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Selling uranium: Australia’s hypocrisy – The Express Tribune Blog

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Carbon critique: An outsider’s view of Australia’s climate law | Climate Spectator

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Is the Australian Media racist?

The arrest of a 14 year old Australian boy accused of possessing marijuana in Bali has provoked a media storm.

The Australian Ambassador to Indonesia says the case is his “top priority”, and even the Prime Minister has become involved – Julia Gillard rang the teenager in prison on Sunday 9th October, and assured him everything is being done to secure his release.

It could be weeks or even months before the boy knows his fate, but his lawyers hope he may be sentenced to a drug rehabilitation program, which he could undertake in Australia.

Is the outrage from the Australian media justified in this case?

There is a media-generated, over-the-top interest in such matters. Certainly it’s an awful thing for a teenage boy to be in jail, that’s one issue, but the reaction of the media cycle is disproportionate. Talkback radio generates a certain amount of interest and news editors take their cues from that. Suddenly journalists have to jump on the next plane to Bali. I would regard it as a form of hysteria – it’s an over-reaction when you consider the response to Australians who have been caught in legal problems or imprisoned in other places. We can compare it to the plight of Indonesians in jail in Australia. There are thought to be around fifty teenagers held here by the criminal courts, and in immigration detention. One man even died after effectively being detained in his own boat, unable to step onto Australian land after being found guilty of illegal fishing.

Is there an element of hypocrisy here?

There are hundreds of Indonesians, mainly poor people from the east, in Australian jails. Some are imprisoned for illegal fishing, others have been caught up in people smuggling, and a proportion of these are under-age, although the Australian authorities have been accused of fudging the age tests.

In the case of the teenager in jail in Bali, the news editors are being very irresponsible. They’re certainly not doing the boy any favours. The best thing would be to remain low-key and let the diplomats do their work – the local consular staff are more than capable. It’s also caught up with domestic politics – there’s no need for the Foreign Minister and Prime Minister to start calling the jail. Or for the Foreign Minister to order the Ambassador to drop everything and work on this case.

Was Julia Gillard’s phone call to the boy helpful in terms of the diplomatic case being made?

Imagine if it was the Indonesian President calling up a prisoner in Australia, and trying to put pressure on our legal system – there would be outrage here. Indonesians are just bemused by the whole situation. If you look at it rationally there is no need for her to be involved. It’s a problem when foreign policy is dictated by domestic politics.

Was she naive to get involved?

There is a history of domestic policies and showmanship getting in the way of, and in some ways dictating, foreign policy. It goes back to the Howard era, particularly the handling of the refugee issue. Somehow the Australian government has felt free to grandstand in Southeast Asia since then.

There are many reports of corruption in the Indonesian police. Is it endemic?

You can’t get away from that fact. Indonesians themselves are trying to do something about it. This drug scam has been the situation there for at least 25 years. Police are known to send out drug dealers with marijuana and then try to get a cut of the proceeds and an arrest. It’s nothing new. I guess everyone who travels to places like Bali knows about it, but a naive young boy isn’t going to pay much attention to the signs that warn about the dangers of drugs. It’s not unusual – there are a lot of places in the world where corruption is a problem, but we don’t see the same coverage of the problem in, say, China.

Is there an inherent racism in the Australian media, and public, towards Indonesia?

Certainly there’s unfailingly negative coverage of Indonesia here. There are some very good journalists who cover the beat, but it’s very difficult for them to get their stories in newspapers or on TV. All we get is terrorism, animal slaughters and drugs – even if you compare it to the coverage of China, let alone Europe. For some reason the stories of Australians in Chinese jails don’t receive the same level of reporting. It’s not proportional. Underlying stereotypes are brought out, and it’s disrespectful to Indonesia. This year’s Lowy Poll which looked at Australian perceptions of the region found a large number of respondents think Indonesia is still governed by the military. These are outdated perceptions, and that is down to the media.

source: Professor Adrian Vickers; University of Sydney.

America in Decline

Liberty weeps for its past greatness

The theme is widely believed. And with some reason, though a number of qualifications are in order. To start with, the decline has proceeded since the high point of U.S. power after World War II, and the remarkable triumphalism of the post-Gulf War ’90s was mostly self-delusion.

The Clinton administration entered office in 1993 and proceeded to adopt a strategy of “dual containment” within the oil rich Arabian states.

With dual containment, however, the United States had committed itself to containing two different countries — Iran and Iraq — who hated each other, which in turn forced them to keep extensive airpower and troops in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. This fueled the rise of al Qaeda.

Osama bin Laden was deeply offended by the presence of “infidel” troops on Saudi territory, and so the foolish strategy of dual containment played no small role in causing the terrorism problem we have seen. It also helped derail several attempts to improve relations between the United States and Iran. Dual containment, in short, was a colossal blunder.

But no strategy is so bad that somebody else can’t make it worse. And that is precisely what George W. Bush did after 9/11. Under the influence of neoconservatives who had opposed dual containment because they thought it didn’t go far enough, Bush adopted a new strategy of “regional transformation.” Instead of preserving a regional balance of power, or containing Iraq and Iran simultaneously, the United States was now going to use its military power to topple regimes across the Middle East and turn those countries into pro-American democracies.

This was social engineering on a scale never seen before.

Not only did “Mission Accomplished” soon become a costly quagmire, but wrecking Iraq — which is what the Americans did — destroyed the balance of power in the Gulf and improved Iran’s geopolitical position. The invasion of Iraq also diverted resources away from the war in Afghanistan, which allowed the Taliban to re-emerge as a formidable fighting force. Thus, Bush’s decision to topple Saddam in 2003 led directly to two losing wars, not just one. And these wars were enormously expensive to boot. Combined with Bush’s tax cuts and other fiscal irresponsibilities, this strategic incompetence caused the federal deficit to balloon to dangerous levels and helped bring about the fiscal impasse that we will, globally, be dealing with for years to come.

“The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded.” Montesquieu, (Charles Louis de Secondat)  (1689-1755)

The U.S. economy used to be an engine of economic growth and the American political system used to be a well-oiled checks-and-balances machine that was geared toward progress and that could accommodate both leadership and compromise. Moreover, Americans can be proud that their constitution, at least on paper, is one of the best in the world, having been crafted by enlightened founders who believed in individual and democratic freedom.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill (1874-1965) once quipped that “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”! Indeed, democracy is a very fragile political system that can sometimes fail the very people it is designed to serve. American president Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) defined it as “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

Currently the states live in a vuccum of morality: it is related to the widespread corruption that permeates many institutions and sectors of the U.S. society, the most corrupt of them all being the political and corporate systems. It is no accident that the epicenter where these two corrupt systems meet is at the Pentagon, an agency where reports upon reports picture it as a cesspool of corruption.

The spectacle is even coming to frighten the sponsors of the charade. Corporate power is now concerned that the extremists they helped put in office may in fact bring down the edifice on which their own wealth and privilege relies, the powerful nanny state that caters to their interests.

Today, following all the Bush-era tax cuts, the US is a deeply divided country in social terms. The gap between rich and poor is almost as great as it was in the days of oil barons and steel magnates in the last century. Five percent of Americans buy almost 40 percent of all consumer goods sold in the country.

The country is at war with itself. It has a Congress where there is perpetual conflict between the right and the left — and where they don’t even want to talk to each other when the threat of a national bankruptcy looms.

Like no other country, the US became great because of its openness. Now, it has become distrustful, fearful and defensive — against Muslims, against foreigners, against anyone who is different. Citizen militias hunt down illegal immigrants, and many people can still not accept having a black president in the White House.

Where has that one-of-a-kind America gone? New York Magazine sums it up: “Ten years later, America now looks a bit more like other countries do — our embrace of capitalism has grown more complicated, our class mobility less certain, our immigrants and our diversity less unique.”

Even in foreign policy, the world power is no longer seen as the world’s role model. “Leading from behind” is the maxim of the current president, Barack Obama. He says it out of necessity, because stateside a strange alliance has formed, between those on the fringes of mainstream politics both on the left and on the right.

Speigal Online
Walt; Foreign Policy.



Australia’s Bob [Catatonic] Katter

The headline for this article is meant to be ‘catatonic’ because that’s what the Australian Party personally induces. I for one am fed up with the number of politicians and ideologues like Cannedo Campbell-Soup, Annapolis Blighty, Pseudo-Lord Monckton, Bob Kattery, Tony Abottoir et al,  for no better purpose than putting their heads in the plentiful supply of sand we enjoy here, which at least muffles their recycle-unworthy rhetoric!

LONG-term political maverick Bob Katter, who had held the North Queensland seat of Kennedy since 1993, is a man creating his own story.

The story is the newly formed Australian Party and the chapters include opposition to deregulation, corporatisation, free trade and the duopoly of Coles and Woolworths.

He doesn’t understand why Australia should have higher interest rates than the rest of the world and he believes lowering the rate will bring down the Aussie dollar and promote better business conditions.

Former Noosa Shire councillor Bob Jarvis says he is on the same page as Katter and is running as the Australian Party candidate for the state seat of Noosa.

On Monday afternoon, after a press conference at Sunshine Plaza, Mr Katter made an impromptu visit to Mr Jarvis.

Sitting around a laminated table outside Mr Jarvis’s Tewantin fish and chip shop* the blue jean-clad party leader listened to Jeff Nuske and Mr Jarvis explain local issues while holding forth on his own convictions.

The last Fish and Chip shop owner to get into parliament was Pauline Hanson. So what is it about BJ’s Fish and Chips that makes him any different? Have we done a taste test yet?

Mr Katter is fast and furious. He’s not known as “the force from the north” for nothing and he’s ready to blast apart the two-party system.

He likens the two-party system to the duopoly of Coles and Woolworths. A system, he says, that doesn’t allow party line divergent views.

His own policies tap into the Greens, the LNP and Labor ideologies.

But he guarantees that elected Australian Party members will able to express their own views, even if they don’t agree with the party line.

He doesn’t believe in the sale of public assets.

“The corporatisation of Unitywater is just what they have done to get it ready for sale,” he said.

He doesn’t want cheap imports of fruit coming into Australia and opposes the abolition of tariffs and subsidies for agriculture.

Although he is often painted as redneck conservative, he turns a distinct shade of green when he quotes from Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth and wants to make the world a healthier place through use of cleaner fuels.

Protesting USA Style

Protests against corporate power in the United States has taken root in Washington, with several hundred people occupying Freedom Plaza outside city hall to demand progressive reform.

The Stop the Machine rally – midway between the Capitol and the White House – echoed the demands of the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York that drew more than 5,000 people as well as labour-union support.

“The poor are no long patient,” said one of the speakers, Ben Manski, a Green Party activist from Wisconsin, from a stage decorated with the “We the People” preamble of the US constitution.

“It took us long enough, but we are no longer patient,” he told the crowd, a mix of young people and middle-aged veterans of protest movements of past decades.

“This is a sacred struggle,” on a par with the abolition of slavery, voting rights for women and civil rights, Mr Manski said, “and just like those movements, we are going to win.”

The protest got underway just as president Barack Obama told reporters at the White House that the Wall Street protests were an expression of the “frustration” that Americans feel towards the financial establishment.

Since October 1 a separate but like-minded group called Occupy DC has gathered around 30 people daily at McPherson Square on K Street Northwest, where many powerful lobbyists have their offices.

But they were overshadowed by Stop the Machine, which originated a decade ago with opposition to the October 2001 invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequent Iraq war.

No uniformed police were seen at Freedom Plaza as the crowd swelled towards 1,000 around lunchtime under sunny skies. The open square is a frequent venue for political protests.

Several dozen people brought camping gear, planning to sleep on the concrete surface through the weekend at least.

“It is time to light the spark that sets off a true democratic, nonviolent transition to a world in which people are freed to create just and sustainable solutions,” said a “call to action” published on Stop the Machine’s website.

How magical is your mind?

If you can read this you have a strong mind:
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