teriyaki salmon sandwiches and oyster po’boys (or tacos!), I took a detour to Yelpafter the fact to get an address (in ultimate hyperlocal fashion, Go Fish does not have a website). Good to know I was not alone in thinking Go Fish was a true off-the-beaten path find. Also good to discover that Go Fish is open six days a week year-round (closed Mondays).

Borrowing from Yelper “Carmina B”, she says to think of Go Fish as “a high-end, seafood food truck with a view.” I’d agree. The fishing boats are docking and selling scallops and British Columbia’s short-season spot prawns just down a nearby ramp, with the backdrop of the False Creek marina, glassy Vancouver highrises and beyond that, English Bay and the still-snow capped North Shore Mountains. You’d gladly sit on a curb with your take away balanced on your knees for this, but Go Fish does have plenty of tables, counter space and wooden benches that turnover in the 10- to 15-minute wait the friendly counter staff tell you to anticipate, as everything is cooked to order.

Apparently, a plastic tarp is pulled around Go Fish on less-than-perfect days, but the day we stumbled upon it – on our way to the Granville Island Public Market to shop for flowers – the sun was shining and the temperature was destined to hit a balmy 17 (Celsius, that is). I can’t vouch for the damp and rainy days Vancouver, a.k.a. “RainCity”, is known for. I have a feeling the food is just as good if the sun is nowhere in sight. But our day at Go Fish was a special one – that evening we were married back on the mainland, the sun still high in the sky as we inched toward summer, reflecting off the bay as the mountains and highrises circled in to give us a warm Canadian embrace.

Photo by KazzaDrask Media.

Why Couldn’t the CIA Find Osama bin Laden Through an IP Address?

We know you’ve been wondering why, in this high-tech day and age, were all the hyper-intelligent bells and whistles and secret decoder rings we have access to unable to find Osama bin Laden?

Simple. He wasn’t hooked up to the Internet and lived his life offline. bin Laden communicated by thumb drive (e.g., flash memory sticks)- receiving and answering emails offline, transferring them to a thumb drive and giving them to a courier to take to an Internet cafe. It was a system that worked well for many years – but in the end, it still was the Internet that brought him down. Our intelligence forces suspicions were raised when a big house in a well-off neighborhood kept showing up on the grid without access to the online world. What self-respecting, upper-middle class citizen wouldn’t have their house wired for 24/7 Facebooking, online shopping or a little live-streaming entertainment?

Apparently, bin Laden found a way around downloading his own porn – but in the end, his decision to remain disconnected did him in.

VentureBeat: “Bin Laden relied on thumb drive couriers to evade email detection” by Dean Takahashi.

New York Post Headline Truly Tit-allating

Tops Headless Body in Topless Bar

Imagine New Yorkers disappointment two weeks ago when Osama bin Laden was finally captured and killed. The city that waited nearly 10 years for justice to be done awoke on Monday morning, May 2, to the tepid New York Post headline “Got ‘Em!” What!? No “Headless Body Found in Topless Bar”-style blast that would keep people talking for decades to come (and possibly breathe much needed life back into the newspaper business).

Let’s face it, we read headlines all day long online – all kinds of crazy things – but nothing sizzles and pops like a juicy (and occasional laughable) tabloid headline. This morning, New Yorkers and (by virtue of the Interwebs) the rest of us got our fix. Apparently, Osama bin Laden’s condo was laden with porn DVDs. We’ll let Mediaite tell you the rest. (Click here)

Hat tip to Mediaite for the story and the photo. Other notes: Yes, we know the “Headless Body Found in Topless Bar” headline was in the New York Daily News, not the Post. We grew up in the New York Metro area – and can prove it. How? Well, what other baseball team goes by the tabloid nickname the “Amazin’s” other than our beloved New York Mets!

DEPORTATION HALTED: “We Are Headed Back to the Trenches”

“We Are Headed Back to the Trenches” – Josh Vandiver, husband of Henry Velandia after last Friday’s temporary reprieve

By now you have heard the good news. In the deportation hearing heard ’round the world, Henry Velandia from Venezuela has been allowed to stay with his American husband Josh Vandiver, at least until December.

The Immigration Judge adjourned deportation proceedings against Henry on the grounds that the marriage-based green card petition filed by Josh was still pending and because of the potential implications of a move by Attorney General Eric Holder in a related case less than 24 hours earlier that may signal a shift in the Administration’s interpretation of the law as it concerns same-sex binational couples.

Out4Immigration was proud to work alongside such amazing activists from groups like GetEQUAL, Courage Campaign, AllOut, Marriage Equality USA, Garden State Equality and the attorney who is leading the fight for same-sex binationals and equal immigration rights, Lavi Soloway of Stop the Deportations. This exciting combination of grassroots talent plus the voices of more than 20,000+ of you who signed petitions directed to President Obama, the Department of Homeland Security and USCIS, called the office of Secretary Janet Napolitano and kept the story alive 24/7 online and in print has changed the game. The new strategy is to keep the pressure on from all sides – administrative, judicial and legislative. (Read more)

Photo courtesy of GetEQUAL: Josh, left and Henry, right, in Newark, with Statue of Liberty in the background, shortly after Friday’s hearing.

Stop the Deportation of Henry Velandia and All Spouses of LGBT Americans, Friday, May 6, Newark, NJ

Out4Immigration urges everyone in the Newark, NJ area to come out to protest the deportation of Henry Velandia Friday, May 6 at 11am:

Department of Homeland Security/Newark Immigration Court – Peter Rodino Federal Building

970 Broad Street

Newark, New Jersey

Henry (shown here at the right) legally married Josh Vandiver (left), a US citizen in Connecticut last year. But because of DOMA our federal government does not recognize this marriage and is ready to deport Henry. This couple will literally be torn apart, Josh’s husband taken from him and returned to his native Venezuela, banning them from being together again on U.S. soil for 10 years!

Sadly, Josh and Henry are not the only same-sex binational couple in this situation. We need to make our voices heard that separating loving and committed couples is unacceptable. President Obama and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano can stop these deportations while we continue to work to pass legislation like the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), inclusive Comprehensive Immigration Reform and repeal DOMA. More details on Friday’s action are on Facebook.

(Read about more actions you can take to help this couple and all same-sex binational couples being forced into deportation hearings, separations and exiles at the Out4Immigration blog.)

Video: What Would You Do?

, a long-time Out4Immigration volunteer, speaks out and asks, “What would you do if your government denied you the right to live in your country with the person you love?” It’s a stark look at the realities same-sex binational couples are forced to confront each day, while too many important people — elected officials and those in charge of large organizations that collect a lot of money from the LGBT community and our supporters — don’t do all they can to end this gratuitous cruelty.

Laws like the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and our broken immigration system stand in the way of Gina being with the woman she loves. And she’s not alone. Some 36,000 same-sex binational couples face deportation hearings, separations and hardships that are too numerous to list.

Watch and listen to Gina’s story. Then, do something.