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Articles by: Dr Binoy Kampmark

The Pinkerton Effect: The US Marines in Darwin

The Pinkerton Effect: The US Marines in Darwin

Subordinates rarely have a good time of dictating matters to their superiors. In the webbed power relations that pass as realpolitik, Australia is the well behaved child in the front of the room, yearning to be caned and spoilt in equal measure.  Ever since Australia’s Prime Minister John Curtin cast his eye to Washington in an act of desperation during[Read More…]

Violent Voyeurism: Surveillance, Spyware and Human Rights

Violent Voyeurism: Surveillance, Spyware and Human Rights

Surveillance is merely a variant of violent voyeurism, the human behind the camera or visual apparatus observing behaviour in a setting, often private.  Its premise is privacy’s violation; its working assumption is privacy’s irrelevance; officially tolerated such a concept is unofficially repudiated.  Studies on surveillance do as much to reveal its problems as accommodate them: the great, all seeing commissar[Read More…]

Bill Clinton in Kosovo

Bill Clinton in Kosovo

“War in the name of morality provides as many reasons for historical shudders as war in the name of self-interest, for at least the latter may be easier to call off when self-interest calls for compromise.” Lawrence Freedman, Review of International Studies, July, 2000 The Balkans has often been prone to seizures of mysticism, glum prediction and predation.  But one[Read More…]

A Slow Death: The Ills of the Casual Academic

A Slow Death: The Ills of the Casual Academic

Any sentient being should be offended.  Eventually, the casualisation of the academic workforce was bound to find lazy enthusiasts who neither teach, nor understand the value of a tenured position dedicated to that musty, soon-to-be-forgotten vocation of the pedagogue.  It shows in the designs of certain universities who confuse frothy trendiness with tangible depth: the pedagogue banished from the podium,[Read More…]

Nigel Farage’s Grand Tour of Sabotage: The Paypal of the People Rides High

Nigel Farage’s Grand Tour of Sabotage: The Paypal of the People Rides High

He is all about being the romantic saboteur.  He is destructive, hates the business of a steady vocation, and the idea of being desk bound.  Little details trouble him; an indignant bigger picture is enthralling.  Bomb throwers tend to be of such ilk, taking shots at the establishment, courting potential voters over a pint, and railing against non-representative elements in[Read More…]

The Fragility of Democracy: Hong Kong, China and the Extradition Bill

The Fragility of Democracy: Hong Kong, China and the Extradition Bill

It has been a history of turns and the occasional betrayal, but Hong Kong’s experiment with democracy, incubated within the Special Administrative Region, was always going to be contingent on some level.  Its colonial past is a poke, a reminder of British bullying, the corruptions of opium and a time when Qing China was torn and a compulsive signer of[Read More…]

Matters of Water: Dubious Approvals and the Adani Carmichael Mine

Matters of Water: Dubious Approvals and the Adani Carmichael Mine

“When a company wields such power that it can cause a Minister to rush an approval process, cut corners and make significant errors, it is cause for serious concern.” Kelly O’Shanassy, Australian Conservation Foundation, June 12, 2019 While the proposal is of a diminished monster, the travails over Adani’s efforts to open up the Galilee Basin in Queensland to mining[Read More…]

Julian Assange and the Scales of Justice: Exceptions, Extraditions and Politics

Julian Assange and the Scales of Justice: Exceptions, Extraditions and Politics

The Home Secretary of the United Kingdom did his thing, which was little in the way of disagreement.  The superpower has issued a request; the retainer would comply.  This week, the US Department Justice Department formally sought the extradition of Julian Assange.  The process was certified by Sajid Javid, a man rather distracted of late.  He is, after all, seeking[Read More…]

Defanging the Predators: Oxfam’s Woes

Defanging the Predators: Oxfam’s Woes

First came the abuses.  Then, the allegations.  Then, the tardy response, with lacings of apologia.  The UK Charity Commission could not have been harsher about the conduct of Oxfam, which is a charity fallen most foul.  The inquiry into its past misdeeds, triggered by a February 2018 report by the Sunday Times, resembled the more baroque features of a child[Read More…]

Cleansing the Platforms: YouTube, Censorship and Grievance

Cleansing the Platforms: YouTube, Censorship and Grievance

Stripping the altars, burning the heretics and cleansing the stables are the usual fare of a morally crazed order.  The engaged agents think they have found the reason for existence and need to bother everybody else about it. Some of this can be a very dangerous thing indeed – at least historically.  Those who claim to know the truth are[Read More…]

The Danish Elections: Social Democracy with an Inhumane Face

The Danish Elections: Social Democracy with an Inhumane Face

The great centrist European tradition of social democracy has been receiving a rattle for the last few decades.  The European Parliament elections were a reminder how much their appeal has diminished.  In Denmark, by way of contrast, they have established something of a bridgehead, defeating the centre-right coalition led by the Venstre party’s Lars Løkke Rasmussen in Wednesday’s election.  The[Read More…]

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Snubs, Bumps and Donald Trump in Britain

Snubs, Bumps and Donald Trump in Britain

He may not be popular in Britain, but he still has shavings of appeal.  For a country that has time for Nigel Farage, pro-Brexit enthusiast and full-time hypocrite (he is a member of the European Parliament, the very same institution he detests), President Donald Trump will garner a gaggle of fans. One of them was not the London Mayor, Sadiq[Read More…]

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Warring Against Sources: The Australian National Security State, Journalism and the Public Interest

Warring Against Sources: The Australian National Security State, Journalism and the Public Interest

“What’s gone on this morning sends clear and dangerous signals to journalists and newsrooms across Australia.  This will chill public interest reporting.” News Corp Australia spokesperson, The West Australian, June 4, 2019 These are dark times for journalists and publishers.  It did not seem coincidental that Annika Smethurst, a News Corp journalist and political affairs editor, would be a target[Read More…]

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Cults of Impeachment:  The Mueller Report, Trump and Wedging the Democrats

Cults of Impeachment:  The Mueller Report, Trump and Wedging the Democrats

It is a giddy intoxicant, and making all who partake fall over in puddling nonsense.  The Mueller Report is not turning out to be the cleansing agent any of its readers were hoping for.  Originally encouraged to identify the cause behind Trumpland and its dark side, the agent of disaffection, the root of madness, it has done as much to[Read More…]

Findings of Torture: The UN Rapporteur and Julian Assange

Findings of Torture: The UN Rapporteur and Julian Assange

Another crude and sad chapter, yet more evidence of a system’s vengeance against its challengers.  Julian Assange, like they dying Roman emperor Vespasian, may be transforming into a god of sorts, but the suffering of his mortal physical is finding its mark.  While some in the cynical, narcissistic press corps still find little to commend his case, the movement to[Read More…]

Clubs, Cartels and Bilderberg

Clubs, Cartels and Bilderberg

“After decades of neoliberalism, we are at the mercy of a cluster of cartels who are lobbying politicians hard and using monopoly power to boost profits.” Joseph Stiglitz, The Price of Inequality (2012) The emergence of think tanks was as much a symptom of liberal progress as it was a nervous reaction in opposition to it.  In 1938, the American[Read More…]

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Lies in Politics: Boris Johnson, the Law and the European Union

Lies in Politics: Boris Johnson, the Law and the European Union

An enduring memory of the 2016 Brexit campaign, so marked by the foppish-haired blusterer, Boris Johnson, was the claim that the European Union was hungrily drawing out from British coffers £350 million a week.  It was insufferable, unqualified and dishonest.  It was a claim reared in the atmosphere of outrageous deception marking the effort on all sides of the debate[Read More…]

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Authoritarian Spirits: Congress, the Espionage Act and Punishing WikiLeaks

Authoritarian Spirits: Congress, the Espionage Act and Punishing WikiLeaks

The time was 1917, and for anyone keen to impress us about any liberal feelings on the part of President Woodrow Wilson, the following should be said.  Having deemed the United States too proud to fight, he proceeded to commit the very same to the first global industrial conflict of its kind and overturn every reservation against backing the Franco-German[Read More…]

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The End of Theresa May

The End of Theresa May

The vultures of the British conservative party have gathered, and the individual who seemed to thrive in failure, to gain momentum in defeat, has finally yielded.  UK Prime Minister Theresa May will leave the way for change of leadership on June 7.  Never known for any grand gestures of emotion, the Maybot finally gave way to it. It had begun[Read More…]

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Monsanto, Scientific Deception and Cancer

Monsanto, Scientific Deception and Cancer

Money may not be able to buy the purest love, but it can buy the best, life-ending cancer.  For Monsanto, giant of rule and misrule in matters of genetically modified crops, known for bullying practices towards farmers, things have not been so rosy of late.  Ever the self-promoter of saving the world an agricultural headache (biotech crops being the earth’s[Read More…]

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The Victory of Small Visions: Scott Morrison Retains Government

The Victory of Small Visions: Scott Morrison Retains Government

Australian politics since the 1990s has been marked by a dedicated loathing of the “vision thing”.  For those keen to see policies lasting beyond the life of the May fly, disappointment lies.  Federal governments, at best, have shelf lives of three short years. Governments are effectively encouraged to be agents of small change if, indeed, they are to be agents[Read More…]

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Fantasies of Humanity: The Christchurch Pledge and a Regulated Internet

Fantasies of Humanity: The Christchurch Pledge and a Regulated Internet

It had to come.  A massacre, broadcast in real time and then shared with viral automatism; the inevitable shock, and the counter from the authorities.  The Christchurch shootings, inflicting fifty-one deaths upon worshippers at two mosques in quiet New Zealand on March 15 this year, have spurred Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.  Laws have been passed regulating guns in her country. [Read More…]

Photo/pcworld.com

Modern Merchants of Death: The NSO Group, Spyware and Human Rights

Arms manufacturers of old, and many of the current stable, did not care much where their products went.  The profit incentive often came before the patriotic one, and led to such dark suspicions as those voiced by the Nye Committee in the 1930s.  Known formally as the Special Committee on Investigation of the Munitions Industry, the US Senate Committee, chaired[Read More…]

Maximum Pressure in the Strait of Hormuz: The US-Iran Standoff

Maximum Pressure in the Strait of Hormuz: The US-Iran Standoff

Hegemons are never going to sound too sensible when they lock horns or joust in spats of childish anger.  Power corrupts, not merely in terms of perspective but language, and making sense about the next move, the next statement, is bound to be challenging.  Otherwise justified behaviour can be read as provocative; retaliatory moves duly rattle and disturb. The Iran-US[Read More…]

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The Democrats and Muellerisation

The Democrats and Muellerisation

The psychic problems facing the Democrats continue to bite, and with their foiled efforts to see the full, unredacted report of the Mueller Report, they look distracted, confused and bitter.  In politics, the sense of vengeance and retribution has a place, but without some restorative balance, cripples the actor.  The Democrats can point to numerous contenders for the presidential election,[Read More…]

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Lowering Standards: Australian Universities, English Requirements and Student Cash Cows

Lowering Standards: Australian Universities, English Requirements and Student Cash Cows

There are no protests on the streets and no effigies of university officials being burned by protesting students today.  There are no protests outside the officers of the over-remunerated Vice Chancellors and their various henchpersons.  It is business and malpractice as usual after revelations by Australia’s national broadcaster that Australian universities have been adjusting admission requirements to boost student numbers. [Read More…]

A Matter of Independence: Equinor and Drilling the Great Australian Bight

A Matter of Independence: Equinor and Drilling the Great Australian Bight

Such companies advertise themselves as slick and professional, the best in the business, all things to men, women and everyone in between. They insist that we can all have that vast cake of wealth and eat it too.  Equinor, a Norwegian multinational beast of an energy company with its headquarters in Stavanger, has been doing much in the way of[Read More…]

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Disproportionate Sentences: Julian Assange, Bail, and Extradition

Disproportionate Sentences: Julian Assange, Bail, and Extradition

Should journalism ever have a deity worth His, Her or Its salt, looking down upon the recent proceedings against Julian Assange will provide endless choking fits of confusion and dismay.  The prosecution continues in the twisted logic that engaging a source to disclose something secret while also protecting anonymity is somehow unnatural in the world of journalism.  Most prosecutions in[Read More…]

Islamic State Celluloid: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Witch Doctors of Terrorism | Binoy Kampmark

Islamic State Celluloid: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Witch Doctors of Terrorism | Binoy Kampmark

Nothing turns on the charlatan class of terrorism expertise than a video from an elusive, unknown destination, adjusted, modified and giving all the speculative trimmings.  In reading, E.B. White suggested the presence of two participants: the author as impregnator; the reader as respondent.  In the terrorism video, the maker consciously penetrates the shallow mind of the recipient, leaving its gurgling[Read More…]

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Doubts at the NSA:  Shelving a Mass Surveillance Program

Doubts at the NSA:  Shelving a Mass Surveillance Program

Earlier this year, Luke Murry, national security adviser for Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, revealed that the National Security Agency had been averse over the last six months to using the phone surveillance program that hoovers information from millions of US phone calls and text messages.  This was hardly a comforting point; the issue spoke as much to competence[Read More…]

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WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 03:  Vice President Joe Biden speaks during the 19th Annual HRC National Dinner at Walter E. Washington Convention Center on October 3, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Leigh Vogel/Getty Images)

Corporate Joe: Biden Enters the Presidential Race |Binoy Kampmark

Values, values and more values.  Another dreary dish added to the smorgasbord of Democratic hopefuls for the White House.  This one is a bit cured and worn, smoked by history.  Biden, having performed the role of Vice President for Barack Obama and senator for Delaware, is making his third attempt to not so much gallop as crawl into the US[Read More…]

Continued Detentions: The Intended Role for Chelsea Manning

Continued Detentions: The Intended Role for Chelsea Manning

The noose is tightening around the WikiLeaks world, yet another dedicated attempt to strangle the channels of information that might cast light over the dastardly deeds of state.   Connections are being targeted; associates are being brought in.  Officials of the United States, having found heart in the revocation of Julian Assange’s asylum courtesy of Ecuadorean weak will and an accommodating[Read More…]

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Presidential candidate Volodymyr Zelenskiy reacts during a policy debate with his rival, Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko at the National Sports Complex Olimpiyskiy stadium on April 19, 2019, in Kyiv.

Volodymyr Zelenskiy as Actor President

The world is not so much a stage as a simulacrum for those who think it so. And if the stage goes bad, it is fitting that those who get thrown onto it change it in the most daring and provocative way.  Politics is now as much a director’s production as it is an estranging show for the participating voter. [Read More…]

Failed States and Militias: General Khalifa Haftar moves on Tripoli

Failed States and Militias: General Khalifa Haftar moves on Tripoli

The richly disastrous mess that is Libya has been moving into another phase of inspired aggression at the hands of General Khalifa Haftar.  As he does, UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj is anxious.  For some three weeks, the General’s eastern forces, known as the Libyan National Army (LNA) have been edging towards the capital of the fractured state in a[Read More…]

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Binoy Kampmark- Julian Assange as Neuroses

Binoy Kampmark- Julian Assange as Neuroses

Julian Assange continues to ripple and roam as a cipher through the political and media scape of the world.  Detained in Belmarsh maximum security prison, the sort of stately abode only reserved for the most dangerous of criminals, many with indeterminate sentences, he electrifies and concerns. The US political classes continue to simmer with an obsession that has gone feral. [Read More…]

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Binoy Kampmark-Burning Gothic: Reflections on Notre-Dame de Paris

Binoy Kampmark-Burning Gothic: Reflections on Notre-Dame de Paris

“But no matter the destruction, the spirit of what it means to be a cathedral can and does survive such catastrophes.” Becky Clark, Church of England director of cathedrals and church buildings, April 17, 2019 The destruction of the sacred will engender moving responses.  But the scope, and the particularity of that response varies.  The conflagration affecting Notre-Dame de Paris,[Read More…]

Permissible Influences: Israel and the Australian Elections

Permissible Influences: Israel and the Australian Elections

So much hullabaloo; so much pent-up anger and, let’s face it, so much opportunity for the political classes of Australia.  The theme since 2016 is electoral interference; the object: whichever power so happens to afford an opportunity to gather support against.  Demonising the Chinese has been a specialty of Australian politics since the first members of the middle kingdom began[Read More…]

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Passing the Parcel: The European Union and Refugees in the Mediterranean

Passing the Parcel: The European Union and Refugees in the Mediterranean

The modern UN Refugee Convention is now so flea-bitten it’s been put out to the garbage tip of history.  At least the enthusiastic fleas think so, given their conduct as political representatives across a range of parliaments keen on barbed wired borders and impenetrable defences.  Across Europe, the issue of refugees arriving by sea – in this case, the Mediterranean[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Human Rights
Binoy Kampmark – Delegitimising Journalism: The Effort to Relabel Julian Assange

Binoy Kampmark – Delegitimising Journalism: The Effort to Relabel Julian Assange

“Your honour, I represent the United States government”.  The Westminster Magistrates Court had been left with little doubt by the opening words of the legal team marshalled against the face of WikiLeaks.  Julian Assange was being targeted by the imperium itself, an effort now only garnished by the issue of skipping bail in 2012.  Would the case on his extradition[Read More…]

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Shredding Asylum: The Arrest of Julian Assange

Shredding Asylum: The Arrest of Julian Assange

The man seemed like a bearded emissary, a holy figure nabbed in his sleep. He looked similarly pale as to how he did in 2013, but he cut a more shocking figure.  Most prisoners would have had room to move in a compound.  The Ecuadorean embassy in London only offered modest space and access to sun light.  Hospitality of late[Read More…]

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Absence of Proof: The Approval Process for Adani

Absence of Proof: The Approval Process for Adani

Much hot air is coming out from the public relations unit of Adani, and the language used is that of a hostage taker seeking to earn a rich and ill-deserved ransom.  With the date for the Australian federal election looming, the Indian mining giant received a boost in its flagging fortunes.  And flagging they had been: banks reluctant to supply[Read More…]

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Terrorist Designations: Trump and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps

Terrorist Designations: Trump and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps

It’s designed to give the US more leg room in the sanction stakes but may end up having its own hemming consequences.  The designation by the Trump administration of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organisation was meant to expand options for the US while shutting others out.  While Trump attempts to defrost matters with North Korea,[Read More…]

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Lethal Fluctuations: The Death Penalty in Asia

Lethal Fluctuations: The Death Penalty in Asia

The Malaysian government last year expressed a surprise change of heart on a policy long held dear; it would reconsider the death penalty. The case of Muhammad Lukman, sentenced to death in August for the purchase and sharing of medicinal marijuana, did much to stimulate outrage.  On October 10th, law minister Liew Vui Keong announced that it would be abolished. [Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Human Rights
Syariah Matters: The Kingdom of Brunei’s Stoning Affair

Syariah Matters: The Kingdom of Brunei’s Stoning Affair

From time to time, celebrities recoil and, in anger, seek to march for a change to the status quo.  Much of is never intended to alter much, but they can count their names among the indignant luminaries and say they tried to do something. The recent imposition of Syariah law in the Kingdom of Brunei, a tiny speck of territory[Read More…]

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Night Parrot Confections: The Dangers of Discovering the Elusive

Night Parrot Confections: The Dangers of Discovering the Elusive

Discoveries of natural flora, fauna and phenomena are not necessarily straightforward things.  The discoverer may wish to conceal the source.  The discoverer may also have various motivations.  In certain grave instances, the entire claim might be fabricated.  Piltdown Man, discovered in a gravel pit in England in 1912 by amateur archaeologist Charles Dawson, was celebrated as an ancestral link to[Read More…]

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Photo: Mr. Fish / Truthdig

Terms of Asylum and Distraction: Moreno’s Assange Problem

Political asylum is an accepted if often ignored right. It is also at the mercy of those interests that grant it.  Ecuador’s repeated insistence on conditioning Julian Assange’s stay in its London abode is tantamount to corroding the idea of asylum to vacuity.  You are granted asylum as a political dissident, but political dissident you shall not be, especially when[Read More…]

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The End of the Politician (in a Fashion): The Slovak and Ukrainian Elections

The End of the Politician (in a Fashion): The Slovak and Ukrainian Elections

The structures of politics have become so rigid, so distant, and ultimately so irrelevant to those who vote for them that a trend through countries can now be confirmed.  Brittleness has set it.  The part and election strategists have few answers, they, who saw the voter as yet another subject, another follower, another convert of a faith. The churches and[Read More…]

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Unnecessary Expansions: The Australian War Memorial

Unnecessary Expansions: The Australian War Memorial

War is not merely a matter of sowing death, much of it needless; it entails preserving a rationale to perpetuate it.  The mistake often made about reading, consulting and listening to the harrowing tales of those who have perished in battle or those who survived them is to presume that these should not happen again.  Politicians, generals and strategists are[Read More…]

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Angles of Tolerance: Yusuf Islam in Christchurch

Angles of Tolerance: Yusuf Islam in Christchurch

Let’s not be too churlish about this; but then again, let us not be ignorant.  The singer once known as Cat Stevens (in pre-conversion state), and known as Yusuf Islam to others, made a considerable impression on the stage in Christchurch.  The slaughter of fifty at two mosques in the New Zealand city had made enough of an impression to[Read More…]

The Logic of Annexation: Israel and the Golan Heights

The Logic of Annexation: Israel and the Golan Heights

Any measure of annexation is based on the extension of a military’s boots.  Diplomats tend to be silenced before the noise of tanks, weaponry and garrisons.  Countries may claim to possess territory but can only dream in the absence of military weight.  When it came to the issue of negotiating the post-World War II agreements, Generalissimo Joseph Stalin of the[Read More…]

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Photo by MrsMAryLo

Michael Jackson, Convenient Freak

The comedian Dave Chappelle put it like this: why were accusations of inappropriate conduct directed at Michael Jackson always so superbly timed?  “Listen Michael,” goes Chappelle’s mock white executive voice, “we need you to jerk off another child.”  (Chappelle is also prudent enough to append a qualifying note: he might have done it, but who knows?) Jackson could always be[Read More…]

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A Privileged Education: The US College Admissions Scandal

A Privileged Education: The US College Admissions Scandal

The oldest idea of history; the perennial problem of station: education.  Get the child as far as possible so that he or she can be propelled, as if from a trebuchet across the ramparts of life.  Nasty obstacles – one being a lack of intellect – will be cleared, and the wretched genetic issue will find itself in sinecures, positions[Read More…]

Reining in the Yemen Conflict: The US Congress and War Making Powers

Reining in the Yemen Conflict: The US Congress and War Making Powers

We keep hearing it.  Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is firm on the view that the Yemen conflict should conclude. “We all want this conflict to end,” he never tires of saying. “We all want to improve the dire humanitarian situation.”  Then comes the nub, poking, irritating and undeniable: “But the Trump administration fundamentally disagrees that curbing assistance to the[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Imperialism
Globalising the Christchurch Shootings: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Gallipoli and Invasion

Globalising the Christchurch Shootings: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Gallipoli and Invasion

Never let a bloody and opportune crisis pass.  In New Zealand, there is talk about gun reform after attacks on two Christchurch mosques left fifty dead.  There have been remarks made in parliament about unchecked white supremacy growing with enthusiastic violent urge in Australasia.  In Turkey, the approach has shifted into another gear: the canny, even menacing exploitation by Turkey’s[Read More…]

Reading Manifestos: Restricting Brenton Tarrant’s The Great Replacement

Reading Manifestos: Restricting Brenton Tarrant’s The Great Replacement

A censorious and censoring attitude has engulfed responses to the mental airings of the Christchurch shooter.  Material in connection with Brenton Tarrant, the alleged gunman behind the killing of 50 individuals at two mosques in New Zealand, is drying up; his manifesto, for one, is being disaggregated and spread through multiple forms, removed from their various parts with blunt razors. [Read More…]

Saving the Planet One Child at a Time: Children, School Strikes and Global Climate Action

Saving the Planet One Child at a Time: Children, School Strikes and Global Climate Action

Children’s crusades do not necessarily end well.  During the years of armed missions to the Holy Land, when Jerusalem meant something to the sacredly inclined in Europe, children were encouraged to take to the rough and dangerous road as it wound its way towards Palestine.  In 1212, a boy of 12 is said to have begun preaching at Saint-Denis in[Read More…]

The Dangers of Values: Brenton Tarrant, Fraser Anning and the Christchurch Shootings

The Dangers of Values: Brenton Tarrant, Fraser Anning and the Christchurch Shootings

The argument that the Christchurch shooter, suspect Brenton Tarrant, or the views of Australia’s Senator Fraser Anning, seemingly holding a lone torch, are somehow not representative of the broader whole, be it Australia or New Zealand, is a self-deflecting exercise.  They are the uncomfortable mirrors of ruin, actual and perceived.  They are the voices of people who can either be[Read More…]

Death in New Zealand: The Christchurch Shootings

Death in New Zealand: The Christchurch Shootings

Five weapons were said to have been used, all inscribed with symbols, numbers and insignia.  The individual charged with the shootings at two Christchurch mosques that left 49 dead was an Australian with, it is alleged, a simple purpose: inflict death, and on specific communities in worship.  Even as the carnage became clear, Christchurch was already the epicentre of twenty-four[Read More…]

Lobbies and Belated Groundings: Boeing’s 737 Max 8

Lobbies and Belated Groundings: Boeing’s 737 Max 8

Lobbies, powerful interests and financial matters are usually the first things that come to mind when the aircraft industry is considered.  Safety, while deemed of foremost importance, is a superficial formality, sometimes observed in the breach.  To see the camera footage of the wreckage from the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 was to be shocked by a certain irony:[Read More…]

Lies in the Branding: Justin Trudeau’s Implosion

Lies in the Branding: Justin Trudeau’s Implosion

“Trudeau came out and asked for strong women, and he got them.” Michelle Rempel, Conservative Party MP, The Atlantic, Mar 12, 2019 The gods have various roles, and most of them are intrusively irritating. They select humans, and drive them mad.  They select them for special missions, praise them and drive them to death.  They also select them to, if[Read More…]

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Publicised Cruelty: Scott Morrison Visits Christmas Island

Publicised Cruelty: Scott Morrison Visits Christmas Island

His visit struck a sour note.  The Australian prime minister Scott Morrison was making an effort to show he cared: about those intangible things called borders, secure firm and shut to the unwanted human matter coming by sea.  The distant Australian territory of Christmas Island was selected to assist in coping with arrivals from Manus and Nauru Island needing medical[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Human Rights
Grand Jury Efforts: Jailing Chelsea Manning

Grand Jury Efforts: Jailing Chelsea Manning

“I will not comply with this, or any other grand jury.”  So explained Chelsea Manning in justifying her refusal to answer questions and comply with a grand jury subpoena compelling her to testify on her knowledge of WikiLeaks.  “Imprisoning me for my refusal to answer questions only subjects me to additional punishment for my repeatedly stated ethical obligations to the[Read More…]

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Yulin, locating in Shenfu coalfield, together with Ordos and Shuozhou (ShanXi), is called the “Golden Triangle of Coal” in China. Shenmu is an important part of the Shaanbei Energy and Chemical Base. Since 2004, the economy had been developing dramatically thanks to its rich coal resource and was for the first time listed among “Top 100 Prosperous Counties in China” in 2008. Yulin has been tagged as “the Oriental Kuwait”.

A Fancy Hypocrisy: China, Australia and Coal Mania

Fear them for their technology; fear them for their ideology and their authoritarianism. But embrace interference and involvement in the economy if it involves coal.  This is the fancy hypocrisy of Australian politics, one driven to lunacy and inconsistency by that dark and dirty love. The contrast between a fear of Huawei, on the one hand, and an eager opening[Read More…]

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The Cardinal Can Do No Wrong: George Pell’s Defenders

The Cardinal Can Do No Wrong: George Pell’s Defenders

The powerful have always had defenders.  Power seeps into the system, corrupts, controls and, ultimately, assumes an authority that does wonders to destroy an appraisal of fairness.  To be there is to assume that matters are natural, a habit.  As David Hume made clear, such an instance creates the basis of error: because it has been accepted for generations and[Read More…]

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Militarised Conservation: Paramilitary Rangers and the WWF

Militarised Conservation: Paramilitary Rangers and the WWF

Think charity, think vulnerability and its endless well of opportunistic exploitation.  Over the years, international charity organisations have been found with employees keen to take advantage of their station.  That advantage has been sexual, financial and, in the case of allegations being made about the World Wild Life Fund for Nature, in the nature of inflicting torture on those accused[Read More…]

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British Labour’s Fractious Jaunt: The Politics of the Independent Group

British Labour’s Fractious Jaunt: The Politics of the Independent Group

They could not hold on.  A small – and in the scheme of things negligible group – split from the British Labour mothership last month in an effort to salvage some self-described form of credibility.  In truth, they were the original sceptics of Jeremy Corbyn, the pro-New Labour grouping indifferent, even disbelieving, about the predations made by Tony Blair during[Read More…]

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Walkout in Hanoi: The Second Trump-Kim Summit

Walkout in Hanoi: The Second Trump-Kim Summit

“Sometimes you have to walk and this was one of those times.”  That was US President Donald Trump’s remark about something he has been doing a lot of lately: walking away from agreements or understandings in the hope of reaching the ultimate deal.  North Korea’s Kim Jong-un had been pressing his advantage in Hanoi with an attempt to convince Trump[Read More…]

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The Chagos Islands Case, WikiLeaks and Justice

The Chagos Islands Case, WikiLeaks and Justice

Let this be a lesson to its detractors, doubters and stuff shirts of the secrecy establishment: the documents sourced from WikiLeaks can have tangible, having significant value for ideas and causes. They can advance matters of the curious; they can confirm instances of the outrageous and they can add to those fabulous claims that might change history.  While Julian Assange[Read More…]

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Shifting the Centre of Gravity: Julian Assange Receives His Passport

Shifting the Centre of Gravity: Julian Assange Receives His Passport

In March 2008, one Michael Horvath of the US Army Counterintelligence Center within the Cyber Intelligence Assessments Branch considered the risks posed by WikiLeaks in a 32 page document.  Created under the auspices of the Department of Defence’s Intelligence Analysis Program.  The overview suggests, importantly, the interest shown in Assange by the defence wing of the United States at the[Read More…]

The Showbiz of Conservation: PETA, Google and Steve Irwin

The Showbiz of Conservation: PETA, Google and Steve Irwin

The world of conservation has thrown up various voices of tenacity.  There was Aldo Leopold, a vital figure behind establishing the first wilderness area of the United States when he convinced the Forest Service to protect some five hundred thousand acres of New Mexico’s Gila National Forest.  There was Robert Marshall, the founder of The Wilderness Society.  There was Rachel[Read More…]

Yulin, locating in Shenfu coalfield, together with Ordos and Shuozhou (ShanXi), is called the “Golden Triangle of Coal” in China. Shenmu is an important part of the Shaanbei Energy and Chemical Base. Since 2004, the economy had been developing dramatically thanks to its rich coal resource and was for the first time listed among “Top 100 Prosperous Counties in China” in 2008. Yulin has been tagged as “the Oriental Kuwait”.

Turning Screws: China’s Australian Coal Ban

Overly reliant economies are dangerously fragile things.  As it takes two parties, often more, to play the game, the absence of interest, or its withdrawal by one, can spell doom. The Australian economy has been talked up – by Australian economists and those more inclined to look at policy through the wrong end of a drain pipe – as becoming[Read More…]

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The Candidate Rides Again: The Bernie Sanders Re-Run

The Candidate Rides Again: The Bernie Sanders Re-Run

He could not stay away, and few could blame him.  Such political tendencies are nerves, conditions, diseases: eventually, we have to succumb to them.  Bernie Sanders has announced his intention to run for the White House in 2020.  It was as surprising as any statement about US inequality.  But what matters here is the crowd – and a large one[Read More…]

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Size Matters: The Demise of the A380

Size Matters: The Demise of the A380

The aircraft business has always been a dear affair.  More than other forms of transport, it remains susceptible to oscillating costs (materials, fuel), ever at the mercy of the uncontrollable.  The Airbus A380 was meant to be a giant’s contribution to aviation.  In time, its makers came to the conclusion that the bird had already flown. In the solemn words[Read More…]

Death by Video: Morrison Combats Refugees By Film

Death by Video: Morrison Combats Refugees By Film

Caught in the backwater of the world’s existence, Australia struggles for relevance in various ways.  It might show itself a leader in creating a sovereign fund (too late for that now); it might demonstrate, in various ways, a singular approach to solar energy (impossible, we are told, on that score).  Lacking a decent number of terrorist attacks, it feels left[Read More…]

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Sickness and Paranoia: The Morrison Government’s Refugee Problem

Sickness and Paranoia: The Morrison Government’s Refugee Problem

The passage of amendments to the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) by the Australian House of Representatives and the Senate this week was less a case of celebration than necessitous deliverance.  The mental wellbeing of asylum-seekers on Manus Island and Nauru, or lack thereof, has been documented extensively from Australian legal representatives to members of Médecins Sans Frontières. The Medevac Bill[Read More…]

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Means of Control: Russia’s Attempt to Hive Off the Internet

Means of Control: Russia’s Attempt to Hive Off the Internet

Such measures were always going to come on the heels, and heavily so, of the utopians.  Where there is Internet Utopia, Dystopia follows with dedicated cynicism.  Where there are untrammelled means of searching, there will be efforts to erect signposts, usually of a warning nature.  Like the librarian ever worried of her reader finding something inappropriate, material will be kept[Read More…]

Football, Refugee Rights and Hakeem al-Araibi

Football, Refugee Rights and Hakeem al-Araibi

“Al-Araibi’s case has become a crucial test of world football’s commitment to human rights.”  So observed the director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights at Monash University, Sarah Joseph, in a piece last month.  “Is this commitment real, or is it a public relations statement tossed aside when the going gets tough?” Joseph was inadvertently noting the institutional response[Read More…]

Unity and Exceptionalism: Trump’s State of Union Flurries

Unity and Exceptionalism: Trump’s State of Union Flurries

“Trump is hated by everyone,” comes one unnamed former official in an account to Vanity Fair, one supposedly sourced after the President’s State of the Union Address.  Another claimed that all was wretched in the White House: “It’s total misery. People feel trapped.”  Off record stuff, unnamed and, as ever, doing nothing to concern a leader whose interests have always[Read More…]

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Meeting in Moscow: The Taliban Meets the Afghan Opposition

Meeting in Moscow: The Taliban Meets the Afghan Opposition

It had the semblance of a play lacking key actors.  They were deemed the difficult ones, and a decision was made to go through with the performance.  The Taliban were willing to talk with their adversaries, but they were keen on doing so with opposition politicians rather than the stick-in-the-mud types in government led by the current President Ashraf Ghani. [Read More…]

Sharp Manias: Knife Crime in London

Sharp Manias: Knife Crime in London

London: A bleak London assailed by daily news about Brexit negotiation, prospects of food shortages and higher prices in the event of a no-deal with the European Union, provides the perfect apocalyptic backdrop for headlines. The city is ailing; the residents are panicked; and the authorities are gloomy. Such environments are ideal for talk about emergencies.  One doing much filling on[Read More…]

“Instagram Helped Kill My Daughter”: Censorship Tendencies in Social Media

“Instagram Helped Kill My Daughter”: Censorship Tendencies in Social Media

It is all a rather sorry tale.  Molly Russell, another teenager gorged on social media content, sharing and darkly revelling, took her own life in 2017 supposedly after viewing what the BBC described as “disturbing content about suicide on social media.”  Causation is presumed, and the platform hosting the content is saddled with blame. Molly’s father was not so much[Read More…]

Everybody Else’s Business: Coup Fever in Venezuela

Everybody Else’s Business: Coup Fever in Venezuela

This could have been seen as audacious.  Instead, it had the smell of a not so well concealed sponsorship, the backing of a meaty foreign hand.  Venezuelan opposition leader and President of the National Assembly Juan Guaidó decided to take a quick step in the direction of the presidency.  His own counterfeit theory is simple: he is not being a[Read More…]

Shutting Down in Trumpland

Shutting Down in Trumpland

It is a political idiosyncrasy that most political systems avoid: the state, as if suffering a stroke, operating at only partial capacity, incapable of paying certain employees and incapable of fronting certain services.  And so it is in the United States, which is facing the longest shut down in its history after the record set under the Clinton Presidency –[Read More…]

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Eyeing the White House: The Democratic Field

Eyeing the White House: The Democratic Field

Not so much hunting season as declaratory season in US politics.  The US presidential candidates from the Democratic side are making promises spiced with forced excitement in anticipation of the 2020 elections.  This early morning of the public holiday of Martin Luther King, Jr., US voters were given a spray of enthusiastic promises by yet another potential candidate for the[Read More…]

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Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent

Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent

The level of absurdity in US politics has now reached such vertigo inducing levels as to render all manner of things permissible.  Contact with the unwashed implies collaboration; discussion with the enemy implies assent.  To go to a dinner party with a perceived hostile force in the context of business of diplomacy has become a child’s condemnation of misplaced loyalties. [Read More…]

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Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion

Trump, Bolton and the Syrian Confusion

It’s a messy, though typical picture.  US President Donald Trump wants to pull out forces in Syria.  When announced in December, jaws drooped and sharp intakes of breath were registered through the Washington establishment.  Members of the military industrial complex were none too pleased.  The President had seemingly made his case clear: US blood and treasure will not be further[Read More…]

Dances of Disinformation: The Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative

Dances of Disinformation: The Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative

Is there such a plane of blissful, balanced information, deliberated and debated upon?  No.  Governments mangle; corporations distort.  Interest groups tinker.  Wars must be sold; deception must be perpetrated.  Inconsistencies must be removed.  There will be success, measured in small doses; failure, dispatched in grand servings.  The nature of news, hollow as it is, is to fill the next segment[Read More…]

Gabon and Coup Mania

Gabon and Coup Mania

It starts with a presumption, makes its way through a discussion, and becomes a set, moulded stereotype: Africa is the continent of tin pot dictatorships, unstable leaderships, and coups.  Latin America, attuned to brigandage and frontier mentalities, is not far behind.  Such instances lend themselves to the inevitable opportunity to exploit the exception.  Gabon, ruled by the same family without[Read More…]

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Biting into Apple: The Giant’s Revenues Fall

Biting into Apple: The Giant’s Revenues Fall

The worm has gotten into Apple, and is feasting with some consistency.  Revenue has fallen. Chief executive Tim Cook is cranky.  The celebrated front of Apple’s wealth – the iPhone with its range of glittering models – has not done as well as he would have hoped.  Dreams of conquering Cathay (or, in modern terms, the Chinese market) have not[Read More…]

Brexit Armageddon

Brexit Armageddon

London, New Year’s Eve 2018. It is a very English middle-class trait: the world will end if the price of a certain life style goes up.  Certain services will be cut.  Access to certain travel destinations might be restricted.  (The usual European haunts in France and Spain rendered dearer if not inaccessible.)  But there is no denying that the attitude[Read More…]

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Suspending Choice: The Patrick Melrose Series

Suspending Choice: The Patrick Melrose Series

Ashes, even when washed way, can haunt the living.  A cracked Patrick Melrose has come to retrieve the cremated remains of this late father. He is addicted, indulgent, outrageous. He drinks and doses to excess; his moments of brief sobriety are nothing more than painful interludes in poor living and self-inflicted disgrace.  Painful lucidity is tampered with; the moments he[Read More…]

The Hand that Won’t Sign the Paper: Adani’s Stalling Project

The Hand that Won’t Sign the Paper: Adani’s Stalling Project

It should be a sign for this Indian giant, a company that has done much to illustrate the ethical and moral bankruptcy in Australia’s political classes.  Despite support stretching from Canberra to rural Queensland, lifted by the fantasy of job creation,Adani is yet to dig the earth of what would have been one of the largest mining complexes on the[Read More…]

Cooking Books and Limiting Responsibility: The Goldman Sachs Playbook

Cooking Books and Limiting Responsibility: The Goldman Sachs Playbook

Managing a bank will always be a more lucrative criminal enterprise than raiding one but this Brechtian styled analysis only goes so far.  A closer look at the extraordinary nature of Goldman Sachs and its operations reveals not merely a bank but a flesh-eating cult of considerable proportion, brazen in its operations and indifferent to authorities.  While states have been[Read More…]

The Misuses of History: The Christmas 1914 Truce

The Misuses of History: The Christmas 1914 Truce

All memorialised events, when passing into mythology, must be seen critically.  In some cases, there should be more than a hint of suspicion.  The Christmas Truce of 1914 remains one sentimentalised occasion, remembered less to scold the mad mechanised forces of death led by regressive castes than to reflect upon common humanity. Common humanity, left to be butchered before the[Read More…]

Orbán’s Latest Dance

Orbán’s Latest Dance

Viktor Orbán of Hungary is not to be hectored to.  Arching with fury at the EU’s September motion to sanction Hungary for bad behaviour under the Article 7 process, he was resolved to ratchet things up.  The motion, while getting 448 votes concerned about judicial independence, corruption, freedom of expression, academic freedom, the rights and migrants, amongst others did have[Read More…]

Leaving Syria: President Trump’s Withdrawal

Leaving Syria: President Trump’s Withdrawal

“The President announced an apparently impulsive decision that shook the world, showed little sign of nuanced consideration, confounded top advisers and by the end of the day left Washington in chaos and confusion.”  So goes a typical contribution from CNN, this time by Stephen Collinson, pooh-poohing President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out some 2,000 US troops based in Syria.[Read More…]

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Agreed Rules, COP24 and Climate Change Protest

Agreed Rules, COP24 and Climate Change Protest

“If children can get headlines all over the world just by not going to school, then imagine what we can all do together if we really wanted to.” Greta Thunberg at COP24, Dec. 2018 The world, if it goes off in a burn, will do so courtesy of the rules – or their elastic interpretation.  It was a fine show[Read More…]

Tumblr and the Cult of the Safe

Tumblr and the Cult of the Safe

Be aware of the titty. Or pudenda. Or anything else suggesting a copulative angle familiar to most adults with a decent constituency of desire. The world of Tumblr, home of the expressive identity and sexual subculture, has shrunk before the pressings of those averse to the flesh, and much more besides.  The theocrats around the world will be proud; puritans[Read More…]

May Days in Britain

May Days in Britain

It is hard to envisage sympathy for a person who made a name as a home secretary (prisons, detentions, security and such) taking the mast and banner of her country before hopeless odds, but inadequate opponents will do that to you.  Vicious, venal and underdone, the enemies from within Theresa May’s own Tory ranks resemble the lazily angry, the fumingly[Read More…]

Having it All Ways: Scott Morrison’s Jerusalem “Compromise”

Having it All Ways: Scott Morrison’s Jerusalem “Compromise”

The pieces were already put in place during the Wentworth federal by-election, a hopeless, needless gambit that reduced the Coalition government’s majority whilst giving the outgoing Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull a crack at some vengeance.  His successor, Scott Morrison, decided to make himself a prisoner of policy in advance.   That prison cell, it transpired, was Australian policy towards Israel and[Read More…]

The Kosovo Blunder: Moves Towards a Standing Army

The Kosovo Blunder: Moves Towards a Standing Army

There never is a time not to worry in the Balkans.   The next conflict always seems to be peering around the corner with a malicious enthusiasm, eager to spring at points of demagogic advantage and personal suffering.  The centrepieces of future disaster in the region tend to be Kosovo and Bosnia.  The former is now intent on formalising military arrangements,[Read More…]

The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: The Conviction of Cardinal Pell

The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: The Conviction of Cardinal Pell

  “Freedom of the press in the world will cease to exist if a judge in one country is allowed to bar publication of information anywhere in the world.” Martin Baron, Executive Editor, The Washington Post, Dec 13, 2018 It had been shrouded in secrecy akin to the deepest conspiracy, but the trial of Cardinal George Pell, while not letting[Read More…]

William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate Passes Away

William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate Passes Away

In the incessant self-praise of the US imperial project, kept safe in a state of permanently enforced amnesia, occasional writings prod and puncture.  Mark Twain expressed an ashamed horror at the treatment of the Philippines; Ulysses Grant, despite being a victorious general of the Union forces in the Civil War and US president, could reflect that his country might, someday,[Read More…]

Seventy Years of Aspiration: Rights Charters and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Seventy Years of Aspiration: Rights Charters and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

It was a gathering of activists masquerading as deep thinkers.  Ostensibly, it was to celebrate seven decades of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, one devised in the aftermath of a traumatised world and easier to do so for that fact. But this gathering on Lonsdale Street, Melbourne which featured irritatingly optimistic speakers showed the lamentable weaknesses in the human[Read More…]

Exhuming Franco: Spain’s Immemorial Divisions

Exhuming Franco: Spain’s Immemorial Divisions

“Of course there’s one Spain.  If there was another, we’d all be in that one.” Joke on Franco’s Spain, in London Review of Books, 37, July, 2015 Beware the corpse that never truly expires.  General Francisco Franco might well be entombed in the Valley of the Fallen (Valle de los Caídos) – at least for the moment – but his[Read More…]

The Security Derangement Complex: Technology Companies and Australia’s Anti-Encryption Law

The Security Derangement Complex: Technology Companies and Australia’s Anti-Encryption Law

Australia is being seen as a test case. How does a liberal democracy affirm the destruction of private, encrypted communications? In 2015, China demonstrated what could be done to technology companies, equipping other states with an inspiration: encryption keys, when required, could be surrendered to the authorities. It is worth remembering the feeble justification then, as now.  As Li Shouwei,[Read More…]

In Contempt of Parliament: The Legal Advice of Brexit

In Contempt of Parliament: The Legal Advice of Brexit

It is attrition, suffocation and contortion.  While Theresa May’s Brexit program, weak, compromising and cobbled as it is, endures that bit longer, her opponents from within and without government have been essentially undercutting her on various fronts. Foppish and solutions-free Boris Johnson does so from the perspective that the May program as it has been agreed to with the EU[Read More…]

George H.W. Bush: Cold War Ends and New World Orders

George H.W. Bush: Cold War Ends and New World Orders

The death of certain political figures, notably those of a vast imperium, is bound to provoke less criticism or critical insight than soul searching pursuits.  With the US in the mauling clutches of Donald J. Trump, the nightmare that was supposedly never to happen, nostalgia prevails in establishment circles.  What ever happened to traditional duplicity and dynasty politicians, with their[Read More…]

Journey into Obsolescence: The Adani Carmichael Project

Journey into Obsolescence: The Adani Carmichael Project

The Carmichael mine being pursued in the Galilee Basin in Central Queensland is a dinosaur before its creation.  On paper, it is hefty – to be some five times the size of Sydney harbour, the largest in Australia and one of the largest on the planet.  Six open cut and five underground mines covering some 30 kilometres are proposed, a[Read More…]

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Mutual Decline: The Failings of Student Evaluations

Mutual Decline: The Failings of Student Evaluations

That time of the year.  Student evaluations are being gathered by the data crunchers.  Participation rates are being noted.  Attitudes and responses are mapped.  The vulnerable, insecure instructor, fearing an execution squad via email, looks apprehensively at comments in the attached folder that will, in all likelihood, devastate rather than reward.  “Too much teaching matter”; “Too heavy in content”; “Too[Read More…]

Eyes Without The Prize: Stripping Aung San Suu Kyi’s Awards

Eyes Without The Prize: Stripping Aung San Suu Kyi’s Awards

It is impossible to see peace prize or freedom awards as anything other than fragments of an industry.  In time, ideals become marketable and matters of commodity. Those who go against this market rationale face the fires of moral outrage.  The business of promoting peace in the wrapping of human rights protections is its own market, with false advertising.  It[Read More…]

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White House chief strategist Steve Bannon listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with county sheriffs in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. After saying she'd like to play Bannon on "Saturday Night Live," Rosie O'Donnell has apparently changed her Twitter profile picture to make herself look like him. O'Donnell's offer to play Bannon came after actress Melissa McCarthy's caustic portrayal of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on "SNL" last
Trump, Washington, USA - 04 Feb 2017

Steve Bannon at Oxford

Steve Bannon.  The Oxford Union.  A university that has been the breeding, sculpting and minting ground for British prime ministers for centuries and the Establishment.  Here, Bannon, strategist of the Trump campaign in 2016, was in full swing, spearing his enemies and mocking the elite with an approach he has come to master.  The audience was hushed, bewildered, even stunned.  [Read More…]

Coming Up Against Yellow Vests: Emmanuel Macron’s Fuel Problem

Coming Up Against Yellow Vests: Emmanuel Macron’s Fuel Problem

Governments and ruling regimes tend to face revolution in the face of harsh hikes in prices. Margaret Thatcher’s rule in Britain was rocked by the poll tax.  In France, the once enthusiastically embraced Emmanuel Macron has decided to leave the ground rich with challenges against his administration. The Yellow Vests, the gilet jaunes, have decided to take up the chance[Read More…]

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Bringing God and Finding Death: A Christian Missionary on North Sentinel Island

Bringing God and Finding Death: A Christian Missionary on North Sentinel Island

Curiosity for the undiscovered last tribe, that tantalising moment when eyes are cast upon the previously unseen, remains the anthropological Holy Grail.  But to do so would lead to the natural consequences that come with contact and invasion: the foisting of an alien divinity upon others, most probably a monotheistic Sky God, whose grammatically challenged invocations are found in a[Read More…]

Forgetting Jamal Khashoggi: Donald Trump, Saudi Arabia and Brute Realism

Forgetting Jamal Khashoggi: Donald Trump, Saudi Arabia and Brute Realism

“I never thought I’d see the day a White House would moonlight as a public relations firm for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.” Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), Twitter, Nov 20, 2018 Accused of being mendacious, incapable of holding to a foundation of facts and indifferent to the world of evidence, President Donald J. Trump has stumped international relations watchers[Read More…]

The Jerusalem Tangle: ScoMo’s Recognition Policy Stumbles

The Jerusalem Tangle: ScoMo’s Recognition Policy Stumbles

Jerusalem, deemed a holy city, and seen as trade item, bargaining chip and bartering tool over the centuries.  Sought by the major faiths, despoiled at stages by various empires, revived and chalice of poison in international law.  Australia’s Scott Morrison, charmless in his ignorance, has come to realise the problems of relocating the Australian embassy from Tel Aviv Jerusalem. International[Read More…]

The Disgruntled Former Prime Minister

The Disgruntled Former Prime Minister

The disgruntled former prime minister is a rather large, and growing club, on the Australian scene.  The country has become known for its killing seasons, those occasions when spear wielding apparatchiks within respective political parties feel the need to execute (politically speaking) their leaders in hurried fashion. Those leaders, in turn, seek revenge and catharsis.  None, it seems, seek obscurity,[Read More…]

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Remembering the Peace Makers: What the Armistice Commemorations Forgot

Remembering the Peace Makers: What the Armistice Commemorations Forgot

Those in the war industry and the business of commemorating the dead have little time for peace, even as they supposedly celebrate it. For them, peace is the enemy as much as armed opposing combatants, if not more so. Dr Brendan Nelson of the Australian War Memorial is every bit the propagandist in this regard, encased in armour of permanent[Read More…]

Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take

Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take

President Donald J. Trump has a special, strained take on the world.  Defeat is simply victory viewed in slanted terms.  Victory for the other side is defeat elaborately clothed.  Both views stand, and these alternate with a mind bending disturbance that has thrown the sceptics off any credible scent.  “It wasn’t me being slow,” came Frank Bruni’s lamentation in The[Read More…]

Politicised Victimhood: Ukraine’s Holodomor, Genocide and Intent

Politicised Victimhood: Ukraine’s Holodomor, Genocide and Intent

The impression hits you immediately.  An opening of an exhibition held to commemorate survivors and families of one of the darker atrocities of human experiments; and it features ample food and wine.  The commemorative occasion, however, was in stark contrast to the mass starvation that led to the deaths of millions in the Soviet Union’s drive to collectivise farming in[Read More…]

Shark Attack: Fearing Monsters in the Whitsundays

Shark Attack: Fearing Monsters in the Whitsundays

It begins with a gruesome account: a tourist, paddleboarding and swimming in an idyllic setting baked by sun – in this case, Cid Harbour in the Whitsundays, Queensland – attacked by a shark.  He suffers a massive loss of blood; he goes into cardiac arrest.  The accounts that follow are just as predictable as the consequences of the shark’s work:[Read More…]

Masquerading Reforms: The Tricks of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Masquerading Reforms: The Tricks of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

The surgical dismembering of Jamal Khashoggi has sent the military establishments of several countries into a tizz.   Arms manufacturers are wondering whether this is an inconvenient blip, a ruffling moral reminder about what they are dealing with.  Autocratic regimes indifferent to the lives of journalists are wondering whether the fuss taken about all this is merely the fuss endured, till[Read More…]

Closing Loopholes: Taxing the Digital Giants

Closing Loopholes: Taxing the Digital Giants

The treasurers of various countries seem to be stumbling over each other in the effort, but taxing the digital behemoths has become something of an obsession, the gold standard for those wishing to add revenue to state coffers.  Back in May, when Australia’s then treasurer Scott Morrison oversaw the purse strings of the country, it was declared that, “The new[Read More…]

Losing Users: Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Problems

Losing Users: Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Problems

His detractors and enemies have been waiting some time for this, but it must have given them moments of mild cheer.  Facebook, the all-gazing, accumulating system of personal profiles and information, poster child, in fact, of surveillance capitalism, is losing users. At the very least, it is falling to that mild phenomenon in business speak called “flat-lining”, a deceptively benign[Read More…]

Angela Merkel’s Last Days

Angela Merkel’s Last Days

Cultural compilations such as James Frazer’s The Golden Bough are rich with these accounts: the high priest or leader of a tribe, whose lengthy tenure is wearing thin, is set for the sacrifice, either through ritual or being overthrown by another member.  The crops have failed; a drought is taking place.  The period of rule has ended; the time for[Read More…]

TOPSHOT - Brazil's right-wing presidential candidate for the Social Liberal Party (PSL) Jair Bolsonaro (C) gestures flanked by his son and Rio de Janeiro's elected Senator Flavio Bolsonaro (L) and the president of the Social Liberal Party (PSL) Gustavo Bebianno during a press conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on October 11, 2018. - The far-right frontrunner to be Brazil's next president, Jair Bolsonaro, stumbled Wednesday by spooking previously supportive investors, while a spate of violent incidents pointed to deep polarization caused by the election race. (Photo by Mauro Pimentel / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MAURO PIMENTEL/AFP/Getty Images)

Moving Right in Brazil: The Rise of Jair Bolsonaro

Moving left has been a Brazilian political tendency for some time, a tendency affirmed through the 1990s and 2000s with the presidential administrations of Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.  But this is the same country also famed for its share of murderous military dictatorships and political convulsions.  The worm would eventually turn. Between 1964 and 1985,[Read More…]

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Julian Assange, Ecuador and the Dangers of Farce

Julian Assange, Ecuador and the Dangers of Farce

This is the next stage of the Julian Assange chronicles: from the summit of information disclosures and meddlesome revelations on classified state matters, the Australian rabblerouser now finds himself the subject of a new round of jokes and ribbing.  WikiLeaks, in short, must be wary of the dangers posed by a new campaign of farce. Satire, humour and ad hominem[Read More…]

The Arms Behind the Invictus Games

The Arms Behind the Invictus Games

The origins of the Invictus Games (“For our Wounded Warriors,” goes the slogan) lies in war.  Wars that crippled and caused depression and despair. The games became a project of grand distraction and worth, a form of emotional bread for servicemen and women.  Do not let wounds, mental or physical, deter you.  Move to the spirit of William Ernest Henley,[Read More…]

The Saudi Arabian Model: Blueprints for Murder and Purchasing Arms

The Saudi Arabian Model: Blueprints for Murder and Purchasing Arms

It reads like a swaying narrative of retreat.  A man’s body is subjected to a gruesome anatomical fate, his parts separated by a specially appointed saw doctor – an expert in the rapid autopsy – overseen by a distinctly large number of individuals.  Surveillance cameras had improbably failed that day.  We are not sure where, along the line, the torturers[Read More…]

Denials Down Under: Climate Change and Health

Denials Down Under: Climate Change and Health

Richard Horton’s note in an October 2015 issue of The Lancet was cautiously optimistic.  It described the launch of Doctors for Climate Change Action, led by the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) in the lead-up to the UN Climate Change Conference COP21.  The initiative had arisen from a statement endorsed by a range of medical and international health organisations[Read More…]

Ditching Nuclear Treaties: Trump Withdraws from the INF

Ditching Nuclear Treaties: Trump Withdraws from the INF

President Donald J. Trump has made it his signature move to repudiate the signatures of others, and the latest, promised evacuation from the old US-Soviet pact otherwise known as the intermediate range nuclear forces (INF) treaty was merely another artefact to be abandoned. When it came into force after 1987, it banned ground-launched short- and medium-range missiles within the range[Read More…]

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Wentworth Blues: Another Nail in the Scomo Coffin

Wentworth Blues: Another Nail in the Scomo Coffin

A sign of desperation before the firing squad is jitteriness and the desperate sense that history needs revision.  You were not the one responsible for the debacles and the cockups; everybody and everything else was.  You knew who was guilty, and needed to tell everybody about it.  You bluster, you boast and you stumble; you look more buffoon than statesman;[Read More…]

Leaking for Change: ASIO, Jakarta, and Australia’s Jerusalem Problem

Leaking for Change: ASIO, Jakarta, and Australia’s Jerusalem Problem

Politics can, after a time, becomes a myopic exercise of expedient measures and desperate hope.  Politics, raw and crude, is at its best at points where survival matters. Conversely, it can illustrate human vices in raw fashion, low points of idiocy and the disaster of folly. The Morrison government in Australia risks succumbing to another march of folly.  Having arisen[Read More…]

Vanquishing the Republic: Harry and Meghan in Australia

Vanquishing the Republic: Harry and Meghan in Australia

“The establishment of a republic… means insurrectionary war, it means the desolation of a thousand households.  When the question shall arise, it will be determined… by balls from cannon and from musket, by grape and shrapnel, by bayonet and by the sword.” Sir Alfred Stephen, NSW Legislative Council , June 16, 1887 The republic has tended to be a dormant[Read More…]

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Embassy Disappearances: Jamal Khashoggi and the Foreign Policy Web

Embassy Disappearances: Jamal Khashoggi and the Foreign Policy Web

“Do this outside. You will put me into trouble.” Mohammad al-Otaibi, Saudi consul, to Saudi agents, Istanbul, October 2, 2018 It smells, but anything wedged between the putrefaction of Saudi foreign policy, the ambition of Turkish bellicosity, and the US muddling middleman is bound to.  Three powers tussling over image and appearance; all engaged in a wrestle over how best[Read More…]

DNA in Trumpland: Elizabeth Warren’s Native American Dance

DNA in Trumpland: Elizabeth Warren’s Native American Dance

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) made a fundamental error in chasing the coattails of DNA provenance as a response to the jibes of US President Donald J. Trump.  She had been derided by the president as an ordinary “Pocahontas”, and promised at a July 5 rally in Montana a million dollars “to your favourite charity, paid for by Trump, if you[Read More…]

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The Tyranny of Fashion: Shredding Banksy

The Tyranny of Fashion: Shredding Banksy

The modern art world is filled with pranks and pranksters, the clowns who have decided that play counts for art.  Brattish artists foist a range of projects and conceptual themes upon art galleries who, foolishly, see emperors decked in the finest wear. They refuse to consider that the wear is absent, an expensive mirage that tells to an old tale[Read More…]

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Agents of Chaos: Trump, the Federal Reserve and Andrew Jackson

“It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes.” President Andrew Jackson, Washington, July 10, 1832 They are three players, all problematic in their own way.  They are the creatures of inconvenient chaos.  Donald Trump was born into the role, a misfit of misrule who found his baffling[Read More…]

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Evacuating Nauru: Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia’s Refugee Dilemma

Evacuating Nauru: Médecins Sans Frontières and Australia’s Refugee Dilemma

It is an organisation not without its problems. Conceived in the heat of idealism, and promoted as the vanguard of medical rescue and human rights advocacy, Médecins Sans Frontières has had its faults.  Its co-founder Bernard Kouchner went a bit awry when he turned such advocacy into full blown interventionism.  As Nicolas Sarkozy’s foreign minister, his conversion to politicised interventionism[Read More…]

The Sessional Curse: Universities and the Casual Work Force

The Sessional Curse: Universities and the Casual Work Force

Universities have become bastions of sessional torment, feeding grounds for despair.  The term “sessional” is merely a euphemised way of describing an academic employee who has no ongoing employment other than what is offered, a person ever at the mercy of the subject or course coordinator of a department.  They are the toiling poor, the barrel scrapers, the trudged upon[Read More…]

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Orson Welles, Broadcasts and Fake News

Orson Welles, Broadcasts and Fake News

Orson Welles’ spectral return to the screen, ingeniously in posthumous mode, should have come as a comfort to the magicians skilled in the arts of trickery.  Beyond the grave, he seems to be exerting a continuing influence, with his film, The Other Side of the Wind making its debut after 48 torrid years at the Telluride Film Festival.  His delight[Read More…]

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Barely Breathing: May’s Gasping Premiership

Barely Breathing: May’s Gasping Premiership

The Boris Johnson storm, beating away at the British Prime Minister’s doors with an ancient fury, has been stayed for the moment in the wake of the Conservative Party Conference held at Birmingham last week.  While the potential usurper batters away on the domestic front with red faced enthusiasm, Theresa May faces the impossible sell: convincing the European Union that[Read More…]

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Australian Complicity: Nauru and Silencing Journalism

Australian Complicity: Nauru and Silencing Journalism

Journalism is getting something of a battering in Australia.  At the parliamentary level, laws have passed that would be inimical to any tradition versed in the bill of rights.  (Australia, not having such a restraining instrument on political zeal, can only rely on the bumbling wisdom of its representatives.) At the executive level, deals have been brokered between Canberra and[Read More…]

Limiting Israel:  Russia’s Deploys the S-300 to Syria

Limiting Israel:  Russia’s Deploys the S-300 to Syria

Relations between Russia and Israel have been those of an estranged couple punctuated by occasional breakouts of tense understanding.  As with other such couples, a public row does not necessarily reflect the more placid, if stern discussion that might happen behind closed doors. On the public side of things, Russia’s decision to deploy the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Syria[Read More…]

Nostalgia and Sunshine: Bruce Beresford’s Ladies in Black

Nostalgia and Sunshine: Bruce Beresford’s Ladies in Black

This effort seems to be a bit of camping out on the part of director Bruce Beresford, whose list of cinematic achievements include Driving Miss Daisy and Breaker Morant.  There are many smiles, a few distributed tears and occasional sighs of regret, but generally speaking, little by way of controversial stings.  Ladies in Black, in other words, is all entertainment[Read More…]

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Tortured Solutions: Ecuador, the UK and Julian Assange’s Fate

Tortured Solutions: Ecuador, the UK and Julian Assange’s Fate

The pulse of negotiations, a flurry of communications, and the person central to this is one who threatens to go nowhere – for the moment.  But go somewhere these parties would wish Julian Assange to do.  For six years, cramped within a space in London a stone’s throw away from Harrods, one he has made his tenuous home, a citadel[Read More…]

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Augmenting Brains: Google Turns Twenty

Augmenting Brains: Google Turns Twenty

  “Eventually you’ll have the implant, where if you think about a fact, it will just tell you an answer.” Larry Page, co-founder of Google The Verge starts with a statement that has become commonplace, the compulsory nod to power one has come to expect when engaged with that whole mammoth enterprise known as Google.  “No technology company is arguably[Read More…]

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Feeding Militarism: The US Imperial Consensus

Feeding Militarism: The US Imperial Consensus

The US military industrial complex reigns like a ravenous ruler in search of new funding prospects. It has done well this year, with the Trump administration pushing the sale that the imperium needs more ruddy cash and indulgent expenditure to cope with all manner of evils.  Empire must be without equal. The dissenters to this program have been pitiably small,[Read More…]

Parasitic and Irrelevant: The University Vice Chancellor

Parasitic and Irrelevant: The University Vice Chancellor

They are some of the most remunerated officials of one of Australia’s most importantly lucrative sectors, drawing huge “packages”, as they are termed, for little more than ribbon cutting, attending meetings and overseeing policies that, if implemented, will have to be reversed at some point. The modern university is neither corporation nor government agency. But it has the worst elements[Read More…]

Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama

Casting Kavanaugh: The Trump Supreme Court Drama

Stage set Washington.  Object: adulterating power.  The arm of government: the judiciary.  That particular group of high ranking paladins remains up in the air as US Supreme Court appointee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh floats around in a stage of grinding limbo, as sexual allegations made start to bite.  This purgatorial state promises to resolve itself next week. Palo Alto professor[Read More…]

The Pathology of Mass Surveillance: The UK, Bulk Interception and the European Court of Human Rights

The Pathology of Mass Surveillance: The UK, Bulk Interception and the European Court of Human Rights

It’s fitting that the same society that produced George Orwell with his warnings of a totalitarian dystopia stacked with all-prying monitors, surveillance and paranoia should yield up some of the most invasive surveillance regimes imaginable.  While some states have found the revelations from Edward Snowden the sort that should initiate, at the very least, modest changes, the United Kingdom preferred[Read More…]

Deplatforming Germaine Greer

Deplatforming Germaine Greer

The flexibility of English, and thriving sign that it is not a dead language, permits repeated atrocities to be committed in the name of new terms.  We are told that what is new is supposedly good, a sign of evolution. More accurately, such terms simply describe an old phenomenon, giving the false impression that the novel has appeared before the[Read More…]

Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under

Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under

There is something peculiar doing the rounds in Australian food circles.  The land down under, considered something of a nirvana of fruit and vegetable production despite horrendous droughts and calamitous cyclones, is facing a new challenge: human agency, namely in the form of despoliation of strawberries. The results have knocked Australia’s highly concentrated supermarket chains, with both Coles and Aldi[Read More…]

The Woes of Climate Change States

The Woes of Climate Change States

As Australia’s tattered yet new government, led by the increasingly oafish and amateurish Scott Morrison trundled into its post-climate phase, states which see their existence as dependent on the cutting of carbon emissions have been more than a touch concerned. Their reality remains divorced from the paper clip conspiracies of Canberra and the energy cliques obsessed with cutting prices. Morrison’s[Read More…]

A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats

A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats

Sweden’s elections are normally dull affairs. The same political arrangements have been in place for decades, featuring mild oscillations around the centre between the green-red bloc (Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left Party) and the conservative Alliance (the Moderates, Christian Democrats and the Centre and Liberal Parties). The favoured line for political watchers of Sweden is standard.  Few monumental[Read More…]

Doctrines of Impunity: John Bolton and the ICC

Doctrines of Impunity: John Bolton and the ICC

The Trump administration’s national security advisor John Bolton has never been a fan of international law, a concept he has found, at best, rubbery.  Any institution supposedly guided by its spirit was bound to draw the ire of both his temper and temperament.  Before members of the Federalist Society on Monday, Bolton took to the pulpit with a fury reserved[Read More…]

The Natural Enemy: Serena Williams and the Sporting Umpire

The Natural Enemy: Serena Williams and the Sporting Umpire

Should it matter this much?  A wealthy, successful individual expressed fury at the most popular object of vitriol in any sport. The umpire or referee is only ever neutral in the eyes of a falsely contrived standard: that someone must be objective, neutral and mindful of enforcing the rules of the game.  In the eyes of the player, the figure[Read More…]

Tory Kafuffles: Boris Johnson, Brexit and Suicide Vests

Tory Kafuffles: Boris Johnson, Brexit and Suicide Vests

The next blow in Boris Johnson’s chapter of political suicide has been made: a piece in the Mail on Sunday which supplied him ample room to take yet another shot at the ghostly British prime minister, Theresa May.  There was nothing new in it; everybody knew what Johnson’s views were, and the position he had taken since hyperventilating over July’s[Read More…]

Traditional Fantasies: US designs on Venezuela

Traditional Fantasies: US designs on Venezuela

The irresistible allure of invasion and interference has never been far from US law makers.  The imperium needs its regular feed and what a feed it has been over the decades, notably within the sphere of influence discomfortingly termed Washington’s backyard.  The current US president has shown himself a keen follower of the idea that the US military, that old,[Read More…]

Fraser Anning and the Smugness of Australian “Values”

Fraser Anning and the Smugness of Australian “Values”

Be wary of the self-satisfied and morally soothed.  The complacent have a habit of giving the game away, glorifying themselves in satisfied satiation. Australia’s parliament seemed to be very self-congratulatory in their condemnation of the newly arrived Senator of the Katter Australia Party, Fraser Anning.  Last month, the rough, seemingly untutored Anning became the convenient freak show for his fellow[Read More…]

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 17: (EUROPE AND AUSTRALASIA OUT) American legal clerk and environmental activist, Erin Brockovich poses during a photo shoot at the Stamford Hotel on February 17, 2015 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Jamie Hanson/Newspix/Getty Images)

Battling Contamination: Erin Brockovich Down Under

The Australian press have been in a state of drooling ecstasy.  Part of it is because Australia can be relevant, however negative it might be, to their monster cousin, defender and protector known as the United States.  This time, its cultural – in the legal sense.  Erin Brockovich has found herself doing the media rounds on yet another legal project,[Read More…]

The Carnival of Homelessness: How the Filthy Rich React

The Carnival of Homelessness: How the Filthy Rich React

An aggressive sign of an affluent society can usually be gauged by its invidious misuse of its privilege.  Poverty is deemed necessary, and the rich must try to understand it.  To be privileged is to be guilty, a tickling of the conscience as the pennies pile up and the assets grow; and from that premise, efforts must be made to[Read More…]

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Banning Chelsea Manning: The Dubious Tests of Character

Banning Chelsea Manning: The Dubious Tests of Character

National security advocates have been crotchety ever since the release of Chelsea Manning for a sentence they hoped would go the full, crushing 35 years.  Her sins were intimately tied up with making WikiLeaks the publisher of fame, less than fortune: the disclosure of 750,000 classified diplomatic and military documents which revealed, to various degrees, the inner workings of the[Read More…]

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Repudiating the Global Commons: Trump’s Militarisation of Space

Repudiating the Global Commons: Trump’s Militarisation of Space

In international law, a category regarded by certain legal philosophers as non-existent (there being no overarching sovereign to police it), aspirations reign like obstinate fantasies. The 1967 Outer Space Treaty is one such example, decorated by such expressions as outer space being the “province of all mankind” (Art. 1), with the “common interest of all mankind in the progress of[Read More…]

John McCain’s Imperial Complex

John McCain’s Imperial Complex

Obituaries are not the best places to identify faults unless they assume the form of a hatchet job.  The opposite is more often the case: worshipful and respectful to the point of being cloying.  As the tears dry, and the sobs of reflection pass, the figure transmogrifies.  For a politician, aspects of the hero are sketched out, crumples and creases[Read More…]

Sodding the Australian Voter: Accidental Prime Ministers and Political Indulgence

Sodding the Australian Voter: Accidental Prime Ministers and Political Indulgence

It is a continuation of Malcolm Turnbull by other means.  The new Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison and his freshly appointed Deputy, Josh Frydenberg have ensured that the “insurgents”, as Turnbull deemed them, did not come through. Both were respective architects – failed ones at that – of the company tax plan, voted down in the Senate, and the[Read More…]

Cultures of Death: Pope Francis, Apology and Child Abuse

Cultures of Death: Pope Francis, Apology and Child Abuse

It was long overdue, but Pope Francis’s letter of condemnation and apology regarding the abuse of children by Catholic priests did sent a few ripples of comfort and reckoning.  He conceded that the Church “showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them”.  He acknowledged the “heart-wrenching pain” of the victims who had been assaulted by the clerical class,[Read More…]

Prime Ministerial Chaos: Turnbull’s Last Days

Prime Ministerial Chaos: Turnbull’s Last Days

No one is in charge in Australia.  Monday’s leadership challenge by Home Affairs minister, the potato-headed former police officer Peter Dutton, was cutting enough to leave Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull a wounded animal.  The 48 to 35 margin of victory demonstrated the sheer degree of disaffection for the leadership within party ranks, and risks keeping that unenviable record of no[Read More…]

Charisma and Banality: Kofi Annan and the UN

Charisma and Banality: Kofi Annan and the UN

Being the head of a creature essentially without spine, and, even more to the point, with vague form, must be something of a challenge.  Part of the failing of the United Nations probably lies in its disparate existence, a scattered composition of bureaucratic entities that, when they come together, supply a perfect picture of inertia.  (Perhaps for the best: a[Read More…]

Readying Knives: The Mortality of Australian Prime Ministers

Readying Knives: The Mortality of Australian Prime Ministers

The opinion poll prime ministership is a modern Australian disease.  Not only does it suggest an ailing in the Westminster system, but a profound contempt for the democratic sensibility on the part of party representatives, hacks and the industry that supports them.  Prime Ministers are merely the icing, to be whipped off and replaced on going stale.  Little wonder that[Read More…]

Finding Fault and Faulty Infrastructure: Genoa’s Morandi Bridge Disaster

Finding Fault and Faulty Infrastructure: Genoa’s Morandi Bridge Disaster

Bridges are the great symbols of human connection. They suggest a certain animal pride in the human race, a technological capacity to trick, and even subordinate nature.  Across ravines, rivers and bodies of space, the bridge suggests the raising and linking of the miraculous, a suspension that facilitates contact and speed.  They also suggest power, triumph, and continuity. Little wonder[Read More…]

Great Barrier Reef Politics

Great Barrier Reef Politics

Australia’s environment has been in precarious hands since European settlement found its lengthy and persistent way to the continent.  It has been mined, mauled, drained, farmed, deforested and despoiled at a rate that was only restrained by the size of its small but rapacious populace.  When environmental matters have made an appearance, they have done so with a veil of[Read More…]

Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne loses to Vienna

Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne loses to Vienna

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has gone about its annual business of releasing its World’s Most Liveable City index, the sort of flotsam that matters less to urban planners than hedge-fund managers.  The previous seven time winner had been Melbourne, whose supposed ascendancy had been threatened, at points, by Vancouver and Vienna. Now, the Austrian capital has assumed the mantle,[Read More…]

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Using the Burka: Boris Johnson’s Bid for Popularity

Using the Burka: Boris Johnson’s Bid for Popularity

Comedy, Boris Johnson, and the Tories – these three share a certain comforting, if chaotic affinity, lobbed together in some nightmarish union that risks consuming itself.  But times are serious – profoundly so, we are told: Brexit exercises the nerves as if Britannia were a patient about to expire, and there is the cultural irritation posed by those naughty elements[Read More…]

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Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship

Authoritarian Revocations: Australia, Terrorism and Citizenship

Contrary to any popular perceptions of Australia’s legal system, a dislike of rights reigns with pious conviction on both sides of the political aisle.  Rights are the stuff of nonsense and nuisance, revocable for those deemed undesirable. The Australian constitution, a heavily dull document, remains silent on many important liberties; the common law is relied upon to fill in gaps[Read More…]

Banning Alex Jones and Infowars

Banning Alex Jones and Infowars

He is treated as the bogeyman of conspiracy entertainment, and Alex Jones has become a prominent figure for advancing a host of unsavoury views. High on his list of incendiaries is the claim that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting never took place and was the work of paid fantasists, with the victims’ parents being “crisis actors”. “Sandy Hook,” went[Read More…]

The Non-University and the Manager     

The Non-University and the Manager     

           We have been seeing over the last few decades the birth of the non-university, an institution hollowed out of its seminal functions: teaching and scholarship.  Such an institution emphasises the functions of commerce and branding not dissimilar to the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (Dutch East India Company), dedicated to goods and services and the establishment of[Read More…]

The Lasting Condition: Drought in Australia

The Lasting Condition: Drought in Australia

Humans are a funny species.  They create settlements along fault lines that, on moving, can create catastrophe, killing thousands.  They construct homes facing rivers that will, at some point, break their banks, carrying of their precious property.  Importantly, they return in the aftermath.  Existence continues. The same follows certain settlements of parts of the planet where hostile, environmental conditions discourage[Read More…]

Trillion Dollar Companies: The Apple Empire and Concentrated Markets

Trillion Dollar Companies: The Apple Empire and Concentrated Markets

It seems a distant reality, or nightmare now: a company that was near defunct in 1996, now finding itself at the imperial pinnacle of the corporate ladder.  Then, publications were mournful and reflective about the corporation that gave us the Apple Computer.  An icon had fallen into disrepair.  Then came the renovations, the Steve Jobs retooling and sexed-up products of[Read More…]

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Fought to the Table: Talks with the Taliban

Fought to the Table: Talks with the Taliban

“Attempting to control rural areas in Afghanistan always eventually ends up boiling down to personal survival.” Evan McAllister, former Marine staff sergeant, New York Times, July 28, 2018 It genuinely doesn’t matter how the security boffins within the Pentagon frame it: the Taliban have fought the United States, through sheer will of force and mania, to the negotiating table –[Read More…]

Thriving on Dark Web: The My Health Record and Data Insecurity

Thriving on Dark Web: The My Health Record and Data Insecurity

Data is rarely inert.  It moves, finds itself diverting, adjusting and adapting to users and distributors. Ultimately, as unspectacular and banal as it might be, data sells, pushing the price in various markets whoever wishes to access it.  Medical data, given its abundance, can do very nicely in such domains as the Dark Web.  With governments attempting to find the[Read More…]

The Death of the Investigative Journalist: Channel Nine’s Takeover of Fairfax

The Death of the Investigative Journalist: Channel Nine’s Takeover of Fairfax

The Yes Minister series portraying the skulduggery of Whitehall during the Thatcher years throws up a salient reminder how certain things do not mix.  Should the art portfolio be slotted alongside television?  Probably not, but politics is politics. Civil servants will intrigue and seek to influence the minister of the day for their own advancement.  The minister either resists or[Read More…]

Plans for Attack: US Plans for Striking Iran

Plans for Attack: US Plans for Striking Iran

The world of the terrifying hypothetical is programmatically standard in the Trump White House.  Periods of tense calm are followed by careless flights of fury, digs and remonstrations.  Mortal enemies become amenable comrades; reliable allies turn into irresponsible skinflints who ought to fork our more for their defence. For all that swirling chaos, the one constant since the 2016 election[Read More…]

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Findings and Non-Findings: The MH370 Report

Findings and Non-Findings: The MH370 Report

It does little to allay the grief of relatives and friends, but the MH370 report on the doomed, and ever spectral Malaysian passenger liner merely added smidgens of further speculation.  The report from Malaysian authorities into the disappearance of the Boeing 777 on route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, 2014 will do little to contain the fever[Read More…]

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Embellishing Crime: Melbourne’s “African Gang” Problem

Embellishing Crime: Melbourne’s “African Gang” Problem

Always trust the handy anecdote to overwhelm reality with force and false persuasiveness.  The taxi driver irate at the latest opportunistic scribble in a Rupert Murdoch rag is bound to regale you with a story as you speed to the airport: “Those bloody gangs.  And the police didn’t even bloody mention they were African!”  A vital canon of reactionary politics[Read More…]

Electing the Cornered Tiger: Imran Khan in Pakistani Politics

Electing the Cornered Tiger: Imran Khan in Pakistani Politics

Tariq Ali, whilst having a lunch in Knightsbridge with the Pakistani cricket colossus, Imran Khan, suggested that retirement should not be too problematic for him.  (Khan had seemed gloomy, deep in thought about post-retirement prospects at the age of 30.)  Consider, posed Ali, film, or at the very least funding for a film institute.  “You could be an enabler or[Read More…]

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The Middle Man: The Jurisprudence of Justice Anthony Kennedy

The Middle Man: The Jurisprudence of Justice Anthony Kennedy

“At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”  This near-kitsch description comes from Justice Anthony Kennedy, US Supreme Court justice whose resignation sent Democrats screeching and Republicans chortling with opportunity. There was a general registered lament from the fearful that Justice[Read More…]

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Conferencing, Extortion and IPSA 2018: The Meat Market of the World Congress

Conferencing, Extortion and IPSA 2018: The Meat Market of the World Congress

It may well go down as one of the most appalling conferences in the history of the International Political Science Association.  The World Congress is one of those hot air events that ventilates academic views in limited circles while shutting them off from actual discussion in the broader community.  In this setting, academics with the oxymoronic title of “political scientists”[Read More…]

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Ecuador’s Agenda: Squeezing and Surrendering Assange

Ecuador’s Agenda: Squeezing and Surrendering Assange

It is perhaps typical in a time where a star of the fleshy celluloid wonder Baywatch, heavy in bust and known for her sexual adventures, should feature as a political voice.  Pamela Anderson’s views are treated with judicious seriousness – at least in some quarters.  Her association with Julian Assange has given needless room for columns on what, exactly, their[Read More…]

Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect

Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect

Dana Milbank wrote it off as a victory of demographics, a minor, inconsequential point which left the “down-the-line liberal” Rep. Joe Crowley in its wake, a simple ploy that avoids any hard headed analysis of the Democrats themselves.  “The argument that there is a Democratic establishment resisting the progressive tide is a straw man.” This was as one such reaction[Read More…]

Helsinki Theatrics:  Trump meets Putin

Helsinki Theatrics:  Trump meets Putin

The first official meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his counterpart Donald Trump was a fairly casual, unpeopled affair, absent bureaucrats and note takers.  This was what both wanted in Helsinki, men who believe in the gold weighting authority commands.  According to Masha Gissen of The New Yorker, their meeting reflected “their shared understanding of power: the triumph of[Read More…]

The Woes of Luka Modrić: Croatia, Nationalism and Football

The Woes of Luka Modrić: Croatia, Nationalism and Football

Juraj Vrdoljak of Telesport was convinced.  “I think half the population didn’t show up to work on the morning after the win against England.” The victory had inspired early shop closures, a feeling of rampant escapism. “Croatia is a country with a deep economic crisis.  Every day, life is really hard.  It’s full of bad stories and tough times.  There[Read More…]

Stomping in Britain: Donald Trump and May’s Brexit

Stomping in Britain: Donald Trump and May’s Brexit

 What a rotten guest, but then again, that was to be expected.  Ahead of his visit to Britain, there was some indignation that US President Donald Trump should even be visiting in the first place.  Protesters were readying their assortment of paraphernalia in anticipation.  Walls of noise were promised.  Trump, on the other hand, was bullish after his NATO performance,[Read More…]

Making Heavy Weather: Boris Johnson the Despoiler

Making Heavy Weather: Boris Johnson the Despoiler

There is a certain haunting similarity between the President of the United States and the now former foreign secretary of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson.  This does not merely extend to mad, oddly positioned hair, and misshaped mullets.  Both share a philosophy of upending the order and permanent disruption, impossible for those on their putative side of politics to measure,[Read More…]

Giant Killing, Heroes and Teams at the 2018 World Cup

Giant Killing, Heroes and Teams at the 2018 World Cup

They have been falling like ninepins at one of the most unpredictable World Cups in generations.  Even before the kick-off in the tournament, Italy’s absence was conspicuous.  By the time the first phase of matches had been concluded, Germany, whose teams have made it to the elimination phase for eighty years, found itself in exit mode, a victim of exhaustion,[Read More…]

Soft Brexits and Hard Realities: The Tory Revolt

Soft Brexits and Hard Realities: The Tory Revolt

It was meant to be an away day at Chequers in total hermetic isolation, an effort on the part of UK Prime Minister Theresa May to sketch some common ground in a cabinet that has struggled to agree on much regarding the imminent departure of Britain from the European Union.  The clock is ticking, for many ominously, with the departure[Read More…]

Rescues, Caves and Celebrity Salvation

Rescues, Caves and Celebrity Salvation

It all risks becoming pornographic, looped and re-run with an obsessive eye for updates and detail about despair and hope.  The twenty-four hour news cycle tends to encourage this sort of thing, ever desperate for snippets, obsessively chasing the update.  With a soccer team of twelve youths and their coach trapped in Tham Luang Nang Non cave some one kilometre[Read More…]

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Keeping Your Refugees: Macron, Francafrique and Euro-African Relations

Keeping Your Refugees: Macron, Francafrique and Euro-African Relations

Ties between Europe and Africa have never been rosy.  A relationship based on predatory conquest and the exploitation of resources (slave flesh, minerals, and such assortments) is only ever going to lend itself to farce and display rather than sincerity.  The late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, whose death must be placed squarely at the feat of the Franco-Anglo-American intervention in the[Read More…]

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The Lures of Kleptocracy: Malaysia’s Najib Condition

The Lures of Kleptocracy: Malaysia’s Najib Condition

Words can be teasing in their meaning.  In the realm of political and financial discussion, they can become absurdly changing.  Take Malaysia’s political status. On the surface, all looks delightfully democratic in that multi-ethnic state.  Once the eyewash is applied, a certain ugliness manifests: the ethnic tensions that are only ever a stone’s throw away from bloodshed and riot; the[Read More…]

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Send in the Troops! Deploying the ADF against Rioters

Send in the Troops! Deploying the ADF against Rioters

Such moves should trouble any constructive dissenter and civil libertarian: the vesting of powers in a military force to be used against domestic disturbances.  While the United States has a troubled history with it, posse comitatus still remains something of a letter restricting the deployment of the US armed forces on the streets of the country’s cities. That doctrine has[Read More…]

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Democrats Against Assange: Influencing US-Ecuador Relations

Democrats Against Assange: Influencing US-Ecuador Relations

Such a historical twist, but one that deserves its iniquitous slot in the history books.  No secret has been made about US policy towards Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, which continues its trajectory to seek his apprehension and shutter the organisation.  Despite its cables being used for political effect by interested parties; despite the exposures of corruption within the ranks of[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Human Rights
Viktor Orbán’s Soros Problem

Viktor Orbán’s Soros Problem

Where there are refugees and asylum seekers, there will be the assistants, the exploiters and the opportunists.  The global anti-refugee sentiment has become an industrial complex, well-funded, sharpened and vicious.  The richer the state, it follows, the more developed that complex. In that regard, the Hungarian case has a distinct, rancid flavour to it.  For some years, the billionaire financier[Read More…]

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The Next Step: The Campaign for Julian Assange

The Next Step: The Campaign for Julian Assange

The modern detainee in a political sense has to be understood in the abstract.  Those who take to feats of hacking, publishing and articulating positions on the issue of institutional secrets have become something of a species, not as rare as they once more, but no less remarkable for that fact.  And what a hounded species at that. Across the[Read More…]

Evading Medical Care: Australia’s Refugee Arrangements with Taiwan

Evading Medical Care: Australia’s Refugee Arrangements with Taiwan

It is a credit to the venality of Australia’s refugee policy that much time is spent on letting others do what that particular country ought to be doing.  For a state so obsessed with the idea of a “rule-based order”, breaking those rules comes naturally – all in the national interest, of course. Canberra’s policy makers, since the 1990s, have[Read More…]

Infant Armour: Jacinda Ardern, Baby Madness and Myth

Infant Armour: Jacinda Ardern, Baby Madness and Myth

The Jacinda Ardern phenomenon, clumsily dubbed Jacindamania, shows no signs of abating.  Journalists have long given up bothering about policy analysis regarding New Zealand’s prime minister, instead focusing on pregnancy and the newly arrived infant. The duration of the prime minister’s tenure has been marked by those signs that suggest celebrity rather than political grit, which must, on a certain[Read More…]

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The Catholic Church in Resistance: Priests, Child Abuse, and Breaking the Seal of the Confessional

The Catholic Church in Resistance: Priests, Child Abuse, and Breaking the Seal of the Confessional

The tradition is represented as noble, the confiding link between confessor and penitent, a bridge never to be broken, even under pain of death.  Taken that way, the confessional is brandished as the Catholic Church’s great weapon against the wiles and predations of secular power.  The State shall have no say where the priest’s confidence is concerned, for all may[Read More…]

Leaving the UN Human Rights Council

Leaving the UN Human Rights Council

The margin between what is a human right as an inalienable possession, and how it is seen in political terms is razor fine. In some cases, the distinctions are near impossible to make.  To understand the crime of genocide is to also understand the political machinations that limited its purview.  No political or cultural groups, for instance, were permitted coverage[Read More…]

Rocking the G7: Trump Stomps His Allies

Rocking the G7: Trump Stomps His Allies

Disruption, disturbance, eruption, the words crowning the presidency of Donald J. Trump, who has effectively demonstrated an idea made famous by Nazi doodler of law and political theorist Carl Schmitt: politics is defined, not by identifying with friends in cosy harmony but with enemies in constant tension. There are many ways that Trump might be seen as a creature of[Read More…]

Pushing Huawei Out: Australia, the Solomon Islands and the Internet

Pushing Huawei Out: Australia, the Solomon Islands and the Internet

Be wary of the Chinese technological behemoth, goes the current cry from many circles in Australia’s parliament.  Cyber security issues are at stake, and the eyes of Beijing are getting beadier by the day. The seedy involvement of Australia in the Solomon Islands, ostensibly to block the influence of a Chinese company’s investment venture, is simply testament to the old[Read More…]

Meeting on the Island of Death From Behind: The Kim-Trump Summit

Meeting on the Island of Death From Behind: The Kim-Trump Summit

Everything about this summit is in the showy warm-up run.  “I am on my way to Singapore,” tweets US President Donald J. Trump, “where we have a chance to achieve a truly wonderful result for North Korea and the World.”  Such descriptions from America’s ever hustling television president tend to become child like, whether glowingly or indignantly. On this occasion,[Read More…]

The Ramsay Twist: Australian University Funding and Western Civilisation

The Ramsay Twist: Australian University Funding and Western Civilisation

There is a lot of tattle going on about why the Australian National University rebuffed, after a series of talks, the offer for the establishment of a specific bachelors degree that would feature Western Civilisation as its content. It would have been managed under the auspices of the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. Besides, universities have been directing their attention[Read More…]

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Elite Atrocities: Australia’s Special Forces in Afghanistan

Elite Atrocities: Australia’s Special Forces in Afghanistan

“Further into the Afghanistan mission, after multiple deployments, soldiers began to refer to members going ‘up the Congo’.” Chris Masters, The Sydney Morning Herald, Jun 9, 2018 They operate with impunity in areas already deemed lawless by their civilising superiors.  Afghanistan, derided as a country of anarchic sensibilities, was never going to be a place for those abiding by armchair[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Imperialism
The Food of Movement: Anthony Bourdain’s Universal Eater

The Food of Movement: Anthony Bourdain’s Universal Eater

Bruce Chatwin considered movement the indispensable feature of the human species.  Sedentary natures killed through asphyxiation; a refusal to move suggested an acceptance of death.  Walking he considered a virtue; tourism the ultimate sin.  For the late Anthony Bourdain, a chef turned walker and explorer, no dish was odd enough or peculiar to be avoided or exiled by palate. Bourdain[Read More…]

Dazzled by Tech: Universities, Googlification and Microsoft

Dazzled by Tech: Universities, Googlification and Microsoft

The mechanical, robotic striving of university politburos and their jack boot managers have always been interesting when it comes to one particular topic: the role of technology and its adoption.  For it is in technology that the mediocre paper clip shuffler can claim to have achieved something – on someone else’s back, naturally. The shift to Google by universities as[Read More…]

The Power of Self-Pardon: Trump’s Novel View

The Power of Self-Pardon: Trump’s Novel View

  “If a president was dumb enough to pardon himself that would be such an arrogant statement of power that the House would probably impeach him in a week and the Senate would convict him.” Newt Gingrich, Jun 5, 2018 It is a view that Charles I would have been proud of: The means by which one can forgive and[Read More…]

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Cover Ups and Confessions: Pope Francis and Child Abuse

Cover Ups and Confessions: Pope Francis and Child Abuse

It is the season for exposures and exposes, and the Catholic Church has been making regular ripples of the wrong and undeniably crude sort.  Globally, the church is finding itself being picked bare in terms of institutional malfeasance, not merely on the issue of having harboured abusive priests, but of placing a dark, impenetrable cover over them. No area of[Read More…]

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Universities, Branding and Saudi Arabia

Universities, Branding and Saudi Arabia

The modern university is a tertiary colonising institution.  Like the old mercantilist bodies – the Dutch East India Company and its equivalents – the educational world is there to be acquired by bureaucrats, teachers and, it is hoped, suitable recruits. To that end, a good degree of amorality is required.  Scruples are best left to others, and most certainly not[Read More…]

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Donald Trump, Summits and Cancellations

Donald Trump, Summits and Cancellations

It was the sort of party you would be reluctant to turn up to, and its cancellation would have caused a sigh of relief. But when the US president replicates the feigned hurt of a guest who has been impugned, the puzzlement deepens.  A mix of crankiness and promise, Trump’s letter announcing the cancellation of the Singapore meeting with North[Read More…]

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States of Cruelty: The Dead Refugees of Manus

States of Cruelty: The Dead Refugees of Manus

In those seemingly interminable refugee debates being held in various countries, cruelty is pure theatre. It is directed, stage managed, the victims treated as mere marionettes in a play of putrid public policy and indifferent public officials.  Barriers have been set; barbed wire has been put in place. Open zones such as the European Union are being internally bordered up,[Read More…]

Eternal Disappearance: MH370 and the Hangar Gossipers

Eternal Disappearance: MH370 and the Hangar Gossipers

It has fuelled enough speculation to fill libraries and populate databases at catchy speed.  The disappearance of MH370 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, one of two Malaysian Airlines flights to perish that year, continues to torment relatives and tantalise the diviners of mystery. Ocean Infinity, the Houston-based company retained by the Malaysian government to[Read More…]

Tom Wolfe the Parajournalist

Tom Wolfe the Parajournalist

As is the nature of his creepy totality, President Donald Trump has a habit of suffusing the obituaries of the famous and pampered.  Tom Wolfe, it is said by such figures as Maggie Haberman in The New York Times, conceived of Trump as a formidable figure before Trump himself came to prominence. The point is somewhat inaccurate: when The Bonfire[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Life/Philosophy
Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution

Unsettling the Summits: John Bolton’s Libya Solution

The inevitable stop, start and stuttering of the Korean peace process was bound to manifest itself soon after the hugs, expansive smiles and sympathetic back rubs.  Dates have been set – the Kim-Trump summit is slated to take place in Singapore on June 12, though there is much time for disruptive mischief to take place. One field of possible disruption[Read More…]

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Remembering Big Dead Place

Remembering Big Dead Place

The image of Antarctica in common circulation is environmental and utopian.  The scientist of valour, the investigator thirsting for discovery in a litmus test environment that will give warning about current and impending variations in temperature that will affect the globe.  Noble stuff indeed.   On other occasions, the continent has tickled the conspiratorial mind.  Did Adolf Hitler find relief[Read More…]

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The Spectre of Torture: The Gina Haspel Hearings

The Spectre of Torture: The Gina Haspel Hearings

“I’m not going to sit here with the benefit of hindsight and judge the very good people who made hard decisions who were running the agency in very extraordinary circumstances.” Gina Haspel, May 9, 2018. It was always going to be the most complicated of hurdles. Having moved Mike Pompeo on to the role of Secretary of State, President Donald[Read More…]

The Mummy Returns: Mahathir Mohamad and the Malaysian Elections

The Mummy Returns: Mahathir Mohamad and the Malaysian Elections

It was a victory, but it could hardly count as a truly revolutionary one.  Grizzled, aged but formidably stirring, Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s former prime minister, is set to form government as the world’s oldest elected leader.  His Pakatan Harapan coalition ventured past the 112 seat threshold required to form government, while a weary Barisan Nasional limped through with 79. Shocks[Read More…]

Withdrawal Symptoms: Trump And The Iran Nuclear Deal

Withdrawal Symptoms: Trump And The Iran Nuclear Deal

Hot on the heels of the Benjamin Netanyahu “nuclear archive” show supposedly revealing Iranian perfidy, US President Donald Trump added succour to the Israeli cause by promising to withdraw from the Iran Nuclear deal, more lengthily known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The JCPOA originally comprised various undertakings and actions on the part of the Obama administration: the[Read More…]

Nobel Nonsense: Nominating Donald Trump for the Peace Prize

Nobel Nonsense: Nominating Donald Trump for the Peace Prize

It seems like rich nonsense, but should peace be attained on the Korean peninsula, with arrangements entrenched to ensure durability as opposed to unconvincing window dressing, President Donald Trump might well join the list of frauds and charlatans who have obtained the Nobel Peace Prize. The nomination for the 2019 prize came in a letter from 18 of Trump’s Republican[Read More…]

Irresistible Urges: Surveilling Australia’s Citizens

Irresistible Urges: Surveilling Australia’s Citizens

The authoritarian misfits in the Turnbull government have again rumbled and uttered suspicions long held: Australian residents and citizens are not to be trusted, and the intelligence services should start getting busy in expanding their operations against the next Doomsday threat. This became clear from leaked material on discussions that illustrate in no subtle way the security paranoia afflicting officials[Read More…]

Macron’s Travels in Trumpland

Macron’s Travels in Trumpland

All smiles and hugs is the current French President, Emmanuel Macron.  In the White House, there seemed to be an emotional equation generated by the supposedly warm relationship between President Donald Trump and his guest.  In entertainment vision, substance would only consist of wiping the dandruff off the jacket of Macron and handshakes so firm they appear, at stages, to[Read More…]

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The Korean Promise: The Meeting in Panmunjom

The Korean Promise: The Meeting in Panmunjom

It seems, and certainly feels like a distant number of months since a panel of experts noshed and chatted over how best to overcome the nuclear impasse that pitted North Korea against its southern neighbour and allies.  Held in Seoul last December, the project of attendees hosted by the Korean National Diplomatic Academy was ambitious and lofty: the denuclearisation of[Read More…]

Clamouring against Russia: The Cyber Attack Platform

Clamouring against Russia: The Cyber Attack Platform

In a time when such revelations as those of Edward Snowden pass a person’s lips with ease and awareness, political clamouring for action and measures against Russia on the subject of cyber attack seem risible.  This is not to say that Russia does not engage in an energetic, state of the art program of surveillance and penetration.  More significant is[Read More…]

The Unintentional Extremist: Israel Folau, the Bible and Homophobia

The Unintentional Extremist: Israel Folau, the Bible and Homophobia

What limits opinions?  Especially by sportspeople, who are often confused for geniuses of the mind and ambassadors of tact outside their very limited field of endeavour.  (Yes, he can dribble a ball with sigh-inducing majesty, so he must know a thing or so about social and intellectual problems.) The obverse tends to be true.  The sporting personality, presuming it exists,[Read More…]

Macron’s Syria Game

Macron’s Syria Game

There is a certain bullishness in French circles these days, even if there was an initial attempt, with the Macron government, to calm matters down.  The need to assert Gallic might in the face of brutality has again surfaced; and has a familiar ring to it.  With Syria’s Bashar al-Assad getting more comfortable with military progress, officials in the United[Read More…]

Blind Assault: Trump Strikes Syria

Blind Assault: Trump Strikes Syria

Feeling that some display of force was needed, US president Donald Trump issued orders on Friday to demonstrate some form of muscle, albeit exercised some thousands of miles away.  “A short time ago, I ordered the United States Armed Forces to launch precision strikes on targets associated with the chemical weapons capabilities of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.”  The United Kingdom[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Imperialism
Pacific Moves: China, Vanuatu And Australia

Pacific Moves: China, Vanuatu And Australia

Washington’s vigilant deputy, doing rounds on the beat in the Pacific, has been irate of late. The central issue here is the continuing poking around of China in an area that would have been colloquially termed in the past “Australia’s neighbourhood”. There have been no formal proposals, but the Australian press is agog with reports that the Chinese are instigating[Read More…]

Indulgent Violence: The Legacy of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

Indulgent Violence: The Legacy of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela

There was nothing of the Siddhartha about her.  Modest and sombre middle ways are not the stuff of revolutionary ardour.  Winnie Madikizela-Mandela’s mark on history was always going to render the violent normal, the blood stain a perceived, even psychopathic necessity.  If society itself was prone to sanguinary realisations, she would oblige and flourish within its confines. Everyone has their[Read More…]

YouTube, Censorship And Nasim Aghdam

YouTube, Censorship And Nasim Aghdam

“People like me are not good for big business, like for animal business, medicine business and for many other businesses.  That’s why they are discriminating and censoring us.” Nasim Najafi Aghdam discussing YouTube She claimed to have detested it, issuing fiery calls on her social media outlets, and asserting that this creature was demonic in its effort to limit talent,[Read More…]

Justified Slaughters: The Kangaroo Industry Debate

Justified Slaughters: The Kangaroo Industry Debate

Mass killings, massacres and general culling; butchering made normal, sanctified by State practice, and the scientific establishment.  This is the killing of Australia’s national symbol, reviled and idealised in various measures, but generally considered, from those away from urban centres, a remote if attractive oddity.  Barry Humphries, arguably Australia’s greatest comedic export, did not see his first kangaroo till he[Read More…]

Atmospheric Burnings: The Re-entry of China’s Tiangong-1

Atmospheric Burnings: The Re-entry of China’s Tiangong-1

The precipitous demise of China’s prototype space station, Tiangong-1, was the sort of event that took earthbound discussions to more heavenly matters.  Human beings, as is their wont, tend to follow the rules of colonisation with a certain automatism.  In doing so, they have a distinct habit of leaving debris, a junking phenomenon that has seen space become a celestial[Read More…]

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Scandi Noir, Kim Wall and Murder

Scandi Noir, Kim Wall and Murder

Finland, a country noted for deep felt suicides executed during long dark winter months, has become the happiest nation on earth.  This statistical superstition, contrived to feed a social-media diet free of substance and light on evidence, belies one fundamental point: Scandinavia can boast its examples of curious killings and extravagant murders.  Little wonder, then, that there has been something[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Arts/Literature
Faking It and Fakery: Najib and Censorship

Faking It and Fakery: Najib and Censorship

Fake news has not merely become a business but a designation.  It is a way of silencing dissent, and questioning accounts. For the authoritarian, this is not merely a delight, but a necessity.  News accounts are deemed the stuff and dreams of the inventive, and those inventors deserve punishment. Denial becomes a state of mind, and a very convinced one[Read More…]

Precarious Communications: Julian Assange, Internet Access and Ecuador

Precarious Communications: Julian Assange, Internet Access and Ecuador

Being a netizen, to use that popular term of sociological derivation, can be a difficult business. It presumes digital engagement, often of the sharper sort.  To become a fully-fledged member of such citizenry, however, presumes access, a degree of Internet speed and appropriate platforms. Absent those, then different forms of activism must be sought. Governments and authorities the world over[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Human Rights
No Small Victory: Kim Dotcom and the Human Rights Review Tribunal

No Small Victory: Kim Dotcom and the Human Rights Review Tribunal

  “It’s really quite incredible how, at nearly every turn the New Zealand government has managed to mess up the legal case against Kim Dotcom.” Mike Masnick, Techdirt, Mar 26, 2018 Put it down to his tigerish perseverance, or sheer faith in those powers of endurance, but Kim Dotcom’s victory before New Zealand’s Human Rights Tribunal had a stirring ring[Read More…]

Pre-emptive Triggers: John Bolton Joins Trump

Pre-emptive Triggers: John Bolton Joins Trump

It has given those in a permanent state of jitters greater reason to jump off the cliff to a certain fate, but John Bolton’s elevation to President Donald J. Trump’s inner circle is predictable and, patterns of employment permitting, brief.  It is easy to see each and every appointment of the current president as manically dangerous, shading those of his[Read More…]

The Temptations of Ball Tampering: Steve Smith’s Australian Team in South Africa

The Temptations of Ball Tampering: Steve Smith’s Australian Team in South Africa

There was an audacity about it, carried out with amateurish callowness.  As it turned out Australian batsman Cameron Bancroft, besieged and vulnerable, had been egged on by Australian cricket captain Steve Smith and the Australian leadership to do the insufferable: tamper with the ball. Before the remorseless eagle eyes of modern cameras, Bancroft, in the third Test against South Africa[Read More…]

Inglorious Snitching: Adrián Lamo, Chelsea Manning and Patriotism

Inglorious Snitching: Adrián Lamo, Chelsea Manning and Patriotism

The hacking community, like poets, tend to be irritable tribesmen and women.  Their modus operandi functions on the stab, the enthusiastic penetration of insecure computer systems and mockery.  Their role is as much to instruct as it is to disrupt. To that end, such figures cut different forms.  There is the lonesome soul finding solace in being a nuisance, or[Read More…]

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Death and Impunity: Iraq Fifteen Years After

Death and Impunity: Iraq Fifteen Years After

It might have made a bit more than a whimper had the US political scene not found itself in yet another paroxysm of the drama known as the Trump White House.  Fifteen years before, governments aligning with the dogs of war decided, in defiance of millions of protestors globally, to invade a sovereign state.  Papers cheered with blood lust; propagandists[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Imperialism
Facebook, Cambridge Analytica And Surveillance Capitalism

Facebook, Cambridge Analytica And Surveillance Capitalism

Whether it creeps into politics, marketing, or simple profiling, the nature of surveillance as totality has been affirmed by certain events this decade.  The Edward Snowden disclosures of 2013 demonstrated the complicity and collusion between Silicon Valley and the technological stewards of the national security state. It took the election of Donald J. Trump in 2016 to move the issue[Read More…]

The Ease of Accusation: The Skripal Affair

The Ease of Accusation: The Skripal Affair

The policy of responding to assassinations on British soil is a near non-existent one.  Her Majesty’s Government is certainly in the habit of huffing, and steam can issue from deliberations in the House of Commons. But substance is often absent. When Buzzfeed conducted an investigation into the mortuary of incidents in 2017, it found a degree of indifference on the[Read More…]

Fictional Free Trade and Permanent Protectionism: Donald Trump’s Economic Orthodoxy

Fictional Free Trade and Permanent Protectionism: Donald Trump’s Economic Orthodoxy

Let’s put it out there with suitable portions of provocation: free trade has never actually taken place.  There is an uncomfortable, skirmish-ridden middle ground, where states compete for primacy over surplus and deficits, where the notion of prosperity is language deferred, not to citizens, but corporations who are often backed for pursuing technological remits. The debate about US President Donald[Read More…]

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Trump’s Intelligence Circus: Tillerson, Pompeo And Haspel

Trump’s Intelligence Circus: Tillerson, Pompeo And Haspel

It takes much to make a figure like Rex Tillerson seem not merely sane but competent.  The Trump administration, with its almost paranormal sense of revisionism and fantasy, has managed to make old Rex seem mildly credible. His sacking, inflicted with adolescent petulance, was bound to happen. At stages, Tillerson came across with clues and cues about what would happen,[Read More…]

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Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance And Data

Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance And Data

It says a lot that societies who are still part of what is rather weakly called the free world could do this.  Technology, viewed as emancipating and rewarding, can actually introduce different chains and shackles, becoming repellent and self-defeating. The field of privacy is one such precarious area, permanently assailed by the chest-thumping innovators. Privacy, that intangible phenomenon Mark Zuckerberg,[Read More…]

Art and Exploitation: Ai Weiwei, Dissidence and the Refugee Crisis

Art and Exploitation: Ai Weiwei, Dissidence and the Refugee Crisis

The status of dissident offers a certain moral latitude in behaviour, and, in various cases, misbehaviour. The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is one such figure. He is a feted figure of dissent of the Chinese political establishment, and celebrated by the artistic fraternity. He is the anointed and favoured contrarian.  “The one thing I should give the Chinese government credit[Read More…]

Bullied Relations: Australia, East Timor And Natural Resources

Bullied Relations: Australia, East Timor And Natural Resources

“The Commission instead opted for the easiest way out, which is a shame as in my perception it reveals a lack of impartiality on your behalf!” Chief East Timorese negotiator, Xanana Gusmão, Feb 28, 2018 In the scheme of things, Australia has deputised as regional bully for imperial powers since it became an outpost of the British empire.  Neighbouring states[Read More…]

Donald Trump’s Tariff War

Donald Trump’s Tariff War

“To protect our Country, we must protect American Steel!” Donald J. Trump, Twitter, Mar 5, 2018   As an agent of chaos, US President Donald Trump is keeping busy.  Last week’s announcement that tariffs will be imposed on steel and aluminium imports – 25 percent on the former, 10 percent on the latter – has not gone down well with[Read More…]

Snow, Snowflakes and the UK: Britain’s Response to the Beast from the East

Snow, Snowflakes and the UK: Britain’s Response to the Beast from the East

While the bibliophile and aphorist Samuel Johnson claimed that people of appropriate mental discipline could avoid talking about the weather, the British have found weather an irresistible topic of conversation.  Storms are recalled with  nostalgic exaggeration; accounts are rendered colourful after the fact. The Beast from the East, as this latest cold freeze has been termed, stands as a form[Read More…]

by Comments are Disabled Climate Change
Nuclear Bravado: Putin’s Nuclear Invincibles

Nuclear Bravado: Putin’s Nuclear Invincibles

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, seemed perplexed, sticking to a drafted script.  Politicians on the Hill were troubled.  The Pentagon attempted to be reassuring.  The Russian bear was on the move in indelicate fashion – again. In his fourteenth state of the nation address, President Vladimir Putin was keen to focus on Russian-made and prowess in military[Read More…]

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Prostituting Charity: The Oxfam Debate

Prostituting Charity: The Oxfam Debate

Oxfam has outdone itself.  In the murky, squalid business where charity seems to chase, then embed itself in disaster zones like a dedicated virus, Oxfam ranks highly.  In terms of a tally, the number of reported abuses in the charity sector is galloping ahead, with one of Britain’s most noted charities in the lead. The revelations this month that the[Read More…]

Trump, North Korea And Post-Olympic Angst

Trump, North Korea And Post-Olympic Angst

With the icicles still glinting with the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic games, US President Donald Trump, like any disgruntled child, wanted to reassert his relevance.  Little Rocket Man had assumed diplomatic pose, or at the very least adopted a stance of considered caution towards his South Korean counterparts.  While the US seemed stubborn and sulky, South Korea[Read More…]

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Arming Educators: Trump, Gun Violence And Schools

Arming Educators: Trump, Gun Violence And Schools

It had been in the works.  Instead of engaging in the traditional revulsion associated with a mass shooting, or even digesting the grief of outraged students and grieving parents, US President Donald Trump’s solution to guns violence was elementary.  To target the perpetrator, it was necessary to arm instructors, mount the barricades, and raise the stakes. His address of February[Read More…]

Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow

Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow

He may have been a lyricist for the Grateful Dead, but a component of John Perry Barlow’s activism and corpus will forever be associated with a concept fast losing its gloss: internet freedom. “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” had a certain founding father’s imperative, and, along with that added enthusiasm, a degree of misunderstanding.  Like the mind expansion[Read More…]

Meddling for Empire: The CIA Comes Clean

Meddling for Empire: The CIA Comes Clean

“We’ve been doing this kind of thing [electoral meddling] since the CIA was created in 1947.” Loch K. Johnson, New York Times, Feb 17, 2018 Electoral meddling has become the gruel of US politics for months, and more servings are being promised in the wake of the indictments against 16 Russians and Russian entities dished out Robert Mueller last week. [Read More…]

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The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets And Sexual Abuse

The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets And Sexual Abuse

It’s the sort of thing to turn many an otherwise calm stomach, but the revelations that UN peace keeping staff have been involved in sexual assault has done its fair share of upsetting.  Legislators in the United States, many sceptical of the body to begin with, are taking note.  Such revelations draw out the worst of missions supposedly altruistic in[Read More…]

Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments

Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments

Tagged to the Trump presidency like an insistent limpet, the investigation into Russian interference in the US elections of 2016 provides constant fodder for the unimaginative political animals in the United States. But any diet that remains unvaried is bound to induce illness or nutritional deficiency.  Variety is strength. US politics, and its political culture, distinctly lacks nutritional health.  Estranged,[Read More…]

Assange, Judge Arbuthnot and the Arrest Warrant

Assange, Judge Arbuthnot and the Arrest Warrant

Justice is an elastic concept.  Like other terms in law, it has room to expand and contract.  But one weakness burdens legal strictures that supposedly have an objective reality to them: power.  Power brutish, power as a spectral force, and power arbitrarily exercised. Any reading of Julian Assange’s case must be, to that end, understood as a dynamic less of[Read More…]

Fearing Peace: Olympic Diplomacy In Action

Fearing Peace: Olympic Diplomacy In Action

Mike Pence was a man with a mission.  At stages through the opening parts of the Winter Olympics in South Korea, he looked like a man on a mission.  With diplomatic gestures flowering all around with weedy vigour in Pyeonchang, he was intent on fighting them.  The gardener of empire had his implements at the ready. The US Vice-President had[Read More…]

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Lauri Love, Hacking And Extradition

Lauri Love, Hacking And Extradition

“Horse-trading determines who goes to jail and for how long.  That is what plea bargaining is.  It is not some adjunct to the criminal justice system; it is the criminal justice system.” US Supreme Court Justice Kennedy (2012) The February 5 decision of the British court refusing to permit the extradition of hactivist Lauri Love was more than an opinion.[Read More…]

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Keeping an Eye On Australia: Admiral Harry Harris Goes To Canberra

Keeping an Eye On Australia: Admiral Harry Harris Goes To Canberra

Imperial arrangements require decent overseer of subjects.  In the Pax Americana, which is, in fact, rather violent, Australia is indispensable in the Pacific theatre.  It offers land, facilities, and the means to eye future enemies and keep allies in check.  Wedged between China and the United States, Australia could focus on smoothing rocky roads and building bridges.  But this is[Read More…]

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Templates Of Denial: Selective History And Poland’s Holocaust Law

Templates Of Denial: Selective History And Poland’s Holocaust Law

Holocaust history has never been far away from political manipulation.  The deaths of millions tends to supply various causes: for those who survive, radicalisation can be imminent.  For those who participated in the killings, justification and denial can combine in cruel fashion.  Some, prompted by guilt, embrace the memories of those slain with a zeal akin to a civil religion;[Read More…]

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Outing The US Empire: Trump’s Military Parade

Outing The US Empire: Trump’s Military Parade

You only had to see him goggle eyed and enthusiastic beside France’s President Emmanuel Macron last Bastille Day.  The tricolours were fluttering, the jets booming above in the manner usual for a lapsed empire, and the President of the United States was thrilled to bits, delighted at the spectacle.  “It was one of the greatest parades I’ve ever seen.  We’re[Read More…]

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Rumblings In The Tory Palace: Theresa May And The Brexit Troika

Rumblings In The Tory Palace: Theresa May And The Brexit Troika

As the Sunday news vine began getting heavy, that sole topic of all-consuming, toxic interest – Brexit – threatened to claim the casualty of the British Prime Minister herself, Theresa May.  Interest centred on a possible troika that had busied itself on harrying May. In any context, this troika would have seemed a compilation for pure comic effect: buffoonish Boris[Read More…]

National Socialist Furniture: Ingvar Kamprad And The IKEA Vision

National Socialist Furniture: Ingvar Kamprad And The IKEA Vision

It seemed to be an act of counter-intuitive genius, one framed in a manner that could have been deemed both insulting and flattering.  You, dear customer, would be the one expected, not only to fork out for a product; you would also be expected to assemble it, to envisage the functioning of its parts, to have the means by which[Read More…]

United States representative Mike Pompeo speaks to a rally of general aviation workers at Cessna Aircraft in Wichita, Kan., Monday, March. 21, 2011. The rally was attended by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Governor Sam Brownback, Senator Jerry Moran and an estimated 2,000 aircraft workers of general aviation companies in the Wichita area. (AP Photo/The Wichita Eagle, Mike Hutmacher)

Vulnerability And Prowess: Mike Pompeo Meets The BBC

In this age of reality television (or televised unreality), the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency was not going to miss out.  Unlike other chief spies who operate in habitual darkness and moving shadows, Mike Pompeo was very keen to get his voice and opinion across on the British Broadcasting Service. Pompeo specialises in seeing enemies everywhere, and to be[Read More…]

Assassination In Kosovo: The Killing of Oliver Ivanović

Assassination In Kosovo: The Killing of Oliver Ivanović

“I won’t even start with the old rule that when there’s a contract killing, it’s usually the killer who first offers their condolences.” Nenad Čanak, Radio Free Europe, Jan 22, 2018 The highest form of scandalous patriotism is real estate, often blood soaked, and almost always fortified.  What one controls is often less important as who is doing so. In[Read More…]

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Djokovic, Tennis And Player’s Unions

Novak Djokovic, on returning to competitive tennis at the Australian Open, caused something of a a stir that a revolt in the game was brewing.  Was it about ball boys or girls, or his smooth unblemished victory against the unfortunate Donald Young?  Umpires and adjudications?  Nothing of the sort.  It was tennis players, and the old issue of remuneration. At[Read More…]

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One Year of Trump: The Defenders of Fictional Democracy

One Year of Trump: The Defenders of Fictional Democracy

It seemed so much busier, much more manic and crowded than the one year that had passed.  Since his inauguration, President Donald Trump continues to excite the same headlines and explosions that began even before he made it to the White House. By the time he got there, there were protests galore at agendas yet to be implemented, decrees yet[Read More…]

Kurdish Frictions: Turkey’s Campaign In Afrin

Kurdish Frictions: Turkey’s Campaign In Afrin

It’s a cruel saga, and one that promises no immediate end. Turkey, considered one of the more potent of powers within the NATO alliance, has manoeuvred itself into a play that Washington will find hard to avoid.  For Ankara, one thing must not happen as Islamic State forces gradually vanish, or more likely metamorphose into the next force they will,[Read More…]

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The unaltered stomach contents of a dead albatross chick photographed on Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in the Pacific in September 2009 include plastic marine debris fed the chick by its parents.

Warring On Plastic: David Attenborough, Britain And Environmental Missions

Few documentaries have had quite this impact, so much so that it has ushered in the unfortunate combination of war and plastic, two terms that sit uneasily together, if at all.  Tears were recorded; anxiety levels were propelled as Sir David Attenborough tore and tugged at heart strings in his production Blue Planet II.  The oceans, warned the documentary maker,[Read More…]

Big Power Diversions: Olympic Diplomacy On The Korean Peninsula

Big Power Diversions: Olympic Diplomacy On The Korean Peninsula

The more overtures, sudden but entirely appropriate, being made by North Korea to their South Korean counterparts, the more concern seems to emanate from quarters in Washington and Tokyo.  A recurring streak in these engagements is the fear that Pyongyang is simply prevaricating, distracting and diverting: they are having us all for fools. This betrays the whole premise of how[Read More…]

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Macron In China

Macron In China

Since coming to power, Macron has given the impression of forging ahead with new agendas and ideas crafted from a novel perspective.  This has been far from the case.  True, the man’s novelty has shone through in doing what seemed to be the undoable: establish a power base against traditional powerbrokers and carve out a good slice of the electoral[Read More…]

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White House chief strategist Steve Bannon listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with county sheriffs in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. After saying she'd like to play Bannon on "Saturday Night Live," Rosie O'Donnell has apparently changed her Twitter profile picture to make herself look like him. O'Donnell's offer to play Bannon came after actress Melissa McCarthy's caustic portrayal of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on "SNL" last
Trump, Washington, USA - 04 Feb 2017

Fuming In The White House: The Bannon-Trump Implosion

Michael Wolff is laughing, if not gloating, all his way to the bank. Money bags are singing; bank accounts are being filled.  Doubts about the free publicity his work on the Trump White House would receive would have abated with the tweeting complex that is the current and singular US president, one Donald J. Trump.  Call something fake, and it’s[Read More…]

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Parallel Worlds: Trump, Nuclear Buttons And Korean Diplomacy

Parallel Worlds: Trump, Nuclear Buttons And Korean Diplomacy

It has been said that what is required in dealing with the Trump administration is less an army of diplomats than keen and attentive psychiatrists.  Those psychiatrists would have had dreams of splendour contemplating how a statement about having access to a nuclear button could quite become this. It all began, as it tends to do, with a goading remark[Read More…]

Gangs, Race And Melbourne

Gangs, Race And Melbourne

Two’s a company; three’s a crowd.  More?  This issue is preoccupying political and policing figures in the city considered by the Economist Intelligence Unit the most liveable in the world, bettering a whole host of other seemingly more appropriate candidates.  So liveable, in fact, that it houses all sorts. Having repeatedly boasted, self-congratulated and beamed at the idea that Australia[Read More…]

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Trump versus The FBI

Trump versus The FBI

The attempt to tease, weave and develop a narrative against President Donald J. Trump over a Russian connection began almost immediately after his victory in November last year. This was meant to be institutional oversight and probing, but in another sense, it was also intended to be an establishment’s cry of hope to haul the untenable and inconceivable before some[Read More…]

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Cost And Indulgence: Gloating Over New Year’s Celebrations

Cost And Indulgence: Gloating Over New Year’s Celebrations

The gloating over the forthcoming New Year celebrations has already commenced. The first big city to feature on the roundups in each news segment as the year is ushered in tends to be Sydney, self-proclaimed global city in the antipodes, ever keen to rub its vulgar confidence into the noses of rival Melbourne. And, for that matter, every other city[Read More…]

Extraterrestrial Fascinations: The Pentagon And UFOs

Extraterrestrial Fascinations: The Pentagon And UFOs

Conspiracies in the extraterrestrial department have always constituted the residue of superstition in a secular age.  Chase away a Christ figure, or ward off God, and the mind still wanders, hoping to be bewitched.  If something cannot be explained, ignorance furnishes an often poor substitute. The concept of extraterrestrial phenomena straddles scientific probabilities, faith and the sense that governments might[Read More…]

The Politics of Manus Island: Refugees, Responsibilities And Contracts

The Politics of Manus Island: Refugees, Responsibilities And Contracts

In what has been a nightmare at Christmas, the plight of refugees relocated to other sites on Manus Island after the closure of the facility at Lombrum Naval Base has worsened.  The latest scenes at East Lorengau Transit Centre, where 300 men have been since December 19, have been ugly and pitiable.  In the broader scheme of things, they have[Read More…]

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Sanctions Fever: The Trump Administration And Human Rights

Sanctions Fever: The Trump Administration And Human Rights

It’s the season to be jolly, and the Trump administration has been busy doling out gifts.  Sanctions seem to be top of the pile, derived from that trove of options outlined in the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.  The law, initially introduced in 2012, targets the bank assets of those unfortunate enough to make it to the US Treasurer’s[Read More…]

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Normalising Uber: The CJEU Ruling

Normalising Uber: The CJEU Ruling

It was something of a clanger for the ride hailing service that has made authorities across the globe sceptical and stroppy.  Uber has lobbied, cajoled, and bullied its way into the transport markets of the globe, while still claiming to be a humble, facilitating technology company. The legal team at Uber has, at times, been ingenious. At other times, it[Read More…]

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Journeying To The DMZ

Journeying To The DMZ

Seoul: Atrocity tourism and what might be termed the tourism of divisive obstacles (fences, barbed wire, mine fields) can be great money earners.  Former concentration and extermination camps in Europe bring in currency even as visitors shake with stunned grief and moral disturbance – tears and foreboding as valuable currency. In South Korea, the money earner is the Demilitarised Zone,[Read More…]

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Preconditions To Conditions: Rex Tillerson On North Korea

Preconditions To Conditions: Rex Tillerson On North Korea

The worst of times, and the best of times.  This must be a sentiment that filters through the Trump administration as it discusses, disagrees and fights itself on how best to deal with Kim Jong-un and the North Korean situation.  With a transactional presidency – one that treats deals as matters of pressure, deception and cornering – situations oscillate, ebb[Read More…]

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The general view of XXX ahead of PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on January 19, 2017 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.

Neutral Athletes: Russia, Drugs And The Olympics

Being a moralist in the Olympics doesn’t carry you very far. Turn one way, and there are enterprising drug cheats; turn another, there are wads of cash in envelopes finding their inexorable way to an official’s accounts. The challenge of the Olympics is, in a fundamental way, a challenge of institutional decay, ruination and sport as profit. Having the International[Read More…]

The “Me Too Movement”, Sexual Politics And Unnatural Justice

The “Me Too Movement”, Sexual Politics And Unnatural Justice

The overthrow of iniquitous power relations is a point many would celebrate. But such overthrows are themselves marked by the contradiction of their origins. Any revolution must, by its very nature, suffer inconsistency, defeats and weaknesses. In the United States, a different sort of sexual revolution is taking place.  It is not linked to liberation in the way sex was[Read More…]

The Fate Of The Pine Gap Pilgrims

The Fate Of The Pine Gap Pilgrims

It barely registered a murmur across the Australian press, though it caused the traditional ripples over the protester fraternity.  Christian activists, collectively known as the Pine Gap Pilgrims, had received sentences pursuant to the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act 1952 (Cth), a cold war relic used by the Australian government to conceal the nature of Canberra’s association with the joint US-Australian[Read More…]

Recognising Jerusalem: Unilateralism, International Law, And The Trump White House

Recognising Jerusalem: Unilateralism, International Law, And The Trump White House

What ramifications and when?  The recognition of Jerusalem as the natural capital for the State of Israel by US President Donald J. Trump was promised by the buffoonish steward of the empire.  Delivering on it was not necessarily expected – US presidents, keen on courting pro-Israeli groups, had been promising to do so for years. Overthrowing the shackles of convention[Read More…]

Hopes And Nightmares Over Crypto Currencies

Hopes And Nightmares Over Crypto Currencies

The crystal ball gazers, astrologers and tea leave readers have been suffering a lingering fever of late.  Bitcoin recently romped through the $10,000 barrier, an event that sent speculators swooning and conservative voices into a gloomy mood of pessimism.  Bitt founder and director Gabriel Abed was rushing to declare the imminent funeral oration for cash, a newly founded digital frontier[Read More…]

Holding Uber Accountable: Litigating Over Data Hacks

Holding Uber Accountable: Litigating Over Data Hacks

It sent patrons and users into fits of puzzled anger.  It numbed a good many more who had placed mistaken faith in its operations.  Rapacious, predatory Uber, a ride-hailing company famed for its international ruthlessness, had behaved accordingly.  Last week, the firm revealed that it had received a massive hack in 2016, failing to notify customers and regulators that a[Read More…]

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Investigating The Banks: A Royal Commission In Australia

Investigating The Banks: A Royal Commission In Australia

On Collins Street, Melbourne lies a monument that acts as a gloriously loud remark about how banks are treated in Australia.  The ANZ Gothic Bank, studded with stain glass windows, and equipped with a chapel for bankers is a secular tribute to capitalism.  It sprung up as a result of discovering gold and remains a shrine to Australian materialism. Despite[Read More…]

Mammoth Divorce Bills: The EU And The Surrender Of The Brexiters

Mammoth Divorce Bills: The EU And The Surrender Of The Brexiters

The parties had been groping (appropriate, given the daily revelations about harassment) for some common ground. There had been discussions about having further discussions, hedging, ducking and weaving.  In a dysfunctional relationship, options tend to shrink rather than expand.   And so it turned out in the latest round of Brexit negotiations between the May government and officials of the European[Read More…]

Theatre, Death And The ICTY: The Suicide of Slobodan Praljak

Theatre, Death And The ICTY: The Suicide of Slobodan Praljak

Theatre, hysterics, denunciations.  No tight, orderly and sterile space could ever entirely contain those dark characters with lengthy butcher’s bills and blood soaked attributes.  Screams accompanied accusations; words to make all blush were shouted at witnesses, lawyers and judges. In the sanguinary mess of attack, counter-attack and retribution, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia was meant to rise,[Read More…]

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Branagh, Poirot And Murder on the Orient Express

Branagh, Poirot And Murder on the Orient Express

Few could have colonised a role as comprehensively as David Suchet playing Hercule Poirot, that pedantic, fastidious figure of sleuthing fame created by Agatha Christie.  Manner, affectation, and delivery all seemed immaculate, read, and even delightful.  Invariably, this sort of thespian appropriation and adaptation creates its hordes of admirers, zealots who refuse to accept rivals, pretenders, or usurpers. Kenneth Branagh,[Read More…]

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The Vanishing Submarine: Hope And The ARA San Juan

The Vanishing Submarine: Hope And The ARA San Juan

“Once a submariner, always a submariner.” Douglas Renken, Canadian submariner, CBC, Nov 26, 2017 A certain type of grief and moroseness accompanies deaths at sea.  Not being naturally adapted to living in water, humankind has braved the aqueous environment, seeking to conquer it and tame its residents.  At sea, the great battles of mythology are waged, its stories echoed in[Read More…]

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The Rhetorical Trap: North Korea as “State Sponsor of Terrorism”

The Rhetorical Trap: North Korea as “State Sponsor of Terrorism”

Are such designations ever useful?  At the stroke of a pen, an entire state is designated “terrorist” or a seemingly milder sponsor of terrorism, its name finding a way onto a list of supposed unmentionables and moral inverts.  Obscure groups and more notable countries huddle together, supposedly sharing some disreputable common ground and we are none the wiser on the[Read More…]

The Violent Conclusion: Manus Island And The Clearing of Lombrom Naval Base

The Violent Conclusion: Manus Island And The Clearing of Lombrom Naval Base

It was another etching in a chronicle of extended violence.  For days, resistance by refugees and asylum seekers against forced removal from the Lombrom Naval Base on Manus Island had taken very public form.  Images of defiance and distress were receiving international attention.  With no electricity, with water supplies destroyed, things were getting dire. As the weekend dawned, PNG officials[Read More…]

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Foreign Policy Blues: The Australian Foreign Policy White Paper

Foreign Policy Blues: The Australian Foreign Policy White Paper

The Australian Foreign Policy White paper was touted as a main course for consumers of policy, a document that revealed the inner workings of those creatures working for the Department of Trade and Foreign Affairs. Its temper is predictable, its prose wooden, the voice of a satrap trapped in the body of a sovereign. There were the traditional nods, the[Read More…]

History, Law And Ratko Mladić

History, Law And Ratko Mladić

While Zimbabwe was changing under various inexorable forces of power, the more sterile surrounds of The Hague and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia offered the scene for a conviction. The “Serb Warlord” or the “Butcher of Bosnia”, as he has been termed in various circles, had finally received a verdict few were doubting.  One of the doubters[Read More…]

Crocodiles And Freedom Fighters: Zimbabwe, Colonialism And Violence

Crocodiles And Freedom Fighters: Zimbabwe, Colonialism And Violence

The strongman lost some muscle this week.  Robert Mugabe, a leader of the liberation movement that transformed colonially pressed Rhodesia into post-colonial Zimbabwe, had issued a letter of resignation.  There had been no orgy of blood, no ordering of grievances with a vast butcher’s bill – at least for now.  Over 37 years Mugabe had become one of bad boys[Read More…]

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A New Movement Of Rights And The Right In Australia

A New Movement Of Rights And The Right In Australia

Scholars have wondered what “triggers” might be in the social furniture of a culture that might propel a people to embrace a bill of rights.  Australia remains proudly, and idiosyncratically, opposed. Previous efforts to enshrine a charter of rights have failed, accused of being totalitarian usurpations, dangerous incorporations of foreign laws, and a straightjacket on political will. Rights, in actual[Read More…]

The Veiled Threat:  Australia’s Campaign Against New Zealand Refugee Policy

The Veiled Threat:  Australia’s Campaign Against New Zealand Refugee Policy

Another twist in the farce over the stained treatment of refugees on Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island has surfaced.  New Zealand has been insisting for some time that it is more than willing to welcome some 150 to its shores. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, much to the irritation of Australia’s Turnbull government, has been particularly enthusiastic. Australia has remained resolutely[Read More…]

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Trump And The Nuclear Option: The Fiction of Sanity

Trump And The Nuclear Option: The Fiction of Sanity

It had not happened in decades.  On Tuesday, members of the US Congress gathered to consider the scope of presidential power in launching a nuclear strike.  The state of the mind of the current president was very much at the forefront of the discussion, even if some present preferred not to name him specifically. One senator who was fairly frank[Read More…]

Trump In Asia

Trump In Asia

It was certainly a show, but getting to the meat of it was difficult.  US President Donald J. Trump, on his return from an Asian tour lasting twelve days, had set out to “correct” mistakes made by those who had come before him. The fear, however, was that he was going to make a fresh number of his own. There[Read More…]

The Expensive Affirmation: Australia Says Yes To Same Sex Marriage

The Expensive Affirmation: Australia Says Yes To Same Sex Marriage

The overall figure was comfortable, though hardly dashing.  62 percent of Australians (7.82 million) decided that same sex marriage was a perfectly feasible, even desirable notion, while 38 percent (4.87 million) did not.[1] Out of 150 federal seats, 133 registered affirmative totals in returning their response to the question “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?”. [Read More…]

The Fordist Academic

The Fordist Academic

Two figures tower over the idea, and the realisation, of industrial America.  The first is Henry Ford, whose factory process dedicated to mass car production featured specifically focused machinery, a moving assembly line, and a linear process of interdependent tasks. The second giant in this regard is Frederick W. Taylor, whose principles of scientific management involved the division of factory[Read More…]

Idiot Voters And Trolling The Internet: Russia, Social Media Giants And US Elections

Idiot Voters And Trolling The Internet: Russia, Social Media Giants And US Elections

The program usually pokes fun, riddles and irks a fourth estate that has long given up the chase for verity.  Media Watch, after years of weather beaten but reliable service, remains Australia’s only real source of genuine critical comment about journalistic practice and its poorer practices. Over the years, it has exposed fictions, unearthed myths and lampooned incompetence. Not, however,[Read More…]

Trans-Pacific Follies: Australia Asleep As Canada Wakes Up

Trans-Pacific Follies: Australia Asleep As Canada Wakes Up

It was as dreary as listening to the formulaic assessments of political economy by an unreconstructed Leninist.  But Sunday morning with Steve Ciobo, Australia’s trade minister, was such an occasion. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, withering away on the branch of false optimism, has been an instrument of deserved suspicion and opprobrium from popular movements across countries suspicious about the paternalistic follies[Read More…]

War Commemoration Porn: Remembrance Day Celebrations

War Commemoration Porn: Remembrance Day Celebrations

The officials are called one by one to lay wreathes, a ceremony of mechanical efficiency.  With each laying comes the sense of wonder at how this could happen.  Political figures are the first to vote in parliaments and side with the executive when it comes to wars.  The temptations of human drives to tempt, and then succumb to death, were[Read More…]

The Tragic Declaration: Colonial Legacies, Balfour And Israel

The Tragic Declaration: Colonial Legacies, Balfour And Israel

So much after the fact; so much in terms of opportunism gone to seed and destruction. But planned historical calamities tend to be rare.  There are only absurd moments, dastardly opportunities, and tragic convergences.  History is less the outcome of wise deliberation than folly dressed up as reason, occasionally tinged by a touch of malice. On November 2, 1917, the[Read More…]

When Illness Matters: Massacre In Texas

When Illness Matters: Massacre In Texas

The massacre at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs was, to put it simply, effective and spectacular.   It also had the resonances of the primeval, ignoring the sanctity of the church in favour of murder within it.  The alleged assailant managed to do less God’s work than his own, slaughtering 26 and injuring 20 others. The regularity of these[Read More…]

A Triumph Of Accountancy: The Paradise Papers

A Triumph Of Accountancy: The Paradise Papers

This was another case of the big and the powerful undercutting the tax systems of the world. But could anyone be genuinely surprised at the revelations to come out of the Paradise Papers on the workings of the tax haven industry? Of the 13.4 million files revealed by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and some 90[Read More…]

Michael Fallon’s Fall: The Sexual Harassment Storm In British Politics

Michael Fallon’s Fall: The Sexual Harassment Storm In British Politics

Sexual harassment – it’s revelation, that is – is all around at the moment, a toxic cold that is giving political establishments not so much a sneeze as debilitating pneumonia.  In Britain, the cold covered various parties, initiating investigations, concerns and the promise of further actions. It also hit Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary who found himself without a portfolio,[Read More…]

A Lethal Gift: The Halloween Attack, Trump And Immigration

A Lethal Gift: The Halloween Attack, Trump And Immigration

It could not have been scripted better for the demagogues and security hysterics.  With the country still grieving in confusion in the aftermath of the Las Vegas slayings, inflicted by an individual who resisted the classification of terrorist at the hands of the Nevada authorities, in came Sayfullo Saipov. Saipov, who fit the fanatic’s bill, the ideologue’s cut, and popular[Read More…]

An Acceptable Obscenity: Adani Cultivates Queensland

An Acceptable Obscenity: Adani Cultivates Queensland

Townsville: The cicadas are studding the night with their sound, and occasionally, the curlews manifest with calls that string out a melody of mournful death. The reminder of Queensland, and certainly this part of the Australian state, is total. As the dawn breaks, an election is being fought for the state, and its politicians are generally of one unchanging mind: Adani’s[Read More…]

Madness on Horseback: The Charge At Beersheba

Madness on Horseback: The Charge At Beersheba

“The tradition of man and horse is part of us. It is part of Australia.” Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, Oct 31, 2017 Exaggerated truths have been flowering in the rhetoric following the visit of Australian politicians to ceremonies commemorating the light horse charge at Beersheba.  Not a single wisp of objectivity has manifested itself in covering the proceedings, the[Read More…]

Chaos On Manus Island

Chaos On Manus Island

There are standoffs, threats and continuing tensions over the imminent closure of the Manus Island Detention Centre. (The politically palatable term here is “processing centre”.)  This closure, instigated by legal ruling by the Papua New Guinea Supreme Court in April 2016, has led to a degree of window dressing, prevarication and stalling by all parties connected with the institutionalised barbarism[Read More…]

FILE PHOTO: A sign stands outside the High Court of Australia in Canberra, Australia, October 15, 2014.  REUTERS/David Gray/File photo

Strafing Parliament: Australia’s High Court Citizenship Ruling

And they fell like ninepins.  Weeks of predictions, optimistic readings, and hopeful signs were dashed as the members of the highest court of Australia laid waste to members of Parliament. Citing a section in the Australian constitution that has become something of a heavy footnote in popular consciousness, the judges ruled five out of seven applicants ineligible to sit in[Read More…]

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Pirating Into The Czech Elections

Pirating Into The Czech Elections

The Pirate Party are buccaneering their way into European politics, having found a foothold in the testy soil of Central Europe after colonising, in small measure, various hamlets in Sweden, Germany and Iceland.  The Czech Pirates (PPCZ), a term certainly exotic by current political pedigrees, managed to obtain over 10 percent of the vote, a result that gave them a[Read More…]

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Corker And Flake Take Aim: GOP Rumblings Against Trump

Corker And Flake Take Aim: GOP Rumblings Against Trump

GOP members were fuming. Republican Senator Bob Corker of the Foreign Relations Committee was incandescent; Senator Jeff Flake oozed regret and despondency. Both spoke with the freedom of those not seeking re-election, a chance, in other words, to ponder the direction of the US Republic.  Ammunition for an unscripted show had been allocated, and there was no bigger target than[Read More…]

US Soldiers In Niger: A Hidden Global Mission

US Soldiers In Niger: A Hidden Global Mission

Empires of scale are often spread thinly across fields of operations. Vast, often opaque functions on the ground are not necessarily conveyed with accuracy to the metropolitan centre. Command structures, for all the sophistication of instant modern communication, do not eliminate human error, let alone enlighten. The four US army deaths in Niger have been shrouded by the bickering unfolding[Read More…]

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Environmental Protest: Bob Brown Wins In Australia

Environmental Protest: Bob Brown Wins In Australia

Environment activists and watchers will be detaching themselves briefly from their various points of resistance to observe the implications of a High Court decision in Australia that was handed down last week.  The decision found that various anti-protest provisions of the Tasmanian parliament found in the Workplaces (Protection from Protesters) Act 2014 were invalid.[1] The Protesters Act had been passed[Read More…]

A Matter of Fifty Degrees: Climate Change In Australia

A Matter of Fifty Degrees: Climate Change In Australia

A country baked to the core, its citizens roasted, an electricity grid battered to its limits.  Capital cities trapping scorching heat, toasting its citizens and assaulting the young, the elderly, the infirm with temperature fluctuations.  This is the vision of Australia by the end of this century according to an Australian National University study released earlier this month. The study,[Read More…]

The Trans-Tasman Spat Show: New Zealand-Australian Tensions

The Trans-Tasman Spat Show: New Zealand-Australian Tensions

It was an awkward moment for Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop. News had arrived that a New Zealand government had been formed after a lengthy period of deliberation.  (The election took place on September 23.) Veteran maverick and occasional political suicide Winston Peters of the New Zealand First party had played the familiar role of kingmaker, picking the New Zealand[Read More…]

Australia’s Citizenship Bill Fails

Australia’s Citizenship Bill Fails

This is a government that takes pride in its hard headedness and faux populism.  Knowing it would have to brave a sceptical, even baffled Senate, Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, resembling a bit dictator struggling for traction, decided to ignore the signals. What was required, claimed Dutton, were tougher citizenship laws to govern Australia, an ironic state of affairs given[Read More…]

Vengeful In Defeat: Hillary Clinton Fantasises About WikiLeaks

Vengeful In Defeat: Hillary Clinton Fantasises About WikiLeaks

The Hillary Clinton mope tour, which should have reached a high water mark, has gone global. It entails drumming up her credentials (immaculate, we are told, but unnoticed), and pouring upon the man who beat her to the White house (a danger to the world).  The latter is the fundamental point: Donald Trump would not have won, not because of[Read More…]

Trump’s Iran Deal

Trump’s Iran Deal

Bad deals. Very bad – unless, of course, they are minted in the United States, with Make America Great Again credentials.  Hardly the stuff of presidential clout and oratorical flair, but the US president is making good his word to rain on the Iran nuclear deal, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with an overbearing enthusiasm.[Read More…]

Dirty Ties: The University of New Haven And Saudi Arabia

Dirty Ties: The University of New Haven And Saudi Arabia

It’s a relationship of dirty toxicity, but these abound when universities establish ties with regimes and certain entities.  These might take the form of investments. Or they can become matters, somewhat euphemistically, of intellectual exchange. Certainly, for some figures such as the president of the University of New Haven, Steven H. Kaplan, an agreement with King Fahd Security College in[Read More…]

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Climate Change Insurgent: Tony Abbott’s Crusade

Climate Change Insurgent: Tony Abbott’s Crusade

He is the inimitable, true political ugliness, the bad boy with a mistimed punch.  While not quite professorial in his lunacy (that honour will have to go to Pauline Hanson of One Nation, whose sincere bigotry remains pungent), he aspires to it with a greater sense of reason. This Exocet missile of Australian politics continues to direct his power and[Read More…]

Big Batteries: Elon Musk And Powering South Australia

Big Batteries: Elon Musk And Powering South Australia

At the end of last month, Tesla boss Elon Musk held a party in South Australia’s mid-north.  It seemed premature, but Musk was typically confident.  Construction on what will be the world’s most powerful lithium ion battery was going well. It had to.  Musk has made a self-testing gamble with the South Australian government: complete the project within 100-days and[Read More…]

Signals From The Adult Day Care Center: Trump, Tillerson And Corker

Signals From The Adult Day Care Center: Trump, Tillerson And Corker

“I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him.” Senator Bob Corker on Donald Trump, New York Times, Oct 8, 2017 Secretary of State Rex Tillerson may well be pulling out what tender remains of his hair are left.  With the North Korean-Trump spat now personalised to the point[Read More…]

Nuclear Weapons, ICAN And The Nobel Prize

Nuclear Weapons, ICAN And The Nobel Prize

“There are no right hands for the wrong weapons.” Beatrice Fihn, ICAN Executive Director, Oct 6, 2017 Few times in history show the remarkable gulf between international civic action and international political constipation.  The will of approaching a world without nuclear weapons has been matched every step of the way with the desire and wish to acquire or keep them.[Read More…]

The Face of Surveillance: Malcolm Turnbull’s Recognition Database

The Face of Surveillance: Malcolm Turnbull’s Recognition Database

Never miss an opportunity in the security business.  A massacre in Las Vegas has sent its tremors through the establishments, and made its way across the Pacific into the corridors of Canberra and the Prime Minister’s office.  Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull is very keen to make hay out of blood, and has suggested another broadening of the security state: the creation[Read More…]

Boris Johnson Goes Caracas

Boris Johnson Goes Caracas

“Shame people with no knowledge or understanding of Libya want to play politics with the appallingly dangerous reality in Sirte.” Boris Johnson, Twitter, Oct 3, 2017 The Conservative Party conference in Manchester was always going to hinge on an important question: what would Boris Johnson do to steal the show?  Having demonstrated the hardest of lines on the issue of[Read More…]

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What’s In A Word?  Terrorism In Las Vegas

What’s In A Word?  Terrorism In Las Vegas

‘We don’t know what his belief system was at this time.’ Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, Oct 2, 2017 Those gathered at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas were doing what revellers always do.  But the script would not let them persist in their pleasures, to let them be, communing together before their figures of country music. What[Read More…]

A Cuban Mystery: The US Embassy in Havana

A Cuban Mystery: The US Embassy in Havana

Cuba has, for decades, been a form of political pathology for US political consciousness. Fidel Castro loomed in his indestructible guise, tormenting a succession of American presidents with his seeming indestructibility. Efforts at deposing and assassination had conspicuously failed.  It was left, then, to Washington to insulate, seal off and keep Cuba as an infectious patient of international relations, fearing[Read More…]

Macklemore And The NRL Grand Final: The Politics of Sports

Macklemore And The NRL Grand Final: The Politics of Sports

One cultivated myth of human endeavour is the creaky and far from convincing idea that politics and sport are strangers, gazing indifferently from distant across tables, never to engage. Battles on the field can be waged without politics, while politics excludes sport with allergic vigour. The pretence leads to curious spectacles. It means that the International Olympic Committee can be[Read More…]

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Punishing The Media: The Fantasies Of The CIA And William J. Casey

Punishing The Media: The Fantasies Of The CIA And William J. Casey

“Unauthorized disclosures of classified information have become a cancer which undermines presidential authority to conduct foreign policy, our national security process, and our intelligence capabilities.” William J. Casey, Director of the CIA, Nov 14, 1986 It’s the perfect dream in a nightmarish context: how do intelligence services get around the problem, in a liberal democracy, of punishing outlets that reveal[Read More…]

Kurdistan’s Referendum Gamble

Kurdistan’s Referendum Gamble

“We hope for a unified Iraq to annihilate ISIS, and certainly a unified Iraq to push back on Iran.” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House spokeswoman, Sep 25, 2017 What a gamble, and a seemingly ugly one. The merchants of propaganda have naturally been busy with this new, and petulant, kid on the block.  Three areas of Iraqi Kurdistan have gone[Read More…]

German Chancellor and leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Angela Merkel waves to supporters as she celebrates with party members after first exit polls in the German general election (Bundestagswahl) at the CDU party headquarters in Berlin September 22, 2013. Chancellor Angela Merkel won a landslide personal victory in a German election on Sunday, putting her within reach of the first absolute majority in parliament in half a century, a ringing endorsement of her steady leadership in the euro crisis.                REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch (GERMANY  - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)

Angela Merkel: The Ikea Politician

“The recipe for her success, which she has only latterly discovered, is that she’s been able to develop an image as someone who is tuned in to the German soul.” Oskar Niedermayer, Sep 22, 2017 Modular furniture divinities, or corporations, may not be the best points of comparison for a politician, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel has invited it.  She[Read More…]

The Intolerance of Tolerance: Tony Abbott’s Head Butt Episode

The Intolerance of Tolerance: Tony Abbott’s Head Butt Episode

“This was a violent and criminal act, nothing whatsoever to do with the point of view of those of us who favour a yes vote.” Senator George Brandis, Australian Attorney-General, Sep 22, 2017 It came, less out of the blue than out of the ether of the expected.  “A 38 year old North Hobart man has been charged,” went the[Read More…]

Benjamin Netanyahu, Penguins And The United Nations

Benjamin Netanyahu, Penguins And The United Nations

“That’s why Israel’s policy regarding the nuclear deal with Iran is very simple: Change it or cancel it. Fix it or nix it.” Benjamin Netanyahu, UN General Assembly Address, 2017 While he is very much the traditional politician, whose sheen has been corrupted, whose approach to policy merits suspicion, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu was happy with US President Donald Trump.  Trump[Read More…]

Brexiting Hard: Boris Johnson Goes To War

Brexiting Hard: Boris Johnson Goes To War

The Times was none too pleased, riled and concerned. Contributors to The Spectator were wondering whether an imminent implosion was about to take place.  Who would profit from this act of suicide, this ritual of Tory party cannibalism?  The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, naturally. The Tories, Britain’s drivers of Brexit, have gone from trouble to potential disaster. It all came[Read More…]

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The Demise of Civic Journalism: The Xenophon-Turnbull Deal

The Demise of Civic Journalism: The Xenophon-Turnbull Deal

It was never spectacular, but the Australian media scape is set to become duller, more contained, and more controlled with changes to the Broadcasting Services Act.  In an environment strewn with the corpses of papers and outlets strapped for cash, calls for reforming the media market have been heard across the spectrum. The foggy deception being perpetrated by the Turnbull[Read More…]

Donald Trump At The UN

Donald Trump At The UN

It seems to have reached a point of near exhaustion. What will the President of the United States do next?  The money was on some diplomatic mayhem, a series of insults, and a trashing of various aspects of the organisation some Americans regard as a world government. But Donald Trump surprised those at the United Nations with a modest tone,[Read More…]

The CIA Wins: Harvard, Chelsea Manning And Visiting Fellowships

The CIA Wins: Harvard, Chelsea Manning And Visiting Fellowships

It all began with an announcement, made public on the website of the Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics at Harvard University. Chelsea Manning would be joining a curious array of Visiting Fellows, including Mr Disaster, Robby Mook, and Sean Bumbling Spicer.  (Manning, Spicer and Mook has a curious ring to it, the name, perhaps, of an error-prone debt recovery agency.)[Read More…]

Manning At Harvard: The Fears of Veritas

Manning At Harvard: The Fears of Veritas

“I have an obligation to my conscience – and I believe to the country – to stand up against any efforts to justify leaks of sensitive national security information.” Michael Morrell, former Deputy Director, CIA, Sep 14, 2017 Michael Morrell could barely stomach the revelation, which tormented him like indigestible gruel. Chelsea Manning was coming to Harvard’s Institute of Politics. [Read More…]

Damaging Damages: Rebel Wilson’s Defamation Case

Damaging Damages: Rebel Wilson’s Defamation Case

There is very little to be gained pondering whether celebrity journalism should be protected with the zeal that some of its advocates do.  A person with the dirt-directed fanaticism of a Piers Morgan is not to be treasured and his court losses in defamation actions have, at times, warranted jubilation. But nor do the victors – in one notable case,[Read More…]

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White House chief strategist Steve Bannon listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with county sheriffs in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. After saying she'd like to play Bannon on "Saturday Night Live," Rosie O'Donnell has apparently changed her Twitter profile picture to make herself look like him. O'Donnell's offer to play Bannon came after actress Melissa McCarthy's caustic portrayal of White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer on "SNL" last
Trump, Washington, USA - 04 Feb 2017

Steve Bannon’s Crystal Ball: A Split In The GOP

Rarely does the virus speak so formidably to the condition he is a product of.  The soiling, devastating strategist Steve Bannon, despite exiting the Trump administration, remains within it (symbolically at least), moving about with effect and influence. But it is a legacy of mixed curses that bodes ill for the Republican Party. The one call he repeats with truncheon[Read More…]

Shooting at Hurricane Irma: The Seriousness of Humour

Shooting at Hurricane Irma: The Seriousness of Humour

It has all the ingredients of screwball stand up comedy, the necessary corrective to end-of-the-world scenarios.  “And there she was, Irma, blowing herself through the room… And I shot her.” But humour is in scant supply for authorities who have been paying attention to the relentless movements of Hurricane Irma.  Irma, who sounds like a gentle, tea sipping teetotal passing[Read More…]

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Visions Of Europe: Macron In Athens

Visions Of Europe: Macron In Athens

The myth can have a greater effect than an untruth, and those who are in the business of manufacturing and building them never go out of business.  France’s President Emmanuel Macron has, for months, busily promoted a new myth: that of being European saviour, the man with healing visions and supportive panaceas, a counter weight to the toxicity of Trumpland.[Read More…]

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Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Prizes And The Rohingyas

Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Prizes And The Rohingyas

Scratch the skin of a saint, claimed George Orwell, and you are bound to find a sinner with an extensive resume.  Such resumes are evaluated in these modern times by accolades, awards, and summits.  The Noble Peace Prize tends to be crowning affirmation that somewhere along the line, you sufficiently fouled up to merit it. The calls, some even shrill,[Read More…]

Taking Aim: WikiLeaks, Congress And Hostile Agencies

Taking Aim: WikiLeaks, Congress And Hostile Agencies

Various scribbles have started to pepper the conversation started by the adventurous Mike Pompeo after he branded WikiLeaks a hostile intelligence agency before the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  (This would have generated a wry smile of content from Julian Assange.) The words of the Central Intelligence Agency chief are worth retelling in their mind distorting wonder: “It’s time[Read More…]

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Beggars for War: The US, North Korea And Bankruptcy

Beggars for War: The US, North Korea And Bankruptcy

The statement before members of the United Nations Security Council was both brash and high strung. The US ambassador had clearly decided that firm words were needed to understand the continuing military advances of North Korea. To do so, Nikki Haley, far from the sharpest tool in the US diplomatic toolbox, hit upon what Kim Jong-un was doing: “begging for[Read More…]

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Lacking Transparency: Israeli Drones And Australian Defence

Lacking Transparency: Israeli Drones And Australian Defence

“Give us the chance to compete, to see our capabilities, to compare, to see the benefit we can bring with our [drone] system.” Shaul Shahar, Israel Aerospace Industries Vice-President, March 2, 2017 A certain part of you should go on vacation when a drone company, certainly one dedicated to killing, gets less custom to do what it does best.  The[Read More…]

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Unnerving The Donald: North Korea’s Sixth Nuclear Test

Unnerving The Donald: North Korea’s Sixth Nuclear Test

We are now into reckless territory with the latest North Korean nuclear test – in all probability a genuine hydrogen weapon – sending the ever reckless US President Donald Trump into a true state of belligerent adolescence. After Saturday midnight, Washington time, when the test is meant to have taken place, Trump took little time to start pushing out those[Read More…]

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The Flawed Institution: Australian Marriage And The Same-Sex Debate

The Flawed Institution: Australian Marriage And The Same-Sex Debate

It’s a pretty curious thing to see: marriage being defended at all.  Like slavery, and not necessarily inconsistent with it, marriage is an institution. It embraces codes. It imparts obligations, duties, and rights.  And it creeps up on you. In Australia, flawed campaigns are being waged in its name.  This has been occasioned by an absence of parliamentary will.  Abdicating[Read More…]

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Durable Conspiracies: Twenty Years After Princess Diana’s Death

Durable Conspiracies: Twenty Years After Princess Diana’s Death

It has been two decades, and a stocktake of the conspiracy theories over the circumstances of Princess Diana’s death in the Pont de l’Alma road Tunnel will reveal the same inventory as were spawned in the immediate aftermath of her demise.  No response short of fanciful will do; no planned horror, however improbable, can be dismissed. Importantly, there must be[Read More…]

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Matt, Dre, Gary, Teale and Pato with the Nisshin Maru and Mt Siple in the background

Resting Sea Shepherd: A Pause In The Whale War Saga

What a colourful run this outfit has had. Branded in 2013 by Judge Alex Kozinski of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit as pirates, the Sea Shepherd crew will be hanging up their hooks while rethinking their whale protection strategy.  Their long designated enemy, the Japanese whaling fleet, will be given some respite this hunting season. A[Read More…]

Disaster In The Sea Lanes: Bruising The US Navy

Disaster In The Sea Lanes: Bruising The US Navy

“That gives us great cause for concern that there’s something out there that we’re not getting at.” Admiral John Richardson, New York Times, Aug 21, 2017 The large question for naval watchers and those with an interest in maritime matters is what is happening to the US navy.  All powerful, seemingly all invincible, it has been humbled of late by[Read More…]

Loving The Bollard: Turnbull’s Anti-Terror Tool Kit

Loving The Bollard: Turnbull’s Anti-Terror Tool Kit

It has been a week of bollards.  And defence barriers.  And hedges and vegetation. No, not the radio garden hour, or the herbaceous borders special featured on prime time television, delivered by a bearded man with a facial forest so vast it could regenerate several lost species. This is the anti-terrorist flick of the week, and given that Australia’s Turnbull[Read More…]

The Departure Of The Ideologues: Sebastian Gorka Leaves The White House

The Departure Of The Ideologues: Sebastian Gorka Leaves The White House

Troubling times, indeed, if we are noting the ecstasy of Wall Street traders at the departure of a White House official.  What troubles the financiers and banksters would surely delight Main Street.  But this was not any ordinary cheer, nor ordinary celebration. It was August 7, 2017, and the White House had bled another casualty.  Steve Bannon, the key strategist[Read More…]

Lying About Citizenship: Australian Politicians Before The High Court

Lying About Citizenship: Australian Politicians Before The High Court

It was nothing short of fabulous.  Before the public, the political lie is deemed an imperative, instinctively cultured to repel anything that might appear, let alone resemble, truth.  Never, whatever you do in political garb, reveal the game, convey the reality, even if power is only held on trust.  Those idiots (the voters, that is) won’t know. Before the judicial[Read More…]

The Rise of the Killer Robot

The Rise of the Killer Robot

“As companies building the technologies in artificial intelligence and robotics that may be repurposed to develop autonomous weapons, we feel especially responsible in raising this alarm.” Open Letter to the UN on Autonomous technology, August 2017 Melbourne: Do you leave the gruesome task of killing, pulverising and maiming to robots?  The US Defence Department gave a portion of its report Unmanned[Read More…]

The Long, Long Story: “Principled Realism”, Trump And Afghanistan

The Long, Long Story: “Principled Realism”, Trump And Afghanistan

The story continues with dispiriting relentlessness.  The remark by Samuel Beckett in The Unnamable comes to mind: “I can’t go on.  I’ll go on.”  With the sense of incapacity about going on, yet doing so with a drone’s dedicated commitment, President Donald Trump did what US Presidents have done since George W. Bush: commit.  Commit, that is, to the mission;[Read More…]

White supremacists march through the University of Virginia campus the night before the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA. Photo by Karla Ann Coté.

Statues In Defeat: The Confederacy, Treason And History

Statues of historical weight tend to represent heroism – of sorts. It might be of the doomed variety, and often is.  Rebellious causes assume the visage of a stony form, to gaze soullessly across promenades or parks, often ignored by many who have long lost a sense of their meaning. In history, their removal is an act that flies directly[Read More…]

The Burka Comes To Parliament: Pauline Hanson’s Panto

The Burka Comes To Parliament: Pauline Hanson’s Panto

In few environments could this work. A member of Parliament (barely breathing, but still a parliament) running within a Muslim minority country (a small minority, at that) with mocking intent, dons a burka, sits in the stands, and receives appropriate mind bending outrage when she strips it off. One thing can be said: Australia’s Pauline Hanson of her self-described One[Read More…]

Bullying Venezuela: Trump’s Unvarnished Threat

Bullying Venezuela: Trump’s Unvarnished Threat

Whether he holds good on it is beside the point.  President Donald J. Trump’s great value to US foreign policy is its lack of artifice and sophistication, a bullying force of nature that alters with the next burst of adolescent acne and the breaking of the voice.  Even less than the traditional stereotype of the American behaving badly, he is[Read More…]

Breaking The Seal: Child Abuse And The Confessional

Breaking The Seal: Child Abuse And The Confessional

The only surprise was that it did not come sooner. Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has gotten on with the gruesome task of making 85 recommended changes to the law that will provide some measure of future protection for victims of child abuse. The notable words that should be highlighted and even shouted from every[Read More…]

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A Plague on Parliament: Australia’s Citizenship Crisis

A Plague on Parliament: Australia’s Citizenship Crisis

“You know, when you nominate for Parliament, there is actually a question, you’ve got to address that section 44 question.” Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce It is proving to be a toxic gift that continues to give with increasing regularity.  The latest potential victim of section 44 of the Australian Constitution, one barring a member of parliament from having[Read More…]

Money Laundering in Chief: Scandal at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia

Money Laundering in Chief: Scandal at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia

The Australian banker is a smug species, arguably more than his international peers.  Caught off guard by the financial disasters of the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Australian banking system has become an expression of a classic oligopoly, manipulating prices and squeezing customers.  Such an Australian banker is perky as well, self-assured that any inappropriate, let alone illegal behaviour,[Read More…]

Backward Steps: The Australian Recycling Sham

Backward Steps: The Australian Recycling Sham

The green conscience received a setback last week with revelations that the Australian recycling industry is not what it seems.  The middle class sensibility here is simple and dismissive: bin it and forget about it. Place the sorted items in the appropriate set place and let others do the rest. Such an attitude means that the Australian recycler can been[Read More…]

A protester holds a placard as Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull delivers his Christmas message as he and wife Lucy attend the Wayside Chapel Christmas Day service, in Sydney, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016. (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts) NO ARCHIVING

Avenging the King of Iran: The Fate of Hamed Shamshiripour

“The only responsible and humane thing for our government to do is immediately evacuate every single man on Manus, every single family and child on Nauru to safety on Australia.” Daniel Webb, Human Rights Law Centre, Aug 7, 2017 Murder comes in various forms. It can be directly inflicted.  It can be willed and directed from afar. It can also[Read More…]

Dismantling Tent City

Dismantling Tent City

It all began as a series of daring accretions starting last December.  Now, Tent City in Sydney’s Martin Place has become something of an institution, albeit of the fleeting sort.  But this gathering of the homeless, rather than being considered a social consequence of galloping house prices and general cost of living, has been uneven in pulling heartstrings. Benedict Brook,[Read More…]

Promises Of Incineration: The Nuclear Playground Gets Busy

Promises Of Incineration: The Nuclear Playground Gets Busy

“I don’t know what he’s saying and I’ve long ago given up trying to interpret what he says.” Senator John McCain on President Donald J. Trump, Aug 8, 2017 Moral equivalence is the enemy of the noble and the exceptional, and the screeching rhetoric currently being fired across the diplomatic bows of Pyongyang and Washington have become mirrors of brute[Read More…]

Gay Plebiscites: Australia’s Crisis on Same-Sex Marriage

Gay Plebiscites: Australia’s Crisis on Same-Sex Marriage

What a fabulous mess. And a churning one it is for the Australian government, now mired in yet another farce of weak leadership and bullying factions.  A mess for those who feel that this issue need never have gotten this far.  A mess for others who just wish to be left alone with their decisions. Such is the nature of[Read More…]

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Suitable Company: Trump, Turnbull And Refugees

Suitable Company: Trump, Turnbull And Refugees

“I think it is a horrible deal, a disgusting deal that I would never have made. It is an embarrassment to the United States of America and you can say it just the way I said it.” Donald J. Trump to Malcolm Turnbull, Jan 28, 2017 It acts as a Rorschach test on policy making in the United States, upon[Read More…]

Fanciful Terrors: Bomb Plots And Australian Airport Security

Fanciful Terrors: Bomb Plots And Australian Airport Security

In the classroom of international security, Australia remains an infant wanting attention before the older hands.  During the Paris Peace talks, Prime Minister William Morris (“Billy”) Hughes screamed and hollered Australia’s wishes to gain greater concessions after its losses during the Great War, urging, among other things, a more punitive settlement for Germany. In the post-September 2001 age, recognition comes[Read More…]

The Pine Gap Anniversary Party

The Pine Gap Anniversary Party

It all happened without much fuss, since fuss was bound to be the enemy. Dignitaries, guests and various partners lined up for a gathering at Alice Springs in Australia’s Northern Territory on Saturday, commemorating the secret base’s half-century. The Alice Spring News Online described it, not inaccurately, as a “stealth party”.  The Convention Centre hosting the dinner was tight lipped[Read More…]

The Cardinal, The Church And Legal Theatre

The Cardinal, The Church And Legal Theatre

  “The world is watching.” Cathy Kezelman, Blue Knot Foundation president, The Washington Post, Jul 25, 2017 The show on Wednesday was grim, busy, crowded.  Cardinal George Pell, the highest Vatican official thus far to be brought within the legal fold of accusation and accountability for historical crimes of sex abuse, fronted for the briefest of shows at a lowly[Read More…]

Refugee Conundrums: Resettlement, The UN And The US-Australia Deal

Refugee Conundrums: Resettlement, The UN And The US-Australia Deal

Having poured scorn and not an indecent amount of bile upon the refugee deal between the Obama administration and Canberra last year, US President Donald Trump was never going to make things easy for the resettlement of various groups held on Nauru and Manus Island. Repeated emphasis has been made on the issue of how the anti-terrorism regime outlined in[Read More…]

Slaying In Minneapolis: Justine Damond, Shooting Cultures And Race

Slaying In Minneapolis: Justine Damond, Shooting Cultures And Race

It plays out as a horror story of law enforcement. A distress call to the Minneapolis police about activity taking place behind the house on Washburn Avenue, possibly a sound of intercourse, distress, or both, taking place after 11 during the night of July 15.  “Hi, I’m, I can hear someone out back and I, I’m not sure if she’s[Read More…]

From Spicy To The Mooch: A Farewell To Sean Spicer

From Spicy To The Mooch: A Farewell To Sean Spicer

What will entertainers do in his absence?  White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was more than grist to the mill of celluloid delights, becoming, by the admission of the US President, a “tv hit” smoking the ratings.  When a press secretary’s conduct is valued, not for the substance of his material, but the entertainment he garners, the Republic is surely[Read More…]

Curbing Participation: The US Congress and Yemen

Curbing Participation: The US Congress and Yemen

In recent times, there hasn’t been much cheery in the power circles of Washington. The US is gradually finding itself unmoored and floating from international agreements at a dizzying rate. Its president is cool-mad distant, self-serving and occasionally clenching in peculiarity.  And the traditional buffet room of conflict continues to be stacked with US interests and US armaments, armaments sales[Read More…]

Uhlmann’s Trump Problem

Uhlmann’s Trump Problem

It’s all well and good to huff at the current President of the United States, who has managed to get under more irritated skin than an army of dedicated leaches.  The immersion of the White House into the reality television show of Trumpland has set people on edge, lighting volatile fires and driving some commentators, quite literally, around the bend.[Read More…]

Militarising Civilian Life: Australia, Policing And Terrorism

Militarising Civilian Life: Australia, Policing And Terrorism

It is far from unusual in recent times: a spate of terrorist activity, followed by police seemingly agog, then the call for cavalry, usually in the form of military forces to guard vital installations and furnish the public with a reassuring presence.  Unfortunately, such moves tend to take place long after the horse has bolted, an ineffectual measure in terms[Read More…]

A Question of Accountability: Cardinal Pell, The Vatican And Child Abuse

A Question of Accountability: Cardinal Pell, The Vatican And Child Abuse

The Catholic Church, much in the manner of a modern corporation, is a sprawling edifice of operations and functions.  To hold part of it accountable for abuses – against human, bank account, or country – has presented a formidable legal obstacle. This nightmare has taken place amidst a broader question: the extent Church officials believe they are accountable to secular[Read More…]

Exaggerated Victories: The Mosul Effect

Exaggerated Victories: The Mosul Effect

The need to tick off the tactical and strategic boxes in the interminable war against Islamic State is so pressing it acquires the quality of ham acting, where generals and leaders become thespians of exaggerated promise before the camera. Nothing typified this more than the euphoric statements outlined by the Iraqi leadership in the aftermath of its efforts to retake[Read More…]

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Tensions in Hamburg: The G20 Fractures

Tensions in Hamburg: The G20 Fractures

  “I think it’s very clear that we could not reach consensus, but the differences were not papered over, they were clearly stated.” Angela Merkel, BBC News, Jul 8, 2017 Such gatherings and summits are not always smooth, but on a planet bearing witness to a Trump presidency, there was always going to be a chance for more excitement at[Read More…]

Dangerous Pantomime: Trump And North Korea’s Missile Program

Dangerous Pantomime: Trump And North Korea’s Missile Program

It’s all fine while it remains on the stage, a matter of contained, almost camp displays of grunting and strutting.  The diplomats can still have some say; the foreign ministries retain some hold over the military instinct. But the longer the Korean Nuclear Dance continues, the more likely it will repel the jaw jaw option in favour of war war.[Read More…]

Hillsborough: Holding The Police To Account

Hillsborough: Holding The Police To Account

“It is also a story of deceit and lies, of institutional defensiveness defeating truth and justice. It is evidence of a culture of denial within South Yorkshire Police.” Anne Burkett, BBC, Apr 27, 2016 It took 28 years for the tables to turn on the South Yorkshire police regarding the Hillsborough disaster that took the lives of 96 fans.  The[Read More…]

The European Commission, Google and Anti-Competition

The European Commission, Google and Anti-Competition

“Google’s practices have deprived millions of European consumers of the full benefits of competition, genuine choice and innovation.” Margrethe Vestager, June 28, 2017 Google, for some time, has been the leviathan of the tech world.  A KQED radio discussion on a Tuesday morning treats the company as a creator and dispenser: creator of transport infrastructure, funnelling employees from the city[Read More…]