100 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    All worthy subjects…..but.

  2. @m0nty

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

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

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

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

  4. @Donald Oats

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

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

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

  5. @monty

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

  6. @Ikonoclast

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

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

  7. @Fran Barlow

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

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

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

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

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

  9. @Donald Oats

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

  11. @Megan

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

  12. ISIS attacking ancient, iconic Palmyra in Syria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    She managed to ask Brandis a question about it today.

    His answer was:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  20. @m0nty

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

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

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

  21. @Fran Barlow

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

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

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

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

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

  25. @Crispin Bennett

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

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

  26. @Ikonoclast

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

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

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

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

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

  28. John Quiggin,

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

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

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

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

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

  30. @Crispin Bennett

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

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

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

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

    Thank you for your interest and support.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  33. @Ikonoclast

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

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

    Not feeding was is the key.

  34. @Megan

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

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

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

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

    Yet another baseless claim of Syrian government crimes against humanity

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

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

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

    Ikonoklast continued:

    I see no reason to doubt these sources.

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

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

    Ikonoclast wrote:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

  37. @James

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Wikipedia entry goes on to say:

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

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

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

  41. Megan wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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

  42. @James

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

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

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

    The following was accidentally omitted from my last post :

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

    Megan wrote:

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

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

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

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

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

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