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April 5th, 2014

A new sandpit for long side discussions, idees fixes and so on.

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  1. Brett
    April 5th, 2014 at 16:32 | #1

    I was thinking of the Piketty argument. If capital earnings really do outpace overall economic growth over time, then wouldn’t you want to basically found a massive Sovereign Wealth Fund through taxation and cheap borrowing, and then let it accumulate wealth and distribute pay-outs to every citizen? Make every citizen a wealth earnings beneficiary, and do it with a massive, hopefully well-managed fund rather than trying to encourage people to do a whole ton of private investment accounts (although they could set those up too).

    Granted, with an SWF that massive, you could get some really distortioning effects on the financial system. Its investment decisions could completely shake the financial system, particularly if it heavily moved out of one particular type of asset. But it still sounds like a good idea.

    Hell, Norway could almost do it already. Give it another 10-15 years of growth, and the Norway Sovereign Wealth Fund will probably be large and diversified enough that they could turn the whole economy into a Trust Fund Set-Up with associated service sector.

  2. bjb
    April 5th, 2014 at 17:03 | #2

    A few weeks ago I saw a comment on a news site on a report on the MH370 to the effect of “Where is the private sector response” to searching for the missing plane. Today there is a report in the SMH that the cost of searching is upwards of $50mill, probably nearly all of which is being provided by the public sector of various nations.

    So, I’m wondering, as the Right keeps telling everyone that governments shouldn’t be running banks, airlines, health insurance, electricity generation etc, etc, but apparently it’s OK to spend millions searching for an aircraft. Who determines what should be left to the private sector and what should be public spending ?

    I recall Malcolm Turnbull lashing Anthony Albanese because he claimed Labour hadn’t done a CBA on the NBN. So did the government do a CBA before committing resources to this search ?

    Lest anyone call me a heartless bastard because they think I might be suggesting the government shouldn’t be involved, that’s definitely not the case. For the record, I am a long time member of the Greens, so you can probably surmise which side of the ledger I am on re the public/private debate.

  3. Florence Howarth
    April 5th, 2014 at 18:27 | #3

    I am wondering where some of the families of those lost, are going cry, enough is enough. I feel, if I was involved, I would like to be able to accept my lost and get on with living.

    There is no hope of any being found, either alive or dead. What is being achieved, except for some politicians hogging the limelight.

  4. Salient Green
    April 5th, 2014 at 20:27 | #4

    bjb makes a good point.
    Add to that the ignominy of the plane crashing in one of the ocean’s garbage patches. If any good can come of this it will be more awareness of the junk in the world’s oceans.


  5. alfred venison
    April 5th, 2014 at 21:35 | #5

    unprecedented a commercial airliner disappears, questions about the pilot, the food, automatic systems circumvented, way off course, no one knows why, no one – not even the nsa – knows where for days.

    the airline industry i’ve heard is finely poised between profit & loss and even small things like the weather have big effects on the bottom line. i think it is perceived by the industry and the association of states that regulates it, that this incident needs to be managed very carefully, or runaway “unresolved mystery” memes will circulate in media people use, and may start to affect profits and jeopardise the industry medium term viability.

    this search, likely to be futile, is nevertheless part of an important world-wide show, it is in my opinion intended to reassure “the flying public” that, despite not having a clue to who where when how and what happened, the industry & the assoiciation of states that regulates it, know as always what they’re doing because for one thing everything that can be done is being done. imo fwiw. -a.v.

  6. April 6th, 2014 at 01:43 | #6

    I’m afraid of being labelled an MH370 “truther” if I wonder about some of the anomalies in this situation.

    Much safer to just graze the narratives as they are presented.

  7. Ikonoclast
    April 6th, 2014 at 05:03 | #7

    There a number of anomalies about the MH370 event but I doubt they revolve around broad conspiracies to hijack the plane. A conspiracy of a couple of hijackers might be possible.

    The first anomaly is the poor state of tracking for large commercial aircraft. There ought to be a system that pilots cannot turn off except with a special permission code from ground control. The latter being in the case of straying into restricted airspace and seeking to exit same quietly.

    The second anomaly is the reluctance of nations to reveal military tracking technology capabilities. It seems a fair bet that MH370 was tracked better than is being revealed. Some nations may be keeping their military tracking secrets well secret.

    The final anomaly is perhaps the relative official response to losing 239 persons on an aircraft compared to say the world’s daily automobile accident toll of about 3,400 or China’s daily road toll of about 186.

    Having said all the above, it is indeed necessary to continue the search for humane reasons. The fact we pay too little attention to road trauma is no argument for paying less attention to air trauma. Aviation safety is also furthered by reviews of accidents especially if black-box data is recovered.

    Finally, one has to say that Malaysian Airlines and their government did not seem well prepared to deal with a crisis of this magnitude and they have not performed particularly well to date. For example, certain data and claims were issued and later rescinded or modified. It did not promote public confidence in the response effort. It’s easy to be a critic though, I guess.

    In the absence of any firm data, we might have to assign equal 1/3 probabilities to catastrophic hull, engine, or control failure, pilot hijack or terrorist hijack or bomb. A pointless flight to a doomed end-point looks like a so-called “ghost flight” meaning loss of consciousness or control. But how certain are they really about where the flight ended up? I still have my doubts about the Indian Ocean search area.

  8. Ikonoclast
    April 6th, 2014 at 05:28 | #8


    Sovereign wealth funds raise the fundamental question of “What is wealth?” Money is only wealth if you can convert it to real goods and services at call. Let me put it this way. “What profiteth it a nation to put aside money for the day when nothing can be purchased?” In a supply constrained world (limits to growth) real resources are limited thus real goods and services will be limited.

    For a nation with its own fiat currency to amass a sovereign wealth fund denominated in its own currency and outside the standard operations of its Reserve is pointless. It could have taxed less or spent more. And why invest in foreign stocks what could be invested locally to assist the domestic economy? A sovereign wealth fund investing in tobacco stocks as Australia’s did when the government could have invested that surplus in education is the height of stupidity.

    Amassing sovereign wealth funds in precious metals or foreign currencies exposes the fund to future irredeemable losses when the limits to growth collapse manifests. It would be better to invest in a national renewables infrastructure economy now.

  9. David Allen
    April 6th, 2014 at 08:20 | #9

    The southern Indian Ocean location of MH370 was determined by data analysis. Is it actually there? We’re still waiting for physical proof of this. Consider this though, there are many possibilities why MH370 might end up in such a remote place but most of them are random chance. Malfunction, hijack, and suicide have no reason to be in such a place. The only reason to deliberately be in such a remote place is to not be found. And that makes this case very interesting.

  10. Ikonoclast
    April 6th, 2014 at 08:53 | #10

    @David Allen

    You are missing one possibility. If the aircraft experienced certain difficulties (perhaps explosive decompression and some control system damage) then the following could have occurred.

    1. Explosive decompression.
    2. Oxygen bags drop.
    3. Pilots attempt emergency turn to head back to KL airport.
    4. Turn is not fully completed due to ancillary control system problems.
    5. Aircraft continues on autopilot on new heading.
    6. Pilots fail to reduce altitude to re-pressurise cabin due to ongoing control problems.
    7. All crew and passengers rendered unconscious then dead as oxygen supply fails.
    8. Aircraft flies on autopilot continuing on given heading until fuel runs out.

    Thus there is a possible reason they were not deliberately in such a remote place.

  11. David Allen
    April 6th, 2014 at 09:37 | #11


    You don’t understand the word “deliberately”, meaning, “on purpose”.

  12. Ikonoclast
    April 6th, 2014 at 14:16 | #12

    @David Allen

    I listed a set of malfunction events (cascading failures) which illustrated a way the aircraft could be there against the deliberate intentions and wishes of all humans involved whilst they were conscious. Thus I have understood the word deliberately and shown a way the plane could splash down there against all deliberate intentions.

    You stated “Malfunction, hijack, and suicide have no reason to be in such a place.” But I have shown how malfunction events and a cascading problem chain could put the plane there. Either your thesis is wrong or you have worded it inaccurately. On a literal reading of your wording, your thesis can be disproved as above.

  13. David Allen
    April 6th, 2014 at 14:47 | #13


    Ok, you know what I meant better than I did. So you win the internet. Give yourself a pony.

  14. Tony Lynch
    April 6th, 2014 at 16:56 | #14

    I asked once before, but now I know you are not the one 2ith a sense of humour.

  15. iain
    April 6th, 2014 at 17:26 | #15

    “this search, likely to be futile, is nevertheless part of an important world-wide show”

    I thought Abbott was about to declare Malaysia as Australia’s very bestest of friends the other day, (before he possibly realised he had already given this moniker away already).

    I have been half expecting China to announce soon that it finds the plane..but on the tip off from another government wanting to give it face, and in turn gain some economic FTA type concession in the future.

  16. Collin Street
    April 7th, 2014 at 07:11 | #16

    > Ok, you know what I meant better than I did.

    If you make an error that you don’t see then everyone who can see the error knows what you meant better than you did. It’s not that uncommon.

    Seriously, this is how you disprove things to people: you show them that part of what they said means is something they don’t believe is true. If doing this is illegitimate it becomes impossible to prove people wrong… if you don’t believe that people can see consequences of what you say that you hadn’t thought of/don’t agree with then it’s essentially impossible for anyone to prove you wrong to your satisfaction, see. Pragmatically it has the same effect as openly believing yourself to be infallible, even though the mechanism is different.

  17. David Allen
    April 7th, 2014 at 11:03 | #17

    @Collin Street

    Iconoclast didn’t read what I wrote but rather read what he thought I wrote. What I wrote: “The only reason to deliberately be in such a remote place is to not be found.” I didn’t say: “The only reason to be in such a remote place is to not be found.” The word “deliberately” is key here. There are plenty of ways of “accidentally” ending up there. Iconoclast’s malfunction example describes an accidental destination.

    Do you agree?

    Where is my error?

  18. Ikonoclast
    April 7th, 2014 at 11:20 | #18

    Can I ask that Prof. J.Q. (in particular) read the following link? BTW, it bolsters your arguments J.Q. about surviving the end of fossil fuels and throws doubts on my gloomy forecasts.


    It’s basic conclusion is that;

    “An almost complete elimination of both fossil-fuelled generation and oil usage for transportation in the US appears to be technically feasible and will cost less than continuing to import oil.”

    It sees this program as being completable by 2050, at least for the US. The article does use some technical jargon I don’t understand. I would also be interested in your assessment of its back of the envelope calculations for the process.

    As you might recall, I have accepted for some time that renewables can replace the electricity grid. However, I saw the full replacement of fossils especially of oil for transport as too big and our progress in that direction as too slow. On the face of the calculations in this article I might be wrong.

    However, the article does say that even with this progress we will likely still hit 550 ppm CO2 (or CO2e). That in itself would still be very concerning. Other issues that remain are;

    (1) Scalability. Do we have enough minable materials for the full scale electrical economy?
    (2) Population stabilisiation. Can we stabilise at a sustainable global population?
    (3) Other systems. Ocean health, forest cover etc. Can these be maintained at passable levels?
    (4) Water security and food security. (As an agricultural economist you must have some thoughts on water security, loss of glaciers and snow packs, exhaustion of so-called fossil water (aquifers etc.) ?
    (5) And finally, the need for a steady-state economy on the gross physical infrastructure side of the ledger albeit not on the knowledge, scientific and technical side of things.

  19. Ikonoclast
    April 7th, 2014 at 21:30 | #19

    @David Allen

    I read that sentence differently because of the sentence that preceded it. However, the full sense of what you are saying needs a careful reading of the three key consecutive sentences namely;

    “Consider this though, there are many possibilities why MH370 might end up in such a remote place but most of them are random chance. Malfunction, hijack, and suicide have no reason to be in such a place. The only reason to deliberately be in such a remote place is to not be found.”

    The three sentences together support your position. I misinterpreted your thoughts and thus I was wrong. The only defence I can plead is that your sentence structure and thought presentation was a bit awkward. Given that this is a blog, anyone can post awkward sentences so it’s not much of a defence for me. My apologies, you win the pony after all. :)

  20. Ikonoclast
    April 7th, 2014 at 21:54 | #20

    Before considering this post people, please consider my post at number 18. They are at least tangentially related. I am hoping our host considers post 18 too (but I know he is a busy man).

    The study below, “Human and nature dynamics (HANDY): Modeling inequality and use of resources in the collapse or sustainability of societies” is being touted in the Guardian and elsewhere as a NASA funded (not quite right) study which “shows” we are headed for ecological disaster.


    Rather than being a LTG systems model study it uses the now classical predator-prey model derived independently by two mathematicians, Alfred Lotka and Vitto Volterra. Specifically, it uses a new variant positing all humans as predators and nature or natural resources as prey. Then it adds a twist by dividing humans into commoners (prey) and elites (predators) to thus derive a sort of two-tier model. The maths is beyond me BTW.

    I have a couple of over-arching thoughts however. One, the model is incredibly simplified compared to the real world situation. Two, the model might not be appropriate to the system being modelled. (J.Q. will probably say, “Ya think?”) So I have some reservations about taking this too seriously. At the same time, it’s an interesting approach in its early days. Anyone know if any maths is shared by Predator-Prey modelling and LTG modelling?

  21. April 8th, 2014 at 00:10 | #21


    When I mentioned “MH370 Truther” at # 6 I was trying to make a point.

    i.e.: Are we not all “Truthers” regarding the missing plane?

    I was trying to make a further point, ancillary to the first, that we can question things whether they have an “official” explanation or no explanation at all. And to do so does not render one a fruit-loop unless there is incontrovertible evidence, or evidence of a very high standard, against which one is putting up questions, theories or propositions based only on the most outlandish (or fantasy) of possibilities.

    Until we have some solid evidence on MH370, all we have is MH370 “Truthers”. Cuts both ways.

  22. Ikonoclast
    April 8th, 2014 at 08:35 | #22


    The term “Truther” is probably too vague to allow your use of it re Flight MH370 to be proven valid or not. The broadest definition of “truther” is probably “one who rejects the official and accepted explanation of some event”. But it goes further than that. Being a “Truther” usually implies rejecting a large body of generally available and verifiable empirical information and preferring an obscure and convoluted conspiracy theory to explain events.

    I would say until we have some solid evidence on MH370, all we have is MH370 “hypothesisers”.
    “Truthers” would only be that subset of hypothesisers who are already claiming some official or convoluted conspiracy is behind the disappearance.

    But our little debate does depend on the definition of “Truther” and also on what perspective we start from so I guess it doesn’t really shed much light or lead anywhere.

  23. Ikonoclast
    April 8th, 2014 at 10:24 | #23

    I thought I would have a rant against on-line shopping. Some members of my family (meaning family and extended family) use it. Personally, I feel highly antagonistic to the idea of online shopping after seeing their experiences. Quite simply, you cannot trust overseas and interstate suppliers to send you the item in a timely fashion if at all. You often have no reliable redress when they do not. I am referring to things like mobile phones which can cost quite a bit.

    What amazes me is they persist in trying to online shop after being burnt. What is my opinion? Don’t touch online shopping with a barge pole! You cannot trust online transactions or online reatailers one iota. Then there’s the fraud danger related to whatever card you use. I will always go to brick and mortar stores in my city and expect the item in my hand when I pay for it. If my city doesn’t sell it then I don’t need it. Internet sellers will never get any of my business.

  24. Megan
    April 8th, 2014 at 10:37 | #24


    As a general rule I probably agree with your caution about online shopping.

    But on the other hand I’ve ben using sites like ‘WotIf’ to book hotels for years and have never had a bad experience, and the prices are way less too. Same for “Webjet”.

    I needed a laptop battery and did lots of looking around and checking prices and quality (you can get some real rubbish) in cyber space and brick/mortar space. In the end I kind of bought it online from a local business who I was able to speak to over the phone, delivered next day and it was about 60% of the best price the shops could do. Good quality too.

  25. Tim Macknay
    April 8th, 2014 at 11:34 | #25

    Ikon, as a regular online shopper I’ll have to disagree with some of your points. With interstate online shopping, the recourse available to buyers is exactly the same as it is with bricks-and-mortar shops. With international online shopping, it depends on the reputation of the seller, and the mode of transaction, i.e. with payment modes like international credit cards, or eBay, there are ways of having the payment reversed if you don’t receive the goods. Amazon has a very good returns and complaints handling policy (although its environmental performance leaves much to be desired, according to Greenpeace) With international funds transfers however, there is no recourse if the seller doesn’t want to play ball.

    The main reason I use online shopping is because many of the things I want to buy simply aren’t available from brick-and-mortar shops (things like specialised LED lights, relatively obscure books, and various bicycle parts).

    However, I’d agree with you that caveat emptor should always be observed when online shopping. And never use international funds transfers.

  26. derrida derider
    April 8th, 2014 at 14:36 | #26

    “There ought to be a system that pilots cannot turn off except with a special permission code from ground control” – Ikonoclast@7

    I understand the pilots have always argued that they have to be able to quickly cut power to any device on the plane if there’s a short in it & it starts smoking. Fire and smoke have killed a lot more passengers than crazy but devious pilots.

    But I should have thought that is just a matter of putting the bleeper in a sealed black box, where it has its own batteries & where any fire won’t spread outside the box. MH370, whether the mystery is ever solved or not, might lead to some changes along those lines.

  27. Ikonoclast
    April 8th, 2014 at 15:48 | #27

    @Tim Macknay

    Yes, with “mere” consumer items like personal mobile phones, TVs or doodads for my hobbies I take the following line. If I can’t get them locally, i.e. via a maximum 30 minute round trip, by car, excluding shopping time, then I just couldn’t be bothered. I don’t desire any of that stuff enough to be bothered going any further for it or troubling with the internet for transactions (where I feel the potential pitfalls outweigh the rewards). As soon as non-essentials become a bother to obtain then I lose interest in trying to get them.

    I don’t find the modern world convenient. I find it a much bigger pain in the A** to do anything than it was before computers and plastic arrived. I think it’s a myth that it’s easier. Actually, it’s a lot more work for the consumer. It has allowed corporates to push unpaid work onto the consumer. Fill your own tank at the gas station, swipe all the groceries and pay youself, become your own ordering clerk in your own house etc. etc. Indeed, if you think far enough back you will remember, as I do, that the milkman, greengrocer, fishmonger and even butcher used to do the suburban rounds in vans, deliver and sell door to door in the 1950s. The modern, late stage capitalist world is a con where people now work for a pittance for corporate profits and then work again for the privilege of consuming.

  28. Fran Barlow
    April 8th, 2014 at 15:49 | #28


    We tried the traditional route, trying to get a screen door to keep out the mosquitos and flies but that proved elusive. People wouldn’t return our calls or the prices were simply prohibitive or they wouldn’t turn up when they said they would or the last two.

    Eventually, we found a place in Cairns that was selling DIY fly screen curtains that we could put up ourselves for about $25 plus postage. We paid via paypal and within a few days we had the goods, had installed them and got a better result. Our dogs can pass through them (they split like Sonia’s dress but with magnets on them so they snap back into place) saving us having to go to a doggy door.

    Really, where were we finding that in Sydney at a bricks and mortar place?

  29. Ron E Joggles
    April 8th, 2014 at 17:43 | #29

    @Ikonoclast I often shop online (and have never had a problem), initially because I was living in a very remote location and more recently because the smallish town I now live in just doesn’t have some of the things I need. I ordered a large chainsaw from China, TV components from the USA, a pocket watch and mobile phone cases from Singapore, books from the UK, a 1932 academic journal from Canada, and from Australian suppliers, an electronics kit, pharmacy-only medication, new and antiquarian books, T-shirts, and of course airline tickets.

    It can be surprising what can’t be found online or in shops – I scoured the net for a Levi Strauss denim jacket to no avail, and then all the clothing shops in Cairns (they didn’t have any denim jackets at all!), before finding them on a rack at our local old-fashioned family-owned store.

  30. Ron E Joggles
    April 8th, 2014 at 17:47 | #30

    @Fran Barlow I wonder how many of us remember Sonia’s dress? Wedding Sonia was the smartest thing old Billy ever did!

  31. Ikonoclast
    April 8th, 2014 at 19:10 | #31

    Don’t mind me. I am just an old curmudgeon who believes the economic golden age ended in 1970; western philosophy ended with Kant and Hume (with some room made for Marx); and the social realist novel ended with Tolstoy.

  32. Tim Macknay
    April 8th, 2014 at 19:41 | #32


    Indeed, if you think far enough back you will remember, as I do, that the milkman, greengrocer, fishmonger and even butcher used to do the suburban rounds in vans, deliver and sell door to door in the 1950s.
    It’s possible that state of affairs will return, particularly if personal transport gets significantly more expensive, as Hermit expects it will. The suburban deliver clerks of the future will probably expect their customers to order online, though.

  33. Tim Macknay
    April 8th, 2014 at 19:42 | #33

    Oops. Berked the quote and emphasis tags. Trying again:

    Indeed, if you think far enough back you will remember, as I do, that the milkman, greengrocer, fishmonger and even butcher used to do the suburban rounds in vans, deliver and sell door to door in the 1950s.

    It’s possible that state of affairs will return, particularly if personal transport gets significantly more expensive, as Hermit expects it will. The suburban deliver clerks of the future will probably expect their customers to order online, though.

  34. bjb
    April 8th, 2014 at 19:45 | #34

    @Tim Macknay

    It already has. Woolies for example will home deliver an order placed online.

  35. Tim Macknay
    April 8th, 2014 at 19:47 | #35


    western philosophy ended with Kant and Hume (with some room made for Marx)

    Surelt Wittgenstein deserves a guernsey, although I suppose it could be said that his later work essentially concluded that western philosophy was at an end. ;)

  36. Tim Macknay
    April 8th, 2014 at 19:49 | #36

    Yes – done that myself a couple of times, actually. Although, to echo Ikon’s complaints, I gave up ordering groceries online pretty quickly because the deliveries were too error-prone.

  37. Megan
    April 8th, 2014 at 19:49 | #37


    I’m interested in the use of “truther” (not by you) as a generalised dismissive epithet. I think it should be used with more caution than it often is, and should be treated more cautiously by people who see someone else described that way.

    Just a few years ago, anyone describing the following would be written off as a “conspiracy” nut, or “truther” in today’s terms:

    According to top-secret documents published today by The Intercept, this sort of operation is frequently discussed at western intelligence agencies, which have plotted ways to covertly use social media for ”propaganda,” “deception,” “mass messaging,” and “pushing stories.”

    These ideas–discussions of how to exploit the internet, specifically social media, to surreptitiously disseminate viewpoints friendly to western interests and spread false or damaging information about targets–appear repeatedly throughout the archive of materials provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Documents prepared by NSA and its British counterpart GCHQ–and previously published by The Intercept as well as some by NBC News–detailed several of those programs, including a unit devoted in part to “discrediting” the agency’s enemies with false information spread online.

    I’m not saying all shades of nuttery should entertained, more that where something depends wholly or largely on the “official” version a degree of circumspect scepticism is healthy.

    Back in about 2006 there was a story (Bloomberg perhaps??) about Ratheon and, possibly, Boeing having developed a system whereby a commercial aircraft could be totally taken over and flown remotely with no ability for the pilots to get back control. The idea was that it could be used if terrrrrsts took over a plane and were trying to fly it somewhere.

    I don’t think it ever got to the stage of being installed and I’m not suggesting anything like this is involved in the present case. I think the present case is more likely to be something very straightforward, but we’ll see what comes out of it.

  38. Ikonoclast
    April 8th, 2014 at 20:51 | #38

    @Tim Macknay


  39. Megan
    April 8th, 2014 at 21:09 | #39


    PS: Remember how we were about to go to war, again, in the Middle East recently (Syria this time)? And remember it was because of “irrefutible” evidence about the source of a gas attack?

    I also remember that anyone who questioned the possibility that this was another ‘WMD’ re-run and they we should pause was mercilessly attacked as a “conspiracy” nut etc…

    Seymour Hersch has a very interesting piece in the London Review of Books at the moment about it. The source of the gas, as many of us questioned at the time in the face of attacks on us for doubting the “facts”, was in fact not the Syrian government apparently.

    I don’t think I have heard a peep about this in Australia’s establishment media. And there is even an Australian connection (usually that will get them interested!):

    The full extent of US co-operation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in assisting the rebel opposition in Syria has yet to come to light. The Obama administration has never publicly admitted to its role in creating what the CIA calls a ‘rat line’, a back channel highway into Syria. The rat line, authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition. Many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida. (The DNI spokesperson said: ‘The idea that the United States was providing weapons from Libya to anyone is false.’)

    In January, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on the assault by a local militia in September 2012 on the American consulate and a nearby undercover CIA facility in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three others. The report’s criticism of the State Department for not providing adequate security at the consulate, and of the intelligence community for not alerting the US military to the presence of a CIA outpost in the area, received front-page coverage and revived animosities in Washington, with Republicans accusing Obama and Hillary Clinton of a cover-up. A highly classified annex to the report, not made public, described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations. It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria. A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities.

  40. Ikonoclast
    April 8th, 2014 at 21:25 | #40


    Yes, I think Wikileaks, Assange and Snowden have shown us the truth of a lot of things about total surveillance and manipulation. My cynical rule of thumb is to listen to what the superpowers say about each other and take that as the truth rather than what they say about themselves. For example;

    Russia: The USA and EU worked with ultra-right nationalists to foment rebellion in Kiev.
    Iko: Yep, I believe that.
    USA: Russia is paying and organising protesters to foment rebellion in Karkhiv, Donetsk and Luhansk.
    Iko: Yep, I believe that.
    China: The USA is conducting cyber attacks against China.
    Iko: Yep, I believe that.
    USA: China is conducting cyber attacks against the USA.
    Iko: Yep, I believe that.

    I reserve the term “Truther” for the more absurd conspiracy theories which are dismissable by public domain facts. The idea that 9/11 was a False Flag attack requires too many levels of conspiracy and too many conspirators to remain quiet. Also, the 9/11 conspiracy theories rely on further absurd claims that buildings could not “pancake collapse” the way the WTC buildings did (which collapse is in fact well attested to by reputable engineering studies) and would need extra charges up and down the building. The conspiracy and attendent measures would require such complex planning, execution, secrecy etc. without one thing going wrong anywhere in the chain, or anything becoming public. It just becomes non-credible to the nth degree.

    When it comes to the planning and execution of large complex covert operations, the perfect operation does not exist. There are always some SNAFUs. Of course, it is possible to lie about what happens in a foreign city (Kiev) seen only on the TV or Youtube screen. Telling bald-faced lies about a major event in your own largest metropolis is much more susceptible to being falsified by the accounts of thousands of direct eyewitnesses and participants.

  41. Ikonoclast
    April 8th, 2014 at 21:35 | #41


    Yes, the Iraq WMD thing was a conspiracy and a set-up. I believed it was false at the time. It’s since been proven that the evidence was faked (trumped up out of next to nothing).

    I have also come to believe what you are saying about Syria in your immediate post above. At the same time, I cannot believe that Assad and his Russian supporters are good guys. I mean who were the “good guys” when Germany fought Russia in WW2? Well maybe in fact some of the officers and many of the men and women on both sides were “good” in the sense of being patriotic, courageous and helping their comrades. But the top echelons of both regimes were not good. Far from it. This I fear is the position re Syria. There are no good guys at the top on either side.

  42. Ikonoclast
    April 8th, 2014 at 21:49 | #42

    Footnote: The plan to use a false flag sarin attack then blame it on Assad and use it as a pretext for the USA to attack actually failed upon investigation by Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. The fact that this happened and Hersh is now breaking the story, is a good piece of evidence for my thesis that complex false flag operations must unravel somewhere and be exposed. The Iraq WMD conspiracy also unravelled albeit well after it was used as a prextext for war. However, I guess we don’t know what we don’t know (to channel Rumsfeld). So there may well be other complex false flag operations and conspiracies which worked but which we never heard about. I just don’t think 9/11 was one of them.

  43. Megan
    April 8th, 2014 at 22:12 | #43


    The broadest definition of “truther” is probably “one who rejects the official and accepted explanation of some event”.

    So, technically, that would make us “WMD Truthers” & “Syria Gas False Flag Truthers”!

    It’s the urge or drive to pick a “side” and stick with it regardless of anything else that irritates me to death – whether it be local ALP/LNP politics or international affairs.

    No sane person can argue that Iraq is better now for the few remaining living residents of that country than it was 11 years and 1 month ago, and yet anyone trying to speak out against its destruction was simplistically attacked as a “supporter” of its then leader.

    …requires too many levels of conspiracy and too many conspirators to remain quiet…

    And yet we know for a fact that many hundreds of thousands had access to the “Collateral Murder” evidence but it was only Private Manning who brought it to the public domain.

    I’m not convinced by the argument that “they” couldn’t get away with big ‘conspiracies’ because too many people woud be involved to remain quiet.

    One thing we know for certain is that Snowden has given over a huge amount of information (millions of documents??) which we still haven’t had revealed. And when we get more of that information we will probably have to go through the same process of readjusting what we thought we knew to the new evidence.

  44. April 8th, 2014 at 23:55 | #44

    PS: I just hope that as and when we get more ‘Snowden’ revelations they are not too late to save millions of lives – as it was with the WMD “truth” which was denied the public by a huge campaign of lies and pro-war propaganda pushed by our bipartisan/media establishment.

    If the ‘conspiracy’ succeeds in its goals, it really doesn’t matter if later holes start to appear in its narrative. Especially when there is an army of attack dogs ready and willing to go after anyone raising questions about the enterprise and the justifications given, and accepted, for it.

    I worry that too many people, especially in cyber-space, just accept establishment lies and then argue from the foundations of “fact” set by those lies.

  45. April 9th, 2014 at 00:01 | #45

    PPS: The night before he was assassinated Martin Luther King Jr. was calling for a non-violent boycott of businesses that carried on racial discrimination. He specifically named Coca-Cola.

    His assassination was presumably planned well in advance of that speech, but that doesn’t negate that at least one of the reasons for killing him was related to economic rather than racial considerations.

  46. Ikonoclast
    April 9th, 2014 at 07:49 | #46


    In full I said, “The broadest definition of “truther” is probably “one who rejects the official and accepted explanation of some event”. But it goes further than that. Being a “Truther” usually implies rejecting a large body of generally available and verifiable empirical information and preferring an obscure and convoluted conspiracy theory to explain events.” Take note of my last sentence. That would be a compulsory part of the definition from my point of view. Finally, arguing about the meaning of a fuzzy neologism like “truther” is probably beside the point.

    I pretty much accept all your points in your last three posts. I have no time for Assad and Russia and no time for his opponents and their backers (US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey). I would advocate non-involvement. My opinion in Australia comes down to one vote out of millions. My opinion outside Australia comes down to absolutely nothing. Existentially, it is probably pointless having an opinion about things one cannot change.

    “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” – misattributed to Plato.

  47. April 10th, 2014 at 00:54 | #47

    For ages I’ve been trying to work out the real reason why Rudd was knifed by Gillard, Shorten, Howes etc…

    I wondered if it was “the apology”, the closing of the offshore refugee prison camps, the declaration that climate change was serious….

    Now it appears that it was all of those things rolled into one thing. He wasn’t “ultra-right-wing-pro-Israel” enough!

    The guy I despised for being too right-wing-pro-Israel (Bob Carr) is trying to sell a book about things that only just occurred to him after he finished his stint as Australia’s most un-elected foreign minister:

    Former foreign minister Bob Carr has hit out at what he calls the “pro-Israel lobby in Melbourne”, saying it wielded “extraordinary influence” on Australia’s policy during his time in Julia Gillard’s cabinet.

    Speaking to ABC’s 7.30 program, Mr Carr said “extreme right wing” pro-Israel lobbyists had an “unhealthy” influence on Australia’s policy towards Israel and the Occupied Territories.

    The ALP is in a very sick place at the moment and it doesn’t look like it’s ever coming out.

  48. alfred venison
    April 10th, 2014 at 08:09 | #48

    i can’t stand bob carr. i’m restraining myself, not grinding the teeth, but i’ll say this, carr’s the kind of pompous father knows best politician a bill of rights is needed to protect us from. -a.v.

  49. Ikonoclast
    April 10th, 2014 at 09:45 | #49


    The ALP is morally terminal. I’ve long given up on the ALP. They are the dishonest wing of the LNP. The LNP themselves are in a sense “honest” about their own moral turpitude. They openly stand for the privileges of the rich few (the 1%) over the rest of us. And behind their overt claims to stand against the “isms” they brazenly “dog-whistle” their real attitudes all the time. Take the “Stop the boats” slogan. Well, boats are just inanimate objects. Clearly the slogan really dog-whistles “Stop the Boat-people.” And the ALP engaged the LNP in a race to the bottom on that one (or rather the race to construct a Gulag Archipeligo).

  50. Ikonoclast
    April 10th, 2014 at 11:18 | #50
  51. April 11th, 2014 at 00:32 | #51

    The LNP plays games with human suffering but still manages to be less inhumane than the “extreme-right-wing-pro-Israel” ALP!

    Some asylum seekers held in detention on Nauru will be able to temporarily settle on the island if they are found to be refugees, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says.

    Nauru will finalise about 60 claims for refugee status from asylum seekers within a month.

    There is no promise of permanent resettlement in Nauru for the refugees who are released, but Mr Morrison says the Australian Government will provide a small allowance and fund their schooling and health needs through the detention centre.

    Quite an achievement, ALP. Your members must be so sick and twisted to still blindly troll support for you, when the LNP can wedgie you on being slightly less cruel (only slightly, at least they are proposing to let these refugees outside the razor wire briefly). Congratulations.

    However, you have now lost all credibility as a political party having pretence to caring for the weak, persecuted, poor or otherwise powerless because you have literally got into bed with the 1%. Enjoy your inevitable political obliteration in Australian politics – it is well deserved.

  52. Martin
    April 16th, 2014 at 20:08 | #52

    Re O’Farrell: I thought anyone going into politics would have had a bit of a think about the minefields and how to avoid them. Surely, accepting gifts must cross their mind. So what happened?

  53. April 16th, 2014 at 21:59 | #53


    The short answer would be “Neo-Cons & News Ltd.”

    There is a famous quote about Murdoch: “In Australia, the government is a wholly-owned subsidiary of News Corporation”.

    It should be remembered that O’Farrell also forgot having ever met the AWH guy. Until he was shown photos of them together. The AWH guy was an LNP power broker and big-wheel fundraiser. Probably the type of guy a Premier would hardly know anything about, probably.

    This is a News Ltd set-up:

    Asked if he had spoken to any journalists, Mr Di Girolamo said: “Absolutely not.”

    Text messages sent to the Premier on March 6 by a News Limited journalist, tendered at ICAC late on Wednesday, asked whether he had received a bottle of Grange after the March 2011 election.

    ICAC Council assisting , Geoffrey Watson SC: Rejects speculation that commission held back information relating to Barry O’Farrell.
    ICAC Council assisting , Geoffrey Watson SC: Rejects speculation that commission held back information relating to Barry O’Farrell. Photo: Nick Moir

    Mr O’Farrell wrote back: “Confirm no recollection or record of the alleged gift.”

    Mr Di Girolamo said his co-directors at AWH “may have known” but he did “not recall speaking to anyone about it”.

    Baird will be the next Premier of NSW. His Father, Bruce, gets a specific mention in Jeff Sharlet’s book ‘The Family”.

    Extract from a review in the Age 2008:

    Sharlet quotes Coe as saying in a rare interview: “We work with power where we can, build new power where we can’t.”

    Sharlet says the push for a “government led by God” is done through secret alliances and in defiance of democratic processes.

    “I think it’s dangerous. In some ways I resist calling it a left-right issue – although they do tend to be right-wingers – so much as an issue of open democracy, of transparency.

    “They use this pretentious phrase of bringing politicians together to make decisions ‘beyond the din of the vox populi’, the voice of the people. At its worst it’s cynical cronyism.

    “What The Family does when it says it is going to get beyond politics is try to shut down the debate.”

    Coe preaches submission, and approvingly cites Hitler and Mao. “There’s this constant thread and reverence for what essentially is an authoritarian concept of God, that what matters most in one’s concept of God is obedience,” Sharlet says.

    It applies across the ALP/LNP faux divide.

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