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Monday Message Board

May 11th, 2015

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. Ikonoclast
    May 11th, 2015 at 07:38 | #1

    With government policies to induce older people to work longer and encourage parents to do more paid work, one would think we faced a labour shortage. However, we do not. We face a job shortage. Why is there this absurd disconnect between government policy to encourage more people to seek work and the reality that there are not enough jobs?

  2. tony lynch
    May 11th, 2015 at 10:52 | #2

    Come on Ikonoclast. You know. Its the logic of neoliberal rule. So: We need an army of unemployed and underemployed. They are necessary to discipline the workforce, and keep inflation down. Mind you, all the unemployed are lazy sponging bastards who could get a job it they wanted.

  3. Ivor
    May 11th, 2015 at 11:17 | #3

    The disconnect represents a contradiction of capitalist accumulation in its dying stages.

    When capitalism is young (colonial era) or is being refreshed after catastrophe (WW I and II) then accumulation of capital is relatively low, and practically any job, or level of skilled labour can produce enough surplus to provide a return on the amount of Capital in existance.

    However when Capital accumulates it needs to extract more surplus to maintain its usual profit rates.

    So, when a large pile of Capital accumulates, only some jobs will have the necessary productivity, and only some workers will have the necessary skills or labour power, and then for only a shorter period in the adult years.

    So we end up with mountains of Capital, but fewer jobs, frantic efforts for most to get ahead through education, and an expanding underclass, ejected from capitalism, that SBS can use to make entertaining programs for the chattering classes to amuse themselves over.

    This is simply pure, orthodox, Marxism.

  4. May 11th, 2015 at 13:01 | #4

    There is a rumour that is hopefully sweeping UWA, largely because I’m propagating it.

    Its that the UWA VC’s decision to axe the Lomborg consensus centre was caused by UWA’s only Nobel laureate, Barry Marshall, threatening to resign from UWA if it went ahead. This would cause UWA to drop out of the top 100 university rankings – something that the VC would really rather not happen.

    This is only a rumour. It has no basis in fact. But it is so delicious that it is worth spreading.

  5. Ikonoclast
    May 11th, 2015 at 13:24 | #5

    @tony lynch

    Yes, I know the answer. The thing is it is emperor’s new clothes stuff. Putting forward such absurd and nonsensical policies should make the government the butt of instant and total ridicule. Yet the charade goes on, treating Abbott as if he a serious PM and this government as if it is a serious government. We are ruled by the Abbottonian Stupidity Cult.

  6. Ikonoclast
    May 11th, 2015 at 13:33 | #6


    Certainly, we are in stage of capital overaccumulation. This is a crisis, or the beginnings of one, though few recognise it yet.

    The interesting thing to me is this. The capitalist system of production has this systemic and systematic bias towards capital overaccumulation and impoverishment of workers. Only crises of destruction (depressions and wars) or stern government action can correct this bias in practice. Any engineer developing a machine or complex system which demonstrated such systemic and systematic bias and required large inputs of energy, materials, money and human control to fight the inherent bias, would conclude that the machine or system needs to be radically redesigned. This is really the only logical consclusion.

  7. May 11th, 2015 at 13:35 | #7


    Deep down people must know this, but until they lose their job it just doesn’t rise to the surface of their consciousness.

    I explained to my son the other day that in the early 80’s, all one had to do to qualify as looking for work was write “CES and newspapers” on the dole form. He was horrified at this. I explained that back then governments actually felt bad if they didn’t provide full employment.

    But just how do we stop the slide into dystopia?

  8. Donald Oats
    May 11th, 2015 at 14:09 | #8

    The big laugh about the continued emphasis on getting people into jobs is that the government spent the past year pushing middle-aged and older staff out of jobs.

    The second big chuckle of the day is that several members of the leadership team (Australia) think that $185k isn’t a large income for households by Sydney standards, so God knows what this implies about their views for the median wage in Australia: perhaps they think it is chump change?

  9. zoot
    May 11th, 2015 at 14:39 | #9

    The Copenhagen Consensus Center is now registered in the USA and I visited its home page:
    where I found this explanation as to why the centre’s address is a mail forwarding service.

    Our research is not done in-house, we work with more than 100 of the world’s top economists (including 7 Nobel Laureates) located at some of the most prestigious universities and organization world-wide, to identify the most bang-for-the-buck solutions to global challenges. In addition we collaborate with contractors and volunteers to disseminate the results in different countries and languages.

    By organizing ourselves as a network, we can work with the smartest people regardless of where in the world the might be located. Most of our core team, consisting of about 8 full-time project managers and communication people are working from Budapest. Despite the name we no longer have an office in Copenhagen. Our president and founder Bjorn Lomborg resides in Prague, but travels more than 200 days per year for conferences, seminars, meetings and interviews.

    We use cloud-services for all our documents, mailing lists, multimedia and project management. Team meetings are mostly conducted via Skype. Mailing services, translations and other specialized tasks are outsourced to professionals. …

    Mr Pyne, why do we need that Australian based centre?
    Mr Lomborg has used synergistic cutting edge technology to make the organisation’s physical presence in any country completely unnecessary. All he needs is a PO Box.

  10. Megan
    May 11th, 2015 at 20:37 | #10

    Eight police officers were killed and 37 were injured in the gun battles, which began at dawn Saturday, and 14 bodies were also found at the site, the spokesman said earlier.

    The assailants were from “a particularly dangerous terrorist group” whose members included people sought on international arrest warrants, Kotevski said.

    It looks like the Empire is desperate to get this WWIII going.

    Where better to start than the Balkans, a bit stereotyped but that’s their form. Never an original idea.

    If we’re lucky we’ll get the leaks shortly confirming US/CIA involvement.

  11. Megan
    May 11th, 2015 at 21:09 | #11

    Turns out the US lied about the “kill or capture” Bin Laden execution.

    Well knock me over with a feather! I had no idea.

    The US is a fascist Empire, and we Australians are complicit.

  12. rog
    May 11th, 2015 at 21:55 | #12

    Just a passing thought, wonder how much the media gains from election advertising and therefore, what is democracy worth as a business input?

    The U.S. spent ~$6B in 2012, not a bad earner.

  13. Donald Oats
    May 11th, 2015 at 23:25 | #13

    Excellent points.

  14. Ikonoclast
    May 12th, 2015 at 08:29 | #14


    Which major power is not a “fascist empire” (for want of better teminology)? Are China or Russia any better than the USA? The answer is emphatically no. Indeed, they are likely worse domestically, hard as that might be to believe. Abroad they have far less reach than the USA and so are more constrained in that sphere.

    The only geopolitical-geostrategic reason that some small nations still experience any peace or freedom at all is that the three great absolutist powers counterbalance each other, creating a stalemate in the nuclear age, and small states “bandwagon” with a great ally.

    “At the core of the balance of power theory is the idea that national security is enhanced when military capabilities are distributed so that no one state is strong enough to dominate all others. If one state gains inordinate power, the theory predicts that it will take advantage of its strength and attack weaker neighbors thereby providing an incentive for those threatened to unite in a defensive coalition. Some realists maintain that this would be more stable as aggression would appear unattractive and would be averted if there was equilibrium of power between the rival coalitions.” – Wikipedia.

    Weaker states, like Australia, bandwagon. “… to ally with the dominant power means placing one’s trust in its continued benevolence…. States choose to bandwagon because it may be a form of appeasement as the bandwagoner may hope to avoid an attack by diverting it elsewhere—a defensive reason—or because it may align with the dominant side in wartime to share the spoils of victory—an offensive reason.”

  15. tony lynch
    May 12th, 2015 at 11:07 | #15


    Consider prison populations. Really.

    Consider police killings. Really.

    And now tell me about the ‘geopolitical, geostrategic’ convergent pressures.

  16. Ikonoclast
    May 12th, 2015 at 12:03 | #16

    @tony lynch

    I am not sure which statement you are taking issue with. Probably it is the statement “Indeed, they (Russia and China) are likely worse domestically, hard as that might be to believe.”

    If so, that might be fair enough.

    Incarceration Rate per 100,000 population

    USA 707
    Russian Federation 470
    China 150 (approx.)

    I am not sure how reliable these figures from Wikipedia are.

    China has a considerably higher execution rate per capita (by several times). I can’t find a figure for Russia.

    Police killings is a hard statistic to find (at least for me). Most nation states don’t keep accurate stats on police kills and/or don’t define them and/or keep them fairly secret. Overall, I doubt one could make a case that Russia and China are free-er domestically than the USA. One could perhaps make the case they are no worse. It depends a lot of course what class you belong to. The USA has a lot of freedom for the more priveleged classes (not that that is anything to boast about when the poor are so unfree politically and economically).

    Not sure what to tell you about “geopolitical, geostrategic” convergent pressures other than that they seem to be very real. Corporatism/oligarchy plus a secret state supporting the same would seem to be the basic setup of each of the big three now. Orwell’s 1984 dystopian vision has proven most prophetic at least in the sense of predicting three authoritarian blocs in endless conflict (currently by proxy wars, border wars, drone wars, cyber wars, trade wars, currency wars and espionage wars).

  17. Troy Prideaux
    May 12th, 2015 at 12:32 | #17

    What you also haven’t mentioned there is political prisoners. Who know how many of those exist, particularly in China?

  18. Ikonoclast
    May 12th, 2015 at 12:36 | #18

    @Troy Prideaux

    That’s a good point. I simply don’t know if prison stats for China are for criminal prisoners only or not. I simply don’t know if political prisoners in China are another category hidden from standard internationally gathered incarneration statistics. I wonder if anyone commenting here knows more on this issue and/or can point to some verified data?

  19. Ikonoclast
    May 12th, 2015 at 12:57 | #19

    @Donald Oats

    That’s interesting. There are 4 adults in my household; one semi-professional worker, one retired worker and two adult fulltime students with no current part-time earnings.

    The little caclulator shows we are a 50th percentile household for income relative to household size (and age). I guess this means we’re are median but not average. We are actually of course a below average household on this income measure. This is good or a good joke, I am not sure which. I can stop feeling guilty for being an over-privileged Australian because apparently I am not over-privileged.

    This illustrates to me how absurdly high our expectations are as a society. Apparently mature households like mine are median, not even average, and yet would have (I would guess);

    (a) A 3 or 4 bedroom house with an office or study.
    (b) 2 or 3 bathrooms.
    (c) 3 cars
    (d) 2 TVs
    (e) 2 desktop PCs and internet connection.
    (f) 3 laptops
    (g) 4 mobile phones.
    (h) half a million positive equity in house and land.
    (g) a million positive equity in super accounts, shares or the equivalent thereof.

    And that just puts you at the 50th percentile! Hilarious!

  20. Ikonoclast
    May 12th, 2015 at 13:12 | #20

    Footnote: Maybe my example above illustrated a household that is income average but not asset average. Anyone know these numbers and how they relate?

    For example, a million in super funds sounds a lot but it would generate (I guess) only about $40,000 p.a. safe income, if that, (non-depleting) or maybe $60,000 p.a. if you depleted it at quite a hefty rate.

  21. Ikonoclast
    May 12th, 2015 at 18:09 | #21

    2nd footnote.

    I see I am not far off in my estimates.

    The MYOB site says;

    “A common rule of thumb is that if you want to retire at 60, you will need about 15 times the amount you have calculated for your annual after-tax retirement expenses. So if you estimate $60,000 per year then you will need $900,000 (in super).”

    So next question, does the average couple have this amount in super now at 60? Will they in the years ahead? And what happens in a world of capital over-accumulation wich arguably we are entering? One would assume in such a world that capital investments will collapse in value at some point. After all, the capital must collapse to match real assets, real production and income.

    Much “wealth” now is inflated asset wealth. Look at Australian housing (and flats and units) which are arguably valued at about 2.5 times their genuine market fundamental value on average. The crash in these assets has to come sooner or later. House prices have gone from about 3 times a years gross wages to about 7 to 8 times a years gross wages. This has occured from about 1983 to 2013. Since fundamental value must related to returns (on investments) and the ability to repay (on home mortgages) then this would seem to indicate a problem.

  22. Megan
    May 12th, 2015 at 21:34 | #22

    Now Indonesia is doing “Stop The Boats“.

    JAKARTA: A boat carrying hundreds of migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh has been towed out of Indonesian waters, a navy spokesman said Tuesday (May 12), but it remains unclear where the vessel is destined next.

    The vessel arrived off Aceh early Monday with about 400 migrants on board, local authorities estimated, one of a series of vessels to arrive in Indonesia and Malaysia in recent days carrying people from Myanmar and Bangladesh.

    But the Indonesian navy confirmed Tuesday it had provided the boat with fuel and towed it out of Indonesian waters, declining to say if it was heading to Malaysia, its suspected destination.

    “It was towed out of Indonesian territory,” Manahan Simorangkir told AFP. “We gave them fuel and asked them to proceed. We are not forcing them to go to Malaysia nor Australia. That is not our business. Our business is they don’t enter Indonesia because Indonesia is not the destination.”

    Another boat carrying an estimated 600 migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh arrived in the north of Aceh, the westernmost province of Indonesia, at the weekend.

    Many of those aboard are ethnic Rohingya, considered by the UN to be one of the world’s most persecuted minorities.

    Buddhist-majority Myanmar views its population of roughly 1.3 million Rohingya as illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, and they have been targeted in outbreaks of sectarian violence there in recent years, prompting many to flee.

    There are about 8,000 refugees dying aboard hulks floating in the Straits of Malacca (narrow strait between Malaysia and Indonesia – one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes). Our TVs, sneakers and cheap consumables are cruising past this human tragedy and not a single Australian politician or media outlet gives a damn.

    Shame on us.

  23. Megan
    May 12th, 2015 at 23:32 | #23

    Can Fran Barlow (or anyone else in the Greens) tell me why the silence on this unfolding tragedy, and also on the internet ban on Nauru, from the Greens?

    What is going on?

  24. paul walter
    May 13th, 2015 at 07:37 | #24

    Megan, The Greens and Labor probably recognise that asylum seekers can be a divisive issue and a dangerous one for Australian democracy, at this stage.

    Of the two main groupings, the Coalition is the harder-nosed of the two, the public have had a glimpse of just how hard nosed it can be from last year’s Cameronist budget and treatment of aborigines, asylum seekers and people on welfare.

    Labor is also neo- liberal, but only a softer second option for Murdoch and high finance and as the Brit elections as well as recent ones here have demonstrated, the traditional second big party is in trouble in a deindustrialised era, where hard conservatism is set to gain a definitive hold on power long term.

    For now, the Greens don’t want to be the issue, or for that matter Labor; they want attention to be focussed on the Coalition.

    The Greens and some Labor won’t let the asylum seeker issue go though, because Coalition policy in particular is harsh and inhumane, but the Coalition’s hard attitudes will continue to be highlighted by the issue.

    But politics here is close to irretrievably undone. It’s too close to a definitive defeat for the rest of us, for the Coalition to be given an “out” of the sort they’ve worked so well in the past, as to the asylum seeker issue. The focus on the budget is a practical move that maybe goes against the interests of asylum seekers, who have suddenly and sadly become the component more expendable, lest ALL be lost for people here, including the hopes of asylum seekers in the future!
    The public, as commonsense, has been waiting to see if there is a change in attitude from the government and from this, politics in the near future flows.


  25. Megan
    May 13th, 2015 at 09:22 | #25

    @paul walter

    But, sticking to the UK, the SNP demonstrated spectacularly that a party ignoring the “realpolitik” and campaigning on such a ‘too hard’ issue (anti-austerity in their case, as well as better treatment of refugees btw) can win hands down.

    The ‘less-evil’ concept doesn’t ring true, and if the Greens are to continue their upward trajectory they cannot afford to be ALP-lite. To do so will doom them just as surely as the Lib-Dems for being Tory-lite.

    And besides, this is one of those issues that is bigger than some tactical play. This is a humanitarian tragedy.

  26. paul walter
    May 13th, 2015 at 12:53 | #26

    Take a deep breath Megan. I know what irks you and it irks me, too. You wear your heart on your sleeve.

  27. May 13th, 2015 at 14:45 | #27

    Megan I don’t know what they’re saying about it, but it is not simply about what a party says, it is also about what the media reports.

    Worth looking at Greens website or Sarah Hanson Jones website or twitter account.

  28. May 13th, 2015 at 14:47 | #28

    sorry Sarah Hanson Young!

  29. May 13th, 2015 at 14:57 | #29

    There isn’t anything about it on the Greens website or Sarah Hanson Young’s personal website but she has tweeted or re-tweeted messages about it twice in the last two days.

    I agree they should be doing more.

  30. Megan
    May 13th, 2015 at 15:01 | #30


    I’ve looked in those places. Numerous ‘tweets’ to both SH-Y and Scott Ludlam have been ignored. Unless I’ve completely missed something, the Greens ARE silent and have been for weeks in the case of the Nauru internet blocking.

    It can’t be because they don’t know about these things. They put out several statements every day usually and I’ve seen nothing. I’m seriously wondering if the Greens are somehow fatally compromised (but I can’t work out why they might be).

    Sorry Paul, but it does a great deal more than ‘irk’ me – and no, I won’t take a deep breath!

  31. Fran Barlow
    May 13th, 2015 at 16:58 | #31


    I can assure you Megan, there’s no policy, informal or otherwise, not to speak of this matter.

    Firstly, we would have every interest in raising it and even if, perversely, some in the parliamentary party thought to run dead on it, it’s hard to see how they could implement it. There’s simply no structure for the party to do it. If you look at the stoush between NSW and ACT Greens over kangaroo culling down there, it’s pretty obviously not something we like seeing canvassed in public and yet, there it is.

    I can tell you that nobody has raised the matter at any party gathering I have attended in the last six months. I haven’t seen it on Twitter either, where emerging issues tend to appear. Probably just a matter of a story falling between the cracks.

  32. Fran Barlow
    May 13th, 2015 at 17:01 | #32

    It seems the ban is not on the internet on Nauru, but facebook.


    Still horrible, but not the same thing as banning the internet.

  33. Megan
    May 13th, 2015 at 17:46 | #33

    @Fran Barlow


    Yes, facebook (and other sites) as a subset of the internet was what I was referring to.

    But still….8,000 people in the Straits of Malacca; Indonesia pushing refugees back out to sea; I can’t get my head around how it gets missed (especially looking at all the things they have been putting out statements on).

  34. Donald Oats
    May 13th, 2015 at 19:44 | #34

    Megan, SBS had a news story on the 8000 trapped people, and the ones who had been rescued. If SBS can cover the story, there is no excuse for commercial stations missing it, or for major newspapers missing it.

  35. Megan
    May 13th, 2015 at 20:48 | #35

    @Donald Oats

    Nor is there any excuse, to come back to my original question, for the Greens “missing” it.

  36. Donald Oats
    May 13th, 2015 at 20:49 | #36

    Our Democrassy in action.

  37. Megan
    May 13th, 2015 at 21:21 | #37

    Donald, the link seems not to work(?).

  38. fersc
    May 13th, 2015 at 22:28 | #38

    These 8,000 people appear to be Muslims. They have fouled their own nests and must now live with the result.

    Remember Man Haron Monis in Sydney

    Remember the 2004 Madrid train bombings

    Remember the London 7/7 bombings

    Remember the New York WTC 9/11

    Remember Charlie in France

    Stop the Boats.

  39. m0nty
    May 13th, 2015 at 23:03 | #39

    Question to the greenies and other lovers of electric cars:

    I am currently in the market for a new motor, and will look seriously at a Prius V. Anecdotally, hybrids are only just starting to take off in Australia, as I’m finding it hard to locate one for a test drive as they’re all sold out in my neck of the woods. I was at the local Nissan dealership and saw a Leaf there, which is all electric, and which has virtually no sales in Australia. I was told, but I would like to confirm, that the situation with the lack of electric recharging stations is so dire that if I was to drive to my in-laws in Wangaratta, I would not find a single recharging station along the Hume Highway on the Victorian side before reaching at least Albury (and not sure there’s one there either). There’s one at Beechworth, allegedly, but I’d run out of juice way before then.

    How can anyone buy an electric car in this context?

    Where are the subsidies from either government or the auto makers (okay so maybe just the govt) to set up charging stations along major highways? Is that going to be a priority for policy at any time in the current millennium? Or have I been misinformed?

  40. Megan
    May 13th, 2015 at 23:33 | #40


    Piss off, troll.

  41. Megan
    May 13th, 2015 at 23:50 | #41

    Today is the 30th anniversary of the fascist’s fire-bombing of an African American resistance movement house in Philadelphia.

    “Police” commandeered a helicopter and dropped C4 explosives onto their house, causing a fire that burned down about 60 homes and killed several men women and children. “C4” was only available through federal agencies.

    The Eurogliders were touring the US at the time, 13th May 1985, and wrote a song about it.

  42. Donald Oats
    May 14th, 2015 at 00:56 | #42

    Try again: Our Democrassy in action!

  43. Donald Oats
    May 14th, 2015 at 01:40 | #43

    Well, as more information about the fine detail in the Budget come to light, it seems clear enough that our foreign aid budget has been used as a piggy bank, razing it to stumpy bits—except if your country is the recipient of our “short straw” resettlement programme for asylum seekers caught (not) arriving by boat; those three countries—Nauru, PNG, and Cambodia—kept their aid funding or most of it, while Indonesia had its foreign aid (from Australia) cut to 60%, bringing it to the level just prior to the 2004 tsunami. So, an international diplomatic gesture with respect to accepting our returnees, an international political gesture with respect to some very recent executions, and a domestically acceptable rob Peter, pay Paul, strategy for chucking some cash into the key voting constituencies.

  44. paul walter
    May 14th, 2015 at 03:41 | #44

    On that one we can emphatically agree. You are a brainwashed, spiteful fool, fersc

  45. rog
    May 14th, 2015 at 10:39 | #45

    @m0nty re Prius, cabbies in both NYC and Paris say that they are cost effective as they cost less to maintain e.g. brake pads, tyres etc. You’d think a cabbie would know about this sort of stuff.

  46. Donald Oats
    May 14th, 2015 at 14:01 | #46

    Even as we enforce mass collection and retention of metadata, tracking the where and when of people’s communication with one another, and even their peregrinations about town and country, the biggest democracy in the world is about to step back from mass collection of its citizen’s metadata.

    We try to puff up our chest and act big on the world stage, only to miss a step and fall flat on our arse (which is the same as falling flat on our face). What a lot of red tape for nought.

  47. Tim Macknay
    May 14th, 2015 at 14:03 | #47

    Having owned two Priuses over the last 6 years or so, I would recommend them if you’re looking for a very fuel efficient, comfortable drive, and you don’t require a large amount of boot space or need to pull a trailer.

    There’s no likelihood of subsidies for electric charging stations by state or federal governments any time soon, given current attitudes. Australia is well behind the US, Europe and China on the EV front.

    In WA, the RAC (Royal Automobile Club) is funding the installation of highway charging stations in the southwest of the state, which will enable EV owners to drive from Perth down to the wine/tourism hub of Margaret River (around 280km) without panicking about running out of juice.

    No idea if anything similar is happening anywhere else in Australia.

  48. Tim Macknay
    May 14th, 2015 at 14:10 | #48

    @Donald Oats

    the biggest democracy in the world

    Actually, that would be India.
    Good news about the US Congress rejecting the constant expansion of government surveillance powers, though. Who knows, maybe one day they’ll even wind some of them back.

  49. Donald Oats
    May 14th, 2015 at 14:15 | #49

    Johnny Depp brought two dogs into Australia. It isn’t clear if Customs made a mistake, if Depp made a mistake, or if Depp deliberately concealed them. Now Barnaby Joyce has given Depp 50 hours to get them out of the country or have them seized and destroyed.

    Given the obvious solution of putting them into quarantine, getting Depp to supply relevant paperwork, and to pay a fine if he has been complicit in the dogs not going through full customs procedure, why make the threat of killing a couple of dogs—who are not responsible for their owner’s actions, or any mistake(s) made at Customs. Haven’t our ministers got better things to waste their time on cutting? Clipping a couple of pets is a new low.

  50. Collin Street
    May 14th, 2015 at 14:19 | #50

    > Actually, that would be India.

    Which has also been a democracy for significantly longer than the US.

  51. Megan
    May 14th, 2015 at 14:41 | #51

    A few days ago it was Indonesia towing refugees out to sea, now Malaysia is doing it too:

    Malaysia has turned away a boat with more than 500 Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshis after providing them with fuel and provisions, a government official said Thursday.

    The boat was found Wednesday off the coast of northern Penang state, just days after more than 1,000 refugees landed in nearby Langkawi island.

    Deputy home minister Wan Junaidi Jaafar said that Malaysia cannot afford to have immigrants flooding its shores, adding the government has treated immigrants humanely but “now it’s about time to show they are not welcome here”.

    And still silence from the Greens…….must have just slipped through the cracks(??).

    Today’s top news from “greensmps.org.au”:

    -Data retention regime already expanding
    -Geelong Star dolphin deaths condemned by Senate
    -Greens secure Senate support calling on Government to dump measure forcing people under 25 off income support for a month
    -Interim report into the Department of Social Services tendering process tabled
    -Greens committed to reform that gives voters control over preferences
    -Abbott budget plan to prop up Galilee Basin coal with taxpayer dollars is grossly unfair
    -No time for looking back

    All worthy subjects…..but.

  52. Fran Barlow
    May 14th, 2015 at 15:50 | #52


    You make a strong point. You may want to consider a Holden Volt (about 60k) … which is a hybrid if this is something you want to do a lot, though as an alternative you could buy the Leaf and rent an ICE car for your extended trips if they were occasional — that might work out cheaper. Eventually, more charge points will come (there’s a business called ‘chargepoint’ trying to do it.)

    A cheaper hybrid option is the Honda Insight VTi-L — about half the price of a Volt but a parallel like the Prius. Still, it’s more thirsty than the Prius and more expensive.

    The best option of course is to avoid having a car at all, and to use public transport, if that’s feasible, or you can get yourself into a position to make it feasible, and then hire cars only when you need to.

  53. Donald Oats
    May 14th, 2015 at 16:30 | #53

    A budget such as this, coming on the back of the previous budget, which in turn was on the back of pre-election promises, should be a cinch for the ALP to attack and tear into tatters during the budget reply. Should be. I hope that the opposition refuse to entertain responding with any alternative positive measures, and instead, mercilessly attack the Abbott team for lying before the election, then lying immediately after it, and lying in the first budget, then reversing position and lying in the second budget. There was a list of broken promises, with the date of the promise and the date when it was broken, and the money hacked away if applicable. Don’t know where I saw it, but it was a pretty bloody big list. If members of the public can do that, the opposition can do that.

  54. Ikonoclast
    May 14th, 2015 at 17:57 | #54

    @Donald Oats

    One word. Rabies. Australia doesn’t have it and we don’t want it. (Yes, I know we have Australian bat lyssavirus, a zoonotic virus closely related to rabies virus.)

    Perhaps the threat to destroy the dogs is not necessary but certainly they need to be impounded, quarantined and tested immediately. We have quarantine laws for very good, very serious reasons.

    The excess of sentiment over a couple of little dogs is absurd. A hundred refugees could die and nobody would care but threaten two “cute” little dogs and all this ridiculous, hand-wringing, sentiment starts. A potentially fatal rabies bite followed by a very painful course of anti-rabies injections to save one’s life would certainly demonstrate to any one why this is a deadly serious issue.

  55. Fran Barlow
    May 14th, 2015 at 18:46 | #55


    I should probably have mentioned the BMWi3 that has a range of 200km in all electric operation, but comes with an optional “range extender” (a 28kw 650cc motor that can charge the battery while driving for an extra 100k). The car has been built with lightweight materials, and depending on whether you get the RX its 63-70k …

  56. Fran Barlow
    May 14th, 2015 at 19:01 | #56


    Well I speak up for dogs and refugees, and although rabies (and other diseases occasionally carried by dogs) are no laughing matter, the prospect of Johnny Depp’s dogs being the bearer of any of them is quite low — probably no more likely than a boat-borne refugee being a dangerous criminal.

    By all means let’s fine him for breaching quarantine and insist the dogs be suitably sequestered at his expense. I see no reason to execute the dogs because their owner seems to be a careless fool.

  57. Ikonoclast
    May 14th, 2015 at 19:26 | #57

    @Fran Barlow

    I didn’t call for the dogs to be killed. However, since dogs and cats kill wildlife all the time I certainly do not speak up for dogs and cats. They are a nuisance and a pestilence we and the wildlife simply don’t need. All the money wasted on cats and dogs could be spent on needy people and endangered wild species.

    In some more traditional settings, especially rural ones, cats and dogs probably had and have a point as work animals and for pest control. In modern cities, they are themselves noxious pests in every sense.

  58. Debbieanne
    May 14th, 2015 at 19:46 | #58

    So the next time a ‘christian’ does something reprehensible what will you say? (You bastard)!

  59. Tim Macknay
    May 14th, 2015 at 20:01 | #59

    Trolls. Feeding. Etc. 😉

  60. Donald Oats
    May 14th, 2015 at 20:17 | #60

    Quite aware of the rabies threat, and on that point Mr Depp could be/should be looking at a decent fine; given the odds are quite small that his dogs would have rabies, and if the dogs have been relatively confined since arrival in the sunshine state, I can’t see why killing the dogs without either testing them for disease, or quarantining them for the relevant time, is helpful. The dogs weren’t the perpetrators. If the dogs have rabies, or other nasties, then put them down at Depp’s cost, fine him, whatever. Seems rather premature to clip their toenails without any evidence they are infectious or not.

    As for hand-wringing, I am merely pointing to the blustering by Joyce as a bit harsh given alternative and safe, effective means of dealing with this, without popping their clogs as a first or second resort, are there for the taking. Depp has deep enough pockets to pay back the cost of a Customs quarantine, clean up, etc.

    I think Barnaby Joyce said it for effect, to stir the pot a bit. It pisses of some of the Liberals who wanted more air-time on their budget un-emergency, which probably was part of the desired effect.

  61. Ikonoclast
    May 14th, 2015 at 20:37 | #61

    @Donald Oats

    Agreed, Barnaby Joyce is an idiot. All he had to say, if anything, was that the normal laws, quarantines, penalties etc. would be applied as in the case of anyone smuggling dogs, or any animal which can carry rabies, into the country. I am not sure if the normal laws encompass animals being destroyed without testing. However, if the perpetrator is prepared to pay testing costs and all other penalties or alternatively is prepared to pay for deportation of the dogs if that satisfies quarantine then there is no need to talk of killing the dogs. I don’t want to see the dogs killed gratuitously. That is not my point. I want to see Australia protected from rabies. Incidentally, dog-lovers ought to note that protecting Australia from rabies will save an enormous amount of dog suffering too.

  62. Megan
    May 14th, 2015 at 21:02 | #62

    Under the law, killing any illegally imported animal is an available option.

    But, as with most things, it “depends” on the circumstances. In the case of dogs they will be quarantined as a matter of course (onshore, in suitable and humane conditions) while health checks are conducted.

    Then they may be “deported” back to the country of origin (the US is a ‘category 3′ country btw – i.e. the worst category for disease) at the owner’s expense. Or, they may be allowed to stay after being subjected to tests and quarantine periods (which in every case can be no lengthier under Australian law than the indefinite mandatory offshore detention we demand for humans arriving without the correct paperwork to seek asylum here).

    Now Dutton is in on the act too. Strong Borders!

    Never mind that it was Howard’s privatization of bio-services (quarantine) that led to the horse flu that destroyed billions of dollars of the equine industry because it would fast-track foreign race horses’ entry.


    If only we had some kind of alternative political party in this country……

  63. Ikonoclast
    May 14th, 2015 at 21:05 | #63


    I think we can probably also blame Howard’s privatization of bio-services (quarantine) for letting in the fire ant.

  64. May 14th, 2015 at 21:07 | #64

    ISIS attacking ancient, iconic Palmyra in Syria

    The ancient ruins of Palmyra are being attacked by ISIS. If the information gets out the destruction of these ruins could be prevented.

    Palmyra is the symbol of Syria, but it belongs to all humanity, For those who haven’t been to Palmyra or seen the images, destroying it would be like destroying the Parthenon, the Colosseum or the Great Wall of China.

    For those who don’t know the story of Queen Zenobia, this is a good time to read up on it. Her story is known by every Syrian. For some time, she was victorious against the Roman Empire.

    “Zenobia (240 – c. 275) was a 3rd-century Queen of the Palmyrene Empire in Syria, who led a famous revolt against the Roman Empire. The eighth wife of King Septimius Odaenathus, Zenobia became queen of the Palmyrene Empire following Odaenathus’ death in 267. By 269, Zenobia had expanded the empire, conquering Egypt and expelling the Roman prefect, Tenagino Probus, who was beheaded after he led an attempt to recapture the territory. She ruled over Egypt until 271, when she was defeated and taken as a hostage to Rome by Emperor Aurelian.” (From Wikipedia)

    ISIS thugs have already gained significant publicity by destroying the ancient city of Nimrod and other world heritage sites.

    Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad was reelected by a huge majority last year, despite alternative candidates, in an election that was monitored by UN observers who have not been given fair coverage by the UN. Syrians rely on the Syrian army to protect them from ISIS and other so-called rebels, but the United States, NATO and NATO allies like Australia, have pursued ideological policies against Syria and have supported dangerous and brutal anti-government forces which have largely joined now with ISIS. …

  65. paul walter
    May 14th, 2015 at 23:27 | #65

    @Donald Oats
    They have just pulled a sly trick to fast track the Obama TPP.

    It all radiates from the real global power centres.

  66. paul walter
    May 14th, 2015 at 23:29 | #66

    As for Depp and Joyce, it is not one or the other, it is both.

    Depp for being a smart arse; Joyce for not having the wit to deal effectively with it.

  67. paul walter
    May 14th, 2015 at 23:32 | #67

    Ikon, never be put in the position where you are revealed to have said something common sense round here, in the current feverish emotional climate.

  68. m0nty
    May 14th, 2015 at 23:41 | #68

    To answer my own question, allegedly it’s Tesla to the rescue once again. I will believe it when I see it.

    My budget doesn’t extend to a Beemer or a Tesla, I’m afraid Fran.

  69. May 15th, 2015 at 00:20 | #69

    Seventy years ago, many of our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers helped rid the world of Nazism. In May 2015 …

    Nazism of Ukraine’s US-backed government is hidden by Western ‘news’ media

    The pro-Nazi core of the Ukrainian government that was installed by the U.S. in February 2014 is too well-documented to be denied, and so the West’s major propaganda media (self-styled as being ‘news’ media) instead simply hide it – most don’t report any of it, but a few report snippets along with excuses to make individual events seem like aberrations, not the core, which they actually are.

  70. Megan
    May 15th, 2015 at 00:34 | #70

    Only took about a week, but thankfully Sarah Hanson-Young finally worked out there is a huge refugee issue (that’s her portfolio, refugees) with the 8,000 adrift and abandoned between Malaysia and Indonesia.

    She managed to ask Brandis a question about it today.

    His answer was:

    The problem you have identified…is a problem Australia no longer has…because of the policies of this government

    That should be a monumental “WTF?” moment in Australian politics: “It’s not our problem”.

    In other words: “Who cares? Die, refugees! Not our problem.”

  71. Megan
    May 15th, 2015 at 00:42 | #71

    PS: Brandis didn’t even give credit to the ALP for creating the low-life anti-humanitarian cruel and inhumane policy he is now trying to take “credit” for.

    At any future crimes against humanity trial that may end up working against him. He really should be trying to share the “credit” for this policy as widely as possible.

    I’m against the death penalty, but I wouldn’t shed a tear if Nuremburg principles were applied to every single one of our current crop of ALP/LNP duopolists.

  72. Donald Oats
    May 15th, 2015 at 01:08 | #72

    @paul walter
    Probably both, definitely Joyce. I haven’t felt inclined to search out what Depp’s story is, if indeed he has said anything at all, but if he deliberately concealed Mr Mutt and Mr Dawg, then perhaps he should be given a free round of rabies shots, just in case. Might impart the seriousness of the situation in a way money cannot.

  73. May 15th, 2015 at 08:10 | #73

    i’m maintaining the rage, @James . thanks for your contribution. -alfred venison.

  74. Fran Barlow
    May 15th, 2015 at 08:16 | #74


    Oh I get that, and frankly, not having a car, and buying a cheap but well-maintained small second hand car and using it only very occasionally when PT is not feasible almost certainly compare well with EVs on both price and eco footprint. If people stopped buying new cars and simply looked after their old ones using them as sparingly as possible the constraining impact per dollar of expenditure on emissions would exceed what could be achieved with EVs over the next decade. Less really is more here, as personally satisfying as having an EV would be.

    If we had a lot more clean energy in our mix, then the calculus would change over time, but even then reconfiguring existing vehicles to EV would probably make more sense, so as to make use of the sunk-cost energy/resource investment in the original production of the vehicle. There’s a local light-engineering industry right there.

    I used to be quite sceptical of the role hydrogen fuel cells could make to the mix, but again, if there were a lot more clean energy in the mix then home-based H2 production might bridge the chicken and egg problem. It could even double as home storage assuming you could get the price down to compete with 10kwh batteries. H2 fuel cell cars such as the Hyundai have a range of about 600k.

  75. Ikonoclast
    May 15th, 2015 at 09:23 | #75

    @Fran Barlow

    I am still sceptical about hydrogen fuel cells. Hydrogen has a low energy to volume ratio and it is notoriously hard to store without leaking. Also, it’s very dangerous. It tends to burn or blow up easily. Just ask Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. Maybe fuel cells change these things. Fuel cells are very reliable and excel at certain specialised applications. Batteries are better at other applications like powering cars. I expect batteries to dominate over hydrogen fuel cells for cars. But I have been wrong before so I am just guessing really.

  76. Crispin Bennett
    May 15th, 2015 at 09:31 | #76

    @Fran Barlow Motorcycles make more sense than 1 tonne behemoths for the vast majority of trips. I was quite happy carless in the city, but need personal transport now in the sticks. My motorbike gets 3.5l/100km, nearly matched by a Prius, but uses an amount of material more reasonably to scale for transporting one person. Of course it’s not as comfortable as a car, but I migrated to Australia too late in life to have become deeply infected with its self-petting comfort obsession.

  77. Ikonoclast
    May 15th, 2015 at 09:38 | #77

    I forgot to mention the main problem with hydrogen. It’s not an energy resource on planet earth. There is little to no natural free hydrogen in the biosphere. First, the free hydrogen has to be made before it can be used. This results in initial energy losses of up to 30% just in the conversion of some other form of energy to free hydrogen (representing chemical potential energy). For this reason alone, I believe hydrogen fuel will remain of limited application.

  78. BilB
    May 15th, 2015 at 09:39 | #78

    I know just what you mean, Crispin….

    “self-petting comfort obsession”

  79. Ikonoclast
  80. Troy Prideaux
    May 15th, 2015 at 11:02 | #80

    Ikonoclast :
    I forgot to mention the main problem with hydrogen. It’s not an energy resource on planet earth. There is little to no natural free hydrogen in the biosphere. First, the free hydrogen has to be made before it can be used. This results in initial energy losses of up to 30% just in the conversion of some other form of energy to free hydrogen (representing chemical potential energy). For this reason alone, I believe hydrogen fuel will remain of limited application.

    What has improved a lot over the recent years is the energy efficiency of electrolysis which by itself represents manageable losses. However, there’s still the issue of packing the hydrogen into a reasonably dense form for it to be practical as a automotive fuel substitute and that process requires energy too. IIRC cooling it to liquid hydrogen temperatures will add an additional 30% of its available energy output and then you have to keep it cool.

  81. Fran Barlow
    May 15th, 2015 at 12:34 | #81

    @Crispin Bennett

    Motorcycles make more sense than 1 tonne behemoths for the vast majority of trips.

    Doubtless, but as an ex-motorcycle rider who knew she was at the mercy of others’ attention spans far more so than in a car, and suffered a broken clavicle and torn knee ligaments as two examples of that, I would never return to this mode of transport.

  82. Fran Barlow
    May 15th, 2015 at 12:47 | #82


    This is my concern, especially if one must use FHC to produce them. However, if one can use surplus renewable energy to do the electrolysis, storage and delivery, then the EROEI isn’t a decisive objection. A home that collects 10kWh on the foof and uses 6.5 of them to run the house and the balance to produce H2 from water, and supplies this either as fuel to low temperature fuel cell for an EV or to run the household supply after the sun goes down shouldn’t be bothered by the RTE. That surplus energy might well have had to be dumped, or sold for some other low value task. Essentially, it’s a kind of battery, and thus should be compared with the life cycle ecosystem costs of batteries.

    The thing about the Zeppelin though dramatic to watch, is not really relevant toH2 use operation in motor vehicles, where leaks would be slow and the gas would dissipate very quickly and where access to flammable material would be limited.

  83. ZM
    May 15th, 2015 at 18:26 | #83

    Fran Barlow,
    “Doubtless, but as an ex-motorcycle rider who knew she was at the mercy of others’ attention spans far more so than in a car, and suffered a broken clavicle and torn knee ligaments as two examples of that, I would never return to this mode of transport”

    A friend showed me a European two person car last year which was a bit like a scooter with a protective exterior. Possibly these sort of vehicles will become more common in the future, in combination with electrified public transport and more active transport. Such vehicles being smaller and more vulnerable would hopefully change road culture, and could work with a move to streets for people like Jan Gehl recommends shared with some limited bicycle and small vehicle use.

    In an urban planning assignment last year our group turned a large part of Alexandra Parade near the old gas and fuel site near Clifton Hill to parkland increasing the urban canopy and daylighting some of the old wetlands, and narrowing Alexandra Parade to two lanes. This sort of urban planning thinking is likely to become more prominent due to needing to cool cities to adapt to climate change, as well as change transportation habits to mitigate climate change.

  84. ZM
    May 15th, 2015 at 19:27 | #84

    John Quiggin,

    I think you’ve written you have worked extensively on water policy and the Murray/Dhungalla – would you happen to know much about the legal aspects in that policy?

    I know you’re working on something to do with ownership theories re: your Uncle Tom’s Cabin post and other posts. In other colonial jurisdictions like New Zealand and Hawaii there have been intersections with public trust law and native title as well as private ownership in river jurisprudence.

    Would you happen to know if this has been broached at all in the policy making for the Murray/Dhunghalla river in Australia? And if so where in the policy works it might be found?

  85. Crispin Bennett
    May 15th, 2015 at 20:38 | #85

    Fran Barlow :
    Doubtless, but as an ex-motorcycle rider who knew she was at the mercy of others’ attention spans far more so than in a car, and suffered a broken clavicle and torn knee ligaments as two examples of that, I would never return to this mode of transport.

    I for one will feel safer as self-driving cars take over. Riding a motorcycle makes one very aware that a large proportion of drivers are not remotely capable of responsibly handling the vehicles their licences permit them to control. I would be dead roughly once a week if I couldn’t anticipate others’ errors. And once more for acts of aggression.

  86. Fran Barlow
    May 15th, 2015 at 22:21 | #86

    @Crispin Bennett

    Yes,but even with quite defensive riding, a quite minor concentration lapse followed by a trivial road event can get you permanently incapacitated. I was riding down Victoria Rd Rozelle once and saw a station-wagon brake in the wet and 360 across two adjacent lanes. I was 100 metres back but had I been beside the vehicle I could not have avoided a collision.

    Both my other accidents were in circumstances where there was no evasive action available.

  87. May 15th, 2015 at 23:04 | #87

    A copy of this article with extra links can be found here on my own website.

    Alfred Venison on May 15th, 2015 at 08:10 | #73

    Thank you for your interest and support.

    The history of Syria in the last years is, on one level, a vast tragedy, and on another level it gives hope and inspiration to the rest of humanity.

    What other country, which has lost more than 220,000 lives out of a population of 17,952,000, that is 1.2% of the population, caused by an invasion of terrorist jihadists from almost every corner of the globe – armed and paid for by the United States, Saudi Arabia and their allies – since March 2011, could have not only endured, but maintained a vibrant cultural life? Check out the pages of the English language version of the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) to see what I mean.

    Unlike the ‘leaders’ of Australia, the United States, Britain, France, Israel and their allies, President Bashar al-Assad, so demonised in the lying mainstream Australian newsmedia, runs a truly popular and transparent government. He was elected by an overwhelming majority in elections on 4 June 2014. The validity of these elections was testified to by international observers at a United Nations press conference on 19 June 2014.

    His government supplies more than what the Whitlam Labor government succeeded in giving by 1975. Every Syrian has the right to free education all the way up to tertiary level if they wish and medical care and other social services are provided free by the government.

    On numerous occasions, President al-Assad has granted lengthy interviews even to journalists who are clearly not sympathetic to him and his government, including, for example 60 Minutes in January 2015. (Sixty Minutes only showed a fraction of that interview. You can find the link to the full unedited version of that interview here.) If only a fraction of the lies peddled about him were true, you would expect him to have been cut to ribbons in such interviews, but he never is. In every interview I have watched he has refuted the allegations made against his government with evidence and logic and put his government’s case convincingly.

    If Abbott, Bishop, Obama, Kerry, Hollande, Merkel, Poroshenko or Cameron allowed themselves to be subjected to such close scrutiny, they would be torn to shreds.

  88. Ikonoclast
    May 16th, 2015 at 07:32 | #88

    I note that Wikipedia and Amnesty International both characterise the Syrian regime as authoritarian and Bashar al-Assad as guilty of crimes against humanity including atrocities and war crimes. I see no reason to doubt these sources. The history of his father and of the Baathist Party in Syria is clear. They were and are guilty of many crimes against humanity.

    In saying this, I do not exonerate the other side. The situation is clearly one where two atrocious sets of thugs fight each other and the “cops” on the beat (Saudi Arabia, USA, Britain etc.) are also corrupt. There are no good guys in this fight.

    I wonder why people always assume that every conflict is a good guy vs. bad guy conflict? Actually, that is rare. Most conflicts are bad guy vs. bad guy conflicts. This illustrates why, in the great majority of cases, neutrality in the best stance particularly in relation to other people’s civil wars. For sure, give humanitarian and refugee aid where possible to innocents (mainly women, children and non-combatants fleeing) but provide no fighting men, no war materiel and no propaganda assistance to any side.

    People would be wise to remember these principles and not feed war.

  89. Megan
    May 16th, 2015 at 09:10 | #89


    The people of Iraq, Libya and Syria were undoubtedly better off before each of those countries got their recent wars than they are now.

    In each case the US and friends started the war, armed, funded and propagandized both locally and internationally in favour of violence.

    Not feeding was is the key.

  90. Ikonoclast
    May 16th, 2015 at 09:55 | #90


    Yes, that certainly is the case. That doesn’t mean that anyone can credibly hold up Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad as exemplars of humanity and democracy. Those regimes were/are a nightmare for some of their people. However, it’s simply none of our business. Particularly when we go in and just make things worse. We don’t understand the region or the people and we don’t understand how to fix their problems. That much is patently clear.

    Of course, it is all about great power politics: power, arms and oil. We are never going to change it. We have no power. Or perhaps I should just talk of myself. I have no power, no influence. Nothing I do or say will make one jot of difference to any of this.

  91. ZM
    May 16th, 2015 at 11:53 | #91

    Part of the reason for the civil wars in the Middle East is climate change due to the drought before the Arab Spring which limited imports of food and increased the price of food

  92. May 16th, 2015 at 12:21 | #92

    The contribution below has already been posted to my own web site. Other links to sources cited can be found there.

    Yet another baseless claim of Syrian government crimes against humanity

    Ikonoklast wrote on May 16th, 2015 at 07:32 :

    I note that Wikipedia and Amnesty International both I note that Wikipedia and Amnesty International both characterise the Syrian regime as authoritarian …

    I could not find where Wikipedia[1] “characterise[d] the Syrian regime as authoritarian and Bashar al-Assad as guilty of crimes against humanity including atrocities and war crimes.” Could you please show where this claim was made?

    Ikonoklast continued:

    I see no reason to doubt these sources.

    Amnesty’s record on impartiality suffered a fatal blow when they stated in 1991 that Iraqi soldiers had torn babies from their incubators in Kuwait and left them to die on the floor of the hospital’s neo-natal unit. Arguably this sealed the 1991 onslaught on Iraq. The story that the Kuwaiti government rewarded Amnesty with $500,000 for endorsing this pack of lies has not gone away – and as far as I am aware, to date, has not been denied.[2]

    As a consequence of the fraudulent “incubator babies” story, sanctions were imposed on Iraq for nearly two decades and Iraq was bombed extensively in 1991 and invaded in 2003. According to former United States Attorney General Ramsey Clarke as many as 3.3 million Iraqis, including 750,000 children died.[3]

    Ikonoclast wrote:

    I wonder why people always assume that every conflict is a good guy vs. bad guy conflict? Actually, that is rare. Most conflicts are bad guy vs. bad guy conflicts. …

    I could ask: Why do ostensible humanitarians, rather than addressing the evidence presented to them, so often resort to the tired old “curse on both your houses” refrain?

    As I have shown above, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has, on a number of occasions, subjected himself to close scrutiny by critical journalists, some who were openly unsympathetic. Show me where in any one of those interviews, even one of the allegations against him has not been refuted?

    Bashar al-Jaafari, the current Permanent Representative of Syria to the United Nations, has on a number of occasions, held lengthy press conferences at the United Nations in recent years. Show me where, even once, the claims made by the mainstream and ‘alternate’ newsmedia of Syrian government crimes against humanity have ever even been put to him by journalists from the those same media outlets at those press conferences?


    [1] incidentally, in its Syrian Demographics section, Wikipedia states :

    According to the World Refugee Survey 2008, published by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Syria hosted a population of refugees and asylum seekers numbering approximately 1,852,300. The vast majority of this population was from Iraq (1,300,000), …

    As one participant in those illegal wars and sanctions against Iraq from which all those Iraqis fled, Australia clearly owes Syria many millions of dollars in compensation for the trouble and expense that Syria has been put to as a consequence.

    [2] Amnesty International: An Instrument of War Propaganda? (8/8/15) by Felicity Arbuthnot- Global Research.

    [3] Former US Attorney General: US (and Australian) sanctions against Iraq are genocidal (8/8/15) by Felicity Arbuthnot- Candobetter.net, Breaking the Set YouTube Channel.

  93. Ikonoclast
    May 16th, 2015 at 13:44 | #93


    “The form of government Assad presides over is an authoritarian regime.[4] The Assad regime has described itself as secular,[5] while experts have contended that the regime exploits ethnic and sectarian tensions in the country to remain in power.[6][7][8] The regime’s narrow sectarian base relying upon the Alawite minority has also been noted.[9]” – Wikipedia article on Bashar al_Assad, second paragraph.

    I do not blindly accept propaganda from the US, Russian and Chinese regimes (to give some examples.) Nor do I blindly accept propaganda from or about the Syrian regime.

  94. May 16th, 2015 at 14:07 | #94

    Ikonoklast (at May 16th, 2015 at 13:44 | #93).

    Could you provide me a link to the page which you have quoted from?

    I am unable to find any of what you have posted on the Wikipedia Syria page.

  95. May 16th, 2015 at 14:24 | #95

    Ikonoklast (at May 16th, 2015 at 13:44 | #93)

    I can see now that you have quoted from another Wikipedia article, which is about President Bashar al-Assad, rathr than about Syria as a whole. Given that that article does not mention the Presidential elections of 4 June 2014 in which President Bashar al-Assad won an overwhelming majority of electoral support from the Syrian people, I see no reason to regard any of that article’s content as credible.

  96. Megan
    May 16th, 2015 at 14:52 | #96

    James, this seems to be the Wikipedia page in question.

    The source for footnote [4] – “authoritarian regime” – is a book (“Middle East Authoritarianisms: Governance, Contestation, and Regime Resilience in Syria and Iran”) whose authors advocated ending negotiations and formally arming the FSA rebels.

    But, I would say “authoritarian” is probably an apt description.

    The Wikipedia entry goes on to say:

    Initially seen by the domestic and international community as a potential reformer, this expectation ceased when Assad ordered mass crackdowns and military sieges on Arab Spring protesters, leading to the Syrian Civil War.

    So we come back to “cause and effect”, or more simply “Who started it?” Starting wars is always a bad idea. Most recent wars have been started directly or indirectly by the US.

  97. Crispin Bennett
    May 16th, 2015 at 15:28 | #97

    @Fran Barlow
    My point wasn’t that defensive riding can make a rider entirely safe, nor that people reasonably scared off by personal experience should ride. It was that the answer to killer motorists is to prevent them, not the people they kill, from controlling motor vehicles. Hence autonomous cars.

  98. May 16th, 2015 at 15:49 | #98

    Megan wrote:

    But, I would say “authoritarian” is probably an apt description.

    The government of any country faced with an invasion by tens of thousands of sociopathic islamist ‘converts’ from every corner of the globe, armed and paid for by the medieval kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the dictatorship of Qatar, Jordan, Turkey, France, the United States and other allies, would have to resort to fairly harsh measures to defend its people, so I would not wish to quibble at length about whether or not the Syrian government should be labelled ‘authoritarian’.

    The critical point is whether or not the Syrian government represents the Syrian people and enjoys their support.

    All the evidence of which I am aware, some of which I have posted above, shows that the Syrian government enjoys the overwhelming support of Syrians. This includes the article Syria’s press conference the United Nations doesn’t want you to see? It is about the UN Press conference of observers at the Syrian elections on 19 June last year?

    Megan, could I suggest that you read that article and watch the embedded video? If you were find anything that you believe to be untrue in that article, certainly feel welcome to let me know here (or there – anyone is welcome to post to my site).

    The war in Syria is not just a war against the Syrian government, it is a genocidal war against the Syrian people, including Christian Arabs, Armenians, a small minority of Judaic Syrians and Syrians of the Islamic faith, be they Alawite, Shiite or Sunni.

  99. Megan
    May 17th, 2015 at 00:29 | #99


    To be clear: when I wrote “Who started it?” that was rhetorical.

    The US started it. The US is a genocidal killing machine.

  100. May 18th, 2015 at 00:57 | #100

    Megan on May 17th, 2015 at 00:29 | #99

    The following was accidentally omitted from my last post :

    Thank you for drawing to our attention the dubious value of one source for that Wikipedia page. Given the complete failure of that Wikipedia article to even mention the Syrian Presidential elections held only last year on 4 June 2014, as I mentioned above, how could anyone consider anything from that Wikipedia page as authoritative?

    Megan wrote:

    To be clear: when I wrote “Who started it?” that was rhetorical.

    The US started it. The US is a genocidal killing machine.

    I can see we are in agreement here. In recent years a number of people who label themselves ‘progressive’ or ‘socialist’ have supported the NATO invasion of Libya and now the US proxy war against Syria.

    You may find of interest the YouTube video My identity is Syria (5/10/12)

    Note the huge crowds of Syrians waving Syrian flags and holding up photos of President Bashar al-Assad. Could you imagine such large crowds cheering Tony Abbott or even Bill Shorten?

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