Pictures: Change anyone? Dr Brendan Nelson, leader of the Federal Opposition, who famously used to be a member of the ALP until his preselection in 1993 and election to Parliament in 1996 for the Liberal National Party.
After 5 years in Gitmo and the best part of a year in gaol in Australia David Hicks, 'convicted terrorism supporter' is about to be released subject to a control order.
Before the Sept 11 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre with loss of some 3,000 lives it was not illegal to fight for the Taliban in Afghanistan, allied to Osama Bin Laden widely seen in hindsight as a sponsor of the shocking WTC attack. As nasty as the Taliban are that was the legal reality back in 2,000. It's quite doubtful David Hicks was a good person back then. That was 6 years ago now.
Do people like Hicks change after 5 miserable years in the USA Gitmo prison?
Ask Brendan Nelson, (pictured above from his official website), who famously used to be a member of the Labor Party and is now the leader of the Liberal Party of Australia which took us to the ill fated war in Iraq under ex MP, ex PM John Howard. The wrong war in the wrong country said to be in part justified by 9/11.
If David Hicks hasn't changed his point of view from what he was in 2000 then Brendan Nelson is probably a covert member of the Labor Party sent on a sabotage mission to destroy once and for all time the now defeated Coalition Party of government 1996-November 24 2007.
I don't think so. Of course people change - if they have any common sense. It's the only thing you can be sure of, that and getting older.When it comes to a sensible approach to David Hicks today late 2007, in the words of Zorba the Greek, after a while you stop asking whether your enemy is a good person, or a bad person, you just think of them as another human being with fears, needs and a desperate desire to survive. Hold onto that thought because it's a merciful one in relation to our own failures as a country especially under John Howard, and for such as Hicks specifically.
How much is enough punishment for David Hicks? How much is cruelty for the sake of political posturing? Are we 'there yet' regarding the David Hicks story? Is it over now? Please God may it be soon.
Either you believe in and accept that people change according to life experience, or you don't. We look forward to the time in 2008 when David Hicks is a nobody of no news value whatsoever. No doubt he does too.
Dangerous climate, an Iraq disaster, an overpopulated unsustainable inequitable world, bushfire season, racial tensions in western Sydney, even vertical fiscal imbalance of a broken federation. All of these are far more real and present issues than one sorry arse ill educated Australian looking to make a life as a military adventurer, who definitely made some very bad decisions.
So what's really going on with the Australian Federal Police drum beat in the conservative media over the release of David Hicks under tight conditions including his 6 year old travel letters? Well it's pretty clear one big aspect is censorship. What Hicks could tell, even allowing for all his biases, was so dangerous to vested interests he was banned from talking prior to a federal election. That's a real worry for our democracy actually. More than that, it was a disgrace, and the new Govt may not be very interested in his free speech more than the old govt (?).
We trust the same spirit that saw 60 Minutes indirectly bring a public interest story to the screen earlier in 2007 will carry our democracy forward in terms of right to know regarding David Hicks in 2008 and be done with him and his story. For his sake and ours.
Postscript #1 26 Dec 2007
It seems no coincidence in light of the Hicks saga above that the security agencies are fighting a legal pitched battle with a supreme court judge over similar issues of 1. due process and 2. (judicial) free speech. Nor is it any surprise 3. the big Fairfax media are putting the spotlight on this 'old style' governance culture as part of the Right to Know Coalition. The report linked below is significant for the new ALP govt tipping the press they are quite agnostic about this latest pressure tactic on the judiciary by a senior bureaucrat in the federal Attorney General's Office:
Judge lashed for accusing ASIO of kidnap by Tom Allard
As regards the 'old style' - by which we mean the ex Howard Govt regime - of pretty much a blank cheque to the national security industry, we suspect the federal Attorney General's Office might want to put alot more energy into dealing with a 'ticking Christmas present'. That is the metaphor by sharp political satirists Clark and Dawe last spot for the year (21/12/07) re new inquiries in to the AWB Saddam bribery scandal. Who in the Howard Govt knew? What will come out in the strident defence cases of those charged last week (what a Christmas present), a good year after the Inquiry, and conveniently post federal election? What legal advice did the AG Dept give the Howard Govt and how adequate and indeed ethical was it?
This is not just some clever script by some comics with good ABC/political contacts:
AWB is not over yet | The Australian 21 Dec 2007
And to quote the editorial:
December 21, 2007
A Senate inquiry would serve the public interestTHE AWB bribery scandal raised two significant issues of national importance. The first is the legal status, both corporate and criminal, of AWB officials paying bribes to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein that were disguised as transport payments to circumvent UN sanctions. The second question is whether it was incompetence or worse that prevented the Australian government from taking action to stop it. [bold added]
Even allowing for mass murderer Joseph Stalin and the other communist cold and proxy war warriors like Pol Pot, a cursory viewing of the Discovery Channel 3 hour documentary of 1997 CIA Secrets makes you wonder and shake your head at the morality of the CIA defence and promotion of their country's corporate Empire. From
* the destruction of the Arbenz democractic Govt of 1951-54 of Guatemala in 1954
* overthrow of the elected Mossedegh nationalist government of Iran in 1953
* Like Guatemala, the mass murder of democraticly elected socialist Allende Govt in Chile from 1973
*in alliance with the Nazi vermin (who ran to South America post WW2) to operate the murderous Operation Condor,
* right back to the CIA adoption back in the late 40ies of Nazi intelligence officers (prisoners of war) and their techniques (used to suppress Russian satellite countries on the Eastern Front during WW2) while setting up the Central Intelligence Agency out of the Office of Strategic Services, and especially the Directorate of Operations which is 'the heart of the CIA'
We particularly took notice of a quote of this cigar chomping character with a certain direct charm about him, Duane "Dewey" Clarridge:
“There’s going to have to be something awful that happens [to revive the mission of the CIA]” Duane “Dewey” Clarridge CIA officer 1957-87 in CIA Secrets 1997 Discovery Channel.
Now that's a quote the conspiracy theorists can make hay with, in light of all the apartment buildings in Moscow that got blown up allegedly by the successors of the KGB called FSB to incite a war in Chechnya in Putin's Russia.
Now this story from Counterpunch 'America's best political newsletter', sourced via a link on Sydney Indy Media, and dated December 12th 2007, in our own neck of the woods in West Papua:
December 12, 2007
Detachment 88, Kopassus Get Covert US Aid
US Intelligence is Tapping Indonesian Phones
By ALLAN NAIRN
US intelligence officers in Jakarta are secretly tapping the cell phones and reading the SMS text messages of Indonesian civilians.
Some of the Americans work out of the Jakarta headquarters of Detachment 88, a US-trained and funded para-military unit whose mission is described as antiterrorism, but that was recently involved in the arrest of a West Papuan human rights lawyer.
The Papuan lawyer, Iwangin Sabar Olif, was seized by police and Detachment 88 on the street and later charged with "incitement and insulting the head of state" after he forwarded SMS text messages that criticized the Indonesian armed forces (TNI), as well as the President of Indonesia, Gen. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. (West Papua is a restricted-access region where Indonesian forces have been implicated in rapes, tortures, kidnappings, assassinations, mass surveillance and intimidation.)
The information on the US surveillance program is provided by three sources, including an individual who has worked frequently with the Indonesian security forces and who says he has met and formally discussed their work with some of the American phone tappers, as well as by two Indonesian officials who work inside Detachment 88.
The first source says that the he was told that the Americans are employees of the US CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), but it could not be confirmed whether they work for the CIA or other US agencies. He says that through his work he has observed that these US intelligence specialists help run a sophisticated wiretapping network that uses much new US equipment.
He says the US operation includes the real-time monitoring of text messages, as well as mapping contact "networks," ie. tracing who is calling or texting whom.
This individual deals frequently with Detachment 88, but says that he has not inquired about the seizure of the Papuan human rights lawyer, Iwangin .
He said that Detachment 88 units are also present in other outlying zones including Solo, Ambon, and Poso, the later two of which have been the scene of TNI - POLRI (the Indonesian National Police, who formally oversee Detachment 88) "provokasi" operations that have helped to spur deadly fighting between poor Muslim and Christian villagers.
This source also says that US intelligence is providing covert intelligence aid to Kopassus, the Indonesian army's red beret special forces famed for abduction, torture, and assassination.
Classified Kopassus manuals discuss the "tactic and technique" of "terror" and "kidnapping" (see "Buku Petunjuk tentang Sandi Yudha TNI AD, Nomor: 43-B-01").
Kopassus has, in the past, been heavily trained by US Green Berets and other forces, in topics that included "Demolitions," "Air Assault," "Close Quarters Combat," "Special Reconnaissance," and "Advanced Sniper Techniques" (all of these during the Clinton administration, under a program called JCET -- Joint Combined Exchange Training).
But after this training was exposed and after the TNI - POLRI Timor massacres of 1999 (which followed a UN - supervised independence vote, and in which Kopassus was implicated), many in Congress were under the impression that they had succeeded in stopping US aid to Kopassus.
(Congress is due to decide within days on a new lethal aid bill for Indonesia).
The American presence inside Detachment 88 was confirmed by an Indonesian Detachment 88 official who said that a team of Americans did telecommunications work in the "Intel Section," along with an individual whom they believed to be a British national.
A second Detachment 88 official also confirmed the US presence, but said he did not know the name of the American team leader. Like the first Detachment 88 official, he gave the name of the operative whom he said was British, but that named individual could not be reached for comment.
Asked for comment on December 12, during the late afternoon, local time, Stafford A. Ward, a spokesman for the US Embassy in Jakarta at first said he was not familiar with such a US program and did not know what Kopassus was.
An hour later Ward read out a statement that said that "there are no Americans in either Detachment 88 or Kopassus." When asked if there was any kind of US assistance to those units he said: "The US is not involved with either of those organizations. I can confirm to you that the US has no involvement with either Detachment 88 or Kopassus."
In fact, though, that US Embassy statement appeared to contradict the public record. US officials have frequently spoken on the record about their involvement with Detachment 88, including to the press and in meetings with and testimony to the US Congress.
Twenty minutes after issuing that denial, Embassy spokesman Ward sent the following email: "I misspoke earlier when you called me a second time today. The U.S. government works with Indonesia to bolster its counterterrorism capabilities. For example, the Department of State Bureau of Diplomatic Security's Office of Antiterrorism Assistance has trained Indonesian Antiterrorist Units."
This revised Embassy statement did not repeat the denials of the earlier statement, nor did it deny the presence of US personnel inside Detachment 88, nor did it deny the existence of covert US intelligence aid to Kopassus.
US officials have never acknowledged on the record the presence of US intelligence wiretappers inside Jakarta's security forces, nor have they acknowledged on the record the provision of intelligence assistance to Kopassus.
The initial Embassy denial, phrased in the present tense, came less than 24 hours after the US Congress, in Washington, made private inquiries to the US Executive Branch about whether the US was aiding or planning to aid Kopassus.
These Congressional inquiries came after this blog reported on December 7 that "the State Department this week was putting out urgent queries around Washington that make it sound as if they are planning to openly aid Kopassus," and after people in a position to know privately declined to deny that report.
It is not known whether the Congressional inquiries included the question of Detachment 88.
But in a call to the Detachment 88 office hours before today's initial carefully-phrased Embassy denial, the Indonesian officer who answered the phone said that the Americans had not come in to work today and that, as far as he knew, the British staffer there was on vacation.
Detachment 88 has been mentored by veteran CIA and State Department official Cofer Black, who was one of the architects of the US invasion of Afghanistan.
Detachment 88 is publicized as being aimed at violent jihadists, like the groups implicated in the bombings in Bali and Jakarta that killed more than 200 civilians.
But the US wiretapping program provides a capacity to target any kind of phone user in Indonesia, an issue of concern in a country where the security forces -- often US-assisted -- have killed many hundreds of thousands of civilian dissidents.
Allan Nairn can be reached through his blog.
Of course the CIA will be very busy to protect POTUS and his representatives when visiting Indonesia for 6 hours say just prior to APEC in October 2007, as follows [not sourced but reads as reliable, said to be submitted to Sydney IMC via Dietas as Urip Hudiono, Hanoi/Jakarta] when aggressive intolerant organisations promote street rallies against him as reported recently here:
Urip Hudiono, Hanoi/Jakarta – President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has warned people not to "excessively" protest US President George W. Bush's visit on Monday, as Muslim militants publicly called for Bush's assassination and thousands of people rallied across the country to oppose the meeting.
"If something bad happens, the world will blame us. We certainly don't want to be regarded as a country that can't respect its guests," Yudhoyono said Sunday in Hanoi after attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.
Bush is scheduled to talk with Yudhoyono at the heavily guarded Bogor presidential palace during his six-hour visit Monday.
Yudhoyono said any incident during the short visit would cause repercussions that would last for much longer.
Jakarta Police chief Maj. Gen. Adang Firman said police were treating extremely seriously reports of possible attacks by hard liners on the meeting.
The city police will deploy 7,700 officers, about two-thirds the total staff, to guard the visit.
Meanwhile, more than 5,000 protesters grouped in the "Coalition To Crush Bush" marched from the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle to the State Palace in Central Jakarta on Sunday, with Muslim militants publicly calling for the assassination of the American leader.
Habib Rizieq, leader of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), said the deaths of Muslims across the globe should be revenged. "His blood is halal (permitted) to be shed. Not only is it halal, but it is obligatory to kill him," Rizieq told a crowd on Sunday as quoted by AFP.
"Kill, kill" the crowd yelled, pointing their fists up, when Rizieq shouted Bush's name, while the shouting of "America" was greeted with shouts of "Destroy, destroy".
The coalition of hardline and conservative Islamic groups included Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, the Muslim Forum, the Surakarta Muslim Youth Forum, the Indonesian Muslim Brotherhood Movement and the Tafsir Alquran Assembly.
They carried banners and Palestinian flags and condemned Bush as a war criminal and a human rights violator for invading Muslim states such as Iraq and Afghanistan, and for supporting the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
The protesters warned Yudhoyono and Vice President Yusuf Kalla they risked an election defeat in 2009 for receiving Bush.
They later marched to the United States Embassy, some six kilometers away from the State Palace. There they distributed posters and fliers to recruit people for a major anti-Bush rally in Bogor.
At another protest in South Jakarta, more than 5,000 supporters of the Islamic Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) rallied peacefully against the visit at the Al-Azhar mosque. PKS leader Tifatul Sembiring and former People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Amien Rais were in attendance.
Tifatul, whose party holds the largest number of seats in the Jakarta legislative council, said Bush was responsible for the deaths of more than 650,000 people since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The PKS leader later blessed some 2,000 party members set to leave for Bogor to join a protest.
Similar rallies were also staged in cities in East Java, West Kalimantan, South Sulawesi, Riau, West Nusa Tenggara, Yogyakarta and Aceh.
In Bogor, West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Soenarko Ardanto inspected several helipads prepared for Bush and his entourage, while security forces were on full alert at the palace. It is estimated Bush's visit has cost the government a whopping Rp 6 billion (about US$660,000).
Streets around the palace will be cordoned off Monday and cellular phone signals will be jammed within a 200 meter radius around the venue.
Bush is set to arrive at 4 p.m. at Jakarta's Halim Perdanakusumah Airport before leaving for Bogor by helicopter. He will have dinner with Yudhoyono and is scheduled to leave at 10 p.m.
The talks between the two leaders will focus on education and health issues, including increasing study scholarships and efforts to combat bird flu, officials have said.
The two will be joined by experts, public figures and a group of elementary school students.
And similarly in the lead up to the Bali UNFCC climate conference earlier in Dec 2008 where other curious security work is being done reading like a bizarre version of real life imitating fiction:
But in our judgement even if proximate event based security work is being undertaken one presumes intuitively that the CIA leopard does not it's spots change: That the CIA have a watching brief to ensure their revolving door corporate friends in the massive, massive Freeport gold mine in West Papua continues to pump out the profits to sustain the Indonesian economy but even more so their own USA owned multinationals:
|copper, gold, copper&gold, copper and gold, mining, drilling gold, exploring gold, drilling copper, exploring copper, Freeport, Freeport-mcmoran, Freeport ... Stock quote for FCX|
Here's the unauthorised version via non government group Mineral Policy Institute:
What is it she does now? Look how she rubs her hands.
It is an accustom'd action with her, to seem thus
washing her hands. I have known her continue in this a quarter of an hour.
Yet here's a spot.
Hark, she speaks. I will set down what comes from her, to
satisfy my remembrance the more strongly.
Out, damn'd spot! out, I say!—One; two: why, then
'tis time to do't.—Hell is murky.—Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our pow'r to accompt?—Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?
Is ex PM Tony Blair a modern Lady Macbeth, in 2003 at the height of his undoubted power full of his pride and skill, but in late 2007 realising "the old man" ie Iraq "to have had so much blood in him"? Does he now seek the sacrament of confession or even make plans for the sacrament of the Last Rites, so he may be accepted into the doors of heaven?:
Alastair Campbell, Blair's director of strategy and communications, once intervened in an interview, preventing the prime minister from answering a question about his Christianity, saying, "We don't do God".
But in an interview on ITV in 2006, Blair referred to the role of his Christian faith in his decision to go to war in Iraq, saying that he had prayed about the issue and that God would judge him for his decision.
"I think if you have faith about these things, you realize that judgment is made by other people and if you believe in God, it's made by God as well," Blair said at the time. "
in Washington Post Dec 22nd 2007
We think Blair meets Macbeth meets Brideshead Revisited. As a lowly elected official once we felt the influence of that heady brew of political power, enough of a taste to know it would corrupt our God given (?) soul, nurtured as an alter boy under the St Joseph's bluestone steeple, mother leading the choir, surrounded in one way or another by 8 jostling siblings.
We chose poverty as more suitable to the ecological times.
Picture: Jeremy Irons launches his film career in the role of Charles Ryder, last episode (11) of Brideshead Revisited Granada TV 1981.
Yesterday we watched the (last) episode eleven of Brideshead Revisited (1981) on DVD made by Granada TV, arguably the best tv mini series ever made. Certainly the soundtrack is sublime. There is a pivotal scene where the 'sinful' Lord Marchmain (below) having been advised of his "crime" by his devout daughter Cordelia (don't you know) having spent a good 25 years in Italy with his mistress, deserting his faithful wife, returns to his 4 poster death bed in the Chinese drawing room (don't you know). These are delicate refined folks.
It's all about the grip of Catholic dogma amongst the British aristocracy within the moral grandeur of source Christianity. And the desire for redemption for 'sin', a particularly Judeo Christian invention that underpins ruthless hierarchy crushing people's choice and natural potential: Subservient martyred women, neurotic drunken men, supremacy of the priest representing the Roman Pope, all leveraging the profound fear of death. The whole box and dice.
Here is the patriach Marchmain in Castle Howard/Brideshead on the eve of WW2 played by Sir Laurence Olivier about to die but making the supreme effort to cross himself as 'a sign of contrition' to his God before he slips away.
In fictional Lord Marchmain's case he only deserted his wife and his religion for 25 years, after fighting in WW1 after which he preferred Italy as a domicile. In Tony Blair's case he deserted the basics of good governance out of pride and dogma in the ultimate political vanity that there was no argument, no conflict that he was not equal to, to conquer and resolve, with his enormous communication skills. A vanity that has killed maybe a million people and has him gasping for redemption, like a moral invalid on the oxygen bottle on his death bed in fictional Brideshead Revisited.
Tony Blair looked old and tired on the vision. He looked to us like Lord Marchmain whose 'fear of death was wasting him away'.
Similarly on the local NSW scene we have the redemption of ex Premier Bob Carr, always a thespian in the NSW Parliament, renowned for lacerating his opponents with his comic wit (but not wisdom), bringing the House to uproarious laughter. This capacity for humour in a veil of governance tears was Carr's 'redeeming' quality. It's a common enough phenomenon, forgiving a talent their many personal flaws for his comic ability to lighten the daily grind involved in serious work. To leverage that skill to the very top of the Catholic dominated NSW ALP Right (who can forget 'the Cardinal' Gerry Gleeson of Sydney Harbour Foreshore's Authority ) was indeed very 'amusing' and destructive.
Here is Carr in the weekend press 'elbowing his way into' the Rudd Govt federal election victory by identifying ex PM Howard's undoubted environmental failings:
There is no doubting Carr did indeed have a role in Howard's demise - it was surely his (along with this writer and many others) wedge model, latterly adopted by Rudd, that removed the ascendant NSW Fahey Govt in March 1995. Carr leveraged the great moral imperative of then and now on forest protection driving a confusing division into the marriage of Liberal and National Parties: The Liberals, more dispassionate about the importance of ecological sustainability, from the 'at any cost' Nationals resource extraction motivations with all those mining and agri industry donations. In March 1995 it was forest destruction, an agenda that Carr promised to do much about 1995-97, and proved a failure 5 years later by continuing with the Eden Chipmill and disgraceful land clearing: 9/2007 - Ongoing scandal of land clearing in NSW and Australia likely affecting climate
In the November 2007 federal election it was Rudd banging a similar drum on the imperative of dangerous climate change, and who one presumes will prove just as ineffective as Carr on forests. That's the hard truth of the matter.
And thus redemption is a recurring theme in religion and politics, Carr before and Rudd next?:
The lesson of recent Australian political history is that the ALP want to be virtuous on the environment but the flesh is very weak. In other words the ALP are profoundly dishonest but also in simple terms moral and intellectual failures when it comes to actual delivery.
That's why if the Green Party didn't exist as an important discipline it would have been necessary to invent them. At least with the Greens they are always being whiplashed back to the small g green/ecology by their own name, which some of us think of as God's creation (!).
After writing the above we noticed Sheehan's parallel inclination to comment on the same topic/same day (re Blair's new found Catholicism) in the big Fairfax press, our quite distinct motive being the surprising echo of the Brideshead Revisited DVD we loaned from the local library 6 days earlier. That article here:
And since then we also greatly enjoyed an Australian Financial Review article about one Robert Novak, syndicated columnist in Washington who apparently converted at age 67 to Catholicism. There is a quote from a US senator that now Novak is a Catholic, but is he a Christian?! Other illuminating comments about Novak's career including the role of tv media turning his 'appearances' into a 'performance' pushing him into an "ideologue" when his natural inclination presumably a range of social issues was alot less categorical. Novak is very interesting for having opposed the Iraq war when it counted in 2003 and thus, to quote the title "A conservative eaten by his own kind" AFR Review p6 9 Nov 2007.
We also liked very much the reference to
"The columnist is a prospector panning for gold; alot of pebbles and sand have to be sifted, and the nugget is sometimes tiny. Much Evans & Novak reporting inevitably seemed trivial or simply mystifying to readers with no interest in Washington politics. To political junkies, however, the column was catnip."
A serious micro news blogger might say exactly the same based on the mess in our place.
(Hiroshima Genbaku Dome -- PD by Fg2 on Wikipedia )
Hiroshima atomic bomb memorial cenotaph. Photographed by Sekicho
Hiroshima Station Oct. 1945. Photo by KIKUCHI,Shunkichi
Peace Garden of Hiroshima, Japan by Fanghong
Monument in Memory of The Korean Victims of A-Bomb Dome, Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima. Picture by Fg2.
Marker at Ground Zero, Hiroshima. Picture by Fg2.
This building is the former Bank of Japan branch in Hiroshima, Japan. It stands less than 500 m from ground zero, yet survived the atomic bombing. Picture by Fg2.
Atomic Bomb Memorial Tower, Peace Memorial Park, Hiroshima. Picture by Fg2.
Recently we commented on a crikey.com.au story, which we feel is instructive Socratic style regarding interplay of cultural and historical forces at play over the perverse but socially 'logical' claims to "scientific" whaling by the Japanese Govt:
Georgia Wednesday, 19 December 2007 1:39:31 PM
The relentless pressure on the Rudd govt. to fix great damage in areas of environment, govt. transparency, morality; the list goes on! They show up the LIberals up as corrupt, and morally bankrupt - and SO damn LAZY! Whales - we're coming to help you.
Tom McLoughlin Wednesday, 19 December 2007 3:14:42 PM Dramatic AND melodramatic. The Coalition ie Hill/Campbell/Turnbull NEEDED whales 96-07as PR cover on forests/nukes/climate etc. ALP MPs surely have learned to play this posturing 'game' while the Japs take perverse cultural revenge for Hiroshima/Nagasaki.
Tim Wednesday, 19 December 2007 5:20:15 PM If the legal remedies fail I'd get talking to other cruiseliners about buying and upgrading a fleet of boats, upgrade them with hardcore military hardware and if the Japs don't back off scuttle one of their whaling ships, see how they like the harpoon!
David Sanderson Wednesday, 19 December 2007 9:27:58 Tim and Tom, I am trying to figure out which one of you two is the bigger crackpot. It was a close run thing but yes you Tim win the prize. Enjoy it and don't come back too soon.
Jill Edwards-Davis Thursday, 20 December 2007 11:04:17 AM Rumour today that Japan will not kill humpbacks. Pressure at last getting through? But what a pity they still seem to have fin whales in their sights. Has anyone seen the RESULTS of all this research? Or even the objects they claim? Best recipes?
Bronte Thursday, 20 December 2007 4:19:23 PM Rudd has challenges closer to home too. Let's not let the whales distract too much from Tassie forests. If Gunns cut them down, we may not have to worry about whales for much longer? Time to tell us YOUR truths Mr Rudd. I'm hoping they coincide with ours.
Tim Thursday, 20 December 2007 3:10:39 PM *shrugs* The only way the Japanese will take notice and back off is if their interests are impacted. An internationally enforcable ban would work. The suck-hole diplomacy approach has not borne fruit. This is the only issue I'd agree with crackpots on...
Tom McLoughlin Thursday, 20 December 2007 6:16:44 PM David, I'm trying to decide who is most naive: The price of fine beef in Japan is lower than whale (not even popular there), only hunted since WW2 (rationing). Conclusion: Proud Right of Japanese politics like this 'symbolic' argument with the West.
To comprehend such a fraught factual distortion by the Japanese we submit one must look deeper, and further. Indeed one needs compassion and common humanity to get it.
Dennis Shanahan in The Australian last Friday is starting to suspect as much here with this historical slant with especially the last line "Don't mention the war."
With Shanahan's undoubted expertise on the right wing of politics generally, we thus infer, yes do mention it framed by compassion.
And the fusion of past historical injury and trauma in 1945 with current psychological determination to continue misconceived whaling is hinted at here with the US diplomats getting into the action, reported by AAP via Ch9 below. This is an aspect of Japanese USA history that the yanks in particular will want to keep well in the past as they manage geo politics with China and North Korea. A few dead whales is nothing in that equation. On the other hand the USA want Australia to stay jolly onside too and vis a vis other US allies.
Japan halts humpback whale hunt: USWednesday Dec 19 20:09 AEDTJapan has apparently agreed not to kill humpback whales during its current Antarctic hunt, the US ambassador to Tokyo said on Wednesday, a move that could help ease criticism of its controversial whaling program.
Japan's whaling fleet set sail last month with plans to catch more than 1,000 whales, including 50 humpbacks, which are popular among whale-watchers for their distinctive silhouettes and acrobatic leaps, before returning to port early next year.
Humpbacks were hunted to near extinction until the International Whaling Commission ordered their protection in 1966 and the planned hunt had sparked a loud outcry from activists.
"I think we had an agreement ... between the United States and Japan that humpback whales would not be harvested, I think, until maybe the International Whaling Conference in June," US ambassador to Japan Thomas Schieffer told a small group of reporters.
Because of migration patterns, the delay would mean it would be "a while before they are at risk again," Schieffer added.
Australia announced on Wednesday that it would send a fisheries patrol ship to shadow Japan's whaling fleet near Antarctica and gather evidence for a possible international court challenge to halt the yearly hunt.
Separately, Greenpeace sent a ship on Wednesday to try to stop the Japanese fleet hunting whales.
Japan has long resisted pressure to stop what it calls scientific whaling, insisting that whaling is a cherished cultural tradition.
"Japan's whaling is being conducted in line with international treaties and for the purpose of scientific research. We would like to win the understanding of others," a Japanese foreign ministry spokesman said in Tokyo.
Postscript 24th Dec 2007.
In the wake (?) of our piece the big Fairfax media carry this instructive opinion piece today, which is good, but doesn't quite dare to reach into the heart of the right wing of post WW2 Japanese politics complete with calls for independent re-militarisation contrary to the USA installed peace constitution. But it is at least a few planks in a diplomatic bridge that must reach a long way further across from one country to another yet:
Postscript 2 - 29 December 2008
A year later we return to note an interference in this article as follows with the images blocked out and now reinstated via wikipedia commons as follows:
* Interestingly our original post on 23rd December 2007 appears to have stumbled on a copyright dispute between wikipedia and a Japanese website and now SAM's micro news has been interfered with by blacking out of Hiroshima Peace Park images. Or perhaps some other force of censorship? These can soon be replaced with images from the wikipedia commons. A replacement web address has been added to our SAM site (without our permission too!) citing www.japanselifestyle.com.au as the image owner. This is in fact a clumsy mis-pelling of the website of the alleged image owner at www.japaneselifestyle.com.au. Here is the rude sign:
At wikipedia where the image(s) are also found they state
"This image has been released into the public domain by its author, Fg2. This applies worldwide. In some countries this may not be legally possible; if so: Fg2 grants anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.
Concerned south west citizens held up a Jarrah log truck in Bridgetown in WA's South West to highlight the continual destruction of native forests. Six people were arrested and media devices were confiscated by Police. See Video
Industrial scale logging and burning of native forests is a major contributor to carbon emissions in Australia. "By keeping the carbon in the forest and protecting native forests is one of the easiest and simplest solutions to reduce Australia's greenhouse gas emissions," said spokesperson Brett Thompson. "Native forests are the lungs of the planet they store vast quantities of carbon. By protecting native forests Australia can significantly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and halt the devastating affects of climate change..."
Bridgetown local resident Saffire Grant says we need to take action on a local level. "Native forest logging in our own backyard needs to be stopped now if our community is to actively help provide solutions to climate change. We call on Federal and State Labor parties to protect native forests as an active strategy to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and become a world leader in the struggle against climate change."
Postscript #1 23rd Dec 2007
Meanwhile Harriet Swift of ChipStop based in South East NSW writes:
Sent: Saturday, December 22, 2007 6:24 PM Subject: [chipstop] chipmill vigil on YouTube
We went to the chipmill the other day for a truck count - but couldn't stay the whole day for a complicated set of reasons.
However, it was clear it was a very quiet day. Extrapolating from past count data, the daily equivalent of trucks was only about 125 (normally about 160).
Gossip around Eden at the moment is that SEFE is having trouble getting "enough" wood. They have tried getting logs from Tumut (Tumbarumba), but it is just too far away (lucky for Tumut), although they are getting a lot of sawlogs (higher value and therefore more worthwhile) from Tumut (thanks to Terry's research).
We made a small YouTube clip to illustrate the trucks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vJuZya1X00
Picture: colourful shop front in Illawara Rd Marrickville, opposite the now renovated Woolworth's supermarket.
Crikey.com.au is in recess until Jan 7th or so.
Much of the ABC AM/World Today radio current affairs show are winding down for the year.
The number of 'trivial' stories about outer space, holidays, science etc that are always there but never usually get a run are padding out the mass media.
Yet 'Ruddbot' is churning along with a visit to Iraq after COAG. It's fair to imagine there are many decisions and deals being cut in the mass media shade of the Christmas New Year period, just less scrutiny. Indeed the fabled story of Premier Paul Lennon deciding with Gunn's CEO to proceed with a massive pulp mill in an exclusive restuarant in Hobart suggests the social scene is where the deals are done by the business and govt class.
Not least the power privatisation agenda of the ALP Right in NSW. Intuitively we sense the federal ALP Govt are in on the deal making. Which puts the Rudd Govt directly in conflict with the union movement inspired by the heady morale boost of removal of the Howard Govt.
Some important questions of governing for who are in play.
Meanwhile Clive Hamilton says he is standing down from the CEO position of the Australia Institute to write books. Which probably means he is about to start work for PM Ruddbot (?) having previously been head of research for the Resource Assessment Commission (director Justice Donald Stewart previously National Crime Authority) under PM Hawke early 90ies.
Monday, 14 May 2007Ruddy son in law to campaign for Maxine McKew in Bennelong?
Topic: election Oz 2007
Picture: Actor Dule Hill at top right was a standout character in the West Wing tv series for the racially charged North American society it was made for.
Is the real life Australian equivalent of Charlie Young going to help take Bennelong off PM John Howard?
Charlie who? Charlie Young is a character from the West Wing tv series played by Afro American Dule Hill. And not just any coffee coloured gentleman but a dark skinned man. Distinctly racial casting choice. A very fine actor. A dramatic juxtaposition who in the script loves in the biblical sense the President’s youngest white bread daughter.
It’s pretty racy stuff right?
But what’s that got to do with Bennelong?
Ruddy’s daughter just got married. If I’m not mistaken her husband is an Asian Australian chap. Who knows, he may end up being like that 3rd richest dual Australian citizen solar energy entrepreneur like Dr. Zhengrong Shi of Suntech (featured on SBS Dateline in a story called 'The Sun King' back in March CNN here, local Sydney Morning Herald and Labor eHerald) or some other world beater. But it's also clear as day the daughter is a living example of cross cultural sophistication including in life choices. Like her dad.
We are reminded of a highly flattering feature story about Rudd’s working life in China for Foreign Affairs that ran in the Sydney Morning Herald recently: Rudd's long march to Asia's heart - National - smh.com.au by a smart writer there Hamish McDonald with Mary-Anne Toy..
These are the most sensitive cultural matters. It’s life as melting pot for real.
It’s the Charlie Young factor. In Sydney, and likely all of Australia, this plays very well in the Asian Australian community. Sydney is the home of the Unity Party represented till recently by an Upper House Dr Peter Wong in NSW Parliament.
It’s where the local edition of the Epoch Times is published with an emphasis on South East Asian coverage as well as general news, and strong slant against the Chinese dictatorship government.
All this is a sensitive mix of cultural and racial undertones but with 6 months to run in a grinding election campaign every area of right, left, bigot and enlightened social policy will be flushed out. We say better to have it out in the sunlight amongst the grown ups.
From our media watching we noticed a real under emphasis in the presentation of the good bride’s new husband. But the Asian Australian community in Bennelong must have noticed surely, or will do so. In this sense they are likely to shift their vote to the ALP as a more tolerant leadership for harmony and multiculturalism to the detriment of John Howard.
On the other hand the ultra right ‘One Nation’ type 5 % dedicated racist vote is out there and do play a role in Australia more generally, also counterbalanced by the Asian Australian Bennelong factor too.
All of this becomes very relevant demographics given the outstanding very early polling results in favour of candidate McKew as reported in the press yesterday as here: McKew would win Bennelong: poll - National - smh.com.au
Meanwhile John Howard is going down scale talking about school bullies from the height of his Prime Ministerial office. That's a little weird. And he sounds like a shouting sergeant major on the radio just now.
At this rate the election campaign may yet turn to a macabre procession for 'honest' John. No post budget polling bounce, no ecological credibility, captured by white supremacist leanings a la Alan Jones et al. It could get very grim indeed.
# For our review of the West Wing tv series based on a marathon sitting of the first 5 series, go here and scroll down to 4th January 2007 (one of the first stories on Sydney Alternative Media micro news website aka SAM.)
This was part of a much bigger traverse of the McKew victory here:
Is Piers Akerman a closet white supremacist? He's chosen the race theme too regarding the McKew victory but in a poison piece accusing the ALP of wedging on the issue with ethnic voters:
Akerman: A toxic race to top
AFTER winning over Bennelong, the electorate's new MP Maxine McKew has decided to tell her adoring public what she really thinks. And it's not pretty.
But we think there is ample evidence to criticise the ex PM, not least the covert white supremacism in the NSW Division of the Liberal Party on Howard's watch, evident amongst some elements of a Camden protest and fostered by ultra conservative politicians like Fred Nile MP.
Refer $200bn infrastructure bonanza coming | The Australian p36 Dec 15th 2007. This feature story adds to other background in the press today:
Majority oppose power sell-off A $380,000 sales pitch to promote the privatisation of the state's electricity system has been started by the Premier, Morris Iemma, and his Treasurer, Michael Costa. But they could be wasting taxpayers' money, an opinion poll shows.
Power sale a Chinese takeaway EXCLUSIVE: MORRIS Iemma is considering selling off up to $15 billion worth of power generators to the Chinese Government.
And notice this recently on SAM micro news blog here (14 Dec 07):
And notice this:
- NSW Power sell-off a rare chance, offline page 5 supplement Resources editorial page Dec 15 2007 Weekend Australian, as below with cute picture of NSW ALP spouse Tebbutt of federal infrastructure minister Albanese, beside Premier Iemma. This presumably is the personal link Iemma to Tebbutt to Albanese to PM Rudd to Big China Inc investors in the press today
A choice quote from The Australian feature story hard copy below:
According to the ABS, total assets of super funds reached $1.1 trillion in the December quarter of 2006. Projections by industry analysts indicate that the pool of superannuation savings will escalate to more than $2 trillion by 2020.
But the lack of opportunities to fund these projects means they are being forced to spend the money on infrastructure overseas.
As one investment banker who specialises in infrastructure says: "Water plants, power plants and ports have good commercial rates of return, but a lot of other infrastructure assets don't and so the private sector isn't interested in investing in those."
In the past few weeks Challenger Infrastructure Fund announced it was part of a winning consortium for the pound stg. 4.19 billion ($9.7 billion) Southern Water Capital water and sewerage group, which was put up for sale by Royal Bank of Scotland earlier this year, and a few days ago Colonial First State Global Asset Management announced it had won a bid to acquire United Utilities Electricity Limited for $3.88 billion. Meanwhile, Sydney-based Spark Infrastructure has revealed it is looking at a gas distribution business in the US valued at up to $1 billion.
Australia's top 10 infrastructure funds are drowning in cash as they increasingly struggle to find assets to invest in.
Put simply, in the past 18 months, 72 infrastructure funds have been established globally, raising more than $US160 billion ($182.2 billion), and of them, 17 have raised more than $US2.5 billion, all looking for infrastructure assets. The problem with this is a lack of suitable assets.
In a recent report, Australia's Infrastructure Priorities -- Securing Our Prosperity, IPA identified three sources of funding: superannuation funds, state government funding, and increased gearing levels by the states offering up debt funding.
IPA's Mr Birrell says despite this money looking for a home, there are not enough opportunities in Australia. "There is no matching of the funds with assets and so you are seeing companies like Macquarie Bank and Colonial buying water assets overseas," he says. "They could be doing a lot more here if they had the opportunity." ..... [bold added]
More background revealing articles on this big corporate govt play are here:
Related story same page/day in The Australian
Postscript #1 28th Dec 2007
- 27 Dec 07, page 1 story Union backs Labor rebels - National - smh.com.au
Other relevant older stories
- 29 Nov 07 Power station plans shelved | The Australian
Crikey.com.au run an alarming story today which effectively describes systemic fraud of the public revenue by redefining contractual performance of defence suppliers. It's actually a cracking story only vaguely sketched out at this stage suggestive of systemic corruption. Stay tuned.
An anonymous public servant explains to the new minister:
Defence procurement is a complicated multibillion dollar business and, as the sad history of projects running late and overbudget proves, a lot of risk is involved. Risk to the taxpayer, but also risk to senior Defence bureaucrats who have to explain cost overruns and late deliveries, let alone put at risk of justifying salaried performance bonuses.
The problems with Defence procurements have been an ongoing saga, globally. The Yanks use a traditional approach to solving these problems - hire more engineers and hire smarter engineers - until the project is back on track, and hopefully on budget. This lack of creativity on the part of US Defence procurement officials shows, since a great many of their projects are still late and still over budget.
Our Canberra bureaucrats have solved this problem, permanently, and managed to do so without having to hire expensive engineering talent - always a pain since they have a bad habit of talking back, questioning, and generally arguing that expedient fixes will come back to bite you.
What our bureaucrats did last year was to change the way in which an item of equipment is judged to be ready for operational service. Until then, we followed the rest of the OECD defence procurement community, and used the definition of “Initial Operational Capability” as the benchmark for the equipment being ready for service. Not to be accused of copying, our bureaucracy labelled “Initial Operational Capability” as “In Service Date” or ISD. This definition says that the equipment has to be capable of performing all of the functions it was contracted to do, before it is considered ready for troops, sailors and airmen to operate.
The new approach introduced recently by our creative Canberra bureaucrats was to devise a new definition for ISD, making it quite different to the definition of “Initial Operational Capability”. This new interpretation has “In Service Date” or ISD now meaning:
The point in time that symbolically marks the beginning of the transition of a capability system, in part or full, from the Acquisition Phase to the In-Service Phase. ISD coincides as closely as is practicable with Initial Release.
Gone is the pesky expectation for the equipment to actually fully meet whatever functional and operational specs were put down when it was ordered. Now, a senior bureaucrat can simply nominate an ISD milestone, and leave the dummies all wondering what that means once the calendar rolls over to that date.
Problem solved, expediently, quickly and permanently. Now these annoying Defence Ministers, Parliamentary Committees, and media can eat their hearts out, since all projects will be on time and inside budget by the “In Service Date”.
Unfortunately we still have some folks out there complaining. They are saying naughty things like “if the In Service Date does not force the contractor to make the equipment work, our servicemen and servicewomen might get killed in combat, or in accidents”. Even naughtier is the claim that “taxpayers will have to shell out a fortune in extra costs to fix things which should have been made to work in the first place, since a contract which uses the In Service Date instead of Initial Operational Capability is not enforceable”.
One eminent spoilsport has actually described this creative problem solving approach to be a “con”; intended to bamboozle parliamentarians, media and public.
This is nonsense, obviously, since they have missed the point here. If you look at the problem, it is not that the equipment is over budget and can't do its job properly; it is that all of these silly people are complaining about it! If you use the new ISD definition, then the REAL problem goes away instantly.
There is still a risk that the new government might just toss this creative innovation out the window, not having any appreciation for what REALLY matters in government contracting. But if the new Defence Minister endorses all at the upcoming MRH-90 helicopter rollout, all will be well after all.