Weekend reflections

It’s time for another weekend reflections, which makes space for longer than usual comments on any topic. Side discussions to sandpits, please. Absolutely no personal criticism of other commenters.

152 thoughts on “Weekend reflections

  1. TC has an excellent article on, science and research based, on Aboriginal occupation of Australia googleable as ‘ Who we should recognise as First Australians in the constitution which traces the genealogy of right wing attempts to undermine Aboriginal culture by suggesting that others were here first, etc and so on, back to the 1930’s and thence to Quadrant and sundry other sources of darkness (Windschuttle). It provides evidence:

    The first Aboriginal full-genome study in 2011 showed an unbroken Aboriginal lineage over 2500 generations, or about 60-75,000 years, the longest continuous lineage outside Africa. It identified a number of genetic signatures that were unique to Australia.

    Which sure is some claim to authenticity.

    The article offers that:

    Stories of European exploration, settlement and the ANZAC spirit are important, but spanning only half of one per cent of human history on this continent, they are the tip of the iceberg.

    That’s good data: ‘half of one per cent of human history on this continent’.

    Simultaneous to this we see that Abbott has done a deal with Barnett to slide Federal responsibility for Aboriginal welfare across to the state with the most interest in ethnically cleansing Aboriginal people from potential mine sites. Of course, all in there best interests.

    The right wing commentariat is trying to frame this as a necessary discussion to be held in a sober and restrained atmosphere which ignores the atmosphere created by Toxic Tony in his utterances. I don’t buy the line that he is clubfooted and hamfisted; it was a rehearsed declaration to his handlers and owners, the mining industry, that his word is good.

    JQ: I hope you don’t see this as a contentious subject to mention. Aboriginal history has a significant economic component mostly to do with their exclusion from the labor market. I’m guessing that you know:

    In1968 the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission ruling on equal wages in the cattle industry came into force. And that when the case was being heard in 1966 the Commission accepted the employers’ evidence that ‘many of them expect[ed] to change over to white labour if Aborigines are to be paid at award rates’. This did happen and many Aboriginal stockmen faced unemployment for the first time.

    Just sayin’ that political economy needs to be inclusive.

  2. Just listening to Dr Karl on the telly urging us to think about how to continue economic growth. I’ll leave that to others instead I’ll think about living with no economic growth.

  3. A good article by Mark Lynas about how greenslime have only adopted (then misused) climate change as an issue because it fits in to their anti-capitalist agenda. On other science issues, like nuclear and gm, the greenslime use the exact same tactics as the chemtrails/anti-vax/organixc food crowd.

  4. @Hermit

    Dr. Karl accepts all the flawed premises of the IGR and all the flawed premises of neocon economics. This demonstrates that he is neither a demographer nor an economist. In addition, he apparently accepts the flawed premise of endless growth which means he is not a real scientist either. So what is he? I am not sure. Perhaps the kindest thing one can say he is a well-meaning fellow who popularises demographics, economics and science and gets it all entirely wrong.

    Sadly, Dr. Karl’s kind of egregious disinformation is unrealistic and leads us in a disastrous and unsustainable direction.

  5. I don’t buy the line that he is clubfooted and hamfisted; it was a rehearsed declaration to his handlers and owners, the mining industry, that his word is good.

    Like I keep on saying: we see the way they carry on their internal disputes, when presumably they’re on their best — most objective fact-centred — behaviour.

    I can’t for the life of me see that they act any different in private than in public. Their terrible rhetoric and ham-fisted posturing are not an affectation or an pretense: it’s how they genuinely think the game is played.

  6. Endless growth is not a problem as it can occur with less resource use. I’m surprised by how some come can’t grasp this obvious and readily observable fact.

  7. I said this last week but I suspect it went under the radar so I’ll try my luck repeating it.

    I think Australia should be open to almost unlimited immigration. The only restrictions that I would like to see Australia have on immigration are as follows:-

    1. We should not let individuals into the country if they are a clear threat. eg convicted violent criminals, suspected terrorists.

    2. We should not let individuals into the country if they present a serious health threat to the general community.

    3. Immigrants should make an upfront contribution towards public infrastructure. By my calculation the correct figure is about $25k. We should waiver the fee for a given number of humanitarian cases each year. And for nationals from selected countries (eg New Zealand) where bilateral immigration agreements dictate.

    4. Citizenship should not be granted easily to immigrants. Specifically the waiting period between becoming resident and becoming a citizen should be much longer. Ten years or more.

    5. Except for immigrants coming under humanitarian programs welfare payments (eg pensions, unemployment benefits) should not be available until they become citizens.

    Interested to know what restrictions, if any, other people here think that Australia should place on immigration numbers. Especially keen to hear from those that favour completely open immigration.

  8. I favour a balance for Australia. Immigrants plus genuine refugees & asylum seekers should approximately equal emigrants. In other words, our migration stance should be neutral. There is no need to rush to a large population. However, if our natural increase became negative I would increase immigration to prevent de-population and maintain stability.

    With limits to growth imminent and even Australia close to exceeding its sustainable ecological footprint, further rapid population growth will be counter-productive. The world is badly over-populated now (in overshoot) and the situation is ecologically unsustainable.

  9. @jungney
    That gells with a recent teev doco involving genetic markers, that places the move out of Africa of modern humans occuring after about 75,000 years ago, via the Ice age narrowed Red Sea.

    For me it will remain a question to be answered, as to whether the Lake Tobe mega volcano eruption about 75, 000 years ago created a nuclear winter that exacerbated the Ice Age to the extent that travel from Africa to the Arabian peninsular, then other parts of the world became possible.

    As for the rest, the focus on Abbott has shielded Barnett from the exposure he warrants. He is a true Tea Party Redstate gubernatorial type, imho.

  10. Why am I funding other people’s lifestyle choices to drive big diesel vehicles long distances in the country? Why blow public dough on roads they’re only going to tear up and down on, burning their subsidised diesel and polluting the public air. If they can’t afford the diesel out in the country, they can always move to the city. But, you say, how will they run farms in the country if they are living in the city? Not my problem, says the PM.

    Oh…sorry, mixed up the words Aboriginal and agriculturalist, then got a big confused…thought the PM was onto something for a minute there.

  11. I am intending to reflect on the attributes a Prime Minister and State Premiers should have. Opinion polls might be framed in terms of prospective national leaders according to a set of criteria to which respondents could evaluate on a scale of 1 to 5. An open question can added to effect: What other qualities does the office holder, or candidate, have that will allow add to their performance? It would be interesting to see how Albo, Bill Shorten, Julie Bishop and Malcolm would evaluated. (If opinion polls do this already, I am not aware of it.)

    What are the essential skills and knowledge a PM should have? What particular qualities does Tony bring to the job? I find his attack on the President of the HRC and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, not to mention Aboriginal people, as utterly unacceptable.

  12. Faust Notes was right to criticize my Maori statement, a few days ago, in that the term Maori was only used after European settlement of NZ ,and it was used to refer to the many different tribes as if they were one people. Also it is not certain what happened to the first to land there -Maori creation myths dont help with that.

    What is happening to Aborigines in general ,and in WA in particular ,is a big deal .After 200 years of dispossession the final drive to remove the last of them from their land of continuous occupation is being made .We are told that they are drunken pedophiles and to be saved, need more choice in their lives . The mining companies of the future will thank Abbott. Lang Hancock, who openly advocated Aboriginal extermination ,will be smiling down on us.

    Would Libertarian immigrants fall foul of your rule 1 and 2 ? But seriously, why not completely open immigration for all the countries of the world with no national citizenship’s? Why do you propose limits at all ? Are you a closet Socialist ? With the current level of scientific development ,I dont like the idea of unlimited growth of economy or of world population ;- given that it is not clear if they are linked to human happiness levels much anyway. I do generally like the idea of immigration (and emigration) though. Mixing of different communities is good.

    Greens only ‘adopting’ a concern for the environment ? Do triangles only adopt 3 sidedness as a convenience ?

  13. @ Ikon in Tasmania they now have growth-by-fiat, even incorporating it into the name of their new super department
    In WW1 deserters and PTSD sufferers were shot for cowardice or lack of moral fibre. Perhaps in future non-growers will face the firing squad.

  14. @Ikonoclast
    Dr Karl’s response to criticism is to say “I am not a Liberal Party stooge” which is a tough gig when the prima facie evidence is to the opposite. Apparently he had to do it for the unique reason of the money. Well, I’ll be.

    When science is under such extraordinary attack from the Coalition it is hardly a show of solidarity to take on the highly political task of selling what all serious commentators have described as the highly political hogwash of the IGR. But a contract is a contract, it seems, and the show had to go on. His clownish clothes during the presentation let the cat out of the bag as to what he is.

  15. @Hermit

    Eventually, Tasmania could have more inter-state migrants than it wants as people flee the near-impossible climate of mainland Australia.

    “In Sydney and Brisbane, the apparent temperature has increased by 1C since the 1950s, but the actual temperature has only increased by 0.5C. This means that what felt like 29C in the 1950s now feels like over 30C, on average. This is because the humidity has increased and it is slightly less windy on average in both locations. These muggier conditions make the weather feel hotter, as the body is unable to shed excess heat as effectively.” – The Conversation.

    “The largest changes will be in Australia’s southeast, where climate models suggest that for the millions of people in Melbourne and Sydney, future summers will feel like they are warming even faster than the real temperature suggests, because of an increase in humid days. Residents in these cities will therefore be at a higher risk of heat stress when a heatwave strikes.

    Human-induced climate change is happening and we are already starting to feel the effects. Coping with the infamous Australian summer is already difficult, but in the future it might become even more stressful for some.” – lifehacker, Stephanie Jacobs and Ailie Gallant.

  16. @Ikonoclast
    I am being nice 🙂 but collaborating with the Coalition is too much.

    As to climate change and the heat – I live in a hot and humid valley area where three major rivers come off Barrington Tops. For me, outdoor activity in peak heat summer is no longer possible so the day starts with a predawn rise, a long indoors break with fans blasting and the house closed, and a little evening gardening when the heat is off. We managed summer better this year than last running the ac on seven days only. But it is tough and unpleasant. Summer is now a season to be managed and endured for me.

  17. dr karl has more science degrees than you guys. you guys should take your knuckles off the ground and put your hands in your pockets before you turn into liberal party idiots. -a.v.

  18. The International Energy Agency notes that

    economic growth and energy related CO2 emission growth decoupled in 2014

    , for the first time.

    The IEA says:

    The preliminary IEA data suggest that efforts to mitigate climate change may be having a more pronounced effect on emissions than had previously been thought.

    This appears to support Professor John Quiggin’s thesis that with some measured policy tweaks we can get on top of climate change and that the miserabilist fantasies of the hairshirt brigades is nothing more than a distraction.

    In fact I would go further and say that the miserabilists are unwittingly giving ammunition to the anti-science right and us moderates should pack them off to Coventry.

  19. @alfred venison

    I assume you are being ironic and just forgot your irony quotes. It is true that Dr. Karl has a “lot” or maybe “several” science degrees. “He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and Mathematics, a Master of Biomedical Engineering, and a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery, he has studied Computer Science as well as reading for a Master of Science (Qualifying) degree in Astrophysics.” – Wikipedia.

    Nevertheless, both the orthodox and heterodox economists all pretty much agree that the IGR is falsely framed at a number of levels and tells us nothing useful about future challenges due to demographic changes (or anything else). Dr. Karl’s understanding of public debt is also clearly flawed or else he is peddling the standard neocon line on public debt knowing it to be false.

    False premises equal false conclusions even when a person has 5 science degrees.

    “Dr Kruszelnicki said: “I agreed to do the campaign before I read the report.”

    He agreed to do it to support long-term policy making and because he gets paid “bugger all” by his employers, the ABC and the University of Sydney, he said.” – SMH.

    A bloke with 5 degrees needs to make better decisions and/or offer better rationalisations than that if he wants to retain any credibility at all. His credibility (if he had any before) is clearly shot now.

  20. @Apple

    There are absolute denialists and relative denialists or lukewarmists. Lukewarmists are in fact the ones in effective collaboration with the denialists. Denialists are saying “It’s not happening.” Lukewarmists are saying “It’s happening a little bit but it doesn’t matter. A few tweaks will suffice.”

    “Annual carbon dioxide emissions showed a strong rise of 2.5% on 2013 levels, putting the total emitted this year on track for 40bn tonnes. That means the global ‘carbon budget’, calculated as the total governments can afford to emit without pushing temperatures higher than 2C above pre-industrial levels, is likely to be used up within just one generation, or in thirty years from now.” – Guardian (Data from the Global Carbon Project).

    “Emissions for 2014, according to the research, are set to rise to 40bn tonnes. That compares with emissions of 32bn tonnes in 2010, showing how fast the output is rising.” – Guardian (from the Global Carbon Project).

    The situation is clearly dire when measured and assessed scientifically. Lukewarmists deny this. Lukewarmists are denialists.

  21. @alfred venison
    Knuckle dragger? I’m going to sulk off to the backyard now to recite The Epic of Gilgamesh to Irwin’s cattle until I compose myself.

    In fact, against my will and through peculiar circumstances, many years ago I spent far too much time in the man’s company. It would be improper for me to recount my experiences. However, I can report with satisfaction that this episode confirms for me the truth of Sun Tzu’s comment that “if you sit by the river long enough, you will see the body of your enemy float by”.

  22. I think Quiggin and I both agree that GHG emissions do matter a lot, but they can be dealt with through modest policy changes that won’t have much of an impact on global economic growth.

    The Global Carbon Project figure for 2014 is at this stage a projection, we’ll need to wait and see if their final figure contradicts the IEA figures for energy related emissions.

    Chris Mooney, a science literate moderate leftist nails it:

    For anybody who cares about the planet, that’s very good news. After all, the previously tight link between economic growth and the use of more energy — leading to more emissions — has seemed an almost invariant fact of the modern industrial world. Indeed, observations like these have driven some on the environmental left to posit that economic growth itself is incompatible with environmental protections.

    According to the IEA, in the last 40 years, “there have been only three times in which emissions have stood still or fallen compared to the previous year, and all were associated with global economic weakness.” But the global economy was in good shape last year — and grew 3 percent.

    This is how progress in saving our planet is measured — as two lines on a graph that no longer follow one another.

    But it is interesting to see that folk like Ikonoclast so willingly point an accusatory finger at folk like John Quiggin and shout “collaborator!” The far left have always used this tactic and the consequence has always been destructive.

  23. @Ikonoclast

    In a sense there should be endless growth as civilisation improves it’s technology.

    Growth can occur in quality as well as quantity. The earth may not be able to cope with growth in quantity, but this does not mean growth can occur in quality.

    For example moving from huge mantel valve radios (pre war) to today’s integrated circuits may well represent a drop in resource use per radio, but yet a growth in utility. This is reflected in price.

    Shortly after the war, many people had to use hire-purchase to afford a radio. Now kids can buy then at Dick Smith with their pocket money. And you get a lot more out of today’s radios than you did 50 years ago.

  24. @Ivor

    Yes, I have long accepted and even made the argument that qualitiative growth can continue after quantitative growth ends. However, quantitative growth must end and that does imply a very different economy. The capitalist economy and its control systems are extremely poorly adapted to making the necessary changes to a non-quantitative growth economy just as they are extremely poorly adapted to making the changes necessary to permit or retain a healthy biosphere. If we don’t retain a healthy biospehre there will be no or few people and certainly no modern civilization or economy.

    The capitalist economy is comitted to endless physical growth and over-consumption whilst depleting the earth’s natural capital. This committment is not just ideological it is structural and systemic. It is embodies in the logic of the capitalist system itself. Capital must replicate itself and grow. That is its sole reason for existing and sole mode of operation. Any capitalist company which avoided the promotion of over-consumption and unsustainable production (while natural capital remained available to exploit) would be out-competed and would fail. The firms which obey the laws of over-consumption and unsustainable production succeed and flourish and will continue to do so until they generate a complete collapse of the biosphere and thus of the system (capitalism) dependent on the biosphere.

    It’s just my opinion of course, but I hold that the collapse will have to seriously and unambiguously manifest itself before any kind of revolution is possible. Greece is probably the canary in the coal mine right now.

  25. Faust Notes was right to criticize my Maori statement, a few days ago, in that the term Maori was only used after European settlement of NZ ,and it was used to refer to the many different tribes as if they were one people. Also it is not certain what happened to the first to land there -Maori creation myths dont help with that.

    What is happening to Aborigines in general ,and in WA in particular ,is a big deal .After 200 years of dispossession the final drive to remove the last of them from their land of continuous occupation is being made .We are told that they are drunken pedophiles, and to be saved, need more choice in their lives ;- which is handy because we should stop wasting taxpayers money on them too . The mining companies of the future will thank Abbott. Lang Hancock, who openly advocated Aboriginal extermination ,will be smiling down on us.

    Would Libertarian immigrants fall foul of your rule 1 and 2 ? But seriously, why not completely open immigration for all the countries of the world with no national citizenship’s? Why do you propose limits at all ? Are you a closet Socialist ? With the current level of scientific development ,I dont like the idea of unlimited growth of economy or of world population ;- given that it is not clear if they are linked to human happiness levels much anyway. I do generally like the idea of immigration (and emigration) though. Mixing of different communities is good.

  26. @Ikonoclast
    The terminology used for “growth” could be the hidden point of contention in many discussions. For me, “economic growth” usually means GDP expansion, whereas “economic development” could be the alternative meaning that other people are referring to by the word “growth”?

    Your “qualitative growth” versus “quantitative growth” is also a reasonable differentiation 🙂

  27. Pyne’s clumsy blackmail attempt has hit a roadblock in the senate. While I have a lot of sympathy for the scientific and non-scientific staff who are directly affected by the refusal to release the 2015 block funding for major research facilities, I really hope the opposition senators do not buckle and cave in on this.

    Pyne should never have linked the bill and the research funding. He did, and the consequences are already being felt. He has simply followed the Morrison playbook, the research funding playing the role of the children in detention. Each time the LNP knuckleheads do these bizarre strategies, the collateral damage to real people, to real lives, is lost in the debate. When the LNP finally backflip, capitulate, or win their point, by that time a significant cost has been borne by people who have done nothing to deserve it. Pyne is simply doing the LNP way: scorged Earth wherever their foot falls next. Scientists and support staff have been sacked up and down the country already, thanks in large part to last year’s nasty budget; so, how will it play out with this year’s budget only a few weeks away?

  28. @Apple
    There are numerous trenchant and correct rebuttals of Mark Lyna’s conversion on the road to Damascus. What intrigues me is his trajectory from ‘Earth First!’ crop destroyer to cocktail waiter for corporations which suggests to me a serious lack of intellectual integrity. In his January 2013 l3cture to the Oxford Farming Conference he said:

    … in 2008 I was still penning screeds in the Guardian attacking the science of GM – even though I had done no academic research on the topic, and had a pretty limited personal understanding. I don’t think I’d ever read a peer-reviewed paper on biotechnology or plant science…

    So, from the horses mouth, he is a lifelong practitioner of the double standard.

    Two articles stand out: a rebuttal titled ‘The Lynas School of Pseudo-scientific Environmentalism – Twenty-two Pieces of Junk Science from the Lynas Manifesto’ (Permaculture Institute) and one titled ‘Of Myths and Men: Mark Lynas and the intoxicating Power of Technocracy’ (Huffpost).

    As to his claim that the left has snuck under the skirts of environmentalism in order to advance an anti-capitalist project: the left, in particular Barry Commoner and Murray Bookchin, but there are others, has been advancing an ecologically informed critique of capitalism for rather a long time and making no bones about it. There is no sneaking in of ideological agendas, it’s right up front. So, I won’t accepts Lynus’s demand that political elements should vacate the field in favour of technocrats. I know too much about the failures of the state to do that.

    Most abjectly, however, he fails to mention that the entrenched funders of climate denialism are exactly the agents of a particular form of oligarchic and authoritarian capitalism whose stranglehold on media outlets and parliaments around the world is precisely what prevents serious discussion about what to do.

    Climate change is crap, right? Remember that? That’s the voice of the fossil fuel industry right there.

  29. @Garry Claridge

    presumably GDP expansion is a market measure. So if a business invests a million dollars and employs 1,000 for a profit of 200,000 producing food, does this mean that your growth is positive if the million dollars is moved where it employs only 20,000 workers producing luxuries, but profit is double?

    Possibly a capitalist would say growth is positive.
    So, I guess a Marxist would say growth is negative.

    Which does society want?

  30. Lukewarmism vs fact checking. The BBC reckons world emissions were 32 gigatonnes in both 2013 and 2014
    a 0% increase but last year world GDP went up 3%. Not sure where the Guardian’s 40 Gt came from. A couple of observations
    1) IPCC emissions horror scenarios like RCP 8.5 may be fanciful
    2) it’s too early to say if energy and GDP are henceforth ‘decoupled’
    What we could be seeing is belt tightening or trimming the fat. Let’s see if GDP still grows with -5%, -10%, -20% changes in energy use.

  31. @Hermit

    It depends what is included in the measure. The most comprehensive estimated measure in CO2(e) or CO2 equivalents as per the IPCC is;

    (1) CO2 from fossil fuel use and other sources; plus
    (2) CO2 from deforestation, decay and peat; plus
    (3) CH4 from agriculture, waste and energy; plus
    (4) N2O from agriculture and other sources; plus
    (5) F-gases.

    In 2004, the total from all the sources was estimated at 49.0 GtCO2-eq/year.

    Oftentimes, you will see estimates which only cover estimated CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and cement production. These estimates give figures for example of;

    2013 : 36.1 GtCO2-eq/year.
    2014 : 37.0 GtCO2-eq/year.

    I can’t quickly find a 2013 or 2014 estimate for CO2 equivalent emissions from ALL sources but presumably it is well over 50.0 GtCO2-eq/year and maybe even up to 60.0 GtCO2-eq/year.

    It seems to me that this number still might not even include increasing methane releases from the tundra and seabed methane clathrates.

  32. Postcript to above post:

    “Total anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have continued to increase over 1970 to 2010 with larger absolute increases between 2000 and 2010, despite a growing number of climate change mitigation policies. Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 have reached 49 ± 4.5 GtCO2 eq/yr.” – IPCC Summary 2014.

  33. Ikon I’ll take your word for it at this point. Manmade emissions should exclude methane from tundra (a feedback process) but include fugitive release from coal or gas mining since humans were the direct cause, not the indirect cause. Now I call upon our federal environment dept to publish user friendly emissions series for Australia. Since 2000 is the agreed base year graphs should start there not 2004. For each series it should be clearly stated what is in and what is out.
    http://ageis.climatechange.gov.au/ Confusing or what?

    Not that I’m saying Greg Hunt is a dissembler but I suspect he uses whatever series looks best for him. Since there are several to choose from the public is bamboozled. The greenhouse accounting people should have the cojones to tell politicians which is their preferred data set for trend purposes.

  34. @jungney
    Taking that quote on-board, he demonstrates several things: i) very sloppy to non-existent standards for fact checking and verification of his sources for his articles he published in The Guardian; ii) no intrinsic interest in the field he was working in at the time; iii) The Guardian should have been more active at the editor level, refusing to publish articles which weren’t properly cross-checked on their assumptions/facts, and at the least should require journalists to provide, with every article, a bibliography of source articles, especially scientific ones, cited in the article. They don’t have to publish it, but it gives the editor(s) ammo if a journalist is fudging their output.

    All in all, both the journalist, by his own admission, and the newspaper’s own processes, are at fault. I suspect this is far from isolated, and this is more likely the current standard operating procedure for online and traditional news media. Scientific basis for so-called facts used in a news article should be cross-checked as a matter of course; it isn’t really that onerous, just a matter of using some online science databases, and making sure the cited article says what is claimed. Blanket claims in a news article should automatically require several high profile legitimate scientific and/or academic references to back them up, whether the references are just filed away or a published along with the news article.

  35. @Hermit

    “Manmade emissions should exclude methane from tundra (a feedback process)…”

    That’s a moot point and one could look at it either way. If all the standard CO2 equivalent emissions, as taken into account by the IPCC, lead to feedback methane emissions from the tundra and seabed, then mankind is still responsible for them, at least secondarily. Whichever way you look at it, these feedback methane releases will add to the effects on our climate. The final sum effect will be what counts for physical, biological and economic impacts.

  36. While reading another blog this afternoon I came across this:

    Thomson suggests they do not understand the crippling effect of the infrastructure costs imposed by population growth. On this, he cites the work of US economist Lester Thurow and University of Queensland agricultural economist Jane N. O’Sullivan. O’Sullivan has argued that these costs, amounting to some A$200,000 of infrastructure per extra Australian, dwarf the supposed economic advantages.

    That’s a bit more than $25k.

  37. @Ikonoclast
    He has certainly lost me. (Not that I am a good judge, only high school level education). But really, how scientific is it to support a ‘report’ before reading it. Not only do we have this government treating us like mushrooms, they even have a scientist doing it. i am struggling to think of how this would be acceptable in any field of science and deserves as much pushback as the IGR is getting, at the very least.

  38. > Absolutely no personal criticism of other commenters.

    Then you’re going to have to start banning people or you’re going to see the level of debate collapse. Your choice which, but “reasonable debate, forms of politeness, open to all comers” is very much a “pick any two” situation.

  39. @jungney
    When you say “the man’s company” do you mean Dr Karl himself? I also spent many years down the corridor from him and had a good relationship. However, I am really dissapointed by the IGR stuff. I cringed to see him in the clip. He has certainly lost credibility, and never really was big enought to fit into the shoes of Sumner-Miller. Dr Karl is more of a trivia wiz than a science wiz. It is a pity that popular science is represented by either the white lab-coat wearing dork, or the clown. Neither is cool. Neither inspires smart kids. Steve Jobs is more of my kind of science presenter. Young kids these days deserve better. And now that Karl has sold out for the money to the worst mob in the land, well, … I guess he had to fund his habit somehow.

  40. I see Turnbull wants to reduce, even further, media ownership diversity.

    Dorling has an “Exclusive” in The Age.

    The British Government has suppressed the release of secret documents relating to Rupert Murdoch’s dealings with a French-Australian conman and KGB operative four decades ago.

    Rupert Murdoch is a fascist. News Ltd is a fascist propaganda outfit.

  41. Dr Karl has every right to earn an income, and if he chooses to do so in a manner which (probably) dents his reputation as a scientific straight shooter, taking easy cash from the goon squad, well that’s his call. Let’s face it, having a scientific background is poison in the current environment, as is being an independent scientific voice. Under the current dictatorship, scientific reputation counts for nought—except as propaganda, it’s only value to the goon squad. As a scientist, the options are to espouse scientific outcomes popular among the goons, keep your head down and hope to survive until better days arrive, or change careers, either by choice or by being sacked in one of the great purges. Dr Karl has chosen the path which keeps him employed.

    Actually, I’m rather sad to have heard of this, especially the agreeing to it without knowing the content beforehand. The funny thing is that the use of Dr Karl is unlikely to sway LNP voters, for they already distrust scientists and are going to vote LNP anyway; Dr Karl is also unlikely to sway LNP opponents, especially because it looks like a propaganda stunt and not an independent assessment of the IGR. So all up, Dr Karl gets the gig and the cash, while the LNP achieve very little for it, beyond the value of tarnishing yet another scientific voice (and to the LNP mindset, there is value in that, definitely).

    We have been incrementally dismantling our best public science in the stupidly persistent belief that only economically exploitable things matter, as if people undertake intellectual pursuits simply because of money—ha! Anyway, with the big universities now stuck with a market for students, there is less and less use for widespread research across all faculties; I fully expect the big traditional universities to restrict research to economically valuable areas, jettisoning research of public value, of intellectual value, but of no obvious immediate economic value. This is the biggest change to sweep through Australian universities since their inception, as far as I can see. The ALP must share in the blame for this happening, as it was their HECS system which started us down this path, coupled with the absurd “promotion” of the old CAEs as part of the unification of the tertiary sector (CAE = College of Advanced Education). It made little sense at the time, and still doesn’t, quite frankly. Research absorbs money; requiring all these institutions to act as research organisations simply stole from their quite competent teaching facilities, and didn’t give back. The CAEs were absorbed by the newer universities, especially the Institutes of Technology, in their go for growth phase. The whole sector is a shambles now, helpfully made worse under the LNP.

    And PR offices for university research? Don’t get me started…

  42. Donald: it is an interesting juncture. There was a time when it was perfectly reasonable to be a scientist and vote for the Coalition. Not any more. How could any rationally trained person vote for a sitting government that is opposed to both rational thought and to furthering that ability among the population through, for example, science education. As you say, for this government the only purpose of science is to provide a gloss of legitimacy for propaganda.

    I haven’t yet seen an adequate account of from whence these dark forces, anti-Enlightenment forces, originate. Class analysis, sociology, political philosophy are inadequate to the task of accounting for their hatred of anything that contradicts their worldview, including facts. Moreover, they are ruthless in tearing up the rule book of convention. We’ll discover in time that they were far worse than we imagined.

  43. I did not mention focus groups, which are reactive after the fact. They do not promote good candidates for Prime Minister. However, swinging voters participating in these activities have strongly condemned Tony Abbott’s handling of the job.

    Similarly, there is implicit strong objections coming from the office of the Indonesian President with implications as to whether Mr Sukumaran and Mr Chan will live or die.

    It seems to me that Tony Abbott is not learning from his mistakes to the point that seems clearer now that previously that is tenure in the position is just matter of time. (Monday Reflection)

  44. @Collin Street

    Collin, I don’t agree with you that our host will have to start banning people see the level of debate collapse. I suspect that of the options you gave he would chose reasonable debate, forms of politeness, and not open to people who cannot refrain from personal criticism. But I could be wrong about this. Also, my arriving at a different conclusion has no bearing upon you, your loved ones, your hated ones, or anyone you have ever met or may ever meet. And this goes for all alternate versions for any given value of “you” that may or may not exist in this or any other universii.

  45. The usual practice for dealing with delicate matters between nations is for the foreign minister and Australian diplomats to discuss the issues behind closed doors, confidentiality being vital. Once an accommodation has been reached, if at all possible, that’s the point where the PM should/could come in and provide a statement as to the resolution of the issue or otherwise.

    Not our PM: he went in all guns blazing, shot up the place, and once out of ammo, has the gauche audacity to tell the rest of us to keep schtum, in case we cause the deaths of these two of the Bali Nine. Man! It takes a true legend to hit 11 on the FW scale, and I’m holding back on my language here.

  46. Jungney, I don’t know how you can write about “these dark forces, anti-Enlightenment forces” in respect of others with a straight face given the junk science links you provided earlier and labelled ” trenchant and correct rebuttals” of the Mark Lynas article I cited.

    Mark Lynas’s article is nothing more or less than an orthodox reflection of the consilience of the science on GMO.

    Most amusingly, you furnished a link to a permaculture website (ie a bourgeois hobby group) that spruiks an article by a little known emeritus geographer that in turn cites the junk science of Gilles Seralini, who works for CRIIGEN which is run by Dr Spiroux de Vendomois who is, among other things, a homeopath and a practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine. Seralini himself is a science adviser and co-author of papers for the French homeopathic company, Sevene Pharma. Again, as you are undoubtedly well aware, nearly all of Seralini’s work appears in pay-for-play journals and the man is regarded as a joke by practically every important peak science body in France.

    Am I to take it that you endorse Chinese traditional medicine and homeopathy? Do you have similar feelings about alchemy, astrology and Icelandic fish-dancing?

    I feel sorry for pro-GM moderate left wing scientists and science reporters like Chris Mooney, Kevin Folta, Nate Johnson and David Gorski, all of whom face vicious personal abuse by the far left on a daily basis. But perhaps I feel most sorry for Mommy, PhD (Alison Bernstein), who occasionally faces rape threats from the anti-GM crowd, most of whom undoubtedly identify with the left.

    Clearly Lynas is absolutely correct; the far left has latched on to climate change as an issue in a classic case of entryism. In truth, they have absolutely no interest in the science nor do they have any respect for the institution of science.

    Respect for science seems to be most strong among Social Democrats and that very rare beast, the genuine Burkean conservative.

  47. @Donald Oats

    “I fully expect the big traditional universities to restrict research to economically valuable areas, jettisoning research of public value, of intellectual value, but of no obvious immediate economic value.”

    I disagree. Universities will continue to fund those areas which increase their international rankings. They are not in the least interested in economic value in the sense of the research supporting Australian industries or companies. They care only about what international (and soon to be national) students (and their parents) are will to fork out for a piece of paper with a nice watermark and a signature. That number depends on the rankings. So theoretical astrophysics or genetics are both equally likely to score a major publication, and will hence be maintained. In fact, climate science is also a high ranking field (many citations) and will therefore be maintained despite the stance of the federal government.

  48. @sunshine

    But seriously, why not completely open immigration for all the countries of the world with no national citizenship’s? Why do you propose limits at all ? Are you a closet Socialist ?

    The limits I propose (other than 1 & 2) merely account for the fact that we have a form of socialism in operation already which needs to be accounted for. If all public infrastructure was privatised and shifted to an entirely user pays model the immigration fee would decline to zero. Likewise if we had no taxpayer funded welfare system then limiting access to taxpayer funded welfare becomes a non issue. Both the immigration fee and the welfare restriction are a pragmatic accommodation of the socialism we already have.

  49. @Collin Street

    I think that choice has already been clearly made. You refer to the possibility of having to start banning people as if it’s something that hasn’t happened yet. But people have been banned from here already. My impression is that our host doesn’t relish it but doesn’t shy from it either. The discussion policy is as clear as could reasonably be expected that ‘reasonable debate’ and ‘forms of politeness’ are desired goals but that ‘open to all comers [no matter how they behave]’ is not.

  50. keep in mind will you it wasn’t the damned liberal government’s budget; it was expected by most mainstream observers to be just another wrong-headed technocratic report like the ones that came before, not the crude party partisan bomb hockey turned it into.

    so what if he’s a media celebrity with an ego the size of a planet? what was relevant as far as i was concerned was that he could still reach the sunrise audience, e.g., ’cause god knows tim flannery can’t. and he could – whatever the topic of the day – be counted on, while with them, to talk up the position informed by *reason*!

    remember we’re well into new age barbarism – you all deplore rising magical thinking and mass irrationality.

    but congratulations on joining the mob and helping to finish off a functioning science communicator for the anti-science liberals, but don’t stop at dr karl there’s jessica watson and rachel perkins to get too. -a.v.

  51. @plaasmatron

    Australian university managements exhibit a keen interest in their standing in international ranking exercises — they do that now, even though it doesn’t allow them to charge higher fees. It’s plausible that they would continue to do so in an environment of deregulated fees, but that doesn’t mean it’s because of any connection between those rankings and capacity to charge higher fees. According to what John Quiggin has written here before, deregulation of fees in England didn’t result in the universities with the highest prestige putting up their fees a lot more than those with less prestige: they all went up by nearly the same amount, or that’s how I remember what I read.

    I suspect that higher results in international ranking exercises are attractive to Vice-Chancellors even in a regulated-fee environment because they feed their personal vanity and because they increase their leverage over their own salaries: personally I suspect vanity is the more important factor, but with the way the two effects are linked the distinction may not be of much importance.

  52. @plaasmatron
    Christopher Pyne got the jump on me, de-linking the un-de-linkable $150m 2015 funding from the deregulation of fees, and he de-linked the 20% haircut, loading that into a separate bill to be debated/passed/rejected after the deregulation of fees bill. This makes some of what I said moot, impossible to call until the dust settles. If the deregulation passes, and the haircut (but on a moving basis dependent on fees charged by the universities), then it is surely possible to have some universities quite happy to charge exorbitant fees in order to narrow the client base to the wealthiest and best connected; after all, if you are looking for alumni with rewarding private philanthropy, they’ll come from the wealthiest families, by and large. It also builds prestige of that most peculiar variety, the million dollar watch. It is an advertisement for you, the fees operating as a shibboleth.

    Other universities may well operate on the cheap but many principle, ie mass education, with mass being the operative word. High volume, lower margin product.

    On the other hand, given our historic philanthropy ended around the time of creation of the oldest universities, perhaps it would be too much of a risky strategy to go for the wealthiest of the wealthy. Still, there are far more multi-millionaires in Australia now than there ever, so it’s a feasible strategy at least.

    Since the wealthiest tend to have access to some of the best secondary schooling in the country, it is also likely that they will produce an adequate number of good research academics down the line, and the high fees should allow some attractive loadings for poaching key academics from the cream of the international universities.

    In all this though, the squeeze has to be on research funds, and universities have no choice but to think through resource allocation issues in that space. Christopher Pyne is not offering public money, he is only offering money that students can muster up; having said that, with a full loans system to pay for uni fees, the government is subsidising the universities by bearing some financial risk on their behalf.

  53. @Donald Oats
    So AFAICT, the $150m funding should breeze through the senate, while deregulation will be heavily debated. So do any of the cross benchers plan on voting for deregulation now that the 20% haircut has been effectively cancelled? What are the numbers in the senate? I think PUP is going to be opposed, Lazarus and Lambie also, but one of them might be bought. How about Ricky? It still looks like it will go down unless Pyne gets some serious “soft corruption” happening (to paraphrase Paul Krugman).

  54. There’s that word again, “consilience”.

    Coincidentally the last time I saw that was this comment by ‘Candy Pants’ on 7 March:

    I will continue eating intensive factory farmed animals and caged eggs as per usual until I see a strong and sustained consilience of the science telling me I shouldn’t, for whatever reason.

    Dropping a Seralini reference just about seals the deal as far as proving serial sock-puppetry.

  55. OMG! Word on the web is that Clarke and Dawes actually wrote this script and the Christopher “the Fixer” Pyne rehearsed and performed it.

    (3xw). youtube.com/watch?v=Hc9NRwp6fiI

  56. @Megan

    What’s the genealogy of Apple? It goes through Candy Pants all the way back to Mel doesn’t it?

    I made a point a while ago that the precautionary principle requires diametrically opposite actions on climate change and GMOs. That is to say, climate change dangers require us to act now whereas the possible dangers of GMOs require us to proceed with caution now. Climate change action is mandatory. GMO introduction is optional. The cases are very different.

    I also noted that corporate capital wants nothing done on climate change yet corporate capital wants the rapid introduction of GMOs. If that doesn’t induce caution and suspicion in people then they are not thinking at all about what is going on in late stage corporate capitalism.

    For the record, I regard homeopathy, chiropractics, herbology, crystal healing, aromatherapy and Chinese medicine as quackery.

  57. Those who routinely cite the precautionary principle always do so selectively. For example Ikon above deploys it in relation to GM, a tried and proven technology with a very limited risk profile yet throws caution ito the wind n his support for the overthrow of capitalism, a reckless move that has ended in blood and rubble every time it has been tried.

    The precautionary principle is easily deployed by ideological war horses, the ignorant and the fearful, nonetheless it is important and it should be applied prudently in public policy.

    As to the importance of GM, Qaim and Klupper with funding from the German government and EU (no friends of GM, need I say) recently completed the largest meta-analysis of GM crops so far conducted:

    The analysis covers 147 original studies that were carried out internationally over the last 20 years. On average, GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68%. Yield gains and pesticide reductions are larger for insect-resistant crops than for herbicide-tolerant crops. Yield and profit gains are higher in developing countries than in developed countries.

    If this meta-analysis is correct, GM technology is already assisting with climate change reduction as well as lifting poor farmers in developing countries out of poverty.

    Meanwhile half the UK Soil Association board resigned in a tiff over homeopathy a few months back while the US Organic Consumers Association in the US has appointed a national director who is a vocal anti-vaxer.

  58. @alfred venison
    Alfred, the IGR was well overdue and word was already out that it was going to be little more than a prop for Hockey to wave around to justify whatever mess his next budget produces. In light of that the decision to promote it seems passing strange. But hey, I doubt that this will have any impact on breakfast teev viewers.

  59. Treasurer Joe Hockey is seeking substantial damages in his defamation case against Fairfax, on the basis of the injury to his reputation (and the need to protect it). Without getting into the alleged defamation itself, it does bring up the interesting question as to just what kind of a reputation a politician can expect to have; furthermore, the principles of defamation AFAIUI rely on notions of a reasonable person, unbiased, in determining if injury could have been caused. For a polarising politician, does that test remain relevant, or even reasonable?

    For example, a conservative LNP voter is unlikely to see the Fairfax article as damaging the reputation of Joe Hockey in their eyes, although they would be likely to agree it could be damaging in the eyes of other readers. In other words, the conservative LNP voter’s opinion of Joe Hockey is unlikely to be swayed by the Fairfax article. On the other hand, it is more difficult to get a read on what a leftwing voter (say ALP or Greens) would make of it, as they are naturally opposed to the LNP of which Joe Hockey is a senior member. One could argue that their opinion of Joe Hockey would change for the worse after reading the Fairfax headline and article; or, one could argue that their opinion is already fixed, and unlikely to shift on the basis of that one article, as it would merely confirm their existing belief/bias.

    The notion of defamation, when applied to career politicians, looks like very murky waters to me.

    Personally, I did not think that Joe was acting corruptly, and certainly wasn’t swayed to think that just because of yet another news headline, as I’m well and truly used to headlines not saying what the article says, for a whole lot of reasons. Perhaps though, I’m not a reasonable person 🙂

  60. In a discussion arising in comments on the post about the TPP, Ikonoclast wrote:

    I imagine the US would have a Plan A and a Plan B with respect to getting their hands on Julian Assange.

    I respond here to avoid prolonging a derail there.

    I don’t know how many plans the US might have to get its hands on Julian Assange: as far as anything I know goes, it could be one, two, a dozen, or none at all. What I do know is that the Swedish request to the UK for his extradition doesn’t make sense as part of a plan for the US to get its hands on him, because it would make any plan like that harder, not easier.

    Since writing my earlier comments I have refreshed my memory of the court judgements in the extradition case. Near the end of the judgement at first instance Senior District Judge Howard Riddle refers to the suggestion that Assange might be extradited to the USA, and he says that Geoffrey Robertson (leading Assange’s legal team) was right not to pursue it: the only evidence on the point came from the testimony of Sven-Eric Alhem, a defence witness (that is, for Assange), who said it couldn’t happen.

    So, considering the question ‘Could the extradition of Julian Assange to Sweden lead to his extradition to the USA?’, I’ve got two responses: one, from a Swedish legal commentator and former senior prosecutor testifying for Assange in court, which is ‘No’, and one from a commenter on a blog, which is ‘Yes’.

    Readers can decide for themselves who they consider a more reliable source on this point, Sven-Eric Alhem, formerly Chief District Prosecutor in Stockholm, formerly Director for the Regional Prosecution Authority in Sweden, and specifically selected by Julian Assange’s own legal team to testify in his defence on matters of Swedish law, or James.

  61. @J-D
    I’ve refreshed my own reading on the issues around Assange. In summary, opinion seems to be that: i) Assange resists extradition to Sweden because the Swedish establishment, including the military spooks, in the recent past collaborated with ‘rendition’ of subjects who were tortured; he therefore fears for his welfare and life, quite reasonably if you look at the treatment of Bradley Manning, if he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy for Sweden; ii) from my reading, there appears to be a sealed US grand jury indictment of Assange, one that provides the justification for seeking to extradite Assange from the UK to the US, whilever there is a prior extradition action, in this case Sweden’s, awaiting action.

    Apparently it is a matter of international civility and rules. Ha!

    Remember that Gillard, forgetting her national identity, on May 29, 2012 labelled Assange “a traitor”. A traitor to whom, this computer savant and teller of the truth? “Who does this colonial oick think he is?” cry those who have their snouts in the trough and up the dates of those in power.

    If you look again at what wikileaks has exposed you might understand the politics of the need to crush this upstart.

  62. Sven-Eric Alhem, …, who said it [extradition from Sweden to the US] couldn’t happen.

    No he didn’t. He was nowhere near as definitive as that.

    According to the BBC report of his evidence from February 2011:

    And when asked whether Mr Assange could be at risk of being transferred to the US if extradited, he said: “My understanding is there is not a risk of being extradited to the US but there are exceptions, which I’m not aware of and can’t comment on.

    “I believe it’s impossible Mr Assange could be extradited to the US without a complete media storm.”

    That is completely different.

    The US assassinates people weekly without any legal process. Sweden could definitely extradite Assange to the US. They have refused to give a guarantee to his legal team that they won’t do such a thing. Sweden could also “lend” Assange to the US, on the condition that he be returned when the US has finished with him.

  63. @jungney

    On your first point, I’m not saying that there’s no US plot to kidnap Assange (I’m not saying that there is, either); I’m saying that the Swedish extradition request is not part of a US plot to kidnap Assange, because it could only make such a plot harder and more complicated to carry out (it would be no harder to kidnap Assange from the UK than to kidnap him from Sweden).

    I’m not sure I’m following your second point correctly. What I said before was that the Swedish extradition request would not make a US extradition request easier, it would make it more complicated, and it looks as if your point may possibly agree with that, although I may have misunderstood your syntax.

    Again: no matter how many US plans there may be to lay hands on Assange, legally or illegally, the Swedish extradition request does not make sense as part of one of them, because in no way does it make it any easier than it was before to get Assange to the US.

  64. (it would be no harder to kidnap Assange from the UK than to kidnap him from Sweden).

    But this is question-begging.

    [you need to pay more attention to the unknown-unknowns.

  65. I observed that Julian Assange and his legal team have produced no evidence to support the conclusion that the Swedish extradition request is part of a plan to get Assange to the USA. James responded by asking me where they should have looked for that evidence. I don’t know, but my inability to find evidence for a conclusion is no kind of justification for adopting that conclusion. I can, however, suggest where to look for evidence the other way, that the Swedish extradition request is no part of any plan to get Assange to the USA, namely, in the testimony of Sven-Eric Alhem, selected by Assange’s own legal team as one of their expert witnesses.

    I have stated my reason for concluding that the Swedish extradition request is no part of a plan to get Assange to the USA: namely, that it makes no sense as part of any such plan, because it would make it more complicated and more difficult. Nevertheless, I would revise my view if evidence could be produced to support the conclusion that the Swedish extradition request is in fact part of a plan to get Assange to the USA. None has been.

    The perhaps overly abstract way I expressed another point seems to have led James to misunderstand it. James suggested earlier (if I have understood correctly) that the US would want to use Sweden as an intermediary in getting hold of Assange because a direct US request to the UK would be prevented from succeeding by the actions of the UK anti-war movement and/or George Galloway MP, or something similar. In my response I used the expression ‘political circumstances’ to refer to the kind of thing James was talking about there, but I guess James didn’t realise that’s what I had in mind. So I shall rephrase more explicitly. The UK anti-war movement didn’t prevent the UK government and courts from agreeing to the extradition of Assange to Sweden. The UK anti-war movement hasn’t prevented the UK authorities from continuing to ‘stake out’ the Ecuadorian embassy in a continued pursuit of Assange. There is no reason to think the UK war movement could stop the UK authorities from extraditing Assange to the US. The simplest and easiest way for the US to seek Assange’s extradition at any time would have been a direct extradition request to whichever country he actually was in at that time — Sweden when he actually was in Sweden, the UK when he actually was in the UK — and not to devise a plan involving a third country. There is no reason to think that extradition from the UK to the US is any harder than extradition from Sweden to the US, neither because of the UK anti-war movement nor for any other reason. When James, misunderstanding my perhaps poorly expressed point, suggests that Assange can’t rely on the UK courts to prevent his extradition, the suggestion tends to support that conclusion.

    Fran Barlow wrote

    The Swedes, pointedly, declined to give assurances on not extraditing to any country that could extradite to the US, and that’s really all one needs to know.

    It is a faulty pattern of reasoning to work from the premise that the Swedish authorities have not guaranteed that they will not extradite Assange to the US to the conclusion that the Swedish authorities are involved in a plan to have Assange extradited to the US.

    If that pattern of reasoning made sense, it would make the same sense to say ‘Sweden has not guaranteed that it will not extradite J-D to the US, which shows that Sweden is part of a plan to extradite J-D to the US’ or ‘Russia has not guaranteed that it will not extradite Fran Barlow to Syria, which shows that Russia is part of a plan to extradite Fran Barlow to Syria’ or ‘Ecuador has not guaranteed that it will not extradite James to the UK, which shows that Ecuador is part of a plan to extradite James to the UK’ or … well, that should be enough examples, I hope, to illustrate how that kind of reasoning makes no sense. The premise doesn’t even make the conclusion probable. The premise lends no support to the conclusion.

    The explanation for Sweden’s not giving a blanket guarantee against extraditing Assange to the US is not that Sweden is part of a plan to extradite Assange to the US; the explanation is that countries never give that kind of blanket guarantee. No country would ever give a blanket guarantee never to extradite a specific individual for the same sort of reason that no country would ever give a blanket guarantee never to arrest a specific individual. That’s a kind of guarantee it’s unreasonable to expect.

    It is reasonable for the UK to make it a condition that Sweden guarantee that if anybody is extradited to Sweden from the UK, the Swedish authorities will not use that as an opportunity to have that individual extradited to any third country without the consent of the UK. But Sweden has given exactly that guarantee.

  66. @Megan

    Again: it would be no harder for the US to have Assange assassinated in the UK than to have him assassinated in Sweden; it would be no harder for the US to have Assange extradited from the UK than to have him extradited from Sweden; it would be no harder for the US to persuade the UK to ‘lend’ Assange than it would be to persuade Sweden to ‘lend’ him; no matter what form a US plan to get hold of Assange might take, it would be simpler and easier to get hold of him directly from one other country than to involve two other countries in the plan, and so the Swedish extradition request to the UK makes no sense as part of a plan for the US to get hold of him.

    I would revise this view if direct evidence were produced that (however little sense it makes) the Swedish extradition request is in fact part of a US plan to get hold of Assange. But none has been.

  67. Metadata laws are bad for us. They are bad for journalists, and that is bad for us. Currently, people seem to think that commercial use of data and/or metadata is rife, therefore what’s the problem with also allowing the government access to a time vault of the stuff? Well, we should actually be pushing politicians to limit the access and use of metadata by all sources, especially commercial ones.

    It seems like a fine and dandy idea to wear a fitness or similar GPS-enabled heartrate monitor, sleep monitor, etc. When that data increases your private health insurance, it won’t be so fine and dandy.

    On a similar note, we passed a bill a while back which enacted powers for the secret squirrels to alter data on a device: if they have warrantless access to your metadata, *and* are permitted to secretly alter that metadata, then it is easy enough for a competent IT person to fake a gps trail, altering time and date information to accommodate it. Sounds paranoid, but the powers are there. Each bill has issues on its own, once they are all passed, they work together to provide extensive powers to access and alter your digital breadcrumbs, as well as your actual data, i.e. content on a digital device. In our post-9/11 world, spooks have not covered themselves with glory, indeed they exploit the laws to their fullest, and breach foreign laws routinely.

  68. You see that you either misunderstood or misrepresented the “evidence of Sven-Erik Alhem” and that he didn’t say what you suggest he said?

  69. @J-D

    Your analogies with my reasoning are faulty. That Sweden does not expressly guarantee not to extradite Assange either directly to the US or via an intermediary is not the basis of my assertion that they currently plan to do so. Perhaps they’d like to keep open the possibility of doing so using Assange as a bargaining chip in some other dirty deal. In that case, Assange’s reluctance to facilitate such a trade would be warranted.

    To say that no country gives ‘blanket guarantees’ not to extradite random folk to some place in order to ridicule the idea of giving a specific guarantee to someone with a clear interest in such a guarantee is an exercise in obfuscation and also wrong because many countries place general limitations on the jurisdictions to which they will extradite, or the crimes over which they will extradite.

    But back on the main point, the lists of guarantees would be enormous and pointless since most folk are not going to satisfy the tests for extradition that almost any civilised regime would impose. Assange, like Snowden and Manning was and is seen as an enemy of the US state — in an act of toadying, condemned here even by the PM of the ALP regime as a criminal for breaching US laws. If the interest of Sweden really were solely in Assange’s alleged breach of their sexual assault laws, they could have given him this guarantee. That they didn’t shows at best, bad faith, and calls into question the integrity of the charges against him that Sweden says are the substance of this dispute.

  70. @J-D

    I’m saying that the Swedish extradition request is not part of a US plot to kidnap Assange, because it could only make such a plot harder and more complicated to carry out…

    There’s just too much information to review and debate. As to your statement above: no, the Swedish establishment, and aspirants, urged on by Yank spooks, went too early and too hard without an adequate case. I reckon any plane carrying Assange to Sweden would have been rerouted by the US just like the plane carrying Evo Morales was derouted by the US on suspicion that is was carrying Snowden:

    On July 1, 2013, president Evo Morales of Bolivia, who had been attending a conference of gas-exporting countries in Russia, appeared predisposed to offer asylum to Edward Snowden during an interview with RT.[1] The following day, the airplane carrying him back to Bolivia from Russia, took off from Vnukovo Airport, was rerouted to Austria when France, Spain and Italy[2] denied access to their airspace due to suspicions that Snowden was on board.[3] Snowden was in fact still in Sheremetyevo Airport, where he had been staying since arriving in Russia a week earlier

    Lawless imperialism is what we face.

  71. Fred Burton of ‘Stratfor’ proposed, in an email about what to do to Assange:

    ”move him from country to country to face various charges for the next 25 years”

    Nobody with any access to a smattering of the established facts could believe that the US has no ill intentions toward Assange.

  72. Art Laffer;

    “He is highly critical of modern economists, sympathising with the view that it “takes a PhD in economics not to be able to understand the obvious”. “

  73. I think GM could be useful but its development and deployment are monopolised by the same kinds of amoral trans -national mega companies that have gotten farming into trouble. Reliance on fertilisers and topsoil depletion are huge problems. First world colonial style plantation farming is imposed everywhere as soon as it can be. So far GM is only another tool in their kit bag. Population rises in lock step with food production until something goes wrong.

  74. Sunshine is right but we have even more to worry about. Monsanto’s GMO seeds are specially designed to grow in the high presence of aluminum. Aluminum is the chemical found in chemicaltrails.

    If this poisoning continues, organic farming may become impossible in the not so distant future.

    When aluminum pollutes soil and water it kills crops. It collects in people and causes diseases!


  75. @Judy Karmichael
    There are enough real problems. Why invent imaginary ones?

    Aluminium toxicity in soil is a long-standing agricultural problem caused by excessive acidity in aluminium-bearing soils, which are found in many countries. Several countries are engaged in research into breeding acid-resistant crop varieties. However, most of this research involves conventional crop breeding, not GMO. I have no idea whether Monsanto is researching GMO acid-resistant crops, but none of the material on chemtrails I have perused provides any evidence that it is. But even if it was, it would have nothing to do with chemtrails, as there are sound agricultural reasons to develop acid-resistant crops, whether GMO or otherwise.

    It’s true that aluminium is toxic at certain doses (like many metals), however the main exposure to aluminium in humans comes from ingestion through the use of aluminium food containers, soft drink cans, coffee containers, skin-care products packaged in aluminium tubes , aluminium cups and bowls, ingestion or inhalation of dust from aluminium-bearing rocks and building materials, and in some cases, urban water supplies where aluminium compounds are used to clarify the water. Exposure to aluminium through foodstuffs themselves is minimal.

    There is no evidence that aluminium is being added to soil by aerial spraying, but even if it was, it would contribute an insignificant amount to our total environmental exposure to aluminium.

  76. Tim,

    Do you work for Monsanto? Monsanto pays people to comment on blogs. Be honest, are you being paid by the word?

  77. Chemtrails is nonsense. The only “chemtrails” are the actual contrails of jets flying at high altitude.

    “What is a contrail made of? Mostly ice, since one of the primary exhaust emissions of a jet aircraft is water vapour, which freezes within a couple of seconds, and forms the visible part of the contrail. If the air is fairly humid, then the contrail can persist for quite a while, and even spread out, turning into a sheet of cloud.

    Jet engines also emit the usual things engines emit: carbon dioxide, smoke, and small amounts of unburnt hydrocarbons, oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide and small amounts of other things. Aircraft emissions are regulated.

    Some people think that if a contrail stays in the sky for a long time, that this is very unusual, and that it means the government is spraying something in the air, either to change the weather, or to poison people. They call these persistent contrails “chemtrails”

    Of course, persistent contrails are nothing new, they have been around at least since the 1940’s – when planes were able to get to sufficient altitude.” – Contrail Science.

    A vast conspiracy and an extensive logistical exercise would be necessary to get jets fitted up and continually loaded with extra chemicals to spray in the air while flying. When vast conspiracies happen (like the TPP development) we do know about them. Details get leaked. It would be an enormous and expensive exercise to do chemtrails and the results would be indiscriminate to say the least. Jet airliners cruise at altitudes where the jetstreams flow at speeds of 100 kph to 200 kph. The stuff could blow anywhere. It would fall on conspirators and victims alike. I could go on but there are so many arguments against it I would just create a wall of text.

  78. @Judy Karmichael
    Hi Judy. No, of course I don’t work for Monsanto, and nobody pays me to comment on a blog.
    It’s a little disappointing that you’d respond so predictably.

    If you thought about it, you’d realise that your insinuation is no more plausible than if I had insinuated you were being paid by one of Monsanto’s competitors (say, Bayer Cropscience AG, for example). But no matter, whatever gets you through the day. 🙂

  79. You people think I’m someone else and I’m making stuff up????????

    Retract your claim or I will sue you and the owner of this blog.

  80. Conspiracies happen all the time.

    look at this you shillshttp://www.bbc.com/news/uk-31908431

  81. Hmm. I believe the OP to this thread says absolutely no personal criticism of other commenters”. Bye, Judy.

  82. @Megan
    No, I don’t see that. I relied on what the court judgement said about his evidence. It is, of course, possible that the court judgement misrepresented him, but then again it’s also possible that the BBC report misrepresented him.

  83. @Fran Barlow

    It is correct to say that extradition proceedings should be subject to conditions and restrictions which provide some protection to people whose extradition is applied for (this protection not going as far, obviously, as blanket guarantees against extradition). It is also correct to say that extradition proceedings are subject to conditions and restrictions which provide some protection to people whose extradition is applied for (this protection not going as far, obviously, as blanket guarantees against extradition). Both UK law and Swedish law provide, as they should, significant protections to people whose extradition is applied for; neither UK law nor Swedish law provides protections that would guarantee that Assange could never be extradited to the US. If Assange were extradited from the UK to Sweden it would not make it easier for him to be extradited to the US; it would be no harder for the US to have him extradited from the UK than to have him extradited from Sweden. Extradition from the UK to Sweden would make more difficult and more complicated for the US to get hold of him, so it doesn’t make sense as part of a plan for the US to get hold of him.

  84. Here is what the judgment you refer to says about the evidence given by Sven-Erik Alhem:

    He was then asked about extradition from Sweden to the United States. He is not an expert on what happens but had brought a Guide and had considered the specialty principle. His reading was that normally there could not be a further surrender to a country outside the European Union but there are exceptions. It would be “completely impossible to extradite Mr Assange to the USA without a media storm”.

    He did not give the evidence you think he gave.

    In fact, it looks like the quote recorded by the BBC concurs with the Judge’s view of the evidence – Alhem clearly said that extradition of Assange to the US from Sweden was possible as an exception to the normal practice, on his reading of it.

    He most definitely did not say that extradition “could not happen”.

  85. @Megan

    I wrote nothing about the intentions of the US towards Assange. I wrote that it would be no harder for the US to get hold of Assange from the UK than from Sweden and that the Swedish request to extradite Assange from the UK makes no sense as part of a plan for the US to get hold of Assange (whether by extradition or by other means) because it would make any such plan more complicated and more difficult.

  86. @Megan

    I did not reread the entire judgment; I skimmed through it and focussed on the judge’s conclusion at the end, in which I believe you will find the part where he says that Sven-Erik Alhem had said that extradition from Sweden to the US could not happen.

    You are correct to point out that earlier in the judgement Sven-Erik Alhem’s evidence is described at more length and differently.

    It’s never been my own view that extradition from Sweden to the US is impossible; rather the reverse. That doesn’t alter the essence of the main points I have made, which I won’t repeat again this time.

  87. The DEA have been known to arrest and render (alleged) drug dealers to the US for prosecution and sentencing, even when the suspects have never been a US citizen, have never set foot in US jurisdictions anywhere in the world, and are not even directly smuggling drugs into the USA. If the DEA can openly do all that, it isn’t much of a stretch to think that Mr Assange’s fears of extradition to the US are reasonable fears to have. Once on US soil, the USA will not consider any claims from Assange’s country of birth, if other extradited suspects (under DEA) are to go by. Given that neither the ALP or the LNP care a rat’s arse about Assange, I think he is wise to be very cautious.

    As to whether Sweden’s reasons for wanting to interview him are valid or not, it wouldn’t have been onerous for Sweden’s representative to meet Assange at the Eucador Embassy, and to interview him there. Should they believe there are grounds for charging him at that point, then they could cross that bridge when they got to it, rather than waiting until the statute of limitations is nearly at an end. All I know is that once Assange sets foot outside that embassy, anything is possible with respect to the USA.

  88. @Donald Oats
    The refusal of the Swedish authorities to interview Assange in the UK was never a good look, even more so now that they have relented in the face of the statute of limitations. It always tended to lend support to the theory that something more nefarious was going on. Not that a Sweden-US conspiracy is actually necessary to explain it, mind you. Bureacratic intransigence is also a plausible explanation.

  89. But JD, earlier you (incorrectly) described the evidence given and then stated your position as:

    So, considering the question ‘Could the extradition of Julian Assange to Sweden lead to his extradition to the USA?’, I’ve got two responses: one, from a Swedish legal commentator and former senior prosecutor testifying for Assange in court, which is ‘No’, and one from a commenter on a blog, which is ‘Yes’.

    When in fact you have two responses, both of which amount to “Yes”.

  90. Is being mega-rich a lifestyle choice? Seems that we shouldn’t be shielding the tax dealings of the top 700 lifestyle choicers. It’s not like we can’t work out who the mega-rich are, so that reason for shielding their tax information is recognisable as the ridiculous, risible, furphy that it is.

    Given the ATO is about the only source of revenue left under this government, it seems a bit rich to conceal the taxation of the richest of the rich at a time of budget emergency. [I tried saying that with a straight face…]

  91. @Donald Oats

    I did not write that the US has no plans to get hold of Julian Assange, whether by extradition or otherwise. I wrote that it would be no harder for the US to get hold of Julian Assange (whether by extradition or otherwise) in the UK than in Sweden, and that the Swedish request to the UK for his extradition makes no sense as part of any plan for the US to get hold of him, because it would make any such plan more complicated and more difficult.

  92. @Megan

    Sven-Eric Alhem did not testify that the Swedish request to extradite Assange from the UK was part of a plan for the US to get hold of him. He did not testify that extraditing Assange from the UK to Sweden would make it easier for him to be extradited to US. Nothing in his testimony contradicts the point I am making, that the Swedish request to the UK for Assange’s extradition makes no sense as part of any plan for the US to get hold of him.

  93. that the Swedish request to the UK for Assange’s extradition makes no sense as part of any plan for the US to get hold of him.

    But your statement is only a valid conclusion from the knowledge you have to hand if the knowledge you have to hand is essentially complete. If there’s some factor you don’t know about all your “don’t make sense based on what I know” conclusions become irrelevant.

    [this is a good way of spotting unknown unknowns, btw. Someone who is in possession of important knowledge you don’t have will shape their actions in a way that doesn’t make sense to you [because you lack the knowledge trhat shapes them]. You can see where people know/”know” things you don’t by looking for people whose actions don’t make sense, and work out what the things are by thinking about the circumstances under which their actions would make sense.]

  94. People in Victoria might be interested in attending these upcoming fundraisers in Melbourne for the campaign against a broiler farm to be built on the Moolort Plains near here. If it is approved by VCAT and built it would have a capacity of 1.2 million birds at a time, and will have negative environmental and amenity impacts that the community don’t want. Tickets are available through TryBooking

    Humans, Animals and the Ethical Life
    26 March 2015 06:30 PM
    Venue: The University of Melbourne
    Rai Gaita and Peter Singer in Conversation

    Nature: Shaped by and Shaping Humanity
    8 April 2015 06:15 PM (GMT+11:00)
    Venue: The University of Melbourne
    Robyn Davidson, Don Watson, John Wolseley & Raimond Gaita

    (Hopefully it is okay to mention this since they are fundraisers not commercial)

  95. @Collin Street

    I wrote before that I would be prepared to revise my view if any evidence were produced that gave direct support to the conclusion that Sweden’s extradition request to the UK was part of a US plan to get hold of Assange (but none has been). If people only drew conclusions that could not possibly be overthrown by any new evidence whatever, they’d draw no conclusions at all; which would be folly. The fact that we don’t (and can’t) know everything is no reason to behave as if we can’t know anything.

  96. @Tim Macknay

    I would like to know why Swedish prosecutors refused to question Assange in London, and I’d also like to know why they have now changed their position; but neither decision has made it any easier for the US to get hold of Assange, and neither makes sense as part of a US plan to get hold of Assange.

  97. The fact that we don’t (and can’t) know everything is no reason to behave as if we can’t know anything.

    No, it’s a bayesian analysis thing.

    If the US were trying to kidnap Assange through Sweden, you’d expect certain actions, certain choices. If you saw those actions, you’d have to start thinking “maybe the US is trying to do this”, even if you couldn’t yourself think of a mechanism for same. Because the US might see — or think they see — a way they could do it that you haven’t.

    It’s not your knowledge of what’s possible that controls, here.

    Now. For example. If the swedish authorities had been OK with Assange being interviewed in london, that’d actually be pretty strong evidence against “the swedish authorities were doing the US’s bidding to try to get Assange to sweden”. Not conclusive, but pretty strong. Again, if the swedish authorities had stated, “requests from the US authorities on this matter will not be entertained”, that’d be [rather weaker] evidence against “it’s all a US plot with willing swedish connivance”… but they haven’t.

    And so forth. There’s been a fair number of points where swedish actions have been consistent with the “conspiracy” explanation. Might be all by chance, by coincidence: It’s not like there’s anything — well, not a lot, and given that it’s a high-profile sex case you’d expect stuffups anyway — has been inconsistent with the “it’s a legit judicial process” explanation, but… when you’ve got a lot of coincidences you have to start thinking “maybe it isn’t”.

    “Maybe”, mind. I don’t think it’s all a US conspiracy, but it’s not a possibility that’s been ruled out and normally — normally isn’t always — you’d expect that it would have been by now.

    [you also have to recognise, secret plots don’t leave a lot of directly-visible evidence by their nature, so the absence of evidence of the sort you’re after isn’t surprising and has limited bayesian import.]

  98. @Collin Street
    I read David Hick’s account of his years in Guantanamo, being tortured. Anyone who imagines that the US is a law abiding state is so far wide of the mark that one can only point to sources and suggest “wise up”. It’s an oligarchy, it has an establishment, as does Sweden, both of which are bound up with the military and security apparatuses. Sweden is not the nation of social democratic happiness and accountability of the popular imagination. Nothing in this case is what it seems.

  99. I haven’t looked into the details too deeply, …but… the focus on “extradition” from Sweden to the US (and the requirement for UK approval of such) ignores the “temporary surrender” mechanism I referred to earlier.

    According to the “justice4assange.com” website:

    Most of the attention regarding Julian Assange’s possible extradition to the US has focused on the EU agreements that are meant to prevent onward extradition – namely that the UK Home Office would have to consent to his onward extradition. Little or no attention has been given in Europe to the temporary surrender (sometimes called ’conditional release’, see the Panama example below) mechanism that Sweden established bilaterally with the United States in their 1984 treaty (TIAS 10812):

    VI. If the extradition request is granted in the case of a person who is being prosecuted or is serving a sentence in the territory of the requested State for a different offense, the requested State may:

    b) temporarily surrender the person sought to the requesting State for the purpose of prosecution. The person so surrendered shall be kept in custody while in the requesting State and shall be returned to the requested State after the conclusion of the proceedings against that person in accordance with conditions to be determined by mutual agreement of the Contracting States.

    As I say, I haven’t looked into it deeply, but if that prospect is real then it deflates JD’s core argument – “…that the Swedish request to the UK for Assange’s extradition makes no sense as part of any plan for the US to get hold of him.”

    On the contrary, it makes perfect sense. Why make such a big deal of trying to find a lack of “sense” in the actions of the Swedish players when the balance of probabilities seems to tend the other way?

  100. @J-D
    I have no idea if there are actual plans to extradite Mr Assange from Sweden to the USA, should he be in Swedish jurisdiction; I also have no idea if the USA have plans for rendering him from the UK to the USA, should he pop his head out of the embassy at some stage. My comments were about the lengths the US has gone to when it feels it has a duty to itself, even if that means ignoring or finessing the sovereignty of other nations. With the USA, if you are in their sights as a target, very few places are safe haven, and the law be damned. The DEA actions in Africa have demonstrated that quite clearly.

  101. I’m reminded of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.

    [which pivots sort of around the idea that the things you think are actually impossible are more likely than the merely very very improbable, because the chain of coincidences that goes toward the very-improbable is less likely than your just missing something that makes your impossible straightforward.]

  102. @jungney

    Power in the US is concentrated; power in Sweden is concentrated; also, power in the UK is concentrated. If concentration of power in an oligarchic establishment would make it easier for the US to get hold of Assange (which isn’t totally clear), it doesn’t make it any easier for the US to get hold of Assange in Sweden than in the UK, so there’s no support there for the conclusion that Sweden’s extradition request to the UK is part of a plan by the US to get hold of Assange; it remains the case that Sweden’s extradition request to the UK makes more complicated and more difficult any US plan to get hold of Assange.

  103. J-D: from my reading it appears that there is a legal convention around extradition in which proper people don’t make an extradition request while a prior one is pending resolution. There appears to be a Grand Jury indictment against Assange which is sealed and awaiting outcomes of the Swedish matter. Once Sweden is over the indictment could be initiated by an interim warrant and extradition set in train. He’s holed up in the embassy and the further issue appears to be whether the UK would give him safe passage to Ecuador.

    Things have changed a lot since Assange first went on the run. It may now be the case that the US is not prepared to snatch him due to altered domestic politics (NSA, Snowden) whereas it was very possibly the view of Assange’s advisers that he was at risk of being ‘rendered’ so utterly furious was the US ruling elite at the time.

    This one acount (SMH 2013) gives just a few examples of the bollocks that the Swedish legal establishment has made of the matter. There are multiple others.

    There’s a funny article at the Salon which accounts for how an Randite hedge fund drank too much of the kool-aid and sent Sears down the tubes:

    Crazy Eddie has been one of America’s most vocal advocates of discredited free-market economics, so obsessed with Ayn Rand he could rattle off memorized passages of her novels. As Mina Kimes explained in a fascinating profile in Bloomberg Businessweek, Lampert took the myth that humans perform best when acting selfishly as gospel, pitting Sears company managers against each other in a kind of Lord of the Flies death match. This, he believed, would cause them to act rationally and boost performance.

    “Ayn Rand-loving CEO destroys his empire”

    It put me in mimnd of the current front bench. Crazy Tony is sounding good.

  104. @Megan

    It’s not my assertion that it would be impossible, in any circumstances, ever, for Assange to be extradited from Sweden to the US.

    It would be no harder for the US to have Assange extradited from the UK than it would be to have Assange extradited from Sweden; Sweden’s request to the UK for Assange’s extradition can only make more complicated and more difficult any plan for the US to get hold of Assange (whether by extradition or otherwise).

    The paragraph you quote from the extradition treaty between Sweden and the US begins: ‘If the extradition request is granted …’ The mechanism it describes operates only in cases where a request for extradition is made and granted; nothing in the text quoted states that extradition requests under that paragraph are not subject to the restrictions that apply to extradition requests in general (on the contrary, the text quoted imposes an additional condition on extradition under that paragraph); in particular, nothing in the text quoted says anything about overriding the requirements of other treaties (such as, for example, an extradition treaty between Sweden and the UK).

    Nothing in the text quoted makes the granting of extradition requests under that section easier than the granting of other extradition requests. Nothing in the text quoted disturbs the conclusion that it would be no harder for the US to have Assange extradited from the UK than it would be to have him extradited from Sweden.

  105. @Donald Oats

    In that case it would appear that you are not putting forward any argument that Assange was any safer from the US in the UK than he was in Sweden, or that he would be any harder for the US to get hold of in the UK than in Sweden or that the Swedish request to the UK for his extradition made it any easier for the US to get hold of him.

  106. @jungney

    I think it is more accurate to say that an indictment will probably be raised when (if) Assange is in Sweden.

    US officials have denied there IS any grand Jury indictment, but US Officials usually deny everything if it suits their purpose.

    None the less there is obviously a serious threat to Assange and we should ignore all the attempts at denialism in this thread.

  107. @J-D

    I would like to know why Swedish prosecutors refused to question Assange in London, and I’d also like to know why they have now changed their position; but neither decision has made it any easier for the US to get hold of Assange, and neither makes sense as part of a US plan to get hold of Assange.

    Quite so. And yet…

  108. @J-D
    That’s correct, I am not putting forward any argument about relative safety from retrieval by the US; nor did I say I was. However, while he is in the Ecuadoran embassy, Assange is safe enough. Once he sets foot outside, on UK soil, anything could happen. As I’ve mentioned in a previous comment, if the US’s boss secret squirrels feel strongly enough about it, they could render Assange from the UK or from European countries: act first, don’t apologise, and once Assange is on US soil, no points of UK law, or that of other countries, is going to bother the US into relinquishing Assange, not until his jail term is completed (assuming successful prosecution). The DEA have demonstrated the willingness to do unconventional retrieval of non-US citizens in their war on drugs, so it isn’t much of a leap to think the US could do it to Assange. Whether they do or not is another matter.

  109. @Collin Street

    In principle, Bayesian analysis is applicable to the question of how to update an estimate of the probability that the US is trying to get hold of Assange on the basis of the additional information that Sweden is trying to extradite Assange from the UK.

    For a numerical application of Bayes’s theorem to this problem, you’d need an estimate of the ‘prior’ (or background) probability of the ‘event’ ‘Sweden requests extradition of Assange from UK’ and you’d also need a ‘conditional’ estimate of what the probability of the ‘event’ ‘Sweden requests extradition of Assange from UK’ would be in the more specific context of the ‘event’ ‘US is trying to get hold of Assange’.

    I don’t have a numerical estimate for either of those probabilities, but they would be identical, or virtually so. What that means, according to the theorem, is that your estimate of the ‘conditional’ probability of the ‘event’ ‘US is trying to get hold of Assange’ given the added information that Sweden has requested extradition of Assange from the UK should be equal, or virtually so, to your estimate of the ‘prior’ probability of the ‘event’ ‘US is trying to get hold of Assange’ without that additional information.

    In other words, whatever your estimate was of the probability that the US was trying to get hold of Assange before the Swedish extradition request — high, low, or somewhere in-between — it should have stayed the same — neither increased nor decreased — unaffected by the new information of the Swedish extradition request.

    Even without numerical estimates, ‘What sort of evidence would you expect to observe if the US were trying to get hold of Assange?’ is the sort of question a Bayesian might perhaps ask. The answer would depend on how the US might be trying to get hold of Assange. If the US were trying to get hold of Assange by extradition, I might expect to observe news reports of the lodgement of a US extradition request with whichever country Assange happened to be in at the time; if the US were trying to get hold of Assange by kidnapping, I might expect to observe news reports that Julian Assange had disappeared and his whereabouts were a mystery. Neither of those things has happened. Of course, both extradition requests and kidnapping attempts take time to prepare. If the US were preparing for an attempt to get hold of Assange (by whatever means), I might expect to observe the absence of any events that might alarm or startle Julian Assange in a way that might make him take increased precautions for his legal or physical security. If you want to get hold of somebody who does not want to be got hold of, your chances are best if the target is unaware, not if the target is on the alert. So the Swedish extradition request is exactly the sort of thing I would expect not to see as part of a US plot to get hold of Assange.

    If I think about what I would expect from a group of people in the US plotting to get hold of Julian Assange (by whatever means it might be), what I would expect would not be those people saying ‘As our first move, we should try to get him to Sweden’, and if that is the sort of thing you would expect, I’m curious to know why.

  110. Without making any comment of the veracity of the allegations against him – it should be remembered that when all this (legal problems/accusations) started, Assange was already in Sweden, if there was a plot then it wouldn’t have originally had any component or need for getting Assange to Sweden.

  111. @Megan

    If I think about what I would expect from a group of people in the US plotting to get hold of Julian Assange (by whatever means it might be), what I would expect would not be those people saying ‘As our first move, we should arrange for completely unrelated legal accusations to be made against him in some other country’, and if that is the sort of thing anybody would expect, I’m curious to know why.

    Also, if the allegations are veracious, that provides an adequate explanation of the initiation of proceedings by the Swedish prosecutors without (on the principle of Occam’s Razor) any need to invoke the additional assumption that they were acting as agents of a US plot. To suggest that the assumption of a US plot is needed to explain the initiation of proceedings by the Swedish prosecutors is indirectly to suggest that the allegations are not veracious.

  112. @Ivor

    I have made no denial of the assertion that there is a serious threat to Assange from the US. The assertion that there is a serious threat to Assange from the US does not disturb my conclusion that the Swedish request to the UK for Assange’s extradition would make more complicated and more difficult any US plan to get hold of Assange.

  113. @J-D

    No one has said you made a denial of the assertion that there is a serious threat to Assange from the US.

    No one knows whether a Swedish request to the UK for anything would complicate matters for the US.

    This entirely depends on the UK and Swedish government’s attitudes and the terms of any request by the US to which ever party. It is possible that the UK and Sweden have different attitudes and tests for allowing extradition or temporary surrenders.

    Assange is doing the right thing – playing safe.

    This has nothing to do with what people in the blogosphere “expect”.

  114. PM Tony Abbott gives a speech in support of children/people suffering from bullying, and ABC radio asks the inevitable question:

    ABC local radio host Jon Faine interviewed Mr Abbott while the Prime Minister was on his way to an anti-bullying conference in Melbourne on Friday morning.

    “What credibility do you have on bullying – you’ve been accused of it so often yourself?” Faine asked.

    “Without foundation, I would say Jon,” Mr Abbott replied.

    This is irony, right?

  115. @Ivor

    You referred to ‘attempts at denialism in this thread’; if you weren’t referring to my comments, what were you referring to?

    Sweden and the UK are both party to the same extradition agreement. One of the terms of that agreement is that if anybody is extradited from one of those two countries to the other, and then a third country requests extradition of that person from the country that made the first extradition request, that country cannot agree to the third country’s extradition request without first obtaining the agreement of the country from which the person was originally extradited. For example, if somebody was extradited from the UK to Sweden, and then a third country requested extradition of that person from Sweden, that third country’s extradition request could only succeed if it had the agreement of both Sweden and the UK, which is more complicated and more difficult than just getting the agreement of one of them.

    I agree that is possible that the Swedish government and the UK government would not have exactly the same attitude to every possible extradition request; indeed, it’s not only possible but practically certain (there is no significant possibility of their having exactly the same attitude in every possible case). But the virtual certainty of their not having exactly the same attitudes opens up in exactly the same way both the possibility of Assange’s being safer (that is, from extradition to the US) in the UK than in Sweden and the possibility of his being safer in Sweden than in the UK: with no basis for judging between those two possibilities, there’s no basis for concluding that what Assange is doing is ‘playing safe’.

  116. As there is no new “weekend reflections” I’ll put this here for now.

    The “Moss” Review has been released.

    It’s only about 80 pages long, I’m only about 1/3 through it, but it is scary reading. The ‘take-away’ message is: “Information Suppression Is The Paramount Concern For The Department Of Concentration Camps, The Minister For Concentration Camps, The Corporate Concentration Camp Operators, The Fascist Governments Of Australia And Nauru and The Australian Establishment Media”.

    Please spend some time reading it this weekend.

    The allegation was that ‘Save The Children’ and ‘Refugee Advocates’ urged refugees to self-harm. That allegation was a bare-faced lie fabricated, in large part, by News Ltd.

    This is Abbott/Morisson’s “Children Overboard”.

  117. The W.H.O. has declared Monsanto’s “Roundup” a level 2 carcinogen.

    So GM fans might have to explain why we should be eating products specifically modified so they can sprayed with a carcinogen.

    To be fair, Monsanto is “outraged” and has called for an urgent meeting so they can have this outrage corrected. Monsanto has all the money and power, so we should really trust them with our health – or so the GM fans’ argument goes. Doesn’t it?

  118. @Megan
    Abbott’s response to the report – that in an imperfect world, “things happen” – is the clearest evidence yet of some sort of clinically diagnosable defective cerebration. What does he imagine might happen if the criminal law, or even traffic regulation, adopted that attitude? We all know that he is unfit to be in parliament but who on earth knew that he has failed, in all of those years in parliament, to arrive at some understanding of the fundamentals of why we have legislation, regulation, accountability and so on. Every day brings some new horror.

    As to roundup, thanks for the heads up. I note this as well:

    In a recent report by the Center for Food Safety, the heavy proliferation of Roundup was linked to a drastic 90-percent drop in the population of monarch butterflies in the US. Roundup has become a leading killer of Glyphosate-sensitive milkweed plants – the only spots where monarchs lay eggs, as the plant is the only food source for monarch larvae.

    See what poor lifestyle choices can do?

  119. Lol.

    Roundup hasn’t been upgraded at all. What has been upgraded to *Group 2A- Probably carcinogenic to humans* is glyphosate, an active ingredient in herbicide formulations (of which Roundup is just one) that has been off-patent for well over a decade. The EU, the US and pretty much everyone else disagrees with the upgrade, at least for now.

    If you look at the IARC list *Group 1-Carcinogenic to humans* you’ll see commonly consumed products like alcohol and in group 2A you’ll see a range of chemicals that are present in the edible parts of commonly eaten foods, including methoxypsoralen which is found in celery, parsnip, parsely etc..

    Incidentally, 99.9% of all pesticides consumed by humans are naturally produced by the plant itself. Of those that have been tested, more than half are rodent carcinogens. There isn’t so much as a single vegetable available in the supermarket today that doesn’t include a cocktail a natural carcinogens.

    Meanwhile the rotenone traditionally used by organic farmers for pest control was found by the US National Institutes of Health to cause Parkinson’s disease in farm workers and the copper sulfate used by organic farmers as a fungicide has poisoned some soils to such an extent that they are now toxic.

    Ain’t the world complicated.

  120. Re rotenone I wonder if there has been a spate of neurological problems because ‘derris dust’ was for years a staple of gardening practice. I stopped using it when dozens of earthworms in an old bathtub came to the surface and died. I had second thoughts about eating vegies grown in that tub.

    This may bode well for IGR. Avoidance of suspect chemicals and new medications may keep seniors out of institutionalised care. OTOH they may live a decade longer.

  121. This is serious for RoundUp, at first it was thought that the surfactant was the problem and now it has been shown that Glyphosate is also problematic.

    Of course the usual suspects will say that there is little evidence to show that Glyphosate is potentially harmful to humans – there will never be an approved human trial using known poisons.

  122. Megan and Jungney, have you seen this? The government had the Moss report when they were vilifying Triggs
    As the Rev says, it “leaves us questioning how we can possibly continue under this immoral leadership without being complicit in its evil”

  123. @Val

    Absolutely true and correct.


    Where the hell is the ALP?

    The refugee men, children and women raped, sexually abused, tortured and murdered in Australian concentration camps over the last few years were put there by Julia Gillard (in the case of Nauru) and Kevin Rudd (Manus, Christmas Island and Nauru).

    That is the reason why “we” are supposed to either ignore the issue altogether or simply concentrate on arguing about the machinery of its delivery (Triggs or Moss).

    Partisans can go to hell as far as I care – there are people being tortured, raped and killed and all these people care about is perceived political advantage. Morisson, Burke, Dutton, Bowen, Howard, Gillard, Rudd or Ruddock – it doesn’t make any difference, if anyone supports one half of this equation they support the other half. And they can all go to hell.

    The ALP is simply a tool of fascist enabling. At least the LNP doesn’t lie to their supporters about their cruel and inhumane policy agenda.

    If you’re getting the feeling that I have a seething hatred for the ALP and every single one of its online cheerleaders – then you’re getting the picture.

  124. @Megan
    Hi Megan
    just in case any of that was directed at me (I hope not!), I’m not an ALP supporter. I resigned from the ALP in 2001, primarily over the Tampa affair and have not supported them since.

    I supported Julia Gillard against sexism, but that’s a different issue than party politics.

    Other than that – yes, both major parties are reprehensible. I still think the LNP is worse than the ALP at lies and cover-up, but the ALP introduced mandatory detention.

  125. @Val
    Yes Val, so they just lied and bullied away at Triggs but one wonders, to what purpose?

    Time and again I return to the idea that we are watching a specific and dysfunctional masculinity in play. All of the front bench appear to me to be angry men except Bishop who may very well be an angry woman; all have been exposed in the most blatant of lies and manipulations and their common response appears to be an angry denial of any facts than their authorized version. Contrary and informed opinion are ruled are out of court, inconsiderable, an insult to them.

    They all appear to be church men. To my eyes their authority looks like that of the family patriarch whose authority extended to defining the reality of intimate others. We know that this model mostly relied on violence and abuse to hold power over others. Their problem is that this model of authority is unsuited to public office in a democracy. It would do just fine in an authoritarian state, one where there were no challenges or challengers. Of course, this is why we must resist them endlessly lest they wear us out and succeed in taking us backwards to colonial times.

    They are a very disturbed and disturbing bunch.

  126. To which I’ll add: this is a significant anti-feminist backlash going on here that started with the national abuse of Gillard and continues afoot today. Women and children in detention? The pretadors mouth just waters. The linked article below, to NM, describes the wholesale shredding of services for domestic abuse survivors under the Libs (NSW):


    The refuge system, I know, is fundamental to women and children’s safety. When I worked in child protection I had numerous conversations with men from middle eastern, south asian and arabic speaking backgrounds all of whom were absolutely filthy at the very idea that the government, or someone, funded services that allowed women and children to escape them. They became incoherent with rage when I refused to tell them where there victims were. They became absolutely incandescent when I suggested that they ought to consult their Sheik about the differences between their home and here in Australia, with different rules.

    So, of course the primitives of the christian establishment are mounting a backlash and of course one of the primary targets is independently run women’s refuges. I don’t think that these ideologues are programmatic; they are intuitive and and their intuition is good because they so perfectly hit the buttons of middle and older aged white male grievance. You know, those who tend to be in power.

    If anyone else is saying this I’d appreciate some directions to their work.


  127. @Megan

    ‘At least the LNP doesn’t lie to their supporters about their cruel and inhumane policy agenda’, but that’s not true. The Coalition parties regularly lie about their policy agenda. I’m mildly curious to know how you derived any other impression of them.

  128. @Val

    Hi, good on you re: non-support of the ALP since 2001.

    That is the type of censure the ALP deserves.

    No, not directed at you.

  129. OK, let’s confine it to the LNP refugee policy for example. Which lie comes most prominently to mind on that policy?

  130. To help, you can find the refugee council’s summary of the LNP’s 2013 election policies on refugees at this PDF.

    Broadly speaking it supports my view. I can’t see where they told any substantial “lie” about what they intended to do and/or what they have subsequently done since winning in 2013.

  131. To compare, the refugee council’s summary of policies from the 2010 election includes this key statement from the ALP’s policy:

    Labor does not accept the idea of punishing women and children by locking them up behind razor wire or ignoring people who are fleeing genocide, torture, and persecution.

    And then the ALP went right ahead and did exactly that, and men women and children have been tortured, sexually abused and murdered as a direct result.

    That is the kind of lie I was referring to.

  132. [Quick extract from my comment on asylum seeker mandatory detention in New Matilda 3-12-15]

    It’s sad after more than 20 years Australia still incarcerates people not charged with an offence under the law and with no access to due process. The two major parties remain convinced that the asylum seeker issue is political capital to be cynically exploited when votes are needed. If the LNP and ALP wanted to do the right thing, they could by a simple vote of parliament – but they won’t.

    The Australian constitution gives the government the power to make laws about immigration, and the High Court of Australia has agreed that mandatory detention is lawful if it is done for “administrative” and not “punitive” reasons (yeah, right). This situation will continue so long as the major parties find it politically expedient to do so. Unlike the U.S. (by virtue of the 14th amendment), Australia has no constitutional guarantee of due process and equality of the law for *all* people under its political jurisdiction.

  133. @jungney
    I don’t really know of anyone who is looking exactly at those questions though I’d think there must be. in a – somewhat- related are of interest I read a good discussion by Raewen Connell which looked at neoliberalism and its links to white male privilege or its function as a defence of white male privilege threatened by the egalitarian movements of the 60s and 70s. It’s called ‘Understanding neoliberalism’ and it’s chapter two of ‘Penetrating Neoliberalism’ by Luxton and Braedley. Most of the other chapters are case studies from Canada

  134. @Megan
    yeah I get what you mean about the hypocrisy of the ALP, and you can see it as a bigger betrayal than the LNP, but it just gets me the way the LNP attacks anyone who exposes the truth

  135. @Megan

    When I read where you wrote ‘At least the LNP doesn’t lie to their supporters about their cruel and inhumane policy agenda’, I was thinking about the Coalition’s policy agenda in general. I never thought of the idea that you were talking about refugee policy only. Did I misunderstand you? Sorry, my mistake.

    The idea that you were talking about the Coalition parties telling the truth in one area even if they lie about everything else is much less startling to me than the idea that you were suggesting that the Coalition parties tell the truth in general.

    Still, I’m not persuaded they do tell the truth even in just that one area.

    Operation Sovereign Borders will support regional efforts to facilitate the safe return of asylum seekers with independent observers monitoring the safety and treatment of people returned to their origin. The Coalition will assist countries of first asylum in the Asia-Pacific region to address the humanitarian and resettlement needs of asylum seekers “generated from within our region”.

    Is that the truth?

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