67 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  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. 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. 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. If you allow yourself to stray into unfashionable territory see this article
    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. @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. 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. 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!

  8. “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.

  9. 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…]

  10. @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 .

  11. 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).

  12. 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

  13. 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?

  14. 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.

  15. @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.

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


    (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?

  17. 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.

  18. @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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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?

  21. @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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. @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.

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

  26. @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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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!)

  30. @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.

  31. @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…

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. @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?

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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 😦

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