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Weekend reflections

January 20th, 2006

Weekend Reflections is on again. Please comment on any topic of interest (civilised discussion and no coarse language, please). Feel free to put in contributions more lengthy than for the Monday Message Board or standard comments.

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  1. January 20th, 2006 at 21:21 | #1
  2. Terje Petersen
    January 21st, 2006 at 14:56 | #2

    A friend told me some time ago that the Australian coal industry gets tax concessions and that it would not be viable without them. However I can’t find any information online to back up this assertion. Can anybody enlighten me.

  3. Steve Munn
    January 21st, 2006 at 15:11 | #3

    I think the West Papuan asylum seekers should be given visas and allowed into the community. It is disgraceful that they have been sent off to Christmas Island, which among other things, makes legal representation difficult.

    I put the West Papuans into an entirely different category to the mostly middle-class asylum seekers from Middle Eastern countries. The West Papuans fled directly to Australia whereas the Middle Easterners passed through hald a dozen or so countries and could have requested asylum in any one of them.

    The West Papuans have as much right to independence as the East Timorese. Free West Papua!!!

  4. January 21st, 2006 at 17:04 | #4

    Steve Munn: I do not disagree with you. However I prefer all immigrants (illegal or otherwise) to be health screened first. These fellers breached our quarantine.

    Terje: Interesting point. The rail freight rate paid for transporting coal seems to be some sort of Queensland state secret. Other users of rail freight would dearly love to know how much less the multi-national mining companies are paying to shift their coal.

  5. January 21st, 2006 at 18:03 | #5

    of course Google ie its dispute with the US (fed) Gov’t should be applauded.

    However, the Left seems to be silent that Google – a large, capitalist entity – should command vast tracks of information and data sets, see: http://www.google-watch.org/

    Or is the Left silent on this, because Bush is currently after them?

  6. Steve Munn
    January 21st, 2006 at 19:17 | #6

    Steve At The Pub, the millions of people who enter Australia each year by ship and aircraft do not have “health checks”. Why discriminate?

  7. Harry Clarke
    January 21st, 2006 at 19:20 | #7

    I was interested to hear the Goggle share price fell markedly following their declaration not to allow snooping. Markets see it as an incursion on their profits.

    Of course Goggle should be applauded. But the standard issue arises of when you should allow a ‘small’ cost to avoid the possibility of a big one. I recall discussions last year on this blog when the same issue arose with respect to the right to torture someone who knew where a bomb was to go off (the ‘ticking bomb’ problem).

    The present problem involves the right to understand and presumably thwart the ugly problem of pedophilia by the US government. They say they want to gain an understanding by snooping. The snooping is intrusive and probably costly.

  8. January 21st, 2006 at 19:45 | #8

    If this google intrusion is ethical for google to comply with, why doesn’t the US government negotiate a fee for google performing this special service, what with having to extract the data and disrupt other work, rather than forcing google to do it for nothing? Oh, silly question.

  9. January 21st, 2006 at 20:16 | #9

    Steve Munn: Australia does, and should, check all of the millions who arrive by ship & aircraft for contamination and diseases. Anyone who is suspect is quarantined.

    People who arrive without obtaining visa, and in a wooden dugout canoe, from a high risk quarantine area, most certainly should be quarantined.

    Most definitely people who arrive unnannounced (no visa questionaire, no arrival card, no coming first to a quarantine hall at an airport) should be given the full treatment.

    Do I detect an almost scary lack of concern for quarantine?

  10. Steve Munn
    January 21st, 2006 at 20:27 | #10

    Steve At The Pub: What utter crap. I’ve never had one of these health inspections when arriving back in Australia from O/S, even when I’ve been coughing and sneezing.

    What nasties do you think these West Papuans might have? Leprosy? the Black Plague?

    I think we should be more worried about randy teenage British back-packers who bonk like rabbits and spread all soughts of venereal disease among our good women folk. :)

  11. Terje Petersen
    January 21st, 2006 at 21:29 | #11

    Do our “good women folk” reciprocate by giving them diseases in return?

  12. Seeker
    January 21st, 2006 at 23:26 | #12

    West Papua has been well and truly shafted by the international community. Another East Timor all over again. The West Papuans have no cultural, historical or linguistic links to the Indonesian people and should be given full independence as soon as possible. Next week would be good. Simply maintaining the current situation of (often quite brutal) Indonesian rule can only end in tears for everyone, including Australia. The Indonesians are ONLY there to steal the natural resources, and they, and the rest of the world, know full well that Indonesia has even less legitimate claim on West Papua than it did on East Timor. ie None at all.

    I give qualified support to Google for their stance, both because they (and other ISPs) will not hand over data that identifies individual users, and also because I am strongly opposed to fishing expeditions by law enforcement authorities, who must always be required to show probable cause for individual crimes.

    I am worried about Google’s data collection and privacy policy as it relates to individual users, and we have to ask why Google needed to collect and keep that much info on us in the first place. If they (and other ISPs) hadn’t then this current legal/privacy problem would not have arisen.

    This article is relevant and good:

    http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0120-06.htm

  13. SJ
    January 21st, 2006 at 23:56 | #13

    The Google issue is more serious that it looks.

    The US wants Google to hand over data, citing the Child Online Protection Act 1998.

    But this act was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2004 as being unconstitutional.

    How novel. The Bushies want to do illegal stuff, and pretend that it isn’t illegal.

  14. Katz
    January 22nd, 2006 at 00:34 | #14

    I remember the good old days when quarantine officers used to give all new arrivals, black or white, Australian or non-Australian a very liberal squirt with an aerosol can of Pea-Beu.

    And what did those latte-swilling, black t-shirted trendy elitists do?

    They banned aerosol sprays!

    This world is going to the dogs.

  15. January 22nd, 2006 at 02:45 | #15

    Seeker: I couldn’t agree with you more!

    Steve Munn: From you response, I imagine your grasp of the practicalities of life could be printed on the back of a postage stamp. Time to get out of the cafe on Glebe Point Road & get a job mate.

  16. Steve Edwards
    January 22nd, 2006 at 06:10 | #16

    Of course, if it is true that the Papuans have no diseases (and I have it on expert advice from “Steve Munn” that this is the case) we would be able to confirm this in good time through an orderly process of quarantine and health checks, thanks to modern medicine. To oppose the acquisition of information through such a procedure is to necessarily concede that one is not confident of the truth of one’s claims.

  17. conrad
    January 22nd, 2006 at 07:19 | #17

    “The West Papuans have no cultural, historical or linguistic links to the Indonesian people ”

    Seeker : Perhaps you haven’t noticed this, but lots of different groups in Indonesia have no cultural, historical, or linguistic links with each other. In addition, I don’t see why any of these makes any difference. Historical and linguistic links are just crazy (check out Ethnologue if you really want see how all the world’s languages are spread), and having no cultural links never stopped people getting their country taken over before (just ask any indigenous group). THere are certainly black groups in Australia that fit all of those criteria. Should they get their own country too ?

  18. conrad
    January 22nd, 2006 at 07:29 | #18

    Steve at the pub : Personally, I think the goverment should do health checks on people arriving illegally that don’t intend to leave, but its just rubbish that the Australian governement is screening people properly for quarantine, since, for many diseases you can’t. Even when there were new disease break-outs in other countries, there were still effectively no checks (like when SARS broke-out) or quarantine (quite unlike many other countries)

    If you don’t believe that, why not take a holiday to a high risk area with potentially extremely high risk viruses (say, perhaps one where bird-flu is present) and see the extent of your health inspection on the way home. At the most, you will get someone wander around the plane spraying insecticide around, which isn’t exactly going to cure you of your new found disease.

  19. Dave Ricardo
    January 22nd, 2006 at 09:50 | #19

    “At the most, you will get someone wander around the plane spraying insecticide around, which isn’t exactly going to cure you of your new found disease.”

    Or stop you from infecting anyone else.

  20. Mike
    January 22nd, 2006 at 10:35 | #20

    JQ et al, I have been revisiting some basics via Fishers Interest Theories and Keynes on interest given the continuing breakout of speculative bubbles with investors (speculators) chasing better or large returns in a basically zero interest rate environment, primarily beginning with the share markets in the late nineties, then housing in the two thousands and now the froth is back in the share market again.

    It would appear plausible that we in the west have been perhaps witnessing Fisher’s predicted ‘Golden Age’, but the crunch begins now as the largest population cohort in history (the boomers) begin to attempt to consume what they had earlier saved (or accumulated) but the population growth is no longer there to support it. Have central banks seriously misread some fundamentals here with regards to interest rate settings and a neo-classical mindset as suggested by Keynes? There is some pretty serious backpedalling occuring in the pensions-retirement outlooks by corporations and governments in the US and elsewhere that suggest this may be so. No new paradigm here merely the usual misplaced irrational exhuberence at work.There are some significantly serious issues coming home to roost over the next decade if not earlier; energy costs, oil-based economies, global warming, water shortages, environmental degration and population changes and monetary disorder. Lesson from the Great Depression was no single factor but multiples, me thinks this is going to be some smash.

  21. Ian Gould
    January 22nd, 2006 at 10:50 | #21

    My question regarding Google is why they seem to be treatign the US government less favorably than the chinese government.

    Having shown their willingess to violate the privacy of Chinese users to ensure access to the Chinese market, their objection to providing similar access to the US government seems to be driven by profit not principle.

    To quote the punchline to the old joke: “We’ve already established what sort of girl you are. Now we’re just arguing over the price.”

  22. Ian Gould
    January 22nd, 2006 at 10:58 | #22

    “West Papua has been well and truly shafted by the international community. Another East Timor all over again. The West Papuans have no cultural, historical or linguistic links to the Indonesian people and should be given full independence as soon as possible. Next week would be good.”

    1. West Papua actually has an extensive historial association with Indonesia as part of the Dutch East Indies.

    It was only after World War II, when the Dutch were looking for an excuse to retain parts of their colonial empire that West Papua was separated administratively from the Dutch East Indies.

    I support self-detemrination for West Papua but let’s get oru facts right.

    2. As it happens, a couple of years ago I spent several hours talking with a senior OPM leader. I came away with the distinct impression that they definitely don’t want immediate and total independence from Indonesia.

    OPM seems to want an extended period of autonomy with Indonesia, an end to government-sponsored mass migration of people into West Papua from other parts of Indonesia; more of the tax money from logging and mining given to local communities and better environmental regulation of those industries.

    A decade or more from now, they’d like a referendum on independence or continuing autonomy within Indonesia.

  23. Ian Gould
    January 22nd, 2006 at 11:11 | #23

    People from the southern cost of West Papua have bene traveling freely between West Papua, PNG and the Torres Strait for centuries – and still do.

    For that reason, I tend to doubt that these people have any diseases we don’t already have endemic in australia

    Having said that, the risk of, for example, drug-resistant TB being introduced, while small is real and justifies medical inspection and a period of quarantine.

    Outrage against the Howard government’s detention policies, shouldn’t lead us to an extreme reaction that ignores basic common sense precautions which benefit the asylum-seekers as well as the Australian community.

  24. conrad
    January 22nd, 2006 at 13:51 | #24

    Ian Gould said “I support self-detemrination for West Papua”

    A problem with this is that if you happen to support self-determination for West Papua based on logical grounds, then I presume that you would also support self-determination for a fair few other groups in Indonesia, which means you are basically supporting the end of Indonesia as a nation.

    Is that really in everybodies best interest ?

  25. January 22nd, 2006 at 14:16 | #25

    While we are all discussing the possibilities of the refugees being riddled with disease, isn’t anybody remotely concerned about the even greater risk of the wooden canoe breaching our quarantine?

    Ian Gould: You have never before struck me as an ingenue. I can promise you that the island of New Guinea is downright bristling with diseases, bugs, pests etc etc which Australia does not have.

    Unrelenting alertness by the people of the Torres Strait is all that keeps you from these horrible maladies. AQIS has 16 (yes SIXTEEN) offices in the Torres Strait.

    Many of these diseases are stopped in the Torres Strait before they reach the mainland & “get away”. Japanese Encyphalitis, Previously unknown (and shockingly fatal) strains of Dengue Fever, Citrus Canker, Screworm are just a few which will change life in Australia forever, should they get to the mainland.

    Ian, people in the Torres Straits DIE from diseases which skip accross from PNG. Quarantine is no joke. To date nothing has breached quarantine in the Torres Strait and “made it” to the mainland. But all it would take is a wooden boat full of people to travel directly from Papua to Cape York…… Especially if the boat is full of people who may have been on the run in West Papau, & not accessing the superior health care which Indonesia provides to the people of West Papau.

  26. January 22nd, 2006 at 14:49 | #26

    The quarantine issue is a very big deal, but I don’t think a canoe load of West Papuans will make much difference. There is a lot of organic transfer anyway, from drifting timber to birds to bats to wind blown mosquitoes.

    My understanding is that there are some specific issues like foot and mouth which AQIS wants to stop in its tracks, because they have agricultural vectors. But the really scarey human diseases are stopped by paying attention to the human communities of the far north, and will be given a lot of help if the climate gets even more Papuan.

    The “unique West Papua” issue is not actually about linguistic autonomy etc. Just because one colonial power creates an artificial administrative district does not mean it sticks together afterwards – a state of affairs that has caused terrible trouble in many places.

    It is about colonialism. We rolled over a traditional indigenous “Stone Age” civilisation, swept away its forms of ownership and reduced it to marginal living in a society defined by our values. Now we are watching the Indonesians doing exactly the same.

    Now with our wisdom of experience (well, I can’t think of a better phrase on a stinking hot Sunday afternoon) we are telling the Javanese not to do this. For some strange reason, they seem to think this is the road to successful nation-building.

    Their behaviour is a bit more obvious because they don’t have the convenient ally of smallpox any more.

  27. Ian Gould
    January 22nd, 2006 at 15:37 | #27

    Conrad:

    Ian Gould said “I support self-detemrination for West Papua�

    A problem with this is that if you happen to support self-determination for West Papua based on logical grounds, then I presume that you would also support self-determination for a fair few other groups in Indonesia, which means you are basically supporting the end of Indonesia as a nation.

    Is that really in everybodies best interest ?

    End quote

    The West Papuans have a stronger case for self-determination than most of the other groups seeking independence with the possible exception of the Acehnese.

    BTW, if all the main groups seeking independence – the Papuans, Acehnese, Ambonese and Riauans – got it Indonesia’s population would reduce from around 180 million to around 160 million. It’d be somewhat poorer without Aceh’s gas, Riau’s oil and West Papua’s gold and timber but it’d remain one of the most populous countries in the world and it would, if anything, be more viable without the ongoing conflicts in Aceh and Papua.

    Havign said that I agree that it is all too easy for westerners to airily declare that this or that province should be independent.

    Which is why in that conversation I had with the OPM leader I agreed that an extended period of autonomy within Indonesia before any referendum would be a good idea.

  28. Ian Gould
    January 22nd, 2006 at 15:39 | #28

    Steve,

    I hadn’t realised that there were that many serious human deiseases endemic in PNG that weren’t also in FNQ.

    In any case, we’re in agreement on the need for medical inspection and quarantine.

  29. Will De Vere
    January 22nd, 2006 at 15:41 | #29

    As ever, Ian Gould’s comments are unusual, fascinating and extremely well-informed (IF he exists). Although I’ve lived in PNG, I’m lamentably ignorant about West Papua.

    The word ‘genocide’ is employed with disgusting abandon these days, but I suspect that Indonesia’s control of the province is harsh. I hope that West Papua and PNG eventually, peacefully, merge into one nation.

  30. Ian Gould
    January 22nd, 2006 at 15:41 | #30

    Can we please, please, put to bed the tired old notion of Indonesia as a Javanese Empire?

    Unless people can cite me examples of empires in which the colonial subjects had full voting rights and residence rights in the homeland and regularly filled senior Cabinet posts.

  31. January 22nd, 2006 at 16:20 | #31

    Will De Vere, all I can tell you about West Papua is:
    It has even groovier mountain scenery than does PNG.
    Villagers from the west of PNG will WALK accross the border into Indonesia for medical care (this is more a reflection of the state of PNG health care)
    I would be equally reluctant to set foot ONE INCH accross the borderline between Oz & West Papua as I would be at the borderline between Oz & PNG. (There isn’t enough horsepower in a D-10 to pull me accross that invisible line in the water)

  32. January 22nd, 2006 at 19:12 | #32

    IG, you’re setting a higher standard than is really needed when you write “Unless people can cite me examples of empires in which the colonial subjects had full voting rights and residence rights in the homeland and regularly filled senior Cabinet posts”.

    But anyway, both France and Britain meet your requirement (albeit with some dodgy stuff in France).

    France even had a black colonial governor in Chad, originally from Martinique. His going over to the Free French had great influence, since all previous Free French conversions were under duress.

    Britain had an MP of Indian origin in the 19th century, though I forget his name (he too actually came more immediately from one of the other colonies). There were British cabinet ministers from Canada, and even a Canadian PM.

    Please don’t try to argue that none of these people had those opportunities unless and until they went to the UK. Native born British also didn’t have them if they left the UK for other parts of the Empire/

  33. January 22nd, 2006 at 19:14 | #33

    Ian – Are you saying that the OPM doesn’t think this is a colonial situation?

  34. Ian Gould
    January 22nd, 2006 at 19:56 | #34

    David, they may but if they do they’re too familiar with the reality on the ground to think it’s run solely by the Javanese – a Sundanese Empire possibly.

  35. Ian Gould
    January 22nd, 2006 at 20:00 | #35

    PM, you’re talking about isolated incidents. I’m talking about the non-Javanese electing the majority of members of Indonesia’s Parliament and determining the outcome of Presidential elections.

    There’s also a signficant difference between a backbencher or a colonial governor and, for example, Benjamin Murdani (an Ambonese Christian) serving as Defence minister or BJ Habibie (a Sulewasan) serving as President.

  36. January 23rd, 2006 at 06:05 | #36

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  37. January 23rd, 2006 at 06:50 | #37

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  38. January 23rd, 2006 at 08:41 | #38

    To: P. M. Lawrence:

    I am not sure that Britain’s appointment of ministers born in the colonies is evidence of enlightenment, but, rather, that an imperial mindset absorbs all before it. The various Blair administrations have had or still have ministers born in Australia (Patricia Hewitt), Ghana (Paul Boateng), Guyana (Patricia Scotland), Kenya (Peter Hain), and Yemen (Keith Vaz). No fuss, either by people or press, is made of this, which I can’t imagine happening in most other countries.

    But then, Winston Churchill’s mother was an American citizen, and Britain has long out-sourced the provision of its royal services (James I from Scotland, William-and-Mary from the Netherlands, George I from Hanover, Prince Phillip from Greece).

  39. January 23rd, 2006 at 14:00 | #39

    IG, you’re changing the rules again when you don’t like the answer. And, of course these are isolated incidents – that’s how counterexamples work, not to mention the limitations of a blog.

    Other Peter, your comments are largely accurate, but that’s not the point. The point is to show that this is precisely what happens and why (say) US behaviour in Hawaii and the Danish Virgin Islands, imposing citizenship and removing substance, doesn’t stop it being imperialistic behaviour. The tell tale sign in respect of whether Indonesia is behaving as a Javanese empire is whether the reality of participation and gain is tied to javanisation, just as the French only conferred full citizenship on North Africans who gave up muslim customs or never had them (like the local Jews). I don’t want to suggest by that that all empires have an assimilating agenda – the British Empire didn’t. Rather, when there is one, it definitely shows who is in the saddle.

    Basically, IG asked the wrong question as a test – and even so it failed in his purpose (which may be why he changed the question). The real question should have been, how realistic the participation is at that level. It’s not cheating when I bring out counterexamples to his question that also don’t address that.

  40. January 23rd, 2006 at 14:06 | #40

    Oh, William III was not from the netherlands, except geographically. He was from what is often referred to as Holland; this matters in discussions of that era, since half the netherlands weren’t in Holland. It’s Dutch attempts to steal our language that try to make us call their country by their preferred name, and in fact that usage holds an irredentism about Belgium. I’ve even heard a Dutchman say “there’s no such place as Belgium”.

  41. January 23rd, 2006 at 14:10 | #41

    SATP, the other Steve was merely pointing out that many unpleasant bugs come in via people on planes with tourist and other visas – NOT that he doesn’t support health checks for asylum seekers. It’s a common straw man to claim that “anti-mandatory detention people don’t want any kind of border checks or quarantine at all!” which is just crap. Most people who are against mandatory detention in its present form, support some kind of quarantine and backgound check period, quickly and professionally expedited by people who are properly trained and qualified. It’s the incarceration for years in hot and fly-infested gulags, watched over by low-skilled border guards who couldn’t get any other job in their remote area, that some people object to.

    You haven’t mentioned the Australia / US Free trade agreement – if you’re really concerned about quarantine, where do you stand on that? With the Australian pollies and supporters who bent over and took it from the US drafters of this unequal agreement? We are going to damn well take any animal and vegetable matter that Uncle Sam wants us to.

  42. Ros
    January 23rd, 2006 at 15:36 | #42

    According to the Australian today and the Age on the 18th a national survey was conducted by Qantum Market research on behalf of Australians Against ru486. I was polled but I was not told that it was for A against ru486, and it was last night. In fact I wasn’t told it was for ru486. It was a poll on social issues. And indeed after the assumption that the person being polled would seek to have abortions reduced (so support government policies to do so, which induced me to shout things at Tony Abbott) we did move on, to ru486, then stem cell research (I was asked if I realised that extracting cells from the embryo destroyed the embryo) and cloning of human babies and then what my voting position was and whether the issues would change my vote. I am assuming this was the same poll the papers are referring to.

    As the other Adelaide woman quoted by the Age said, it was push polling, and the truth wasn’t an issue. So, unfortunately for the woman polling me, and remarkable aplomb and grace she showed, I was furious from the first question/push. Ninety thousand abortions a year. Women often have abortions because other people make them. No doubt about us breeders, a dumb lot we are. Or statements such as 10 women have died so it is not completely safe. No context provided, just the push, ru486 kills. Or that abortion on demand is legal and so on. And the poor woman who uses ru486 will be alone at home when her abortion happens without a doctor to look after her. They have learnt obviously from the disaster of saying rural women shouldn’t be allowed to have ru486. When presented with a question as to whether we should blindly follow other nations and approve ru486 I was almost speechless and refused to say yah or nay.

    And there was a determined effort to get the churches into counselling women, the push being that they are an objective fair resource for counselling services. Other evil intentions were to get agreement, out of kindness of course, to inflict on women the lurid details of the abortion they are contemplating. Anyone who thinks that the intention is to inform only should consider the fact that they want the detailed story of an abortion put whether the woman wants to hear it or not and consider this sort of comment from the lousy sods on their website. (re ru486)

    “Now the question is how is a young girl of 17 going to go plowing through a toilet bowl full of blood clots and other nasty things to try to find this tiny little fetus and bring it to the doctor?�

    I did ask for whom the poll was being conducted, but was only allowed to be told the marketing firm. As I got extremely excited very fast I didn’t record accurately what I was being told, so, thanks to the Age, I rang Qantum today seeking further information. Knew nothing they did and could only refer me to a contact. A Digby Nancarrow, whose employer or employment was unknown to my helpful Qantum person. Can’t get him to answer.

    Is it the case that those being polled are entitled to know for whom the poll is being conducted, and isn’t a pollee able to ring and have their data deleted if they change their mind. Of course I am not sure it was Qantum because short non-answers following long periods on hold leave suspicions but no proof.

    And PM Howard if you were to read this. This life long Liberal voting woman (not a doctor’s wife type either) will vote against the Libs for the second time and about the same issue if you listen to these bastards.

    Tony Abbott, early on in your career I thought you were a smart possibility. But it is too much that the Executive director of Australians against ru486, Simone Holzapfel, was your press secretary before you became Health Minister, And the lady’s approach to the truth,

    “said safety was a major concern to many women. ” Our research found the more information that is provided to women, the less likely they are to support the drug,” she told The Age.â€?

    (Ms Holzapfel, there is some expectation that information will be correct and trustworthy.)

    Now Health Minister I think you should resign, your religion has become such a major conflict of interest for you that your decisions are now venal, about purchasing the good graces of church and god. You have lost any ability to know that your master is the Australian public not the Pope.

    Well that’s what I think.

  43. Ian Gould
    January 23rd, 2006 at 17:28 | #43

    >Basically, IG asked the wrong question as a test – and even so it failed in his purpose (which may be why he changed the question). The real question should have been, how realistic the participation is at that level. It’s not cheating when I bring out counterexamples to his question that also don’t address that.

    I’m sorry, I forgot your tendency to pedantry and total inability to comprehend the concept of a rhetorical question.

  44. ange
    January 23rd, 2006 at 18:38 | #44

    The Age- journalistic ethics of suppressing stories about potentially racially motivated attacks

    An interesting topic how should media balance their responsibility to tell the truth and their desire to take politically correct opinions?

    On Sunday 22 January the Melbourne Herald Sun ran a story in its paper and website

    http://www.news.com.au/story/0,10117,17897112-2,00.html

    Note it’s carefully handled but gets the salient facts across – see the witness Alex comments in para 3 …
    .
    “Pool staff bashed as youths riot
    From: Sunday Herald Sun
    By Chris Tinkler

    January 22, 2006

    FOUR swimming pool staff have been beaten in an attack in Melbourne’s north.

    Stunned witnesses said about 30 youths had punched and kicked staff, including a young woman, on the grass at Oak Park Aquatic Centre about 4pm yesterday.

    One witness, Alex, said families had recoiled in horror at the bashings.
    “I’ve never seen anything like it,” Alex said.
    “I thought, ‘Not another Cronulla’.
    “There seemed to be dozens of people involved, with most wading into the staff and people trying to help them.
    “They all appeared to be Middle-Eastern youths.
    “It was very upsetting and scary. There were hysterical children everywhere.”

    Nicholas Burt, leisure manager at Moreland Council, which runs the pool, said the riot had occurred after a male lifeguard had tried to calm two teenagers arguing on the grass embankment.

    Mr Burt said a third youth had butted in and when the lifeguard had escorted him to his belongings, after asking him to leave, a struggle had broken out.

    “That’s when up to 30 other patrons started to physically attack staff,” Mr Burt said.
    Three male lifeguards and one female security guard had been set upon by the group.

    Mr Burt said that amid “blows to the back of the head and around the face”, the staff had been driven into the pool’s reception area.

    He said the attack had continued until police arrived.

    The staff, including one who suffered a smashed cheek, had been taken to hospital for treatment.

    Asked how a minor dispute between teens escalated into a riot, Mr Burt said: “I’m not sure what could have sparked it.

    “Until we have more information I wouldn’t say it was necessarily a culturally or racially motivated attack, but I would not preclude it.”

    He said security camera footage would be reviewed as part of investigations.

    The popular pool and its giant water-slide were shut immediately after the fracas.
    Council chief Peter Brown said it was hoped the pool would reopen today.
    Police said a youth, 17, had suffered a dislocated shoulder. “

    What was the reporting by the Age, the erstwhile paper of record?

    Very curious:

    1. There was nothing in the Age that day or the next.

    There was on the web version of the Age a single sentence in a web-only version

    http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/42-degrees-and-thousands-seek-relief-in-pools-and-malls/2006/01/22/1137864807041.html

    (see para 6)
    But that particular sentence did not appear in the physical newspaper.

    I am very concerned about:

    - what this says about the Age and its craven inability to report the news

    - what it says about journalistic ethics or lack thereof in relation to the sometimes hard issues.

    - what it says about the Australian-ness of a group of apparently 30 youths who behaved in this manner at a public swimming pool

    - what it says about the way the media delivers the truth or doesn’t in the 21st century.

    This is a good topic for sophisticated people to consider …

  45. Steve Munn
    January 23rd, 2006 at 18:58 | #45

    Helen says: “SATP, the other Steve was merely pointing out that many unpleasant bugs come in via people on planes with tourist and other visas – NOT that he doesn’t support health checks for asylum seekers. ”

    Helen is correct. Obviously, for their own benefit as much as anything else, asylum seekers should have a health check as soon as they arrive. I merely objected to SATP’s apparent paranoia and double standards.

    My point is that most diseases and pests brought into this country, probably 99.999% of them, have nothing to do with boat people. Does anyone seriously doubt that people can easily arrive in Australia by plane and make it through quarantine with a whole host of diseases? Do the quarantine staff even have any medical training? Are they really able to determine without even an examination that Mrs Smith, who has just arrived from Botswana, has botulism, bubonic plague, monkey flu, cowpox and syphilis? Of course not.

    A good book that deals with pest introductions in Australia is “New Nature” by Tim Low. As Prof Low says, farmer lobbies, ship arrivals dumping ballast, the CSIRO, the Acquarium and Nursery industries are all serial offenders when it comes to pests being let loose in our environment. We should turn the spotlight on these often reckless groups.

    I should also clear up a misunderstanding. I DO support mandatory detention for those who arrive in Australia via a third country, since these people are, in my view, no longer legitimate refugees. They are opportunists.

  46. January 23rd, 2006 at 23:02 | #46

    PM Laurence said:

    Oh, William III was not from the netherlands, except geographically. He was from what is often referred to as Holland; this matters in discussions of that era, since half the netherlands weren’t in Holland.

    Well, William III (the William of William-and-Mary of England) was initially appointed Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland and Utrecht, which may not have been all of the Netherlands, but was certainly more than Holland. He was later also appointed Stadtholder of Gelderland and Overijssel.

  47. Katz
    January 24th, 2006 at 06:17 | #47

    THE OLD SOPHISTICATED COMMUNICATION DEVICE IN THE ROCK TRICK

    This story about the British spying rock in Moscow seems to be one of things that happens when spooks are allowed too much time to let their imaginations run wild;

    http://politics.guardian.co.uk/foreignaffairs/story/0,,1693155,00.html

    The undeniable facts of the matter are:

    1. Four British diplomats were filmed visiting this seemingly unremarkable Moscow rock at different times. (Perhaps the rock had applied for diplomatic assylum.)

    2. The FSB (ex KGB) decided that it was more profitable to splash the bizarre behaviour of lapidarian latterday Le Carres all over the media. (Presumably the FSB had enough footage of MI6 types prodding the rock with their feet.)

  48. Will De Vere
    January 24th, 2006 at 12:06 | #48

    Yes, the baroque wonders of Spookland are always entertaining. The rock story reminded me of an American attempt to place electronic gear near a Soviet naval base in the 1980s. They disguised the equipment in a fake tree stump. A vigilant Russkie noticed that the tree stump was of the wrong species and not common to that area. Sprung!

  49. Andrew Reynolds
    January 24th, 2006 at 12:20 | #49

    Katz,
    The really interesting thing is that the Russians chose to publicise this. I think that says more about their domestic politics than about the (alleged) spying. If you want to keep it quiet, it is easy – just quietly inform the other country that diplomats x, y & z are to be recalled and it can be kept off the record. If you want to embarass the other country, expel them for ‘activities incompatible with their status’. If you want to whip up domestic anger and humiliate the (alleged) spies, release the evidence and, if possible, spice it up.
    Putin (and only he would have authorised this) is plainly using it to embarass the UK and ‘de-incentivise’ possible spies, but is also (IMHO) using it to re-inforce the impression that he is in control and that the U.S.S.R. Russia is under threat from hostile foreign forces – possibly justifying further repression.

  50. Katz
    January 24th, 2006 at 13:53 | #50

    “Putin (and only he would have authorised this) is plainly using it to embarass the UK and ‘de-incentivise’ possible spies, but is also (IMHO) using it to re-inforce the impression that he is in control and that the U.S.S.R. Russia is under threat from hostile foreign forces – possibly justifying further repression.”

    I’m not going to disagree with this AR.

    However, note the difference between the behaviour of the nasty old would-be totalitarian (Putin) and our very own freedom-loving leaders in the West.

    Putin embarrasses Britain by showing ACTUAL footage of actual British spies lurking anxiously around their high-tech rock.

    BUT

    The Office of Special Plans in the US FALSIFIES intelligence about Saddam’s capabilities.

    CIA operative Plame is BURNED by someone inside the White House as part of a vendetta within the US bureaucracy.

    Andrew Wilkie is VILIFIED by the Australian Government for attempting to tell the truth about Saddam’s WMDs.

    Could it be that our freedom-loving liars were also “possibly justifying further repression”?

  51. Andrew Reynolds
    January 24th, 2006 at 16:24 | #51

    And Putin invades, puts to the sword, burns, represses and generally stuffs up Chechnya; probably on false grounds and contrary to a treaty signed by his predecessor and the recognised, elected, government of the region. Shall I go on with his other sins – TV, radio, newspapers, elections… I think that should do it. I know which ‘regime’ allows its people more freedom.

  52. Katz
    January 24th, 2006 at 17:12 | #52

    “I know which ‘regime’ allows its people more freedom.”

    Freedom isn’t what we’re given. Freedom is what we stop the govenment taking from us. As a libertarian AR, you should know this already.

    As Samuel Johnson said, “Sir, there is no settling the point of precedency between a louse and a flea.” So I decline to contrast Putin with Howard and Bush.

    Howard and Bush get away with what citizens of their countries allow them to get away with. Both Howard and Bush have increased the scope of government power over the rights of their citizens. Just how much is open to debate. Both claim they are doing this for the general good.

    It is arguable that Howard and Bush don’t behave like Putin largely because they’re afraid of what the citizens of their country might do if they did behave like Putin.

    But how believable is this claim when they are caught lying about important issues relating to our national security and relating to our supposed freedom as citizens?

    Note that this isn’t a moral question. It’s a question of verifiability of the claims of leaders like Howard and Bush.

  53. January 25th, 2006 at 00:02 | #53

    Oh, IG, do you mean that you never meant to test whether Indonesia really amounted to a Javanese Empire? (By the way, that sort of quibbling of yours is real pedantry.)

    Of course I knew that you would never be persuaded. I simply decide to show other readers that you didn’t have a view that was open to question, the way you were pretending (as you have all but admitted).

    Other Peter, I know that William III had all sorts of positions in the United Provinces. I was trying to refer to the common English language usage of “Holland” to refer to the lot (like Switzerland for the Helvetic Confederation even though the Switzers only came from one canton). I didn’t want to start a pedantic war with any of those damned Dutch who are trying to hijack a perfectly good English word for their country (hey, don’t all Germany’s neighbours have different names for Germany and the Germans than a direct rendering?).

    I’m not going to get pedantic, even though we all know that the correct English name for the whole place is “Holland”; that’s got little to do with the coincidental connection of the Dutch name of a Dutch province, apart from the history of our usage.

  54. James Farrell
    January 25th, 2006 at 03:04 | #54

    Had the Monday Message Board been switched on, I would have used it to direct people to this guest post from Fred Argy at what is now called Club Troppo. It’s a very handy comparative survey of redistributive regimes and their effects on economic performance.

  55. Ian Gould
    January 25th, 2006 at 08:31 | #55

    >Oh, IG, do you mean that you never meant to test whether Indonesia really amounted to a Javanese Empire? (By the way, that sort of quibbling of yours is real pedantry.)

    >Of course I knew that you would never be persuaded. I simply decide to show other readers that you didn’t have a view that was open to question, the way you were pretending (as you have all but admitted).

    I’m not even sure what you’re trying to say here – and I’m not entirely sure you are either.

    The claim that Indonesia is a “Javanese Empire” is nonsense.

    The fact that Indonesia is (now) a democratic country with a non-Javavese majority is one illustration of that.

    Your interjection about a reasonably obscure British Parliamentarian of the 19th century doesn’t alter that fact in any way and would seem to achieve nothign other than displaying yet again your obsession with historic trivia.

  56. gordon
    January 27th, 2006 at 10:35 | #56

    Thanks, James Farrell.

Comments are closed.