13 Jul 2016

The Murdoch press shifts gears

As noted by The Guardian:

Rupert Murdoch, February 2003:

“We can’t back down now, where you hand over the whole of the Middle East to Saddam...I think Bush is acting very morally, very correctly, and I think he is going to go on with it... I think Tony (Blair) is being extraordinarily courageous and strong”.

The Murdoch UK press now:

“Tony Blair’s deception, negligence and naivety condemned 179 of our (British) troops — and countless Iraqis — to their deaths... Saddam Hussein’s gangster state was certainly appalling. But it posed no imminent threat to us. Bush and Blair’s assumption that they could cleanly cut the head off the snake and effortlessly transform Iraq into a peaceful liberal democracy was insane"

I knew it was insane in 2003. A lot of people did. But your oily business sold it to people who don't pay as much attention... and now there is Islamic State, and all the death from that brand around the world .

And you've changed your mind and think Trump is just terrific now?

When will you just go away Rupert? Just go away. This world is a bit too serious, and way too deadly, for the fickle whims of vile old bullies to inform undiscerning public opinion.

17 Jun 2016

The murder of Jo Cox

What makes an ‘assassination’ rather than a killing in the general sense? When it is done as part of a broader continuous intent. And by that definition Jo Cox was assassinated.

No don’t talk to me about ‘crazy’ or ‘lone wolf’... That's just a tolerance for murder.
That's just cowardice and lack of willingness to take responsibility and pin accountability on the guilty. Even if you believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone for some vague political motive – and there is a mountain of doubt about that – it was still an ‘assassination’.

Jo Cox - the person - may not have been the complete target, but democracy as embodied by her being a professional politician surely was.
The commitment that we have to one another to run a decent society was what was being spurned.

“The man arrested over the killing of the MP Jo Cox bought books from a US-based neo-Nazi group, including guides on how to build homemade guns and explosives, according an anti-hate campaign group in the US. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) published receipts that appeared to show Thomas Mair bought, among other books, a manual on how to make a homemade pistol from the National Alliance. The receipts, some of which date back to the 1990s, showed Mair spent more than $620 (£436) on literature from the group, which advocates the creation of an all-white homeland and the eradication of Jewish people.”

Any wiggle room there?
He was a radicalised Right winger. It doesn’t matter if he was mentally incompetent. He was used. Like a hacked credit card number is used by a criminal. Western fascism operates on the same principle as ISIS brand extremism... propagation of material intended to incite violence. Less random than an improvised explosive, it only explodes against specific targets.

This is where I want emphasize a point that gets deflected and diluted by moral confusion about what freedom of speech actually means.
It DOESN’T, in fact, mean that you can say ANYTHING you want, and stamp your foot afterwards like some petulant child that it is your right over any other right or consideration.
In point of fact we’ve never been able to say any ugly thing we want - we have laws about libel. We have laws about false advertising. And sometimes we have laws about hate speech.

We have them for a reason. Because genuine freedom comes with a measure of responsibility, and the condition that you WILL be accountable for your deeds and words.
That's what being a fucking adult means, people.

To quote Alex Massie in The Spectator today:

“Sometimes rhetoric has consequences. If you spend days, weeks, months, years telling people they are under threat, that their country has been stolen from them, that they have been betrayed and sold down the river, that their birthright has been pilfered, that their problem is they’re too slow to realise any of this is happening, that their problem is they’re not sufficiently mad as hell, then at some point, in some place, something or someone is going to snap. And then something terrible is going to happen.”

Genuine freedom means you aren’t free to crush the reasonable freedoms of others. And if we spend all our efforts defending the expression of hate, then you can kiss justice goodbye.

No these laws don't necessarily stop the hate speech. THAT'S NOT THE PURPOSE.
The purpose is to offer legal recourse to the victims and render punishment to the perpetrator.
Just like any other law.

Anyway the rhetoric did have consequences. Can’t ask Jo Cox about it anymore. Maybe you can ask Giffords.

7 Jun 2016

The tobacco industry doesn't want you to smoke

No really... there is apparently some US lobbyist ad on Youtube aimed at plain packaging laws for cigarettes, addressing the experience in Australia.
Aside from featuring a reportedly preposterous fake accent (a great guide to the authenticity of the information in the ad), it claims smoking increased after the introduction of the laws and therefore said laws don't work*.

Aren't you glad the Tobacco industry is fighting these laws that let them sell more cigarettes...
and that they cheerfully spend so much money on lobbyists to actually reduce their own profits?

I personally would ask a few relatives of mine who did smoke to write here about the benefits of sticking a collection of damaging substances in your mouth and setting it on fire...
Except they're all dead.

Sorry about that.

 *after a while... you do get tired of hearing greedy twerps and lunatic wankers telling you your laws don't work when it's fucking obvious - especially when you actually live here - that they DO work, and even Australians wouldn't keep laws if they had reverse outcomes

2 Jun 2016

The first broken promise

Actually being in the election...

"The right-wing United Patriots Front (UPF) has failed to deliver on a promise to register a political party for next month's federal election."

Too much like real work, eh?

"The group also calls for changes to the public education curriculum "to re-initiate an education for the development and strengthening of the Nation" "

You know... I'm sure I saw a bit of that in The Sound of Music. You could shorten that to 're-education' too.... People have heard of that before.

"...and federal indictments for conspiracy and treason for all media outlets "suspected of undermining and deconstructing the Australian Nationality". "

Blinky Bill will be just fine without ending freedom of the press, guys...

Look here he is:

Like the rest of us he has got along just fine, for generations, without your garbo truck politics.

Just go have a nice cup of tea and settle down.

19 May 2016

Polly want a cracker?

 Magpie loves his birds...
 "The fossil remains of a 50-million-year-old bird with a six-metre wingspan have been found in Antarctica.
Paleontologists at a natural history museum in Argentina said they had identified the pelagornithid, or bony-toothed bird, nearly three years after its fossilised bones were first found at an Argentine research base on the Antarctic island of Marambio....
The bird's wings, fully extended, spanned more than 6.4 metres.
This is twice as big as the albatross, the largest flying bird alive today, which has a wingspan of 3.3 metres.
Ms Acosta Hospitaleche's colleague Marcos Cenizo, the director of the Natural Sciences Museum of La Pampa, said the bird was the largest pelagornithid specimen ever found.
"The shape of their wings allowed them to glide and cross large distances across the oceans," he said.
Antarctica specialists say there were two kinds of pelagornithid on the continent, one that reached up to five metres tall, with a similar wingspan, and another that stood more than seven metres."

Gullzilla some are calling it.

Here, YOU hold this...

and I'll go get a camera...

5 Apr 2016

Mossack Fonseca - anyone notice?

This morning as I drove through the torpid eastern sprawl… I tuned into a morning radio news talk host acidly complaining that his own corporation had the nation’s treasurer on question time.... and yet never asked anything about the Panama Papers, or so much as breathed the name Mossack Fonseca.
Even though hundreds of our citizens are implicated, and a lot has been said recently about tax fraud.

It’s hard to gauge whether this oversight was because there had been multiple stories of colossal financial impropriety breaking across the region…. An Australian news crew had recently been detained in Malaysia for covering the multi-billion dollar scandal engulfing that county’s government. 

The global oil market fixing scandal that had consumed a team of investigative reporters for years had also spilled on Fairfax with Huffington, even as Fairfax was being threatened.

Thematically similar dirty laundry.

So maybe this Mossack Fonseca thing just crept up on news editors, and they didn't scope its depth?  
No. I don’t buy that. Not really.
It's the biggest info leak in history. Heads of state are implicated. But some news sites are being circumspect. Why?

The New York Times saw fit to report it, sort of, but not as the leading item, oh no… that honour went to goings on in Brazil.
How does the leadership of say… Russia and China … compete for coverage with Brazil? No disrespect to Brazil, that is....
Vladimir Putin is in this. Did we all suddenly lose interest in him?

But to be fair (momentarily) at least it was mentioned…  Not so in that country where they shoot you for corruption (unless you’re the people in charge):  

“It has been dubbed the biggest data leak in history; but within the confines of China's increasingly walled-off internet, the Panama Papers have barely registered a ripple.

The unprecedented leak of millions of documents from the database of offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca revealed the secret offshore money networks of some of the world's most powerful and wealthiest elite, including Russian President Vladimir Putin. The trouble for Chinese internet censors: the 2.6 terabyte trove of documents also named the family members of at least eight current or former members of the Communist Party's elite Politburo Standing Committee including Deng Jiagui, the brother-in-law of President Xi Jinping.

Despite dominating the international news agenda (really? are you sure?), the explosive findings garnered scarce coverage on the mainland and was left untouched by the party's main state-run news outlets on Monday.” 

A short incomplete list of people we've heard of who are named: 

Petro Poroshenko, the president of Ukraine,

Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Saud, the King of Saudi Arabia,

Ian Cameron, father of David Cameron, British Prime Minister and noted austerity fan,

Juan Pedro Damiani – FIFA ethics committee member (“FIFA ethics”… you have to chuckle),

Oh and the prime minister of Iceland. Some name like a Viking king on the face of schoolboy who ate too much porridge. Strangely he gets mentioned more than anyone else. Is that because Iceland has no oil AND no nukes and he has crappy lawyers?

But the headline at the NYT of the moment:
“Cruz Is Fuming Because Kasich Won’t Bow Out of G.O.P. Race”.

Ted Cruz is fuming? That's more report-worthy?
Well thanks for that earth-shattering update, NYT .
”Your Evening Briefing - Here’s what you need to know at the end of the day.” 11 items!
Nope. No mention of Mossack Fonseca there… not important enough.
It’s in the World news section. Under ‘Europe’.
Yeah ‘Europe’… Where news in America goes to die, unless it’s about terrorism.
Did you even know China was in Europe? Neither did I. For that matter I didn’t know that Panama was in Europe either. Iceland is, I guess.

And just for contrast: The Guardian newspaper:
The Mossack Fonseca/Panama Papers story is the front page and headline number one, two, three, four, five and six.

I guess they’ve worked out their owners aren’t implicated. Maybe. I have no idea.

Maybe they just thought a story of that takes in that many names in that many governments in that many countries about that much money might be newsworthy in a world where some of these self-same people having been telling everyone else to tighten their belts - since a bunch of venal cowboys crashed the world economy and blighted a generation without even one of them ever seeing the inside of a prison cell where none of the above-named will ever go either.