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Monday Message Board

December 8th, 2014

It’s time for another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

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  1. Megan
    December 9th, 2014 at 00:59 | #1

    The new Ukrainian Finance Minister – Natalie Jaresko – was appointed just hours after US stooge-puppet Poroshenko granted her Ukrainian citizenship.

    According to the BBC’s report, the justification was:

    The move is part of a fresh anti-corruption drive in Kiev. Politicians and other officials supportive of the idea say outsiders in the cabinet will have fewer vested interests, or links to local lobbyists. President Poroshenko also said Ukraine should make use of “the best international experience”.

    Never mind that she is one of the recipients of Victoria Nuland’s (CIA) notorious “$5 Billion” spent on neo-con projects to usurp Ukrainian sovereignty.

    The BBC forgot to mention that Jaresko is a former US State Department officer.

    They missed some other minor points, probably they had no “news” value:

    Natalie Jaresko, a former U.S. State Department officer who was granted Ukrainian citizenship only this week, headed a U.S. government-funded investment project for Ukraine that involved substantial insider dealings, including $1 million-plus fees to a management company that she also controlled.

    Jaresko served as president and chief executive officer of Western NIS Enterprise Fund (WNISEF), which was created by the U.S. Agency for International Development (U.S. AID) with $150 million to spur business activity in Ukraine. She also was cofounder and managing partner of Horizon Capital which managed WNISEF’s investments at a rate of 2 to 2.5 percent of committed capital, fees exceeding $1 million in recent years, according to WNISEF’s 2012 annual report.

    Thankfully we have (for now, at least – although the ALP with Conroy and the LNP with Turnbull have tried to censor it) the internet to provide some kind of balance to the 1% political-media establishment lies and distortions.

  2. Ikonoclast
    December 9th, 2014 at 09:19 | #2

    The world is getting into very dangerous territory. We have just seen the news that China’s economy has overhauled that of the USA. China is now the number one economic power in the world. It is also the number one demographic power in the world. So far as I can tell, China also ranks at or near the top in the world in science and education. The West, especially the Anglophone West, is slipping well down in these rankings.

    At the same time the West led by the USA, has a legacy hold-over of the most powerful military force researched and built when the West was the economic leader. Coupled with this holdover of military force (and past wars won particularly WW2) is a forward strategic stance meant to contain Russia and China. All of this is now in jeopardy. Maintaining a costly hegemonic forward containment stance at ruinous cost while the Western economies at home crumble is a recipe for stagnation and collapse.

    The US and European elites have not the slightest realistic idea of how to deal with this changing geostrategic reality. They have opted to double-down on containment and seem to think they can strangle Russia and somehow contain China indefinitely. The USA is refusing to accept reality. Instead of mving to a new realistic policy (hemispheric or New World hegemon) they are attempting to remain THE global hegemon. The USA is ruining its economy in this attempt.

    Of course, it is broader than that. The US is ruining its economy in three ways. The first is as mentioned in over-militarisation and over-extension in attempting to remain the world hegemon. The second is in endorsing the flight of manufacturing to China. This is based on the shakey supposition that profits and desired goods will always flow to the USA. The third way is in endorsing finacialisation of the economy and worse the continued flow of wealth to a tiny minority of oligarchs. This last trend will crash the US economy by destroying the middle class and its spending power. Demand will collapse. Social cohesion will collapse as the underclass and working poor become the coalsced largest class in the USA.

    We are already seeing the beginnings of social collapse in the USA. Race relations are going backwards rapidly as black Americans realise they will never be permitted to achieve equality or justice. Indeed matters are rapidly worsening as US police now kill black Americans will almost complete impunity.

    The reason things are getting very dangerous geopolitically is the USA is adopting strategies guaranteed to collapse itself. At the same time, the US elites will blame anyone but themselves for their coming precipitous collapse and lash out wildly and dangerously with their still massive, legacy military power.

    China might find itself in the position of having to go easy on America and even aid it in certain ways. The irony of the situation will be considerable. China might have to aid the power containing it while slowly trying to re-educate the barbarian Americans to have a more realistic world view and particularly a more realistic view of America’s place in the world.

    Recent reports are that when President Obama mentioned the USA’s leadership role on the world to Chinese students they laughed at the idea. China is newly powerful, number one demographic, economic, intellectual and scientific power. China and its people are not impressed by the foolish posturing of the world’s second economic power which is slipping rapidly on all measures.

    I guess a key question is this. How long does it take to translate economic pre-eminence to miliatry pre-eminence? With the pace China is moving at I would say twenty years at most. Still, the wild card is limits to growth. China is positioning itself to draw resources from Russia. Russia is positioning itself to supply resources to China. The Russia-China bloc or Shanghai Cooperation Organisation stands very likely to become more powerful economically and miliatarily than NATO. The West is collapsing. Certainly the EU is in decline not just relatively but aboslutely. The US is having a last gasp of growth now but this very likely will be its last as it slips into stagnation and civil strife.

  3. jungney
    December 9th, 2014 at 09:38 | #3

    The US is also fracking homeland ecology in an effort to break OPEC oil dependency. It’s a bit like a medieval siege in which the besieged eat everything in sight, including themselves, children first, prior to the inevitable capitulation.

  4. Hermit
    December 9th, 2014 at 09:46 | #4

    If you allow yourself to stray into unfashionable territory see this article
    http://bravenewclimate.com/2014/12/07/nuclear-power-to-do-the-heavy-lifting-in-reducing-chinas-greenhouse-gas-emissions/#more-6511
    China’s nuclear build is astonishing but there’s a catch.. they haven’t got the primary uranium needed for third generation reactors where fuel cost is about 15% of the opex. However this lucky little country does shame we’ll sell it for a pittance without value adding or giving ourselves first dibs. A possible scenario is if big bro US demands we do an Iran style embargo on China. That will stretch friendships to breaking point.

  5. Troy Prideaux
    December 9th, 2014 at 11:21 | #5

    @Ikonoclast
    Wow! I was only looking at the size of the large economies yesterday on the CNN money site- that illustration needs serious updating!
    Oh, well, at least China buys stuff from us and always will (whether soft commodities or hard) unlike the US who never would. The top 4 economies are all manufacturing based.

  6. Ernestine Gross
    December 9th, 2014 at 11:25 | #6

    The Financial System Inquiry report (Murray report) is available on: http://fsi.gov.au/

    Prof Q may well write a post on this report. I shall therefore be very brief in my initial comment.

    After Shepherd’s Audit Report, the Murray Report is like a breath of fresh air. There is a coherent framework with limits imposed by what else is going on in the world. The conceptual framework does belong to economics rather than dogmatic spin. This I consider to be a major step in the necessary reform of the policy formation process.

    IMHO, the strong points of the Murray Report’s recommendations are:
    1. Clarity is required on the purpose of superannuation (it should be for retirement and not for tax minimising investments which enable leveraged further investments such as negatively geared real estate acquisitions).
    2. Replacing the existing presumption of disclosure in the finance industry being sufficient with the acknowledgement that information asymmetry between the sellers and buyers is significant and therefore requires ‘consumer protection’ regulation. The existing presumption belongs to naive market economics (neo-liberal dogma). The proposed change is consistent with contemporary (mid-20th and 21 century) economic knowledge (theoretical and empirical).
    3. Superannuation charges and fees.

    The weak points, IMO, are:
    1. In the area of credit card levies. The current system allows merchants to charge an explicit levy for the payments by credit cards. The levy is nothing but the cost of using credit cards, compared with using cash. GST is shown explicitly on bills issued to consumers. GST revenue is used to finance public provision of education, health and other essential services. Contrary to the recommendations of the Murray Report, including its qualifications, the finance industry should not be allowed to hide how it raises revenue to finance the very high incomes of senor members of this industry by spreading these charges over all consumers, including those who pay by cash.
    2. In the area of dividend imputation. The big players in the world of finance, notably the USA, do not have dividend imputation. International investors from these countries do not benefit from dividend imputation. But Australians do. Dividend imputation provides a cost effective information signal to small investors (the proverbial mums and dads) because only companies who are financially sound can use dividend imputation. Furthermore, it is a cost effective signal to the public that those companies have paid their tax.

    Financial stability. The Murray Report recommends, via a list of detailed proposed measures, changes to the capital adequacy ratio (less debt, more equity) for the banks. I am not convinced that capital adequacy ratios are sufficient to prevent a serious financial system instability. In this area the Murray Report’s recommendations are within the boundaries set internationally.

  7. Crocodile
    December 9th, 2014 at 11:50 | #7

    @Ernestine Gross
    Thanks for your take on this. Just wondering why point 2 is weak.

  8. Ikonoclast
    December 9th, 2014 at 12:40 | #8

    From The Economist, Oct 11, 2014;

    “This week the International Monetary Fund updated its data on the world economy. For the first time it ranks China’s economy as the world’s biggest in purchasing-power-parity terms. Historians, though, point out that China is merely regaining a title that it has held for much of recorded history. In 1820 it probably produced one-third of global economic output. The brief interlude in which America overshadowed it is now over.”

    We will no doubt see all sorts of denial going on as the US continues to believe it is the biggest, most powerful country in the world and will be forever because it has been given a Manifest Destiny and Enternal Pre-eminence by God. The gap between this delusion and reality will lead to very dangerous, indeed lunatic behaviour from the USA. As if what has happended in the last few decades has not been bad enough!

  9. Newtownian
    December 9th, 2014 at 12:47 | #9

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/12/superiority-economists.html

    An article referring to a study of economists and how they need to do a bit of soul searching. Apparently it has caused some offense.

    Any agreement/defense?

  10. Ikonoclast
    December 9th, 2014 at 13:40 | #10

    “Sherman is another flinty-eyed female specimen of the American political class, who, like Nuland, seems to have a block of ice for a heart and a frozen Popsicle for a brain.

    Nuland and Sherman illustrate the cold-hearted logic at work in American robotic politics: it’s a system programmed for imperialism and war, and it doesn’t matter whether the officials are Democrat, Republic, male or female. They are all clones of a war criminal state.” – Finian Cunningham.

  11. Donald Oats
    December 9th, 2014 at 13:52 | #11

    PM Tony Abbott has successfully trashed Australia’s international standing with respect to performance in addressing climate change, ranking us last. Meanwhile, the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is running around in a desperate attempt to further tarnish our reputation; she is saying to anyone with ears that the Great Barrier Reef shouldn’t be listed as “in danger.” It is unclear why not, but then we don’t have the Environment Minister there in Lima to explain the ins and outs of what an environment is. Greg Hunt’s job must be the cushiest in cabinet: everyone else is pitching in to lend him a hand, even Mr Robb. [Oooo, must…resist…editing…his…name…]

  12. Donald Oats
    December 9th, 2014 at 13:53 | #12

    Argh, dissed by the auto-moderation function.

  13. Ernestine Gross
    December 9th, 2014 at 19:23 | #13

    @Crocodile

    The Murray Report advances some arguments against keeping dividend imputation. I am not convinced for reasons I have mentioned.

    Thank you for your question. I obviously missed stating the Murray Report’s position .

  14. December 9th, 2014 at 21:44 | #14

    The Greens appear to have won the seat of Prahran from the Libs the Victorian election. It’s been a very slow process because Labor was ahead of the Greens on first preferences, and the electoral commission did the two candidate preferred count on that basis – but then minor party and independent preferences (particularly Animal Justice Party) put the Greens ahead of Labor, so they had to count again, and currently the greens are winning by 260 votes. There will be a recount tomorrow but hopefully it will stand.

    For those not familiar with Victorian politics, this is a very interesting thing – inner city Melbourne tends to divide into north of the river (left) and south of the river (right, with the exception of Albert Park). The Greens and Labor have been battling it out in the inner north for a while now, and the greens won the seat of Melbourne at the last federal election, followed by the state seat of Melbourne at this election. However Prahran is different, because parts of it are Lib heartland, and either Labor or the Greens could only be elected on preferences from the other. It looks like the greens have made it on labor preferences this time. Hopefully this will cause a bit of a truce in the labor-greens disputes and help the parties work together more as a centre- left coalition. Well one can only hope!

    The Greens put a lot into this campaign, and it seems to have worked (touch wood).

  15. December 9th, 2014 at 21:53 | #15

    Hmm I maybe exaggerated a bit – the Age report just reminded me that Prahran was held by Labor prior to the 2010 election, so it’s obviously a bit more marginal than I remembered, though it does have some blue ribbon areas (parts of South Yarra, and even some parts of Toorak I think). Not sure what the longer history of the seat is, but anyway still very interesting – first time the Greens have won a seat from the Libs anywhere in Australia, according to the greens candidate Sam Hibbins in the Age http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/greens-win-seat-of-prahran-in-victorian-parliament-20141209-123ne9.html

  16. Donald Oats
    December 9th, 2014 at 23:24 | #16

    PM Tony Abbott has doctored the GP copayment, but he is no doctor. The only thing this does is shift the perception of who cops it in the neck: this time it is the GP, unless they pass the $5 as a charge to their patients.

    The dirt in this plan B is that it is in the financial interest of the GP to collect the $5; what I don’t understand is how the PM can then claim—as he since has—that this collected money is plopped in the new medical research fund coffers. If the money was GP income beforehand, it is surely GP income after the bill passes, and as such it isn’t the government’s to deposit into the fund. Or am I missing something here?

  17. Donald Oats
    December 9th, 2014 at 23:40 | #17

    Jeff Seeney’s order to redact all mention of predicted sealevel rises from Moreton Bay’s coastal council plans is classic emu-head-in-the-sand LNP style thinking. When the predicted AGW-derived sealevel rises becomes actual, what recourse will the council have for passing on the lawsuit costs up to the state level, or will they simply have to get litigation insurance for AGW related lawsuit risks? Is it even possible to insure against something with so much scientific literature, a fact clearly known to the council, as Seeney’s order to redact most amply illustrates.

  18. zoot
    December 10th, 2014 at 01:02 | #18

    @Donald Oats
    You’re not missing anything. Dear Leader is lying … again. (Or should that be still!)

  19. December 10th, 2014 at 10:20 | #19

    @Donald Oats
    So coal export terminals are built to withstand rises in sea level but human beings are not permitted to be protected? Well it does appear to be the correct thing to do from a moral standpoint. After all our actions have been contributing to the drowning of Bangladeshi children for a long time now, sp it is only fair we start drowning some of our own.

    Among Adelaide philosophers there are two main schools of thought on this. The federal government wants to drown children either as (a) an offering to Gilgamax the god of carbon, or (b) an offering to the wallets of a small but powerful group of vested interests. We of course lean towards (a) as surely no humans could be so evil without the influence of an outside supernatural force.

  20. Helen
    December 10th, 2014 at 10:56 | #20

    I’ve just read this article and it made me furious.

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/business/study-finds-young-aussies-wealth-stalling/story-fni0dcne-1227150457017

    (I’m “only” 57 btw, but still, this kind of disingenuous ageist shite always makes me wild. Barring death, we’re all potential oldies.)

    It’s really rich that this article appeared in a News Ltd publication. They have consistently supported tax cuts for higher earners, have always supported Liberal governments and their policies which have increased social inequality with every governmental term. Their readership just loves the idea of high uni fees and despises Whitlamite policies such as free education and anything which would improve the lot of younger people. AFAIK these popular tabloids are read by the Liberal voting demographic many of whom would be the older people they’re trashing in this article – such gratitude! Really, News Ltd readers/LNP voters are really their own worst enemy, aren’t they!

    If they don’t like the manifestations of deepening social inequality why don’t they just admit they are wrong and adopt a more social democratic approach?

  21. Donald Oats
    December 10th, 2014 at 11:39 | #21

    Apparently, some group think that “shirtfront” is the word of the year—fair enough. Unfortunately, they got the meaning incorrect, mistakenly thinking it means “to challenge or confront some person”. The should add to the end of that, “…very publicly, and then fail to go through with it”. There. All fixed now.

  22. Fran Barlow
    December 10th, 2014 at 14:54 | #22

    That’s shirkfront Donald 😉

  23. J-D
    December 10th, 2014 at 18:45 | #23

    @Val

    According to Antony Green’s election guide, Prahran was a Liberal seat in the period up to the 1988 election. After the election there was a redistribution in which St Kilda was abolished, and since then Prahran has been more marginal, although still leaning somewhat to the Liberals.

  24. Megan
    December 10th, 2014 at 19:12 | #24

    In keeping with the apparent current trend, both of the ALP/LNP duopoly parties lost seats (net) at the Victorian State election.

    Queensland will be interesting on that front. The LNP is much hated, the ALP has nothing to offer and the Greens may as well not exist. If the electorate continue to move away from the duopoly they will need someone to receive those votes. At present it might end up being Palmer for want of other alternatives.

  25. Donald Oats
    December 10th, 2014 at 20:26 | #25

    This is beyond disturbing:

    Throughout August Abu Zubaydah “spent a total of 266 hours (11 days, 2 hours) in the large (coffin size) confinement box and 29 hours in a small confinement box, which had a width of 21 inches, a depth of 2.5 feet, and a height of 2.5 feet,” says the report. “The CIA interrogators told Abu Zubaydah that the only way he would leave the facility was in the coffin-shaped confinement box.”

    This is so not right. The torture stopped short of drilling legs and cutting off fingers, but that’s about all that can be said on the positive side of the ledger. Was the small confinement box listed as a stress position facilitator or some such thing? Who the hell was approving this specific method of torture?

  26. Megan
    December 10th, 2014 at 22:43 | #26

    @Donald Oats

    It is very important that we remember this is the CIA sanctioned ice-cube carved out of the lump chipped from the very tip of the ice-berg.

    Unfortunately WE are the “good germans” and have been for as long as we have ‘carried on’ knowing “we” were doing this stuff.

    “How could we know?”

    Abu Ghraib, at the very least.

  27. Megan
    December 10th, 2014 at 22:55 | #27

    The White House and CIA fought like crazy against the Committee (the CIA even hacked their computers and then lied under oath about having done it) releasing even this version of the report.

    But even this watered-down version is irrefutable proof that the Neo-Con US Empire is sick, sadistic, sociopathic, lawless and fascist.

    Given that Obama murders innocent people every Tuesday and has been doing so for years(far, far more than Bush ever did), I’m surprised that people seem to be finally reacting to this report. Better late than never, hopefully.

  28. December 11th, 2014 at 07:27 | #28

    The latest insight by Paul Sheehan in The Age is that Tony Abbott is a really nice guy, the problem is his (female) Chief of Staff. (I’m not linking – as Dorothy Parker at Loon Pond says, it only encourages them)

    Reminiscent of the bad old days here, when if Julia Gillard made a mistake it was her fault, and if Keven Rudd made a mistake it was her fault too. (I mention this only for historical interest, not trying to start a fight.)

    There’s also loads of beat up in the media about a Julie Bishop – Peta Credlin fight (which predictably, though unutterably wearingly, I have already seen described in comments as a cat fight)

    The general moral seems to be: Ladies, if you would just return to the kitchen, everything would be perfect.

  29. December 11th, 2014 at 07:31 | #29

    Should be “unutterably wearyingly”

  30. December 11th, 2014 at 07:41 | #30

    @Donald Oats
    Sorry about three posts in a row but wanted to say – that is an absolutely horrific story

  31. Donald Oats
    December 11th, 2014 at 08:56 | #31

    @Val
    Yes, it is. In the middle ages they used to torture prisoners by confining them to cages too small for them to extend any limb, eventually causing agony. That small box is small enough to do exactly that. My torso and head are more than 2.5 feet in length along the back, so if I was in such a box, I’d have to bend my neck forwards in order to fit. I can’t imagine what that would be like after several hours.

    What is even more disturbing is the sheer size of the torture operation: it was/is truly global, with torture camps (and I am deliberately using that expression) spread across the Europe and the middle east. The question becomes one of where weren’t they torturing people? Even Poland had one of these torture camps. Poland! Did they just go and have mass amnesia about their own tragic past during WWII? The Death Camps, the Ghettos beseiged and starved to death? It’s tragically clear that Egypt was the tip of the tip of the tip of the torture chamber iceberg.

    What can we take away from 9/11? Well, if you have pissed off a former (Republican) president, then expect any terrorist attack to be used as an excuse to mount a massive invasion—even if your country had nothing to do with the terrorism in the first place. Expect people to be rounded up—apparently at random—and locked up around the world, tortured at length, and then locked up for an indefinite period without trial, without charge, without even evidence. Expect the MSM to go along with using euphemisms like “enhanced interrogation techniques”, or to savage any critic of the policy for dealing with the aftermath of a terrorist attack. Expect people to be put on “kill lists” on the say-so of tortured detainees, even if there is absolutely no evidence the detainee is telling the truth.

    The people behind 9/11 and those who carried the attacks out are/were absolute bastards, beyond redemption. To use that as an excuse to perpetrate atrocities against random people who got in the way, that’s unconscionable. The whole thing is unravelling fast.

  32. Donald Oats
    December 11th, 2014 at 09:15 | #32

    Add this to the list of broken promises. Man, they are good at the triple reverse somersault with bellyflop finish.

  33. Fran Barlow
    December 11th, 2014 at 09:41 | #33

    @Donald Oats

    It is indeed. No human being, no matter how heinous his or her conduct has been or was likely to become, ought to be deal with in this way. There are never grounds for torture. Had I been held by criminals in some place, I would not want any person tortured in the hope of effecting my rescue and would condemn it if such were done.

    Respect for life and the dignity of the person is, IMO, paramount. To depart from that absolute rule taints those who wink at it.

    I do wonder what a person concerned in such heinous criminal activity says to his family on return from ‘work’ or how he or she explains their ‘ethics’. That such folk share our streets is indeed beyond troubling.

    Principled conduct is typically inconvenient and often costly because it constrains one’s options. That one is willing to pay whatever price is demanded to honour the principle distinguishes adherence to principle from mere cant. Yet a person of principle enjoys something denied to those who have none: we know who stares back from the mirror each morning, and can be happy in our own skins. The unprincipled person is mere ethical flotsam, unaware where the tide will take them and at the call of happenstance. Such folk can never know happiness or authntic community or their own possibility which, in the end, is all that lends life warrant.

  34. Donald Oats
    December 11th, 2014 at 09:45 | #34

    I sincerely hope that our politicians, especially LNP politicians, and cross benchers, all politicians serving in government, reflect carefully and fully upon the enormity of the torture report (for that is what it is). Reflect, and then realise we are yielding the rights of Australians in the same way that the USA has done for its citizens. We can be spied upon, using our own computers and mobile devices to do the spying; we can be detained in secret, held without charge, without sighting evidence; released and gagged from telling anyone where you’ve been or even that you were abducted and detained at all, with incarceration as punishment for transgression; we can find ourselves facing court, trying to explain how all this porno ended up on our computing devices, when in fact it was planted—legally—by ASIO or an allied agency; we can find we have no recourse against evidence our legal counsel cannot even see. The list goes on. Apparently our Attorney General is a trustworthy kind of guy, so it is alright to give him the discretion in these matters. You just know he’ll take the citizen’s interests to heart. Sure he will.

  35. BilB
    December 11th, 2014 at 09:57 | #35

    Donald Oats, that Jeff Seeney item (#17) is beyond belief.

    What stunning ignorance/arrogance.

  36. Megan
    December 11th, 2014 at 10:36 | #36

    There is a group of (real) Christians named “Love Makes a Way” calling for humane treatment of refugees – especially the release of children from all detention.

    They are non-partisan and have been doing sit-ins at electorate offices of MPs from both branches of the ALP/LNP duopoly.

    They sit and pray and read out literature about treating people humanely. They don’t even make much noise and they don’t disrupt the office workers, apart from hopefully making them uncomfortable about their complicity in crimes against humanity.

    Yesterday some of the were arrested at Julie Bishop’s office:

    More than 7 hours elapsed between the arrival of police and arrests being made. At the Perth Watch House each of the church leaders was refused the opportunity to seek legal advice, stripped naked and searched. The church leaders repeatedly expressed that they did not consent to the search, and repeatedly advised police that they were not in possession of firearms or drugs.

    The Immmigration Minister attempted to send 25 babies and their families to Nauru on Friday 5 December, but later relented and delayed their departure until 30 January. Across Australia on Wednesday more than 50 church leaders staged sit-ins in the offices of government politicians to dramatise the danger to these babies and to seek a change in the decision.

    Participants in the Perth sit-in included an Anglican Priest, a Uniting Church Minister, Pentecostal and Churches of Christ Pastors, and lay leaders.

    Teresa Lee of WestCity Church of Christ said ‘Even if you strip-search us, even if you make us squat and cough, even if you threaten us, we will not stop fighting for freedom for these precious babies’.

    (Media release from the facebook of Anglican Diocese Bunbury).

    I haven’t seen this mentioned in the establishment media, but I think most Australians would find that treatment abhorrent.

  37. Helen
    December 11th, 2014 at 11:03 | #37

    Megan,

    The latest insight by Paul Sheehan in The Age is that Tony Abbott is a really nice guy, the problem is his (female) Chief of Staff. (I’m not linking – as Dorothy Parker at Loon Pond says, it only encourages them)

    You can always use this free service. ( forgot to do that in my link to the Hun above, my bad!)
    http://www.donotlink.com/

  38. rog
    December 11th, 2014 at 15:43 | #38

    Les Murray claims Abbott pulled a swifty by co-awarding Flanagan the prize. The judges were unanimous in their opinion that it is a stupid and pretentious book

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/books/les-murray-claims-abbott-swifty-on-richard-flanagan-book/story-e6frg8nf-1227151785011

  39. rog
    December 11th, 2014 at 15:51 | #39
  40. Megan
    December 11th, 2014 at 16:06 | #40

    @Fran Barlow

    I do wonder what a person concerned in such heinous criminal activity says to his family on return from ‘work’ or how he or she explains their ‘ethics’.

    Well, apparently: “The non-stop use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques was disturbing to CIA personnel at DETENTION SITE GREEN. These CIA personnel objected to the continued use of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques against Abu Zubaydah, but were instructed by CIA Headquarters to continue using the techniques…”Several on the team profoundly affected.. .some to the point of tears and choking up. [Page 473]”

    How awful for them! Choking up, nearly crying! Poor things – who will think of the torturers?

    Others had some additional incentive: “The two psychologists who helped the CIA create the torture techniques earned over $81 million. [Page 11]”

    From the report it seems most of these scumbags, from the architect Cheney all the way down, LOVED what they were doing. As I said – the USA is a very sick, fascist place.

    One thing I find interesting/worrying is that we have CIA apologists – even right here – who are silent about these atrocities and would deny that such things happen if it wasn’t proven. Even after the evidence they can rationalize away their undying defence of the indefensible.

  41. Donald Oats
    December 11th, 2014 at 16:30 | #41

    @rog
    While it may well be true that the judges unanimously awarded it to Steven Carroll prior to PM Tony Abbott’s intervention, Les Murray’s comments were a bit rough. Les is a self-confessed true conservative, so I can well imagine he mightn’t have found much to like in Flanagan’s book, and fair enough: if that is how your tastes go, that is how they go. Kicking Flanagan in the head over it is a bit rude though. If anyone is to be criticised, let it be the intervenor, not the author(s). In any case, I’m not really sure that PM Tony Abbott can be criticised for intervening in a case where the rules apparently allow it. This story is a beat-up, all in all.

    Now for some funnier news: Ballarat (sic) ruled out naming a suburb “Mullawallah”, claims being made that it would be too hard to spell. Aren’t we talking about a spoken language, rather than a written one? Surely if it is that hard to spell, a little trimming could be done, say “Muh”, for instance. Even just “M” as nice golden arches.

    To be fair to the council, they were responding to over 100 complaints from members of the public. I can’t help wondering if they were written complaints or not…

  42. Megan
    December 11th, 2014 at 19:58 | #42

    For those with the stomach, and inclination to download a 500 page pdf, the Senate CIA Torture Report is here.

  43. Megan
    December 12th, 2014 at 00:35 | #43

    An official US Senate report comes out documenting horrific torture by our ‘greatest ally’ and it gets about half a day of establishment media coverage, and even that is ‘balanced’ by the weird concept that we should keep discussion to parameters of whether the torture ‘worked’ or not.

    Compare and contrast:

    A highly paid sportsman doing what he loves in a dangerous sport gets hit in the head by a ball and dies.

    Two weeks of full-on ‘front page’ establishment media wall-to-wall coverage and a state of national mourning.

  44. rog
    December 12th, 2014 at 05:50 | #44

    This could be filed under “broken promises..etc”

    The Vertigan report recommending that the NBN be virtually broken up and scrapped

    http://www.communications.gov.au/broadband/telecommunications_regulatory_reform

  45. December 12th, 2014 at 06:25 | #45

    The federal government is apparently setting up a task force to argue that the Barrier Reef is not endangered.

    Why don’t the hopeless losers actually do something about it?

    Sorry civility is deserting me when having to read each day what the Abbott government is doing.

  46. December 12th, 2014 at 07:28 | #46

    @Megan
    I’m feeling a bit guilty Megan, since you just made an important point about shortness of attention and I, in a way, confirmed your theory by bringing up the a Barrier Reef fiasco shortly after.

    The torture report (I haven’t read it, will try to so so but possibly know enough from what’s been reported here) is like something that is almost so big that it’s difficult to deal with, like poverty, because it almost seems to require us dropping our everyday preoccupations to deal with. But I guess this is like the old ‘how do you eat an elephant?’ ‘One bite at a time’ chestnut ( not one that I particularly like as a vegetarian and great fan of elephants). So where would we start in doing something about this, in responding to this report and hopefully getting a report from federal government when it sits again.

    The greens I suppose are the most likely to raise this in parliament. Would Labor I wonder? Some of you here, with a more cynical attitude to politics, would possibly say it will only produce a token response at best, but what else can be done? Maybe this is a matter for international courts – would it be criminal court or court of justice?

  47. Donald Oats
    December 12th, 2014 at 11:24 | #47

    The head of the CIA John Brennan vigorously defends the indefensible, once more. If I were he, I’d be demanding that the US government never put the CIA’s staff in the position of having to torture, or to ordering the torture, of captured people. We all know how bad the aftermath of torture is on the captive, but it is also psychologically destructive of the individuals ordered to do it: they are immensely conflicted between their duty and their humanity; none of them want to be the one who didn’t obey orders, only to have a terrorist act committed which their captive knew about beforehand (however unlikely that scenario in practice, 24 notwithstanding). Furthermore, those staff who actually conduct torture are in the front row seat seeing a person dismantled before their very eyes. Noone is a winner where torture is concerned. That Director Brennan even feels the need to defend what the CIA has done, that’s a tragedy.

    I’m not the first to wonder this, but some of the torture as practised strikes me as being all about payback, and perhaps a smidge of the US government’s cover-our-arses policy, in the sense that if another terrorist attack were to take place on US soil, the CIA could say “Look, we did everything we could do, hey, we were even torturing people—they just wouldn’t talk before they died. Oh well.” In the main, the extent and the duration of the torture on specific individuals looks designed to break the person, to leave them jumpy and with nightmares forever, once they were released from US custody—which in most cases was an inevitability, given the lack of evidence of the slightest shred of wrong doing.

    If the US were to go after individuals who were training in pseudo-military boot camps for a coming fight with the federal government of the US, then they’d be arresting a not insignificant fraction of their own population. But they don’t: they simply monitor them, leaving them to their own batshit crazy little fantasy games that go nowhere; the very few who are a problem are picked up on criminal charges, not on anti-terrorism charges (as a rule). For those individuals in other countries who participated in pseudo-military boot camps, there was no crime but they were hoovered up in the big man-catch of 2001/2002 in Afghanistan. Mr Hicks was presumably one of them, although I don’t claim to know that for sure. Anyway, the onus was put on the captured to “prove” their innocence under torture. Good one, John Brennan.

  48. Donald Oats
    December 12th, 2014 at 11:25 | #48

    For those of you who are thinking “I wonder what blunder the government will make today?”, I can recommend reading this week’s First Dog on the Moon cartoon in the Guardian online edition.

  49. Donald Oats
    December 12th, 2014 at 11:40 | #49

    PM Tony Abbott has come out defending his head of staff, Peta Credlin. So far, so fair. He suggested that his colleagues should take a long hard look at themselves, suggesting that their criticism of Peta is sexist in nature. WTF?? When Julia Gillard gave the now famous “Misogyny” speech, she was shouted down by most of the Abbott opposition, and the Murdoch MSM gave a few solid kicks for good measure. So, what is different now, Mr Abbott? If Peta Credlin had been PM, had made the misogyny speech, would he have the same opinion as now?

    Shameless and gormless.

  50. Troy Prideaux
    December 12th, 2014 at 13:38 | #50

    Just been on hold for 30mins to one of our big 4 banks trying to organise some equipment finance for some rooftop solar. Gave up waiting… and these places make multi billion dollar profits it would appear without even trying 🙁

  51. zoot
    December 12th, 2014 at 13:52 | #51

    @Donald Oats
    Maybe it’s time for Tony to “Ditch the Witch”?

  52. Megan
    December 12th, 2014 at 19:30 | #52

    @Donald Oats

    Re: Peta Credlin.

    I usually get the feeling, when hearing the PM blurt away with one of those pre-packaged and strictly managed phrases which appear to be pitched at an audience with the comprehension ability of a twelve-year-old (ie: the Murdoch demographic), that “Credlin told him to say that”.

    Things like the 3 word slogans and “debt and deficit disaster”.

    When I heard the “P-E-T-E-R not P-E-T-A” soundgrab today I thought exactly the same thing: “Credlin told him to say that”.

  53. Ikonoclast
    December 12th, 2014 at 21:35 | #53

    @Troy Prideaux

    That story doesn’t surprise me. Capitalism has a default setting now where rich corporations make wealth by doing virtually nothing except churning pre-set processes on captured and trapped customers. Any customer who doesn’t fit the churn frame or wants to change something has not a hope in heck.

    Bank keep current business and capture new business by default-sharing because so-called “competition” which is really cartel cooperation has seen them all dead-heat in the race to the bottom. They give zero customer service beyond the automated processes that tick their profit line over.

    You literally have to work hard to become their customer. In the same way you have to work to pump gas, inflate your tires and clean your windscreen at the filling stattion. Or work to fill your shopping trolley and work to check it out at the self-checkout. Corporations now make customers work for them. It’s all very clever when you think about it.

  54. Donald Oats
    December 12th, 2014 at 21:51 | #54

    @Megan
    Could be. If so, it displays a misjudgement as to how the media will treat it: every time PM Tony Abbott fronts up for the ol’ doorstep interview now, some bright spark is going to ask him to be more expansive on who he was referring to when he said there were some people who need to take a long hard look at themselves.

    Personally, I think Peta Credlin has fallen foul of being both highly visible for someone in the role she plays, and keeping a tight leash on communications between ministers and media. The media don’t like that, and ministers—some of whom are of suffering D-K effect—believe they should be the ones announcing stuff and feeding the chooks, as it were. They leak what is essentially their frustration with PM Tony Abbott, for it is his PMO—i.e. the PMO operate under the discretion of the PM—but they are too timid to take their frustrations directly to the PM, by letter or by physically catching up with him.

    The same error of judgement was made in the case of the execution of PM Kevin Rudd: at what stage did the frustrated ministers and senators get together in a meeting with Rudd, and properly explain their frustrations, perhaps even taking several meetings, and a plan to work it out together? As far as I’m aware, if there were any meetings at all, it was as a conclusion looking for an excuse to harden their opposition to Rudd, rather than a meeting to sort through issues and to solve them together over time. The LNP members leaking to the press are committing the same mistake: surely they haven’t already decided to discard a current PM? Surely they observed the ALP’s implosion with a professional eye, rather than missing the lessons to be learned, perhaps too preoccupied with their blizzard of tweets to send while sitting around in a boring Question Time session after a pound of blue steak and a bottle of the finest red?

  55. Megan
    December 12th, 2014 at 23:38 | #55

    @Donald Oats

    I don’t agree with some of that.

    …ministers—some of whom are of suffering D-K effect—believe they should be the ones announcing stuff…

    I despise the LNP, and the ALP for that matter, as I have made clear frequently. But I have a great respect for the skeleton of our democratic system as it is supposed to function. I reckon we have a problem if a “Minister of The Crown” duly sworn blah blah blah should, for whatever reason, not “believe they should be the ones announcing stuff”.

    The Puppeteers (of our ALP/LNP duopoly) need to understand and accept that.

    As far as taking “frustrations directly to the PM” – seriously?

    Remember way back in 2006/2007 when every sentient being was aware that Howard was doomed and the LNP inner-circle elite tried to give him the nudge and get him to hand over to Costello? Howard sent Downer back to the plotters with a challenge none of them could stomach.

    Notice how all the terribly unhappy LNP MPs are too gutless to either go on the record or publicly quit the party and become independents.

    Whatever it is they claim Credlin is preventing them from doing, they can’t be serious about it because if they were they would do something more dramatic than whinge in a “backgrounder” to an establishment media hack.

    Same applies to the ALP under Rudd/Gillard. Either sort it out in private or make it totally public and stand on your “principles”.

  56. Donald Oats
    December 13th, 2014 at 00:08 | #56

    @Megan
    I stand corrected on the ministers and announcements concerning their portfolios.

    My comment about taking their specific frustrations to the PM I think is reasonable: if the PM rejects a minister’s complaints out of hand, or gives them the I’m listening but not going to act on it behaviour, then as a minister, they should accept that they no longer have the confidence of the PM, and offer their resignation on that basis. The thing is, they won’t do that, they’ll try and hold on to their power instead. Still, it is their call. I agree with you on this too.

  57. Megan
    December 13th, 2014 at 00:08 | #57

    PS- This isn’t just an “Abbott” thing. It is a neo-con phenomenon all across the US empire.

    A year or so ago I was at an event and the Queensland AG was there. That morning some legislative/regulatory changes had been announced to do with abolishing ‘Transit Lanes’ on the M1.

    When asked about it he replied: “Yes, I just heard about that in the car on the way here on B105” – (B105 is a local ‘rock’ fm station). He was genuinely surprised at the news.

    This is where our “democracy” has gone while we were all fighting pointless ALP v LNP battles.

    They have all abdicated to the 1%. And it’s a lucrative business.

    We need to get our democracy back.

  58. Donald Oats
    December 13th, 2014 at 19:43 | #58

    This story about the extent and the cost of the cuts to CSIRO is worth a gander—it was on the (now national) Friday 7:30, ABC 21. Ian MacFarlane’s comments about the overall science budget going up were, in my opinion at least, disingenuous—see budget totals for 2013/2014 financial year cf 2014/2015 fy (Table 1, last row). The 13/14 total budget is $9577.5m, while the estimate for 14/15 is $9191.5m; unless I’m misunderstanding the table, unless I missed some generous announcement, that is a decline in funding, not an increase. To quote the minister’s own words from the 7:30 story:

    CONOR DUFFY: Today in Hobart, Ian Macfarlane and CSIRO executives were celebrating the launch of a new $120 million research ship called The Investigator. The minister described the cuts as minimal.

    IAN MACFARLANE, INDUSTRY MINISTER: Well CSIRO actually had a very small cut relative to its overall budget and if you look at the overall science budget in Australia of over $9.3 billion.

    CONOR DUFFY: Ian Macfarlane says the Government will establish five new centres to partner science and industry.

    IAN MACFARLANE: Well we’re not slashing funding to science. As I’ve just said, the science budget in my portfolio went up in the last budget. That’s a fact.

    Sigh 🙁 What can you do.

  59. Donald Oats
    December 14th, 2014 at 15:05 | #59

    Joe Hockey has made reference to the “bloated” Australian Public Service inherited from Labor; there is only one problem: the APS has been significantly larger, even when serving a much smaller Australian population. In 1968 the APS had 211652 staff in total; in 2013, it had 167257. I’ve picked on 1968 because that is the year of the highest staff count since the APS’s inception. Anyway, my arithmetic says that the 2013 total is only 79% of the 1968 total. If you want bloated, look no further than the Liberals, for in 1968 Australia was under Liberal rule, as it had been for a considerable time before then.

    Instead of carrying on like a pork chop in the hot noon day sun, Treasurer Joe Hockey could spend his time more profitably, perhaps learning a little about the APS and its functions. Perhaps he could figure out appropriate budgets for effectively fulfilling the role, and not just hack and slash some arbitrary number of jobs written down on the back of a napkin one night before the election. Or whatever.

    Unfortunately, with the terms of trade in the diabolicals (see why we shouldn’t be just a shovel and saw economy, Joe), there is little doubt a new napkin will soon be ready…

  60. Hermit
    December 14th, 2014 at 15:59 | #60

    Yet another reason why Direct Action will probably never happen will be the lack of competent public servants to administer it. A large number of firms (200?) will need to have their ‘baselines’ assessed then monitored then tax funded lollies issued for good behaviour. I don’t see how it can possibly happen which could be why Greg Hunt wasn’t sent to Lima to explain it.

  61. BilB
    December 14th, 2014 at 17:44 | #61

    That is not exactly a fair comparison, DonaldO. First up I agree with your thinking generally, but in this case you are comparing a public service pre large scale computer automation to a public service highly computer automated. So the population has gone up hugely and the public service has gone down slightly. Primary differences? Computers, software, time and population. Too many variables for a fair kick in the arse.

    I am totally bemused by Hockey’s today claim that while unemployment is skyrocketting, “it would have been worse under Labour!!!!” This lot just can’t be honest no matter what.

    I predicted a recession before the last election if Abbott was elected, I think that they are right on track for a recession just before the next election if it is held on schedule. Therefore there just might be an early election to hide the impending doom.

  62. chrisl
    December 14th, 2014 at 18:47 | #62

    Donald Oats Dont forget privatisation. The likes of Telstra,airports etc are now in public (Shareholders) hands

  63. December 15th, 2014 at 22:58 | #63

    Last Thursday I was at Rottnest, and bought a newspaper with a decidedly leftist, or rather just plain weird, leaning. I can’t remember its name, but it was the third edition. It had a revue of Russell Brand’s book, a piece defending Russia, a piece about how the Rothschilds still run the world.

    Does anyone know about this newspaper, and who funds it?

  64. rog
    December 16th, 2014 at 06:30 | #64

    Despite the current downturn those involved in the coal industry ie shippers and miners are set to invest $5B in another coal loader at Newcastle.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-12-16/245bil-newcastle-t4-coal-loading-terminal-granted-approval/5969372

  65. kevin1
    December 16th, 2014 at 19:39 | #65

    The Sydney hostage incident and its aftermath, is a potential teaching moment. So far we have seen encouraging sentiments towards the “other” in our society – as the chauvinist “Team Australia” theme is promoted by Abbott, this incident is the opportunity for dissenters to push back. Radical ideas are not yet a crime, despite the implications from our PM. taking full opportunity to ingratiate himself to the nation with his anodyne comments.

    Nicholas Cowderoy, the former NSW DPP, was interviewed on 7.30 TV tonight, and made some relevant comments in response to the anticipated objection of bail conditions being granted to the hostage-taker and his response included that the perpetrator was not convicted of anything. It could also have been noted that the perpetrator made statements about his weapons being a pen and words, and that Australia (he carried an Australian flag not an ISIS flag) should not be suborned to America. Hmm, a lot of people here could identify with those sentiments.

    Malcolm Turnbull’s media interview was also broadcast, he talked about being on a train this morning and his perception of how people felt, the fear but also the love, and how to interpret this. He didn’t acknowledge it, but using public transport is where Turnbull (whose electorate is the 3rd highest income group in Australia – 2 ahead of Abbott, and 1 behind Hockey) is forced – in a small way – to experience the life of ordinary people in its unavoidable mixing of different classes and tribes. Where else would he get such authenticity?

    Because the media is searching for relevance, the opportunities from this event for introspective chatter which enhances our knowledge of ourselves is good. We can contemplate on:

    1. the quality of our political leadership, and our functional (security) leadership
    2. how we expect our justice system to work, when under stress
    3. is our military adventurism in the middle east related to what happens here
    4. the democratising role of joint services like public transport and by extension, public education and public health, in fusing the leaders and plebs towards a common understanding and goals
    5. how our media performs, as information brokers and messengers between leaders and led.

  66. rog
    December 18th, 2014 at 10:01 | #66

    ANZ to release details of carbon emissions from projects which they have funded.

    “..we are supporting the transition to a lower carbon economy.”

    http://www.asx.com.au/asxpdf/20141218/pdf/42vkmczrtjb20m.pdf

  67. Megan
    December 20th, 2014 at 01:14 | #67

    Compare the 24/7 (literally) media coverage and outpouring of grief over what looks like a botched militarized police over-reaction to a hostage siege resulting in 3 deaths on Monday with the bland coverage of the massacre of 8 black children in Cairns today.

    We are a very sick country.

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