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Monday Message Board

December 6th, 2010

It’s time again, once again, for the Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language. Lengthy side discussions to the sandpit, please.

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  1. Wylie Bradford
    December 6th, 2010 at 21:43 | #1

    John,

    Just wanted to say as a long-time lurker that I enjoyed your seminar at Macquarie on Friday. I don’t normally attend as they’re not normally interesting. Apologies for our Head’s apparent bizarre need to condescend to/patronise you, though. I guess given his own personal investment in DSGE was showing :)

  2. Donald Oats
    December 7th, 2010 at 06:41 | #2

    While mulling over the whole Wikileaks and Julian Assange drama, I realised that while we have poor form in saving o/s Australians from the death penalty, especially when the media storm that is Murdoch Empire insinuates guilt of the accused, we go that extra mile when a visitor to Oz runs into criminal charges of a capital nature.

    Gabe Watson, aka the Honeymoon Killer (as the MSM dubbed him, not me), served his time here in Australia, but upon his release Australian authorities refused to deport him to Alabama (USA) until the US guaranteed that Watson would not face the death penalty upon return to the US:

    Australia delayed Watson’s deportation, because the country, a staunch opponent of capital punishment, feared that if reconvicted in Alabama, Watson would face the death penalty.
    Only after the U.S. government pledged it would not impose a death sentence, did Australia agree to repatriate him.

    Now, that is going the extra mile for someone, someone who is inconsequential to the interests of Australia, at least politically speaking. I’m glad we did, but I still have to ask: WTF?? Where was that sort of aid for the Bali Nine (Scott Rush in particular – he was allowed to depart to Bali in spite of his parents alerting police well beforehand)? The recent Singapore executions? Why are we being so hostile towards Julian Assange, rather than providing appropriate assistance to protect him from extra-judicial sanction, and from the potential of facing the death penalty for alleged crimes against the USA. Providing protection and/or a safe haven (ie return to Australia) is not equivalent to agreeing with Assange’s actions.

  3. Donald Oats
    December 7th, 2010 at 07:13 | #3

    The current “news” story doing the rounds is that Wikileaks have released a confidential diplomatic cable, one that lists sites around the World that are crucial to USA security and the economy; a cobalt mine in Congo is splayed on the news report as an example.

    What on Earth is going on if such a supposedly sensitive document is sent in cleartext? Haven’t the US diplomats been trained in the use of encrypted email?

    Good Grief!

  4. paul walter
    December 7th, 2010 at 08:09 | #4

    Hey day of Empire, Donald, methinks.
    The sun will never set and there will always be a Britain, or at least New England.
    Is it likely anyone infiltrated wikileaks and doctored some of the messages?
    Sad news about Sweden.
    Deeply mourned.

  5. gregh
    December 7th, 2010 at 09:33 | #5

    I like this quote from the NYTimes link Donald Oats gave

    “Critics say the exposure of the cables seems to have no purpose but to embarrass, confound and possibly materially harm a superpower. ”

    no pleasing some people

  6. Ikonoclast
    December 7th, 2010 at 09:40 | #6

    I’d like to comment on a couple of things.

    First Julian Assange and Wikileaks. I find it passing strange that a convenient (trumped up?) rape charge has appeared against Assange just when he really annoys the big boys. I notice Hilary Clinton bearating China about restricting freedom on the internet in one breath. Then in the next breath she is calling for Wikileaks to be shut down. The fact is US imperialism, warmongering and hypocrisy is clearly shown up by things like Wikileaks.

    Second, the Soccer World Cup fiasco. Whatever possessed Australia’s govt to waste 45 million dollars on a bid for 2022? We never had a chance. We do not rate or rank on the world stage, we are too far away, in the wrong time zone and corrupt deals would have sunk us anyway. Blind Freddy could see that.

    Also, a world cup in 2022!!! Pah-leeeze! Hands up those who think it will even happen. And now hands up those who think there will be major economic depression and widespread resource wars by then? My hand went up the second time. Soccer bl….. soccer will be the last thing most people will be thinking about by then. Most will be wondering where their next meal is coming from.

  7. Fran Barlow
    December 7th, 2010 at 10:00 | #7

    @Ikonoclast

    Well said Ikonoclast and Donald Oats above.

    I was listening to Assange’s lawyer on Fran Kelly’s Breakfast this morning and they’ve even frozen his bank accounts — including those with funds for his legal defence.

    Apparently the Australian government is now, belatedly, offering consular assistance.

    The Swedish Prosecutor is insisting Assange return to Sweden “just to answer a few questions” (on the trumped up rape charges) despite hitherto having ignored offers to meet on UK ground to secure the answers they allegedly want.

    Meanwhile, a Canadian academic is treating him like Khomenei treated Salman Rushdie and declaring that it would be fine for Assange to be assassinated. Apparently the police are looking into that.

    It’s a crazy world.

  8. O6
    December 7th, 2010 at 12:47 | #8

    Pleasing to read Ikonoclast on the FIFA World Game (TM) debacle. At least the Adelaide Oval won’t be ruined for cricket and we can go on enjoying events like this week’s thrashing of a has-been team by the Poms.

  9. John S Cook
    December 7th, 2010 at 14:51 | #9

    The first requirement for learning from experience is to know that you’ve had one. The second is to memorise and recall it in time to gain an advantage – often to avoid making the same mistake repeatedly. United States’ experience ought to be instructive in understanding the costs of non-disclosure of sources, selective release of information, maintaining secrecy and distorting resource allocations through unrealistic risk assessments in matters of public safety. However, the current fracas shows that people don’t learn much from history; and all the brouhaha about evidence-based policy might be a waste of time for people with bad memories.

    In proposing the Protection and Reduction of Government Secrecy Act of 1994, the United States Congress noted that extensive government secrecy had developed in government in relation to the Cold War in particular. This Act authorised the formation — and funding for two years — of a bi-partisan Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy. The enabling statute recorded Congressional findings as follows:
    (1) During the Cold War an extensive secrecy system developed which limited public access to information and reduced the ability of the public to participate with full knowledge in the process of governmental decision making.
    (2) In 1992 alone 6,349,532 documents were classified and approximately three million persons held some form of security clearance.
    (3) The burden of managing more than 6 million newly classified documents every year has led to tremendous administrative expense, reduced communication within the government and within the scientific community, reduced communication between the government and the people of the United States, and the selective and unauthorized public disclosure of classified information.
    (4) It has been estimated that private businesses spend more than $14 billion each year implementing government mandated regulations for protecting classified information.
    (5) If a smaller amount of truly sensitive information were classified the information could be held more securely.
    (6) In 1970 a Task Force organized by the Defense Science Board and headed by Dr. Frederick Seitz concluded that “more might be gained than lost if our Nation were to adopt — unilaterally, if necessary — a policy of complete openness in all areas of information.”
    (7) The procedures for granting security clearances have themselves become an expensive and inefficient part of the secrecy system and should be closely examined.
    (8) A bipartisan study commission specially constituted for the purpose of examining the consequences of the secrecy system will be able to offer comprehensive proposals for reform.

    The Commission reported to the Senate in 1997. On issues of national security, the Commission’s report noted especially the mistake in thinking that classified information was necessarily more reliable than openly available information. It argued that the US might have been better served by more open analysis and debate, given the considerable costs of consistently overestimating the Soviet Union as a threat. The taking down of the Red Flag over the Kremlin for the last time on Christmas Day 1991 marked the formal collapse of the Union. Official analysis failed to see inherent tensions within the former Union and foresee emerging conflict along ethnic lines among former states.

    Reference: – Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy, Report to the Senate, Document 105-2 pursuant to Public Law 236, 103rd Congress, United States Government Printing Office: Washington DC, 1997. Documents accessible at http://www.gpo.gov/congress/commissions/secrecy/index.html

  10. Alice
    December 7th, 2010 at 17:49 | #10

    @Ikonoclast
    They have all gone mad. Assange is really just showing how bad our news is and should be set free and there should be an end to all cold war secrecy crap. Many people have died already under diplomatic exterminations. If governments cant be open and honest and transparent about whats REALLY going on then its they who should be locked up…not Assange.

    Set Assange free.

  11. Alice
    December 7th, 2010 at 18:20 | #11

    @Wylie Bradford
    Wylie – my last didnt make it in (diconnected) but what would you expect that an MQ head attempts to patronise JQ. How embarrassing. Dont forget that this is the uni that has sold off student parking to Deans ability to pay all year for the spots to sit vacant most of the week (and they get to have their title painted on their purchase, the same uni that has sold its land assets to Cochlear, sold its soul to casual appointments of phd grads, in short

    is it still a university or the business enterprise of u know who (people have already walked out and sat on the grass in england because of u know who).

    Poor head just trying to keep his job. Sad but true.

  12. canberra boy
    December 7th, 2010 at 21:49 | #12

    When I spoke to a Labor politician’s office yesterday to urge fair treatment for Julian Assange, saying that he was not accused of breaching any law in relation to the leaked US cables, I got the response “well he is wanted by Sweden for sex crimes…”

    I was very interested to discover subsequently what the Swedish allegations involve. The Mail on Sunday has published details of the events outlined in police statements by two Swedish women which confirm that Assange had consensual sex with each of them. It appears that the basis for allegations of ‘rape’ or non-consensual sex is that under Swedish law it is compulsory to wear a condom. In one encounter, the condom broke and the woman concerned felt that this was a deliberate act by Assange. The other woman’s statement apparently indicates that Assange had intercourse with her without using a condom although she had insisted on one. After the event she went out to buy food for his breakfast. Both women alluded favourably to their encounters in tweets or text messages.

    Assuming this account is accurate, the handling of the case by Swedish authorities seems strange at best. So strange that it would be easy to believe that Swedish authorities have been arm-twisted into trying to bring a case against Assange. It may well end up, as Assange’s Melbourne lawyer James Catlin claims, that “it is not Julian Assange that is on trial here but Sweden and its reputation as a modern and model country with rules of law”.

    With that background, I was going to suggest that concerned readers may wish to add their signatures to the open letter to the Prime Minister on the ABC’s The Drum, but this seems to have been closed to comments and the almost 3400 mostly favourable comments over the last four hours have been ‘disappeared’.

    Instead, why not phone the office of your local Labor MP (or Labor Senator if no local Labor MP) and insist that staff tell the MP to request the PM & Attorney-General to give Julian Assange a fair go?

  13. Fran Barlow
    December 7th, 2010 at 22:54 | #13

    @canberra boy

    And apparently one of the women, Anna Ardin, has links to CIA-connected anti-Castro groups and the infamous Luis Posada.

    While in Cuba, Ardin worked with the Las damas de blanco (the Ladies in White), a feminist anti-Castro group.

    Professor Michael Seltzer pointed out that the group is led by Carlos Alberto Montaner who is reportedly connected to the CIA.

    Shamir and Bennett noted that Las damas de blanco is partially funded by the US government and also counts Luis Posada Carriles as a supporter.

    A declassified 1976 document (.pdf) revealed Posada to be a CIA agent. He has been convicted of terrorist attacks that killed hundreds of people.

    As always, when the long arm of the US government’s subversive agencies are involved, one must hold one’s nose and be cautious as things are not always what they seem, but if it is pure coincidence, it’s an astonishing one.

  14. December 8th, 2010 at 00:13 | #14

    Wow!

    Latest Wikies mention manipulation of IPCC by USA!!

    http://213.251.145.96/reldate/2010-12-06_0.html

    No doubt it will be ALL OVER the News Ltd front pages tomorrow?

    Chris Mitchell will mention it in his editorial, just for “fairness and balance”, surely?

  15. robert (not from UK)
    December 8th, 2010 at 09:59 | #15

    In fairness to The Australian, it did publish the following cri de coeur by Assange himself:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/wikileaks/dont-shoot-messenger-for-revealing-uncomfortable-truths/story-fn775xjq-1225967241332

  16. robert (not from UK)
    December 8th, 2010 at 10:01 | #16

    In fairness to The Australian, it did publish the following cri de coeur by Assange himself:

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/wikileaks/dont-shoot-messenger-for-revealing-uncomfortable-truths/story-fn775xjq-1225967241332

    (This might come through twice. My computer seems to be freezing a lot today.)

  17. Fran Barlow
    December 8th, 2010 at 12:15 | #17

    @robert (not from UK)

    Yes, but in “fairness: to the the record its stable mate, the Wall St Journal published a death threat against him

    Whereas Assange begins as follows:

    WIKILEAKS deserves protection, not threats and attacks

    A fearless anonymous wrioter declares:

    But that still leaves the Lincoln question of how to stop the likes of Mr. Assange? If he were exposing Chinese or Russian secrets, he would already have died at the hands of some unknown assailant. As a foreigner (Australian citizen) engaged in hostile acts against the U.S., Mr. Assange is certainly not protected from U.S. reprisal under the laws of war. Perhaps Lincoln would have considered him an “enemy combatant.” {…} Mr. Assange is not serving the interest of free societies. His mass, indiscriminate exposure of anything labeled secret that he can lay his hands on is a hostile act against a democracy that is fighting a war against forces bent on killing innocents. Surely, the U.S. government can do more to stop him than send a stiff letter.

    You see? Fair and balanced. Here in the US where people are screaming for blood, is the case for someone being terminated with extreme prejudice, and on the other side of the case on the other side of the world, here speaks the intended victim. Can’t say fairer than that, surely?

  18. may
    December 8th, 2010 at 12:56 | #18

    the over reaction,death threats,vilification,legal threats and so on seem to predicate that the

    removal of Mr Assange will end the exposure of the kind of behaviour the whole world already

    knows our great-and-not-so-good engage in.

    by their actions.

    the american liebermann’s action of interfering with Yahoo to remove public comment is

    indicative of contempt not just for Yahoo but for the concept of free speech.

    having confirmation of what was already viscerally known of the US opinion of others,

    finding confirmation of what is already viscerally known of others opinion of US will be

    no surprise.

  19. Alice
    December 8th, 2010 at 19:02 | #19

    On the published letter from Assange by the Oz

    This is the Oz view and its very sweet and very fawning but, unlike Assanges media releases its just more of the same (bootlick for the boss).

    “IN 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s The News, wrote: “In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.”

    His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch’s expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.”

    What a lot of rot. The offspring Rupert made such a media circus of the war on Iraq that he inflamed the siutation, sent many to their deaths and inflicted great harm on innocent civilians as a result of his media. If Keith was ever so honourable it isnt a genetic trait he passed on to Rupert.

    The Oz? No comparison to the real facts that Assange has put out there and its what we have all been missing. He should have been a newspaperman…and yes we do need to keep our governments honest but unfortunately some media barons have made a career out of keeping our politicians in their back pocket and dishonest.

  20. Donald Oats
    December 9th, 2010 at 09:20 | #20

    @Alice
    What Alice said, especially last paragraph.

  21. Ian Gould
    December 9th, 2010 at 09:40 | #21

    AIG just repaid the balance of its line l of credit from the US government. The government retains a $8 billion stake in the company.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-08/aig-plans-to-repay-20-billion-fed-credit-line-in-deal-with-u-s-treasury.html

    The balance of outstanding TARP funds currently stands at around $85 billion with the net position substantially lower when government equity stakes in GM; AIG; citigroup and Chrysler are taken into account.

    At the time of the GFC I predicted this outcome and was loudly abused and ridiculed for doing so by the jack-asses who proliferate here and who loudly declared a cost in the trillions.

    This abuse led to my decision to refrain from posting here.

    I now leave the regulars to their ongoing inspection of the interior of their own rectums.

  22. Donald Oats
    December 9th, 2010 at 10:40 | #22

    AWB@Wikileaks? Now that would be interesting!

  23. may
    December 9th, 2010 at 12:04 | #23
  24. may
    December 9th, 2010 at 12:16 | #24

    @Ian Gould

    dear ian,

    but i never abused you and though this is the site where i comment i’ve never had an “0n-going” inspection of the interior of my own rectum.

    i’m far too busy trying (and often failing) to keep my own foot out of my mouth.

    PS
    yes the result of government action in the extension of emergency funds needs a vuvuzela sized trumpet.

    don’t let that knowlege get buried.

  25. Alice
    December 10th, 2010 at 05:11 | #25

    @Ian Gould
    Wonderful news – the banks have all been saved so they on live to gamble another day. I dont know what any of this has to do with rectums, except perhaps the likeness to those that reside in the inner sanctums of banks.

  26. Fran Barlow
    December 10th, 2010 at 06:14 | #26

    @Alice

    … the likeness to those that reside in the inner sanctums of banks.

    Personally I prefer to follow the Latin plurals when using Latin terms. i.e recta, sancta.

    Maybe it’s a schoolteacher thing.

  27. Alice
    December 10th, 2010 at 11:52 | #27

    Ha ha Fran! You are good with your Latin. The only other person I know who even knows some Latin is my Mum!

    Oh its wonderful news. I knew there would be a day come when the leftish and rightish would meet in the middle. That agrarian socialist Bob Katter, who I happen to like and who has a brain under that big hat, says this in the paper today

    (in supporting the union campaign to get rid of Howards building industry watchdog)

    said he wanted “farmers and workers to join forces againts their common enemies of deregulation and free trade…

    quote

    “I never thought Id have to speak this way because…trade unionism was so powerful in this country and people respected the principles. Then we had this economic rationalism rubbish which is just like a cancerous disease”

    Spot on Bob.

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