Articles by: Dr Binoy Kampmark

Criminalising Journalism: Australia’s National Security Craze

Criminalising Journalism: Australia’s National Security Craze

There has been a lot of noise made in Australia about the need for broader protections when it comes to the fourth estate and the way it covers national security matters.  In a country lacking a backbone in terms of constitutional free speech, journalists are left at the mercy of authorities when it comes to exposing egregious abuses of power. [Read More…]

July 3, 2020 World
Killing Koalas: The Promise of Extinction Down Under

Killing Koalas: The Promise of Extinction Down Under

The British conservationist Gerald Durrell once remarked that the koala was “the most boring of animals”.  Its brain size, proportionally the smallest of any mammal, evolved to cope with its slow metabolism.  But the spectacle of these singed, toasted animals was a terrifyingly cruel one to behold.  As good stretches of Australia burned over the last bushfire season, the sheer[Read More…]

July 2, 2020 Environmental Protection
The Kafkaesque Imperium: Julian Assange and the Second Superseding Indictment

The Kafkaesque Imperium: Julian Assange and the Second Superseding Indictment

The Kafkaesque Imperium has taken yet another absurd step towards mean absurdity with another superseding indictment against Julian Assange.  This move by the US Department of Justice seems to have surprised those involved in his extradition proceedings.  Mark Summers QC, one of the members of the Assange legal team, did not conceal his astonishment at the call over hearing at[Read More…]

June 30, 2020 Human Rights
A Trendy Rage: Boycotting Facebook and the Stop Hate for Profit Campaign

A Trendy Rage: Boycotting Facebook and the Stop Hate for Profit Campaign

Rage can be that most trendy of things, and social media rage has become modish. If you dislike something, scream it in a certain number of characters and post it on every network you subscribe to.  You might even feel good about it.  When the pot is taken off the boil, the matter goes away. Things cool till other ingredients[Read More…]

June 29, 2020 World
Indicting Hashim Thaçi: The Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office Gets Busy

Indicting Hashim Thaçi: The Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office Gets Busy

When it comes to the touchy, violent matter of Kosovar affairs, history keeps company with the devils of nationalism and vengeance. Serbia remains scornful of the aspirations of the territory, whose legitimacy it does not recognise; Kosovo remains spiteful of Serbia’s continued interest, and attempts, at any given turn, to frustrate their neighbour’s effort at European integration.  Blood tinged memories[Read More…]

June 26, 2020 World
Bolton’s Memoir Bolts from the Stable

Bolton’s Memoir Bolts from the Stable

President Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor John Bolton would have been confident.  His indulgent The Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir pitted him against the administration in a not infrequent battle over material that is published by former officials recounting their giddy days in high office.  On June 17, the US government filed a civil suit seeking[Read More…]

June 25, 2020 World
Obvious Maladies: Prepublication Reviews and Trump’s Bolton Problem

Obvious Maladies: Prepublication Reviews and Trump’s Bolton Problem

Again, they cheered, and again, the Schadenfreude chorus sounded off key.  It was another atrocious week for US President Donald Trump, whose efforts to prevent the publication of his former national security adviser’s memoir seemed more than a touch childish. For one, John Bolton is hardly the administration’s most sympathetic figure.  When he was admitted to the inner circle, it[Read More…]

June 20, 2020 World
Reverse Logic: Trump Sanctions the International Criminal Court

Reverse Logic: Trump Sanctions the International Criminal Court

The decision by the Trump administration to sanction members of the International Criminal Court defies logic, in so far as there is any logic to sanctions.  As a policy tool, such tools are supposedly designed to target specific members of a regime that has fallen into bad ways.  In practice, they act as instruments of collective punishment.  When used economically,[Read More…]

June 19, 2020 World
The Conviction of Maria Ressa: Press Freedom in the Philippines

The Conviction of Maria Ressa: Press Freedom in the Philippines

It has long been said that countries in Southeast Asia take a dim view of the fourth estate.  Various legal measures have been deployed against those irritable scribblers over the years: old, colonial-era security legislation; defamation suits; traditional forms of lengthy detention without charge.  Such states have mastered the supreme sensibility of their colonial forebears:  Maintain the appearance of propriety;[Read More…]

June 18, 2020 Human Rights
Sticks, Stones and Death in Galwan Valley

Sticks, Stones and Death in Galwan Valley

Things along the Indian-Chinese border in the Himalayas have rarely lacked interest, notably along the secretive, heavily patrolled 3,488 km Line of Actual Control.  Neither China nor India have ever quite sorted out their differences on that front, plagued by territorial claims over unclearly demarcated boundaries.  The administration of Narendra Modi might well have wooed global governments, but China’s Xi[Read More…]

June 17, 2020 World
The Narrative of the Leakers: Collateral Murder and the Assange Indictment

The Narrative of the Leakers: Collateral Murder and the Assange Indictment

When the superseding indictment was returned by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia against Julian Assange on May 23, 2019, there was one glaring omission.  It was an achievement, it might even be said the achievement, that gave the WikiLeaks publisher and the organisation justified notoriety.  Collateral Murder, as the leaked video came to be called,[Read More…]

June 16, 2020 World
Trump at West Point: Un-Policing the World

Trump at West Point: Un-Policing the World

Donald Trump claims to be the law-and-order president of the United States.  There does not seem much sign of this as the stitching of the Republic gets undone.   Protestors have been given a considerable roughing up across several states; police forces are in retreat before proposals of defunding while protocols for arrests are being changed. Police chiefs are resigning and,[Read More…]

June 15, 2020 World
Corrupt Propositions: AstraZeneca, Public Institutions and the Coronavirus Vaccine Drive

Corrupt Propositions: AstraZeneca, Public Institutions and the Coronavirus Vaccine Drive

Putting your destiny into the hands of a drug company is much like seeking reassurances from an opportunistic pimp.  The returns are bound to mixed, dressed up in deceptive language.  The promises, however, are always remarkable.  The back-breaking pace in finding a vaccine for COVID-19 is something that is bringing out the pimps of industry, notably those in Big Pharma.[Read More…]

June 14, 2020 World
Open Wounds: Sweden Drops the Olof Palme Case

Open Wounds: Sweden Drops the Olof Palme Case

It’s the sort of thing that ruffled the image of a composed and tranquil existence.  In some countries, doing away with political leaders is a periodic affair, deemed necessary to clean the stables.  But in Sweden, change is barely discernible, stability nigh guaranteed and institutions revered.  “It’s in the tradition of Sweden to put itself forth as a moral role[Read More…]

June 11, 2020 World
Altars of Hypocrisy: George Floyd, Protest and Black Face

Altars of Hypocrisy: George Floyd, Protest and Black Face

Be wary what you protest about.  The modern moral constabulary are out, and they are assisted by their Silicon Valley friends in the Social Media club.  Should you dare take a stand on anything, especially in a dramatic way, you will be found out and eviscerated on the altar of hypocrisy. The latest round of huffing and strutting on moral[Read More…]

June 10, 2020 World
Radical Reforms: Disbanding Police Forces in the US

Radical Reforms: Disbanding Police Forces in the US

“I’ve been saying for the last several years … American policing is at a crossroads.” Mike Cutone, former Massachusetts officer, June 5, 2020 If you can envisage the commencement of a police force as a band of auxiliaries to keep slaves in check, capture escapees and sow much terror, it becomes that much clearer.  Such men were not stewards to[Read More…]

June 9, 2020 World
Let’s Burn the Whole Thing Down: Death, Protest and George Floyd

Let’s Burn the Whole Thing Down: Death, Protest and George Floyd

Mobs are unruly, headless things.  The message is the action.  The platform is often violence.  But what is happening across the United States cannot simply be labelled as a looting-leads-to-shooting episode.  It ranks as another chapter of enraged despair and untidy opportunism. It all began with a savage act in South Minneapolis, a killing grotesque for its indifference.  The hunter[Read More…]

June 1, 2020 World
U.S. President Donald Trump departs at the end of a news conference in New York, U.S. September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC1297B30D30

Sinister Flatulence: Trump versus Twitter

Sawing off the branch you sit on can hardly be the best of policies.  But that all depends on the nature of the branch.  US President Donald Trump has huffed himself into another small historical moment, going on the offensive against social media companies using the very language his faux progressive opponents use against them.  All seem to be in[Read More…]

May 30, 2020 World
Battles over Barley: Australia, China and the Tariff Wars

Battles over Barley: Australia, China and the Tariff Wars

It promised to be bruising to both dignity and wallet.  However brazen Australian politicians have been drumming up support for an international inquiry into the origins of the novel coronavirus, the first ones to be slapped in anger would have to be those in agriculture.  Barley exporters find themselves facing a suffocating, and potentially market killing tariff, of 80.5 percent. [Read More…]

May 20, 2020 World
Why Thinking Makes it So: Donald Trump’s Obamagate Fixation

Why Thinking Makes it So: Donald Trump’s Obamagate Fixation

The “gate” suffix has been wearing thin since the break-in scandal that gave it its birth.  Since Watergate, virtually anything dubious and suggestive, and much more besides, is suffixed.  Which brings us to the issue of President Donald Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.  Finding himself in hot water (did he ever leave it?) Trump has been sowing the seeds of “Obamagate”,[Read More…]

May 19, 2020 World
Inglorious Bastardry: Hacking for Vaccines

Inglorious Bastardry: Hacking for Vaccines

If you cannot discover or create something, best steal it.  It has been the operating principle for everything from wealth to technology.  With the efforts to discover a vaccine to the novel coronavirus being all but bound by solidarity, the race on plundering secrets has already begun in earnest.  No one party can claim particular innocence in this endeavour.  All[Read More…]

May 19, 2020 World
The Mouse Roars: Australia, China and a Coronavirus Independent Inquiry

The Mouse Roars: Australia, China and a Coronavirus Independent Inquiry

Australia matters little when it comes to international muscle.  It is the retainer and pretender of power, a middle-distance runner who runs out of puff on the final stride.  The big boys and girls look, agog. Why did you even bother?  In the recent international relations shouting match (for Australia, shouting; for China, sotto voce with a touch of menace),[Read More…]

May 16, 2020 World
The Liabilities of History: The Dangers of Pandemic Compensation

The Liabilities of History: The Dangers of Pandemic Compensation

Smug assertions of liability in history are often incautious things.  They constitute a fruit salad mix: assertions of the wishful thinkers; hopes of the crazed; the quest of genuinely aggrieved generations who feel that wrongs need to be rectified (the Elgin Marbles and transatlantic slavery come to mind).  Before you know it, the next historical act will require compensation, the[Read More…]

May 14, 2020 World
Patriotic Vaccines: The Divided Coronavirus Cause

Patriotic Vaccines: The Divided Coronavirus Cause

When it comes to the politics of medicine and disease, the United States has always attempted to steal the limelight, while adding the now faded colouring of universal human welfare.  In 1965, Washington pledged financial and technical support to the international effort to eradicate smallpox, though the initiative had initially been spurred by the Soviet Union at the behest of[Read More…]

May 11, 2020 World
Tara Reade, the Democrats and Joe Biden’s Woman Problem

Tara Reade, the Democrats and Joe Biden’s Woman Problem

The Me Too movement was meant to be more than a howl or rage with a trending hash tag.  It was a surge that threatened to pulverise all before it, arming accusers with weapons of merit and disarming predators who had, for decades, acted in beastly fashion from positions of power.  It did net some mighty scalps and also, at[Read More…]

May 7, 2020 World
Muting Justice: Rescheduling Julian Assange’s Hearing

Muting Justice: Rescheduling Julian Assange’s Hearing

“When we think of the repression of journalists, we automatically evoke foreign lands.  We rarely, however, evoke or remember our own dissidents.” Peter Oborne, Middle East Eye, May 5, 2020 It all spoke well of British justice, which meant poorly.  As one correspondent from the Australian Associated Press put it in describing the latest case hearing for Julian Assange, “There[Read More…]

May 6, 2020 Human Rights
Pandemic Revisionism: The George W. Bush Whitewash

Pandemic Revisionism: The George W. Bush Whitewash

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful.  And so are we.  They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people.  And neither do we.” President George W. Bush, Aug. 5, 2004 Hatred is disorientating, and becomes, over time, a form of enduring fanaticism.  The attacks on US President Donald Trump tend to fall into this camp. [Read More…]

May 5, 2020 World
The Rohingya in Malaysia: Coronavirus and Alibis for Paranoia

The Rohingya in Malaysia: Coronavirus and Alibis for Paranoia

Rounding up undocumented workers, migrant and refugees is part of a brutal order of things in Malaysia.  When matters economic are going well, authorities turn the blindest of eyes.  The money pours in; development goals are being met.  During times of crisis, the eye sharpens in the search for scapegoats.  With the enervating effects of the COVID-19 response, the vulnerable[Read More…]

May 4, 2020 Human Rights
Brutal Choices: Anders Tegnell and Sweden’s Herd Immunity Goal

Brutal Choices: Anders Tegnell and Sweden’s Herd Immunity Goal

If the title of epidemiological czar were to be created, its first occupant would have to be Sweden’s Anders Tegnell.  He has held sway in the face of sceptics and concern that his “herd immunity” approach to COVID-19 is a dangerous, and breathtakingly cavalier approach, to public health.  Tegnell T-shirts featuring him as a medieval liberator are available for purchase;[Read More…]

May 2, 2020 World
Harvard’s Fossil Fuels Formula: Engagement before Withdrawal

Harvard’s Fossil Fuels Formula: Engagement before Withdrawal

“Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it,” urged the Earl of Chesterfield in a letter of advice to his son penned in 1749.  “No idleness, no laziness, no procrastination: never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.”  This has not tended to be the view of university governors the world over,[Read More…]

April 30, 2020 Climate Change
Pandemic Delays: Postponing the Assange Extradition Hearing

Pandemic Delays: Postponing the Assange Extradition Hearing

“Mr Assange will be facing a David and Goliath battle with his hands tied behind his back.” Edward Fitzgerald QC, lawyer for Julian Assange, April 27, 2020 Julian Assange must have had time amidst cramped and hostile surrounds, paper work, pleas and applications, to ponder what circle of Dante’s Hell he finds himself in.  Ailing but still battling, the WikiLeaks[Read More…]

April 28, 2020 Human Rights
Despots and Disease: Gossiping over Kim Jong-Un

Despots and Disease: Gossiping over Kim Jong-Un

Illness can often fall into the category of the obsessive, becoming a sport for mugs, sufferers and observers alike.  The following often feature: the hypochondriac, the speculator of disease, the gossip about how far gone a person is who has contracted something or rather.  When it comes to tyrants, such speculation becomes a thrill of sorts, with rich lashings of[Read More…]

April 26, 2020 World
An Odd Little Commemoration: ANZAC Mythology during Coronavirus

An Odd Little Commemoration: ANZAC Mythology during Coronavirus

War commemorations nurse a dirty secret, though it is one displayed with a peacock flourish.  The victors bring out the celebratory paraphernalia and talk about noble ideas; the defeated, quite simply, do not.  We won, we celebrate and we, somehow, got things right.  You, defeated, eat it, beat it.  This does not quite work well with the ANZAC tradition, born,[Read More…]

April 23, 2020 World
Climbing the Revenue Mountain: Google, Facebook and the Publishers’ Right

Climbing the Revenue Mountain: Google, Facebook and the Publishers’ Right

They are rather good at raking in the cash; rather poor at sharing it.  Google and Facebook have radiated, strafed and shrivelled hundreds of news outlets across the globe with their information sharing platforms while celebrating choice, advertising revenue and traffic.  The idea of whether such content is news is irrelevant: what is shared, be it news, rumour or supposition,[Read More…]

April 22, 2020 World
Donald Trump’s Governor Problem: Debates on Opening Up the Economy

Donald Trump’s Governor Problem: Debates on Opening Up the Economy

Things are getting dizzy in the White House on what, exactly, is being done to “open the economy”.  Cranky advocates for the financial argument over the restrictions of public health have been attempting to claw back some ground.  As Jonathan Chait puts it, “The anti-public health faction either believes the dangers of the coronavirus have been exaggerated, or that the[Read More…]

April 20, 2020 World
The Coronavirus Liability Craze: Holding China Accountable

The Coronavirus Liability Craze: Holding China Accountable

Politicians, as any political class, will nurse their favourite prejudice.  And when there is a crisis, those prejudices will be fanned and praised to the heavens.  For some politicians, who find the whole business of lockdowns and business restrictions all too much, someone has to pay for COVID-19. Australian Senator Malcolm Roberts takes up the theme that is being pushed[Read More…]

April 18, 2020 World
Cutting the Funding: The WHO, Trump and the Coronavirus Wars

Cutting the Funding: The WHO, Trump and the Coronavirus Wars

The US president is in a warring mood.  Having declared himself a president at war, a meaningless gesture given that the US is always, somewhere in the world, at war, finding necessary enemies in distraction was always going to be a priority.  Donald Trump already had the “China virus” in his artillery, attaching nationality to pathogen. Now, and it took[Read More…]

April 17, 2020 World
The Fire Fauci Brigade

The Fire Fauci Brigade

The intemperate volcano that is the US President has done much to burn its way through prominent appointments.  As the title of former GOP strategist Rick Wilson’s book goes, Everything Trump Touches Dies.  There seem few more important individuals in the United States than Dr Anthony Fauci, and that, for the White House, is a problem.  No burning bushel can[Read More…]

April 15, 2020 World
Hell is Other People: Pandemic Lifestyles and Domestic Violence

Hell is Other People: Pandemic Lifestyles and Domestic Violence

In No Exit, the translated title of Jean-Paul Sartre’s play, Huis Clos, three deceased characters find themselves in a room, ostensibly in Hell, in what transpires as a permanent wait.  Locked after being ushered in by a valet, with quite literally no means of escape, they are confronted with each other’s moods, lies and eventual confessions.  Sadism, cowardice and mendacity[Read More…]

April 14, 2020 Patriarchy
Worshiping and Defiling Britain’s NHS

Worshiping and Defiling Britain’s NHS

Tories worshipping Britain’s National Health System are akin to fanatical carnivores who suddenly extol the virtues of vegans.  Has the grave response to COVID-19 signalled a change of heart?  In the case of UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, it was all heart, quite literally.  It might have stopped beating and that scruffy, buffoonish essence of a man, a compulsive hand[Read More…]

April 13, 2020 World
Julian Assange: One Year In Belmarsh

Julian Assange: One Year In Belmarsh

It should not be a matter of distinction, but Julian Assange is a figure who is becoming the apotheosis of political imprisonment.  This seems laughable to those convinced he is an agent without scruple, a compromiser of the Fourth Estate, a figure best packed off to a prison system that will, in all assuredness, kill him. That’s if he even[Read More…]

April 12, 2020 Human Rights
The Coronavirus State: New Zealand and Authoritarian Rumblings

The Coronavirus State: New Zealand and Authoritarian Rumblings

It’s all about the lever of balance.  Laws made for public protection, within which public health features prominently, provide grounds for derogation authorities can exploit.  Like plasticine, the scope of power during times of an emergency extends.  But at what point does a state of public health become a police state?  In time, we may find these to be not[Read More…]

April 11, 2020 World
A Victory for the Fogeys: Bernie Sanders Drops Out

A Victory for the Fogeys: Bernie Sanders Drops Out

Champagne corks will be popping in the Trump Empire, for good reason.  Whatever happens come November, the exit of Senator Bernie Sanders from the US presidential race will be a relief.  The fractured republic can be reassured that the Democrats have not moved on, stuck, as it were, in the glades of vengeful melancholia and supposedly safe bets.  Divisions will[Read More…]

April 10, 2020 World
Julian Assange and Lockdown Injustice

Julian Assange and Lockdown Injustice

Scribes of the Julian Assange case must surely gawk with a sense of horrified wonder at each proceeding unfolding at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London.  Assange is in a battle that can only be described as titanic, seeking to avoid the clutches of the US Justice Department, not to mention its legal system, and convince District Judge Vanessa Baraitser[Read More…]

April 8, 2020 World
Banal Terrors: Pandemics and the Ordinary Business of War

Banal Terrors: Pandemics and the Ordinary Business of War

The twaddle of framing the confrontation of the coronavirus as a “war” has proven to be a cheapening, misguided exercise.  France’s president Emmanuel Macron has deemed COVID-19 the “invisible, elusive enemy”, making it sound like an adept guerrilla specialising in sneak attacks.  China’s Xi Jinping has gone for the language of the “people’s war”, suggesting that the virus has certain[Read More…]

April 7, 2020 World
Coronavirus Socialism for the Wealthy

Coronavirus Socialism for the Wealthy

When capitalism screeches to a halt and starts its old business of killing off the adventurous but weakened, the enterprising but foolish, those who initially benefited, shed tears.  Losses mount, accountants tally up current and future losses.  Huge profits somehow do not matter now, as the diminishing balances bite and impress.  As this happens, the corporatocrats start to search.  Options[Read More…]

April 6, 2020 World
University Bailouts, Funding and Coronavirus

University Bailouts, Funding and Coronavirus

In a set of stable circumstances, funding higher education should be a matter of automatic persuasion.  If you want an educated populace, the tax payer should muck in. In some countries, however, this venture is uneven.  In the United Kingdom, the system remains divided, an echo of class stratification.  In Australia, which took so many of its behavioural and policy[Read More…]

April 5, 2020 World
Boastful Pay Cuts: The Coronavirus Incentive

Boastful Pay Cuts: The Coronavirus Incentive

It has become a source of pride.  Highly salaried executives – often, it should be said, receiving pay very much disconnected from the value of their work – making voluntary pay cuts and telling everybody else about it.  In sport, celebrated figures such as Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo have chosen to reduce their enormous pay packages for the sake[Read More…]

April 4, 2020 World
An OEB class on evolutionary genomics and museum collections underscores a multi-university initiative to integrate museum collections into classroom teaching.  Post-doctoral fellow Sarah Kocher teaches the class, which is joined remotely by others via video. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

Signing in and Dropping Out: Coronavirus and the Virtual University

It was made with little thought but a good deal of high-minded urgency: Evacuate your office, take what you can, and prepare for the virtual world.  Fill in a form, tell us if you actually pinched the office computer.  This was the message that was sent to academic staff across Australia in the second half of March.  Australian universities were[Read More…]

April 1, 2020 World
The Swedish Alternative: Coronavirus as a Grand Gamble

The Swedish Alternative: Coronavirus as a Grand Gamble

As draconian lockdowns, punitive regimes and surveillance become the norm of the coronavirus world, Sweden has treaded more softly in the field.  This is certainly in contrast to its Scandinavian cousins, Denmark and Norway.  The rudiments of a life uninterrupted generally remain in place. Cafes, restaurants and shops, for the most part, remain open and stocked.  As do gyms and[Read More…]

March 31, 2020 World
An Inglorious Opportunity: Coronavirus and Emergency Powers

An Inglorious Opportunity: Coronavirus and Emergency Powers

There has been a hurried spate of cancellations and suspensions of elections across the globe because of the risk posed by COVID-19.  The trend is unsurprising.  In the age of post-democratic process, suspending the procedure should only induce a cough of recognition.  But it is troubling for those who take the ceremonial aspect of these things seriously. Such tendencies have[Read More…]

March 30, 2020 World
Barbaric Decisions: Coronavirus, Refusing Bail and Julian Assange

Barbaric Decisions: Coronavirus, Refusing Bail and Julian Assange

“To expose another human being to serious illness, and to the threat of losing their life, is grotesque and quite unnecessary.  This is not justice, it is a barbaric decision.” Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, March 26, 2020 Social distancing is not a word that seems to have reached certain parts of the British legal system.  Granted, it is an[Read More…]

March 28, 2020 Human Rights
Coronavirus and the Prison Industrial Complex

Coronavirus and the Prison Industrial Complex

The legacy of the coronavirus pandemic, at least in so far as responses are concerned, is thickening by the day.  Behavioural changes are being urged, language is rapidly evolving (spot the “covidiot” amongst you) and the policy of health surveillance is being pushed.  Another field where the virus has triggered interest is the very idea of incarceration.  Prison may be[Read More…]

March 25, 2020 World
Business as Usual: Coronavirus, Iran and US Sanctions

Business as Usual: Coronavirus, Iran and US Sanctions

Never discount the importance of venality in international relations.  While pandemics should provide the glue for a unified front in response – we keep being told of fighting this horrendous “invisible enemy” – it’s business as usual in other respects.  The United States, with a disparate, confused medical system that risks being overwhelmed, remains committed against that other country floundering[Read More…]

March 23, 2020 World
The Pandemic Surveillance State

The Pandemic Surveillance State

In anticipation of the post-COVID-19 world, bold statements are being made on how we will, as a race, be wiser, even kinder; cautious, and reflective.  If history is ever a lesson on anything, such statements are bound to be the fatuous utterances of a moment, soon forgotten.  What is left, instead, are the policy legacies, the detritus of bad decisions[Read More…]

March 22, 2020 World
Moralising Hoarding, Panic Buying and Coronavirus

Moralising Hoarding, Panic Buying and Coronavirus

Hoarding as moral aberration and ethical breach: the term has recently become the subject of scorn in coronavirus chatter.  In terms of mental disorders, it is “characterized by persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions”, though the Coronavirus Hoarder is a breed that adds urgent bulk acquisition to the shopping equation. If you part with it, take advantage of making[Read More…]

March 21, 2020 World
Viral Reactions: The Smugness of Celebrity Self-Isolation

Viral Reactions: The Smugness of Celebrity Self-Isolation

The rush to elevate self-isolation to Olympian heights as a way to combat the spread of COVID-19 has gotten to the celebrities.  Sports figures are proudly tweeting and taking pictures from hotel rooms (Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton being a case in point).  Comics are doing their shows from home.  Thespians are extolling the merits of such isolation and the[Read More…]

March 19, 2020 World
Surf the Internet Instead: Britannic Herd Immunity and Coronavirus

Surf the Internet Instead: Britannic Herd Immunity and Coronavirus

Epidemiologist William Hanage was more than perplexed by the plan.  “When I heard about Britain’s ‘herd immunity’ coronavirus plan,” he reflected in The Guardian, “I thought it was satire.”  Much public policy, foolishly considered and expertly bungled, tends to succumb to satire; having Prime Minister Boris Johnson leading the show provides an even better chance of that happening. Herd immunity,[Read More…]

March 18, 2020 World
The Taliban Scores a Coup

The Taliban Scores a Coup

It threatened to disappear under the viral haze of COVID-19, but February 29 saw representatives from the US and Taliban, loftily acknowledged as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, sign the “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan”.  After two decades of conflict, the agreement sets in motion the process that should see American troops leave Afghanistan within 14 months.  Initially, 8,600[Read More…]

March 17, 2020 World
The Release of Chelsea Manning

The Release of Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Manning’s release last Thursday by order of Virginia District Court judge Anthony Trenga had an air of oddness to it.  “The court finds Ms. Manning’s appearance before the Grand Jury is no longer needed, in light of which her detention no longer serves any coercive purpose.” Her detention had never served any coercive purpose as such – she remained[Read More…]

March 16, 2020 Human Rights
For Heaven’s Sake Sanitise!  Coronavirus as a Way of Life

For Heaven’s Sake Sanitise!  Coronavirus as a Way of Life

“Anything we say in advance of a pandemic happening is alarmist; anything we say afterwards is inadequate.” Michael Leavitt, US Health and Human Services Secretary, March 30, 2006 A crew of gathered customers were busying themselves this Friday evening at the BWS (Beer, Wine and Spirits for the uninitiated) along Elizabeth Street in Melbourne, sporting shirts heavy with sponsorship.  Some[Read More…]

March 14, 2020 World
Coronavirus Offerings and Job Losses: University Reliance on China Bites

Coronavirus Offerings and Job Losses: University Reliance on China Bites

It was predicted, warned against and is happening.  Universities fattened by the Chinese student market are now in a state of financial shock, cutting losses, trimming courses and doing what over managed institutions do best: remove working productive staff while preserving the gouty managerial class.  COVID-19 was but a catalyst for something that was already deep seated, a doomsday scenario[Read More…]

March 11, 2020 World
Golden Anniversaries for Flawed Treaties: The NPT turns Fifty

Golden Anniversaries for Flawed Treaties: The NPT turns Fifty

In an era where agreements have been abandoned as “bad”, to use that favourite word of US President Donald Trump, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons continues to feature on the books of diplomacy.  But age seems to be wearying it and decoding sober readings from hype-filled tat has been a testing task. United Nations Secretary General António[Read More…]

March 11, 2020 World
Crimes in Afghanistan: Fatou Bensouda’s Investigative Mission

Crimes in Afghanistan: Fatou Bensouda’s Investigative Mission

It seemed an unlikely prospect.  The International Criminal Court has tended to find itself accused of chasing up the inhumane rogues of Africa rather than those from any other continent.  It has also been accused of having an overly burdensome machinery and lethargy more caught up with procedure than substance.  Critics fearing a behemoth snatching soldiers from the armed forces[Read More…]

March 8, 2020 World
Toilet Paper Blues: Coronavirus and Pandemic Pantries

Toilet Paper Blues: Coronavirus and Pandemic Pantries

Fears of imminent apocalypse tend to be midwives to absurdity.  The stockpiling fever that has gripped various populaces in response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has taken various forms.  “Pandemic pantries” are becoming the norm, suggesting that hoarding in the crisis tends to be a precursor to petty crime. In the United Sates, the price of hand sanitizers has[Read More…]

March 5, 2020 World
(FILES) A picture taken on December 25, 2010 shows Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak waving during the annual conference of the ruling National Democratic Party in Cairo. An Egyptian court on August 21, 2013 ordered the conditional release of Mubarak in one remaining case against him, judicial sources told AFP.    AFP PHOTO/STR-/AFP/Getty Images

Strong Man Legacies: Burying Mubarak

Reviled strongmen of one era are often the celebrated ones of others.  Citizens otherwise tormented find that replacements are poor, in some cases even crueller, than the original artefact.  Such strongmen also serve as ideal alibis for rehabilitation: Look at who we have come to bury! Fittingly, Egypt’s late Hosni Mubarak was given that most traditional of rehabilitative occasions, a[Read More…]

March 3, 2020 World
The Viral Blame Game: Xenophobia, Attribution and Coronavirus

The Viral Blame Game: Xenophobia, Attribution and Coronavirus

Moralising the way diseases and viruses are transferred is a very human, and particularly nasty trait.  “We don’t need this kind of riff-raff on our shores,” screamed The New York Times in 1892 in response to Russian Jewish immigrants arriving at Ellis Island by boat.  (The occupants hosted lice which, in turn, led to typhus.) Italian immigrants in the United[Read More…]

March 1, 2020 World
Julian Assange, the Glass Cage and Heaven in a Rage: Day Four of Extradition Hearings

Julian Assange, the Glass Cage and Heaven in a Rage: Day Four of Extradition Hearings

Thursday, February 27, Woolwich Crown Court.  The first round of extradition hearings regarding Julian Assange’s case concluded a day early, to recommence on May 18th.  It ended on an insensible note very much in keeping with the woolly-headed reasoning of Judge Vanessa Baraitser, who is of the view that a WikiLeaks publisher in a cage does not put all heaven[Read More…]

February 28, 2020 Human Rights
Julian Assange, Political Offences and Legal Restraints: Day Three of Extradition Hearings

Julian Assange, Political Offences and Legal Restraints: Day Three of Extradition Hearings

Wednesday, February 26, Woolwich Crown Court.  Today, the focus shifted to the protagonist himself and the nature of the US-UK Extradition Treaty of 2003, a contentious document that shines all too favourably for US citizens. Julian Assange, whose deteriorating condition has been noted for months by psychologists, doctors and UN Special Rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer, has been making a[Read More…]

February 27, 2020 World
Julian Assange Against the Imperium: Day Two of Extradition Hearings

Julian Assange Against the Imperium: Day Two of Extradition Hearings

The second day of extradition hearings against Julian Assange and by virtue of that, WikiLeaks, saw Mark Summers QC deliver a formidable serve for the defence at Woolwich Crown Court.  “It’s difficult to conceive of a clearer example of an extradition request that boldly and blatantly misstates the facts as they are known to be to the US government.”  The[Read More…]

February 26, 2020 World
Julian Assange and the Imperium’s Face: Day One of the Extradition Hearings

Julian Assange and the Imperium’s Face: Day One of the Extradition Hearings

If we are to believe it, Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, the man behind showing the ugliness of power, is the one responsible for having abused it.  It is a running theme in the US case against this Australian publisher, who has been given the coating of common criminality hiding the obvious point: that the mission is to make journalism on[Read More…]

February 25, 2020 World
Mixed Returns for the Huawei Bashing Tour

Mixed Returns for the Huawei Bashing Tour

The US imperium is rattled, so much so it’s letting everyone else know about it.   Move over the trade war with its bitchy insistence on redressing imbalances, surpluses and deficits; the next phase of conflict with China is being waged in matters of technology, with Huawei’s 5G prowess featuring prominently.  As the veteran Australian journalist Tony Walker soberly notes, “The[Read More…]

February 24, 2020 World
Viral Losses: Australian Universities, Coronavirus and Greed

Viral Losses: Australian Universities, Coronavirus and Greed

There are few things more richly deserved than the punishment of a profligate ruler who finds himself fending off a hungry citizenry.  But such matters lie in the realm of government, elections, holding representative office.  Universities, notably in Australia, are oblivious to accountability and have, over several decades, become a booming corporatocracy.  Institutionally, they constitute a white collar criminal class[Read More…]

February 21, 2020 World
Pardoning Julian Assange: Donald Trump, WikiLeaks and the DNC

Pardoning Julian Assange: Donald Trump, WikiLeaks and the DNC

The central pillar to Democratic paranoia and vengefulness regarding the loss of Hillary Clinton in 2016 was the link between Russian hacking, the servers of the Democratic National Committee and the release of emails via WikiLeaks.  Over time, that account has become a matter of hagiography, an article of faith, with grave conclusions: WikiLeaks and Russia elected Donald Trump. The[Read More…]

February 20, 2020 World
“Leave Our Bloke Alone”: A Little Mission for Julian Assange

“Leave Our Bloke Alone”: A Little Mission for Julian Assange

“I think that now it is time that the government I am a part of needs to be standing up and saying to both the UK and the US: ‘enough is enough, leave our bloke alone and let him come home.’” George Christensen, Australian conservative MP, Sydney Morning Herald, Feb 19, 2020 An odd crew and perhaps the sort Julian[Read More…]

February 19, 2020 Human Rights
Corporate Occupations: The UN Business “Black List” and Israel’s Settlements

Corporate Occupations: The UN Business “Black List” and Israel’s Settlements

Mikhail Bakunin, in that charming anarchist tradition, regarded the state as an evil to be done away with.  Such collective formations were criminal, oppressive, eviscerating to the individual.  The corporation might be regarded as a similar collective, adopting and aping elements of the state with, in some cases, greater latitude to achieve its object.  At times, they collude with states[Read More…]

February 17, 2020 World
Intelligence Spats: Australia, Britain and Huawei

Intelligence Spats: Australia, Britain and Huawei

A note of fraternal tension has been registered between the United Kingdom and Australia.  It began with Britain’s decision to permit China’s technology giant Huawei a role in the construction of the country’s 5G network.  While the decision is qualified to non-core functions, as UK officials term it, the irritations to the United States and, it follows, Australia, have been[Read More…]

February 16, 2020 World
Fashion Fetishism, Surgical Masks and Coronavirus

Fashion Fetishism, Surgical Masks and Coronavirus

Entering Singapore’s Changi Airport gives the visitor a glimpse of a mask fetish.  Security guards wear it.  As do the nurses and the various personnel who man cameras like anti-aircraft batteries, noting the approaching passenger in transit with due suspicion.  The passenger, in turn, wishes to avoid showing anything that might be construed as a suspect symptom.  Whatever you do,[Read More…]

February 14, 2020 World
Failed Prosecutions: Donald Trump Survives the Senate

Failed Prosecutions: Donald Trump Survives the Senate

Never undertake a prosecution unless you have good grounds, and prospects, for a solid conviction.  In the case against President Donald Trump, there was never a serious prospect that the Senate would cool sufficiently to give the Democrats the votes necessary to affirm vote of impeachment in the House.  The GOP remains very much in Trump’s pocket, a remarkable if[Read More…]

February 7, 2020 World
Triumphal Divisions: Trump’s State of the Union Address

Triumphal Divisions: Trump’s State of the Union Address

In this year of the presidential elections, President Donald J. Trump shows little sign of cowering. It had been some time in coming, but here was a businessman talking to a Congress long in the pocket of business, a seemingly seamless order of things that would have made the Founding Fathers cringe. Trump’s rule has remade political practice in the[Read More…]

February 6, 2020 World
Teflon Lies and Mowing Lawns: The Afghanistan Papers

Teflon Lies and Mowing Lawns: The Afghanistan Papers

Afghanistan is a famous desert for empires, a burial ground which has consumed those in power who thought that extra fortification and trading most might benefit them.  It remains a great, and somewhat savage reminder about those who suffer hubris, overconfidence and eagerness in pursuing their agendas.  But the country has also served another purpose: a repository for the untruths[Read More…]

February 4, 2020 Imperialism
united kingdom exit from europe relative image

Brexit Day

London: Parliament Square is the site, muddied by rain, trodden by hundreds who have made it their celebratory space.  The Leave Means Leave official website had been busy for weeks, thrilled about January 31 and the fact that that Britain would finally be leaving that beastly collective they know as the European Union.  Those who promised to be in attendance[Read More…]

February 1, 2020 World
Paranoid Groundings and Technocratic States: Hillary Clinton versus Mark Zuckerberg

Paranoid Groundings and Technocratic States: Hillary Clinton versus Mark Zuckerberg

It is another one of those contests and disagreements where the contestants should all loose, or at the very least, be subjected to a torturous stalemate.  Hillary Clinton remains the nasty sprinkle on the Democratic Party in the United States, ever hopeful that some door might open to enable her to come sliding in, taking the reins to what she[Read More…]

January 30, 2020 World
Split Hearings: The Assange Extradition Case Drags On

Split Hearings: The Assange Extradition Case Drags On

It is being increasingly larded with heavy twists and turns, a form of state oppression in slow motion, but the Julian Assange extradition case now looks like it may well move into the middle of the year, dragged out, ironically enough, by the prosecution.  Curiously, this is a point that both the prosecutors, fronted by the US imperium, and the[Read More…]

January 25, 2020 World
Janus-Faced on Climate Change: Microsoft’s Carbon Vision

Janus-Faced on Climate Change: Microsoft’s Carbon Vision

“This is a bold bet – a moonshot – for Microsoft.”  So claimed Brad Smith, Microsoft President, in a Thursday announcement painting a picture of a company that intends to be carbon negative by 2030.  “And,” Smith continued, “it will need to be a moonshot for the world.”  That vision entails the removal of more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere[Read More…]

January 18, 2020 Climate Change
Short of Time: Julian Assange at the Westminster Magistrates Court

Short of Time: Julian Assange at the Westminster Magistrates Court

London: Another slot of judicial history, another notch to be added to the woeful record of legal proceedings being undertaken against Julian Assange.  The ailing WikiLeaks founder was coping as well as he could, showing the resourcefulness of the desperate at his Monday hearing.  At the Westminster Magistrates Court, Assange faced a 12-minute process, an ordinary affair in which he[Read More…]

January 15, 2020 World
Vague Imminence: US policy, Pre-emptive Force and Qasem Soleimani

Vague Imminence: US policy, Pre-emptive Force and Qasem Soleimani

International relations is typified by its vagueness of definition and its shallowness of justification. Be it protecting citizens of a state in another, launching a pre-emptive strike to prevent what another state might do, or simply understanding the application of a treaty provision, justifications can prove uneven and at odds. The pre-emptive jerk behind the killing of Major General Qasem[Read More…]

January 13, 2020 World
Incendiary Extinctions: Australian Fires and the Species Effect

Incendiary Extinctions: Australian Fires and the Species Effect

Cocooned as it is from the world of science scepticism, the handling of the bush fire catastrophe unfolding in Australia is going to one of the more notable (non)achievements of the Morrison government.  They were warned; they were chided; they were prodded.  But the measures lagged and the flames came. To a certain extent, this remains unfair.  Australian governments, across[Read More…]

January 11, 2020 Climate Change
Disruptive Assassinations: Killing Qassem Soleimani

Disruptive Assassinations: Killing Qassem Soleimani

On the surface, it made not one iota of sense.  The murder of a foreign military leader on his way from Baghdad airport, his diplomatic status assured by the local authorities, evidently deemed a target of irresistible richness.  “General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”  The words from[Read More…]

January 6, 2020 World
Australia Burns: Fireworks, Bush Fires and Denial

Australia Burns: Fireworks, Bush Fires and Denial

As 2020 approached, the sense that the barbarians were not only at the gates but had breached the walls of indifference had come to the fore.  But these were not conventional human forms; rather, they were the agents of conflagration, driving people to the sea, forcing them from homes and consuming territories the size of small countries.  Australia was burning.[Read More…]

January 1, 2020 World
Indian Adventures: Policing, Facial Recognition and Targeting Privacy

Indian Adventures: Policing, Facial Recognition and Targeting Privacy

The chances for those seeking a world of solitude are rapidly run out.  A good case can be made that this has already happened.  Aldous Huxley’s Savage, made famous in Brave New World, is out of options, having lost to the Mustapha Monds of the world.  State and corporate regulation of life, surveillance and monitoring, are reviled only in the[Read More…]

December 31, 2019 India
Hypersonic Putin and Gonzo Weaponry

Hypersonic Putin and Gonzo Weaponry

Weapons of dazzling murderousness have always thrilled military industrial establishments.  They make money; they add to the accounts; and they tickle the pride of States who manufacture them.  From time to time, showy displays of restraint through arms limitation agreements are made.  These can apply to either the offensive element of such weapons, or their defensive counters. The calculus of[Read More…]

December 30, 2019 World
Scapegoats for Jamal Khashoggi

Scapegoats for Jamal Khashoggi

The hit squad that went about its deadly business with varying degrees of competence in Istanbul last year is set to be thinned.  Five members of the group tasked with strangling and carving up the Saudi journalist and out-of-favour Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate on October 2, 2018 are now facing the generous justice of their employers.  As this[Read More…]

December 29, 2019 World
Sanctions, Security and the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline

Sanctions, Security and the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline

The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, construction of which is intended to transport 55 billion cubic metres of Russian gas to Germany per year under the Baltic Sea, is a ragbag of options and promises.  The fruit of a deal between Berlin and Moscow, it has troubled those within Russia, Germany, Europe and the United States, though for different reasons.[Read More…]

December 23, 2019 World
Burning Continents, Secret Travels and Scott Morrison

Burning Continents, Secret Travels and Scott Morrison

The bush fire situation in Australia is now deemed catastrophic.  And it started early, with a relentless ferocity that has seen thousands of volunteers stretched across the states and a slow but assured rise in the number of deaths.  Currently, there are fires raging at emergency level across New South Wales, and major incendiary activity in South Australia and Victoria. [Read More…]

December 22, 2019 Climate Change
Medical Opinion, Torture and Julian Assange

Medical Opinion, Torture and Julian Assange

On November 27 this year, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, delivered an address to the German Bundestag outlining his approach to understanding the mental health of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.  These comprised two parts, the initial stage covering his diplomatic asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy, the second dealing with his formal detention in the United Kingdom at the[Read More…]

December 21, 2019 World
The Politics of Trump’s Impeachment

The Politics of Trump’s Impeachment

Several features stand out in the impeachment quest against President Donald J. Trump.  There is constitutional discourse as mythology and fetish.  There is outrage that the executive office could have been used to actually investigate political opponents through foreign agents.  There is cattiness over whether the conduct of the president veered into the territory of criminality, or fell somewhat short[Read More…]

December 20, 2019 World
Boris Johnson’s Britain

Boris Johnson’s Britain

Britain is looking drenched at the moment; colours blue and yellow seem to be streaking through the country. The Scottish Nationalists have re-asserted control lost to the Conservatives in 2016.  In the rest of the country, seats never touched by Tory Blue have are now occupied by the party of Boris Johnson.  Yet again, British politics shows that the posh[Read More…]

December 18, 2019 World
Climate Change Accounting: The Failure of COP25

Climate Change Accounting: The Failure of COP25

Prior to the UN Convention on Climate Change talks held in Madrid, the sense that tradition would assert itself was hard to buck.  Weariness and frustration came in the wake of initial high minded optimism. Delegates spent an extra two days and nights attempting to reach a deal covering carbon reduction measures before the Glasgow conference in 2020.  The gathering[Read More…]

December 16, 2019 Climate Change
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 27:  Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn presents documents related to post-Brexit UK-US Trade talks as he speaks during an election policy announcement on the NHS at church house n Westminster on November 27, 2019 in London, England. The United Kingdom's will go to the polls in a general election on December 12. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Paranoias of Interference: Russia, Reddit and the British Election

No election takes place in a vacuum, and for all the assertions of fact-checkers, monitors and gatekeepers of order, some agency, be it corporate, national or international, is involved.  To persuade is to interfere.  The intensity of this has become more relevant with the saturation, and velocity, of information spread.  Often, it is impossible to assess how that distortion in[Read More…]

December 9, 2019 World
A Troubled Family: NATO turns 70

A Troubled Family: NATO turns 70

Summit anniversaries are not usually this abysmally interesting.  While those paying visits to Watford, England on the occasion of the seventieth anniversary of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation are supposedly signatories to the same agreement, a casual glance would have suggested otherwise.  This was a show of some bickering. France, never the most comfortable member, suggested the that NATO was[Read More…]

December 7, 2019 World
Going to the ICJ: Myanmar, Genocide and Aung San Suu Kyi’s Gamble

Going to the ICJ: Myanmar, Genocide and Aung San Suu Kyi’s Gamble

Leaders currently in office rarely make an appearance before either the International Court of Justice or the International Criminal Court.  International law remains affixed to the notion that heads-of-state are, at least for the duration of their time in office, safe from prosecution.  Matters change once the time in office expires. Be that as it may, Myanmar’s Aung San Suu[Read More…]

December 4, 2019 World
Julian Assange in Videoconference: The Spanish Case Takes a Turn

Julian Assange in Videoconference: The Spanish Case Takes a Turn

Judge José de la Mata of Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional, had been facing a good deal of stonewalling on the part of his British colleagues.  He is overseeing an investigation into the surveillance activities of a Spanish security firm aimed at WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, during his stay at the Ecuadorean embassy in London. De la Mata had[Read More…]

December 2, 2019 Human Rights
Popes Against Nuclear Weapons

Popes Against Nuclear Weapons

The Vatican comes with its ills, contradictions and blatant hypocrisies in the field of moral theology and human existence, but on the issue of atomic and nuclear weapons, the position has been fairly consistent, if marked by gradual evolution.  On February 8, 1948, Pope Pius XII held an audience with members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.  “What misfortunes,” he[Read More…]

November 25, 2019 World
Dropped Investigations: Julian Assange, Sex and Sweden

Dropped Investigations: Julian Assange, Sex and Sweden

Sex, the late Gore Vidal astutely observed, is politics, and not merely from the vantage point of those who wish to police it.  In the case of whistleblowers, claims of aberrant, unlawful sex serves the purpose of diminishing credibility, tarring and feathering the individual and furnishing a distraction.  Forget what was disclosed; focus, instead, on the moral character of the[Read More…]

November 20, 2019 World
Letting the Side Down: Prince Andrew, the Royal Family and Jeffrey Epstein

Letting the Side Down: Prince Andrew, the Royal Family and Jeffrey Epstein

The choking cloud of Jeffrey Epstein’s paedophilic legacy has been floating over the Atlantic for some time.  It does its best (or worst) in matters of US and British celebrity, warts and all.  It has not, for instance, exempted the British Royal Family, whose cupboard stocked with misbehaviours and raunchiness got just more crowded with the antics of the Duke[Read More…]

November 18, 2019 World
Business as Usual: Evo Morales and the Coup Condition

Business as Usual: Evo Morales and the Coup Condition

There is an inherent bestiality in the politics of the Americas that signals coup, assassination and disruption.  No state is ever allowed to go through what is weakly called a transition, except over corpses, tortures and morgues.  When a social experiment is conducted, rulers must ensure their wills are well inked ahead of time.  Opponents, often funded and sponsored by[Read More…]

November 14, 2019 World
Incinerating Logic: Bush Fires and Climate Change

Incinerating Logic: Bush Fires and Climate Change

Despite the Internet, connectivity, and linking technologies, distance has not shrunk the Australian sense of self, an often provincial appraisal of the world seen in slow motion and stills.  Whether it’s the “flower revolution” or Michel Foucault, trends and ideas are often delayed, and seem almost cutely anachronistic by the time they make landfall down under.  Wedded to the insatiable[Read More…]

November 12, 2019 Climate Change
Walls in the Head: Ostalgia and the Berlin Wall Three Decades Later

Walls in the Head: Ostalgia and the Berlin Wall Three Decades Later

Walls have always served a dual purpose: they keep people in, and others out.  The mentality of the wall is one of imprisonment and exclusion.  Three decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we see such infrastructure, both symbolically and in actuality, potent. On August 13, 1961, the German Democratic Republic began construction of the structure officially dubbed the[Read More…]

November 10, 2019 World
Charter for Conservatism: The ALP Campaign Review

Charter for Conservatism: The ALP Campaign Review

Reports on electoral strategies are often written in order to be avoided.  They are scripted for the express purpose of gathering dust on shelves, or decaying in digital files rarely to be consulted except by historians.  But the review of the reasons why the Australian Labor Party lost the May 2019 Australian federal election was deemed of particular interest.  Authored[Read More…]

November 9, 2019 World
Corporate Mammon: Amazon and the Seattle Council Elections

Corporate Mammon: Amazon and the Seattle Council Elections

An enduring US political tradition was in evidence in Seattle recently.  Amazon had decided that the city council elections would be too important to leave alone.  Seattle was their city after all.  The aim of the company was much in keeping with the manor lord who prosecutes keen poachers: fund pro-business candidates sympathetic to its cause and defeat such Amazon[Read More…]

November 8, 2019 World
Curfew Panda

Curfew Panda

It seems a tall, ambitious and very authoritarian order: imposing bans on persons under the age of 18 from playing online games between 22:00 and 08:00; rationing gaming on weekdays to 90 minutes and three hours on holidays and weekends.  This is the response of the People’s Republic of China to fears that video game addiction must be combated, less[Read More…]

November 7, 2019 World
Scott Morrison’s Authoritarian Streak: Crushing Anti-Mining Protest in Australia

Scott Morrison’s Authoritarian Streak: Crushing Anti-Mining Protest in Australia

The Prime Minister of Australia is fuming.  Having made his mark on Australian politics by being the mining sector’s most avid defender, Scott Morrison was disturbed by the week’s events in Melbourne that saw clashes between police and protesters outside the sixth annual international mining and resources conference. It made sense for the protesters to kick up a fuss at[Read More…]

November 2, 2019 Environmental Protection
Tethering Pegasus: WhatsApp takes NSO Group to Court

Tethering Pegasus: WhatsApp takes NSO Group to Court

A lawsuit filed in a US federal court in San Francisco on Tuesday threw up a few interesting, and disturbing considerations. In it, the Facebook-owned platform WhatsApp advanced an allegation that now seems commonplace: that the Israeli spyware Pegasus (known in computer wonderland as a remote access trojan) had again made an appearance, deployed against 1,400 WhatsApp users.  In a[Read More…]

November 1, 2019 World
Boris Johnson Against Parliament

Boris Johnson Against Parliament

A pretty odd thing, this.  The prime minister of Britain, supposedly of the conservative creed, making an almost violent dash against both parliament and the courts of law.  While his presence is barely a patch on Margaret Thatcher, there is something about the Johnson rabble that reeks of demagogic aspiration. Thatcher, for one, was not a conservative but a neoliberal,[Read More…]

October 30, 2019 World
united kingdom exit from europe relative image

Unlevelled Fields: Brexit, Workers’ Rights and the Environment

The smorgasbord of Brexit terms has been further plated up with the latest acronym: the WAB or Withdrawal Agreement Bill.  It comes in at 115 pages, with an added bonus of 126 pages of explanatory notes.  For something seemingly so significant, not much time was on offer for those in the Commons to peruse, let alone digest it.  Rushed before[Read More…]

October 28, 2019 World
Libra and Calibra: Mark Zuckerberg appears before Congress

Libra and Calibra: Mark Zuckerberg appears before Congress

It was never going to be pretty.  The Facebook CEO knew in appearing before the House Financial Services Committee to answer questions on the company’s proposed cryptocurrency that a few sizeable bumps would appear.  As it turned out, much of the questioning had little to do with the Libra currency, along with its digital wallet format known as Calibra. New[Read More…]

October 25, 2019 World
Case Mismanagement in London: Julian Assange, Political Offences and Surveillance

Case Mismanagement in London: Julian Assange, Political Offences and Surveillance

While Australian journalists bonded and broke break in condemning national security legislation that some of them had previously supported, one figure was barely mentioned.  Julian Assange was making his first public appearance since April for a case management hearing at the Westminster Magistrates Court. Those in attendance were disturbed.  Craig Murray professed to being shaken. “Every decision was railroaded through[Read More…]

October 24, 2019 World
Brand Trudeau Wins a Second Term

Brand Trudeau Wins a Second Term

Few politicians come across more as products of hashtag committee management than Justin Trudeau. His image has been doctored, massaged and spruced, and even then, the Instagram-Twitter committee did not quite see those corrupt influences that are bound to tarnish someone who believes in endless, indestructible parliamentary majorities. The image can do much, but not that much. After being elected[Read More…]

October 23, 2019 World
Celebrity Protesters and Extinction Rebellion

Celebrity Protesters and Extinction Rebellion

Benedict Cumberbatch.  Olivia Colman.  Fine actors.  They believe in Extinction Rebellion, or perhaps, rebelling against the prospect of extinction.  The environment thing, humanity as a damnably scandalous, ecologically damaging species. But they also believe in taking sponsorship from the very same entities who are doing their best (or worst) to engage in matters of existential oblivion.  So the circle of[Read More…]

October 21, 2019 World
The Decent Protester: A Down Under Creation

The Decent Protester: A Down Under Creation

The Decent Protester, appropriately capitalised and revered is, from the outset, one who does not protest. It is an important point: to protest in the visage of such a person is an urge best left to inner fantasy and feeling. You come late to the scene: the best work and revolt has been done; the people who made the change[Read More…]

October 18, 2019 World
Piggish Problems: African Swine Fever Does Its Worst

Piggish Problems: African Swine Fever Does Its Worst

You cannot get away from it, at least in print or in Google land. African swine fever is doing its rounds, cutting through the swine population of Asia with remorseless dedication.  Since its deadly debut in China last year, it has done away with some 25 percent of the globe’s pig population.  The symptoms are dramatic and lethal (mortality rates[Read More…]

October 16, 2019 World
A Coalition of Support: Parliamentarians for Julian Assange

A Coalition of Support: Parliamentarians for Julian Assange

Australian politicians, and the consular staff of the country, are rarely that engaged on the subject of protecting their citizens.  In a couple of notorious cases, Australian authorities demonstrated, not only an indifference, but a consciously venal approach to its citizens in overseas theatres. Mamdouh Ahmed Habib, a dual Australian-Egyptian national, was detained in Pakistan in October 2001 and subsequently[Read More…]

October 14, 2019 World
The Politics of Funding: Cash Crisis at the United Nations

The Politics of Funding: Cash Crisis at the United Nations

It remains one of the more unusual arrangements in terms of funding. Like a club filled with members of erratic disposition, the United Nations can never count on all dues to come in on time.  Some members drag their feet.  The bill is often delayed.  In the United States, responsible for some 22 percent for the operating budget of the[Read More…]

October 10, 2019 World
Cynical Enterprises: The Kurds Await Their Fate

Cynical Enterprises: The Kurds Await Their Fate

Big powers, as with the greatest of gangsters, have always had a certain, indulgent luxury; their prerogative is to make promises they can choose to abide by or ignore.  A vision is assured, guarantees made.  Then comes the betrayal.  The small powers, often pimped in the process, can only deal with the violent consequences. The United States has gone the[Read More…]

October 9, 2019 World
Colin Powell’s Trump Problem

Colin Powell’s Trump Problem

When the compromised speak of judgment, the voice of credibility vanishes.  In its place, a certain niggling sense of hypocrisy and weakness prevails.  Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell is one of those of those compromised voices.  He presided over a redundant State Department before the pressures of the Pentagon and Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld, keen to initiate[Read More…]

October 7, 2019 World
Internal Dissolution: Brexit and the Disunited Kingdom

Internal Dissolution: Brexit and the Disunited Kingdom

While the European family seems to be having its internal spats – populist sparks within threatening to light the powder keg – the marshals and deputies, for the most part, are attempting to contain the British contagion.  Britain is still scheduled to leave on October 31 without a deal with the European Union.  The divorce papers remain unimplemented, and the[Read More…]

October 6, 2019 World
Turning 70: Xi Jinping’s People’s Republic of China

Turning 70: Xi Jinping’s People’s Republic of China

During the era of Sovietology, experts would pour over images of the gathered politburo in Red Square, gazing with grey monolithic interest upon the military hardware moving across the forum.  An absent figure might suggest a potential coup; a new face, a sinister reshuffle.  A wink, a smile, a glare, a compendium of bodily moves that might shed light on[Read More…]

October 4, 2019 World
U.S. President Donald Trump departs at the end of a news conference in New York, U.S. September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC1297B30D30

The President Did It: Donald Trump’s Phone Around

When the squalid, absurd and occasionally hilarious accounts are compiled by a sober mind, the Trump administration will stand out as much gargoyle with more than a touch of paranoia.  But there will be one thing that might save the man who has given an era his name: The fact that there were those out to get him from the[Read More…]

October 2, 2019 World
Dangerous Detentions: Julian Assange and Remaining in Belmarsh

Dangerous Detentions: Julian Assange and Remaining in Belmarsh

Much ink has been spilt in textbooks describing situations where autocratic states can behave badly.  They abuse rights; they ignore international law and they ride roughshod over conventions.  Liberal democracies may boast that they follow matters to the letter of the law, and make sure that citizens are given their fair and just cause in putting forth their cases.  The[Read More…]

October 1, 2019 World
U.S. President Donald Trump departs at the end of a news conference in New York, U.S. September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC1297B30D30

When Convenience Counts: Leaking, Whistleblowing and the Democrats

The entire Trump presidency has been a sequence of “watch this space” moments.  Dismissals and political executions; attacks and distractions; gestures of deal making and promises of apocalypse. Perhaps it was high time for another bit of material to be added to this sprawling tapestry of mayhem.  The elements seemed to form the basis of a badly told joke: a[Read More…]

September 30, 2019 World
Jacques Chirac: The Art of Being Vague

Jacques Chirac: The Art of Being Vague

The tributes have been dripping in heavy praise: former French president Jacques Chirac and mayor of Paris, the great statesman; the man who said no to the US-led war juggernaut into Iraq; the man loved for being loved.  Many of these should have raised the odd eyebrow here and there. “We French have lost a statesman whom we loved as[Read More…]

September 29, 2019 World
Scott Morrison and China

Scott Morrison and China

China has rattled Western observers for centuries, and the idea that it might be approaching a level of formidable heft is troubling to those who, condescendingly, see it as a naughty child who aspired to economic growth but could only do so as long as it behaved.  In other words, they achieved success because we let them, and profited from[Read More…]

September 27, 2019 World
Railroaded by the Judges: Boris Johnson fails in the UK Supreme Court

Railroaded by the Judges: Boris Johnson fails in the UK Supreme Court

It delighted Labour supporters and party apparatchiks who had been falling over each other in murderous ceremony at the party conference in Brighton: Prime Minister Boris Johnson would come to the unwitting rescue with his own version of a grand cock-up.  This involved a now defeated attempt to circumvent parliamentary scrutiny and interference ahead of the Brexit date of October[Read More…]

September 25, 2019 World
Tempered Emergency: The Climate Change Summit in New York

Tempered Emergency: The Climate Change Summit in New York

It had a good deal of desperate scolding.  Sweden’s Greta Thunberg assumed the role of punishing advocate, a Joan of Arc of fury.  The main culprit in her speech at the UN Climate Action Summit was the hideous, super ego, the big bad “You”, ever condescending, ever indifferent, the “You” of adulthood that had trashed the environment and left a[Read More…]

September 24, 2019 Climate Change
Normal Intrusions: Globalising AI Surveillance

Normal Intrusions: Globalising AI Surveillance

They all do it: corporations, regimes, authorities.  They all have the same reasons: efficiency, serviceability, profitability, all under the umbrella term of “security”.  Call it surveillance, or call it monitoring the global citizenry; it all comes down to the same thing.  You are being watched for your own good, and such instances should be regarded as a norm. Given the[Read More…]

September 23, 2019 World
Rotten in Tunisia: The Corrupt Rule of Ben Ali

Rotten in Tunisia: The Corrupt Rule of Ben Ali

He was the prototypical strong man softened by tactical reforms, blissfully ignorant before the fall, blown off in the violent winds of the Arab Spring.  Having come to power in 1987 on the back of a coup against the 84-year-old Habib Bourguiba, whom he accused of senility, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was the face of Tunisia till 2011, when he[Read More…]

September 21, 2019 World
Extinction Rebellion: Leaving it to the Students

Extinction Rebellion: Leaving it to the Students

The protestor of school age sported a placard featuring a distorted caricature of Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison: “Scomo was liking it hot”.  A glorious spring day, and a gathering was already fussing and buzzing outside the Victorian State Library and students were striking.  The placard image was one that toasted both ways – looking “hot” for the purposes of[Read More…]

September 20, 2019 Climate Change
Strong Men in Europe: Tony Abbott Visits Hungary

Strong Men in Europe: Tony Abbott Visits Hungary

“I extend a special welcome to Australia’s former prime minister.  It is in part due to his tough policy that we regard Australia as a model country.  We especially respect it for the brave, direct and Anglo-Saxon consistency which it has shown on migration and defence of the Australian nation”. These words of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to Tony[Read More…]

September 19, 2019 World
Lotteries and Rights in the Sporting Life

Lotteries and Rights in the Sporting Life

The pigeon flapped in desperation, moving across Melbourne’s lavish Capitol Theatre in fits and starts.  It was more alarmed than anything else at the address being given by former Australian football (soccer to some) player Craig Foster.  Foster has been beating the drum on one particular message for some time now: that sports can change the dimension of human rights,[Read More…]

September 18, 2019 Human Rights
Fake Arguments on Fake News

Fake Arguments on Fake News

The constipated tedium that follows each call, denial and condemnation after another round of fake news and its giddying effects has become daily fare.  Entire episodes with the sanctimonious and the solemn are being created to show up the citizen journalist, the blogger, the self-opinionated masturbator of news, in the hope that some high priest set will reclaim the ground. [Read More…]

September 17, 2019 World
Oiling for War: The Houthi Attack on Abqaiq

Oiling for War: The Houthi Attack on Abqaiq

The attack on the world’s largest oil processing facility at Abqaiq in Saudi Arabia southwest of Aramco’s headquarters in Dhahran had a few predictable responses.  Given that the facility has a daily output of some 5.7 million barrels, damaging it was bound to cause a spike in the price of oil. The question troubling the security chatterers was whether the[Read More…]

September 16, 2019 World
Doctored Admissions: The US University Admissions Scandal as a Global Problem

Doctored Admissions: The US University Admissions Scandal as a Global Problem

Not so much a Desperate House Wife as a desperate mother, a contrite Felicity Huffman, known for playing Lynette Scavo, has been convicted for her role in the university admissions scandal in the United States.  The scene is set for another dramatization, though few can go past the sheer levels of tinkering Huffman was engaged in to have her daughter’s[Read More…]

September 14, 2019 World
Improper Purposes: Boris Johnson’s Suspension of Parliament

Improper Purposes: Boris Johnson’s Suspension of Parliament

There was something richly amusing in the move: three judges, sitting in Scotland’s highest court of appeal, had little time for the notion that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suspension, or proroguing, of parliament till October 14, had been lawful.  Some 78 parliamentarians had taken issue with the Conservative leader’s limitation on Parliamentary activity, designed to prevent any hiccups prior to[Read More…]

September 13, 2019 World
TOPSHOT - Protesters take to the street to face off with Indonesian police in Manokwari, Papua on August 19, 2019. - Riots broke out in Indonesia's Papua with a local parliament building torched as thousands protested allegations that police tear-gassed and arrested students who supported the restive region's independence. (Photo by STR / AFP)        (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Spikes of Violence: Protest in West Papua

Like Timor-Leste, West Papua, commonly subsuming both Papua and West Papua, remains a separate ethnic entity, acknowledged as such by previous colonial powers.  Its Dutch colonial masters, in preparing to leave the region in the 1950s, left the ground fertile for a declaration of independence in 1961.  Such a move did not sit well with the Indonesian desire to claim[Read More…]

September 10, 2019 World
Boris Johnson Trips: Duvets, Toothbrushes and the House of Lords

Boris Johnson Trips: Duvets, Toothbrushes and the House of Lords

In 2017, MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Tory creature trapped in cold storage, suggested that the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union was tantamount to fighting the battles of Agincourt, Waterloo and Trafalgar, a true statement of British strength.  (Much inconsistency there, but let him ride with it.)  “This is Magna Carta, it’s the Burgesses coming at Parliament, it’s the great[Read More…]

September 8, 2019 World
The Courage of Saying No: Children, Rebellion and Greta Thunberg

The Courage of Saying No: Children, Rebellion and Greta Thunberg

There is something to be said of wariness when it comes to revolutionary voices.  As Albert Camus argued in that beautiful tract of illumination and contradiction, The Rebel, “All modern revolutions have ended in the reinforcement of the power of the state.” But he also argued that humankind were the only creatures refusing to be what they are, a permanent[Read More…]

September 6, 2019 Climate Change
World Systems and Capitalism: Immanuel Wallerstein’s Legacy

World Systems and Capitalism: Immanuel Wallerstein’s Legacy

“The dead albatross that hangs around our neck is our legacy of arrogance, racism.  And we must struggle to atone, to reconstruct, to create a different historical system.”  So wrote the late sociologist and thinker Immanuel Wallerstein in unequivocal tones of repentance on Europe’s legacy, its “oldest disgrace.” Wallerstein was one of those refreshing types in an increasingly restrictive academy,[Read More…]

September 5, 2019 Life/Philosophy
Inevitable Withdrawal: The US-Taliban Deal

Inevitable Withdrawal: The US-Taliban Deal

It took gallons and flagons of blood, but it eventuated, a squeeze of history into a parchment of possibility: the Taliban eventually pushed the sole superpower on this expiring earth to a deal of some consequence.  (The stress is on the some – the consequence is almost always unknown.)  “In principle, on paper, yes we have reached an agreement,” claimed[Read More…]

September 4, 2019 World
Timor-Leste and Australia: A Loveless Affair at Twenty

Timor-Leste and Australia: A Loveless Affair at Twenty

Cringe worthy, a touch molesting in sentiment: this was the celebratory occasion of the gathering of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison with his East Timorese counterparts.  During the course of its history, the state has been pillaged and bombed, its residents massacred and its politicians spied upon.  The exposure of that seedy little matter of espionage came in December 2013,[Read More…]

September 1, 2019 World
Unhinged before the Fall: Boris Johnson, Parliament and Brexit

Unhinged before the Fall: Boris Johnson, Parliament and Brexit

The Brexit no deal prospect is engendering an element of lunacy fast seeping into every pore of the British political establishment.  As with all steeped in such thinking, some of it made sense.  Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been inspired by a mild dictatorial urge, seeking to suspend the UK parliament five weeks out from October 31.  This has been[Read More…]

August 30, 2019 World
Polishing Turds: Lord Bell’s Public Relations Revolution

Polishing Turds: Lord Bell’s Public Relations Revolution

“Morality is a job for priests.  Not P.R. men.” Tim Bell, New York Times, Feb 4, 2018 Lord Bell is dead, but his public relations tinkering, with all its gloss gilding and deception, remains.  It was Tim Bell who cut his teeth in this dubious field, assisting Margaret Thatcher win the 1979 UK election through a mix of emotive tugging[Read More…]

August 28, 2019 World
Justifications for Inequality: The Neuroses of Kochland

Justifications for Inequality: The Neuroses of Kochland

One of the brothers Koch, David, has shuffled off this mortal coil, and the pious few looking at his passing may well think he is making it tough for camels passing through needles.  As part of the Brothers Koch, he presided over a corporate empire that did its pinching best to wrest control from the purses of public accountability in[Read More…]

August 27, 2019 World
The Naming Industrial Complex:  The Stupidity of Smart Devices and Smart Cities

The Naming Industrial Complex:  The Stupidity of Smart Devices and Smart Cities

Insentience cannot have intelligence, but the modern public relations revolution would have you think otherwise.  Smart phones, smart bombs, and, it follows, Smart Cities (capitalising such terms implies false authority), do not exist in that sense, whatever their cheer squad emissaries in High Tech land claim.  They are merely a masterfully daft celebration of tactically deployed cults: there is a[Read More…]

August 26, 2019 World
Imperial Sentiments: Donald Trump, Greenland and Colonial Real Estate

Imperial Sentiments: Donald Trump, Greenland and Colonial Real Estate

Haven’t the critics worked it out yet?  US President Donald Trump chugs to the coal of nonsense that may come in the wrapping of some sense. Initial mad-cat comments, when cobbled together, might reveal some pattern in time. Take, for instance, the recent offer to purchase Greenland.  Considered laughable, purchasing territories has notable, historical precedent in US foreign policy.  Territorial[Read More…]

August 23, 2019 Imperialism
No Deal Chaos: The Brexit Cliff Face and Operation Yellowhammer

No Deal Chaos: The Brexit Cliff Face and Operation Yellowhammer

Britain’s Boris Johnson is driving his country to the cliff face, along the way mouthing and spouting all manner of populist reassurances.  Still fresh in the job, he declared that UK preparations for a no-deal Brexit on October 31, when Britain would leave the European Union, would receive a boost – a “turbocharge”, no less.  Michael Gove, now chancellor of[Read More…]

August 19, 2019 World
This picture taken on September 5, 2018 shows flags from the Pacific Islands countries being displayed in Yaren on the last day of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). - PIF members on September 5 signed a security agreement promoting cooperation on issues such as trans-national crime, illegal fishing and cyber-crime.The agreement, called the Boe Declaration, also recognised the need for joint action on "non-traditional" threats, primarily climate change. (Photo by Mike LEYRAL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MIKE LEYRAL/AFP/Getty Images)

Condescension and Climate Change: Australia and the Failure of the Pacific Islands Forum

It was predictably ugly: in tone, in regret, and, in some ways, disgust.  Australia emerged from the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting isolated, the true spoiler of the party which saw 17 states facing the obstinacy of one.  It had taken place on Tuvalu, some two hours flight north of Fiji.  The capital Funafuti is located on vanishing land; the[Read More…]

August 18, 2019 Climate Change
God, Guns and Video Games

God, Guns and Video Games

The din struck by videos of the gaming variety; its forced causal link (always alleged, never proved) to altering conduct, continues its relentless march across the discussion forums in the United States and beyond.  The almost casual butcheries – actual, not as opposed to digital – have gone on unabated, the next extremist taking a murderous shot at his role[Read More…]

August 17, 2019 World
Australia’s Pacific Play: Denying Climate Change and Boosting China’s Threat

Australia’s Pacific Play: Denying Climate Change and Boosting China’s Threat

Australia has always nursed a contradictory, repressive relationship with its Pacific neighbours.  Being a satrap of great powers, it has performed the role of gate keeper and monitor of regional instability, a condescending, often paternalistic agent. At stages, it has also entertained more direct colonial interests.  For almost seven decades, Australia controlled Papua New Guinea, assuming power over the former[Read More…]

August 14, 2019 Climate Change
Conspiracy, Death and Jeffrey Epstein

Conspiracy, Death and Jeffrey Epstein

Within minutes of news about his death in a Manhattan jail cell Saturday morning, theories spread with pestilential vigour.  Was Jeffrey Epstein murdered?  Accepting the premise without qualification, the next question followed: Who did it?  MSNBC host Joe Scarborough was not giving anyone time to wonder.  “A guy who had information that would have destroyed rich and powerful men’s lives[Read More…]

August 12, 2019 World
Caught in the Strait

Caught in the Strait

It is clear that the United Kingdom could not have thought this through.  Was it a touch of the Suez jitters, the haunting syndrome of 1956 leaving a false impression that the Old Empire still had it?  To taunt a power already under the watchful and punitive eye of the United States was never a recipe for equanimity and calm[Read More…]

August 7, 2019 World
Cheering a New Arms Race: The End of the INF

Cheering a New Arms Race: The End of the INF

US President Donald Trump is a master of the withdrawal method.  That said, it is often forgotten that the United States remains that most fickle of creatures, joining, or abandoning international regimes that might be seen to jar with the national interest.  Initial preparations for such global arrangements tend to be initially optimistic, even rosy.  Eager to draft a suitable[Read More…]

August 5, 2019 World
The Retainer Solution: The European Union, Libya and Irregular Migration

The Retainer Solution: The European Union, Libya and Irregular Migration

There is a venom in international refugee policy that refuses to go away: officials charged with their tasks, passing on their labours to those who might see the UN Refugee Convention as empty wording, rather than strict injunction carved upon stone.  They have all become manifest in the policy of deferral: humanitarian problems are for others to solve.  We will[Read More…]

August 2, 2019 World
Publishing Stolen Material: WikiLeaks, the DNC and Freedom of Speech

Publishing Stolen Material: WikiLeaks, the DNC and Freedom of Speech

It may well be a finding of some implication should Julian Assange find his way into the beastly glory that is the US justice system.  In its efforts to rope in President Donald Trump’s election campaign, Wikileaks, Assange and the Russian Federation for hacking the computers of the Democratic National Committee in 2016, the DNC case was found wanting. The[Read More…]

July 31, 2019 World
Militarising Australia: Talisman Sabre and the US Military Build Up

Militarising Australia: Talisman Sabre and the US Military Build Up

Deemed the Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations strategy, the military method is a US Marine special, still spanking new, featuring “the amphibious landing of troops on islands for seizure and capture as part of a forward projection of sea and airpower aimed at the mainland.” That particular description comes from Bevan Ramsden, an active member of the coordinating committee of IPAN,[Read More…]

July 30, 2019 World
Mack Horton’s Anti-Drug Stance

Mack Horton’s Anti-Drug Stance

The first rush of enthusiasm on looking at this is clear: a high-achieving swimmer on the circuit – the Australian Mack Horton – decides to take a stance.  It’s not about refugees, Donald Trump or climate change.  Unlike other sportspeople of history, his opposition is directed at his sport, his spear of indignation sharpened against a target closer to home[Read More…]

July 25, 2019 World
Olive Reincarnations and Elvis on Mars: Boris Johnson Becomes British PM

Olive Reincarnations and Elvis on Mars: Boris Johnson Becomes British PM

The BBC World Service took its listeners to the English cathedral town of Ely, set in picturesque Cambridgeshire, during the course of a hot July 23 in an effort to take the pulse of the country.  Well, at least that particular, erratic pulse. It found, for the most part, a certain enthusiasm for Boris Johnson, the fop-haired, bumbling wonder of[Read More…]

July 24, 2019 World
WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and Decoding the National Security Commentariat

WikiLeaks, Julian Assange and Decoding the National Security Commentariat

The Fourth Estate, that historical unelected grouping of society’s scrutineers, has become something of a rabble, and, as a confederacy of strewn dunces and the ongoing compromised, is ripe for analysis.  An essential premise in the work of WikiLeaks was demonstrating, to a good, stone-throwing degree, how media figures and practitioners had been bought by the state or the corporate[Read More…]

July 22, 2019 World
Lunar Narratives: Landing on the Moon, Politics and the Cold War

Lunar Narratives: Landing on the Moon, Politics and the Cold War

Anniversaries are occasions to distort records.  The intoxicated recounting of the past faces a record in need of correction.  Couples long married hide their differences before guests.  Creases are covered; the make-up is applied generously.  Defects become virtues, if, indeed they were ever there to begin with.  In historical commemoration, the same is true.  The moon landing anniversary his weekend[Read More…]

July 21, 2019 World
Manus, Nauru and an Australian Detention Legacy

Manus, Nauru and an Australian Detention Legacy

It could be called a gulag mentality, though it finds form in different ways.  In the defunct Soviet Union, it was definitive of life: millions incarcerated, garrisons of forced labour, instruments of the proletarian paradise fouled.  Gulag literature suggested another society, estranged and removed from civilian life, channelled into an absent universe.  Titles suggested as much: Gustaw Herling’s work was[Read More…]

July 19, 2019 Human Rights
Donald Trump, the Democrat Squad and Failed Impeachment

Donald Trump, the Democrat Squad and Failed Impeachment

Twitter has become policy. It is platform, direction and determination.  It has served one particular person well, a hazy mechanism to fog up the lenses of law makers.  When President Donald Trump needs an air-wave filling distraction, a bilious splurge of interest in the blogosphere, he is always happy to lob a grenade of 280 characters or so.  His targets[Read More…]

July 18, 2019 World
Spying on Julian Assange: UC Global, CNN and Russian Couriers

Spying on Julian Assange: UC Global, CNN and Russian Couriers

History’s scope for the absurd and tragic is infinite.  Like Sisyphus engaged in permanent labours pushing a boulder up a slope, the effort of making sense of such scope is likewise, absurdly infinite.  To see images of an exhausted and world-weary Julian Assange attempting to dodge the all-eye surveillance operation that he would complain about is to wade in the[Read More…]

July 17, 2019 World
Corporate Gangster: Adani’s Pursuit of Scientists

Corporate Gangster: Adani’s Pursuit of Scientists

The Adani conglomerate should be best described as a bloated gangster, promising the earth even as it mines it.  Like other corporate thugs of such disposition, it will do things within, and if necessary outside, the regulatory framework it encounters.  Where necessary, it will libel detractors and bribe critics, speak of a fictional number of as yet non-existent jobs, and[Read More…]

July 16, 2019 Environmental Protection
The UN’s Free Speech Problem

The UN’s Free Speech Problem

Anyone willing to consult the international law book on the subject of free speech will find it heavy with protections for free speech.  The UN Declaration of Human Rights features, in its preamble, the ideal that “human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want”, nothing less than “the highest aspiration of the common[Read More…]

July 15, 2019 World
The Resigning Ambassador: Sir Kim Darroch on Donald Trump

The Resigning Ambassador: Sir Kim Darroch on Donald Trump

Rarely do ambassadors resign after an intense self-assessment of worth.  Diplomatic immunity does not merely extend to protecting the official from the reach of local laws; it encourages a degree of freedom in engaging as a country’s representative.  Sir Kim Darroch, as UK ambassador to the United States, felt that any freedom afforded him in that capacity had ended.  “The[Read More…]

July 13, 2019 World
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (R) walks with US President Donald Trump (L) during a break in talks at their historic US-North Korea summit, at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore on June 12, 2018.  Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un became on June 12 the first sitting US and North Korean leaders to meet, shake hands and negotiate to end a decades-old nuclear stand-off. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEBSAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Juggling with the Authoritarians: Donald Trump’s Diplomatic Copy Book

Cue the shots, take the snaps: US President Donald Trump was back entertaining his fetish with firm handshakes proclaiming the making of history in the last round of discussions with Kim Jong-un.  The press were, despite periodic attacks of bafflement, ever obliging.  The meeting of Trump with the leader of the DPRK was deemed historic, because everything the president does[Read More…]

July 12, 2019 World
Out of Kilter: National Security and Press Freedoms in Australia

Out of Kilter: National Security and Press Freedoms in Australia

Australian society relishes secrecy and surveillance.  Forget the laid-back, relaxed demeanour that remains the great fiction of a confected identity; like all such creations, the trace should not be mistaken as the tendency.  The political culture of Australia remains shaped by penal paranoia and an indifference to transparency.  The citizen is not to be trusted; rather, the subject is to[Read More…]

July 10, 2019 World
Dressed for the Fourth of July: The US Imperium Comes Out

Dressed for the Fourth of July: The US Imperium Comes Out

The United States of Amnesia has occasionally found expression amongst those despairing at the state of historical consciousness in Freedom’s Land.  Gore Vidal remains something of its high priest, his writings a pertinent scolding about what went wrong in the creation of a New Rome in the Americas.  From Pilgrim’s Progress to the National Security State, the US became an[Read More…]

July 7, 2019 Imperialism
Going Nuclear in the Antipodes: Australia’s Megadeath Complex

Going Nuclear in the Antipodes: Australia’s Megadeath Complex

The antipodes has had a fraught relationship with the nuclear option.  At the distant ends of the earth, New Zealand took a stand against the death complex, assuming the forefront of restricting the deployment of nuclear assets in its proximity.  This drove Australia bonkers with moral envy and strategic fury.  The New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control[Read More…]

July 4, 2019 World
Facebook, Funny Money and Libra

Facebook, Funny Money and Libra

In this squalid era of compromised data and hollowed privacy, it would be fitting that the company largely responsible for such mishaps would steer another technological innovation.  Distractions are needed, and while Mark Zuckerberg cannot launch missiles, as yet, he can certainly launch platforms and what can be coarsely termed “deliverables”. Having become the object of derision and resentment from[Read More…]

July 2, 2019 World
G20 Gyrations: Donald, Ivanka and Hollow Diplomacy

G20 Gyrations: Donald, Ivanka and Hollow Diplomacy

Traditional diplomacy is being given a makeover – at least where it is not being abolished altogether and being replaced by a replica of The Apprentice.  US President Donald Trump’s seizure of the art has been violent and molesting.  Had Roman emperors had access to Twitter and the twenty-four hour news cycle, they might have had such moments, bothering the[Read More…]

July 2, 2019 World
Tweets of Praise: Donald Trump, Australia and Refugees

Tweets of Praise: Donald Trump, Australia and Refugees

Praise from US President Donald Trump has a tendency of tarnishing gold and ungilding matters, and there was something of the muck in his tweet praising Australia for its sadistic approach to refugee arrivals.  Operation Sovereign Borders, which commenced in 2013, was the high water mark in an experiment of glacial cruelty: to treat refugee arrivals – those specifically taking[Read More…]

June 28, 2019 Human Rights
Childish Diplomacy: Donald Trump’s New Play Against Iran

Childish Diplomacy: Donald Trump’s New Play Against Iran

Diplomacy has been seen historically as a practitioner’s art, nurtured in schools of learning, tested and tried in the boardrooms of mild mannered summitry.  Klemens von Metternich and Otto von Bismarck practiced it with varying degrees of ruthlessness and skill; the man who thought himself a modern incarnation of the Austrian statesman, Henry Kissinger, dedicated a text to the subject[Read More…]

June 27, 2019 World
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…]

June 25, 2019 Imperialism
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…]

June 24, 2019 Human Rights
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…]

June 22, 2019 World
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…]

June 20, 2019 World
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…]

June 19, 2019 World
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…]

June 18, 2019 World
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…]

June 17, 2019 Environmental Protection
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…]

June 14, 2019 World
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…]

June 12, 2019 World
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…]

June 10, 2019 World
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…]

June 10, 2019 World
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…]

June 6, 2019 World
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…]

June 5, 2019 World
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…]

June 3, 2019 World
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…]

June 1, 2019 Human Rights
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…]

May 31, 2019 World
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…]

May 30, 2019 World
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…]

May 28, 2019 World
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…]

May 27, 2019 World
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…]

May 23, 2019 Environmental Protection
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…]

May 20, 2019 World
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…]

May 16, 2019 World
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…]

May 15, 2019 World
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…]

May 14, 2019 World
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…]

May 10, 2019 World
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…]

May 8, 2019 World
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…]

May 7, 2019 Environmental Protection
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…]

May 4, 2019 World
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…]

May 2, 2019 World
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…]

April 30, 2019 World
Corporate Joe: Biden Enters the Presidential Race |Binoy Kampmark

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…]

April 27, 2019 World
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…]

April 25, 2019 World
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…]

April 24, 2019 World
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…]

April 21, 2019 World
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…]

April 19, 2019 World
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…]

April 18, 2019 World
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…]

April 17, 2019 World
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…]

April 17, 2019 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…]

April 15, 2019 World
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…]

April 12, 2019 World
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…]

April 11, 2019 World
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…]

April 10, 2019 World
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…]

April 8, 2019 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…]

April 5, 2019 World
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…]

April 4, 2019 Environmental Protection
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…]

April 3, 2019 Human Rights
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…]

April 2, 2019 World
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…]

April 1, 2019 World
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…]

March 30, 2019 World
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…]

March 29, 2019 World
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…]

March 28, 2019 World
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…]

March 27, 2019 World
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…]

March 23, 2019 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…]

March 21, 2019 World
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…]

March 20, 2019 World
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…]

March 18, 2019 Climate Change
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…]

March 17, 2019 World
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…]

March 16, 2019 World
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…]

March 14, 2019 World
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…]

March 13, 2019 World
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…]

March 12, 2019 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…]

March 11, 2019 Human Rights
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…]

March 10, 2019 World
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…]

March 7, 2019 World
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…]

March 6, 2019 Human Rights
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…]

March 4, 2019 World
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…]

March 1, 2019 World
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…]

February 28, 2019 World
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…]

February 26, 2019 World
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…]

February 25, 2019 Environmental Protection
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…]

February 24, 2019 World
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…]

February 23, 2019 World
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…]

February 19, 2019 World
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…]

February 18, 2019 Human Rights
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…]

February 15, 2019 Human Rights
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…]

February 14, 2019 World
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…]

February 12, 2019 Human Rights
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…]

February 11, 2019 World
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…]

February 7, 2019 World
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…]

February 5, 2019 World
“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…]

January 30, 2019 World
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…]

January 27, 2019 World
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…]

January 25, 2019 World
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…]

January 23, 2019 World
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…]

January 19, 2019 World
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…]

January 15, 2019 World
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…]

January 13, 2019 World
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…]

January 9, 2019 World
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…]

January 6, 2019 World
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…]

January 2, 2019 World
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…]

December 31, 2018 Arts/Literature
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…]

December 30, 2018 Environmental Protection
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…]

December 26, 2018 World
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…]

December 23, 2018 World
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…]

December 22, 2018 World
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…]

December 21, 2018 Imperialism
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…]

December 20, 2018 Climate Change
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…]

December 18, 2018 World
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…]

December 17, 2018 World
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…]

December 16, 2018 Palestine
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…]

December 15, 2018 World
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…]

December 14, 2018 World
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…]

December 12, 2018 Life/Philosophy
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…]

December 11, 2018 Human Rights
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…]

December 10, 2018 World
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…]

December 7, 2018 World
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…]

December 5, 2018 World
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…]

December 3, 2018 World
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…]

December 3, 2018 World
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…]

November 30, 2018 Life/Philosophy
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…]

November 29, 2018 World
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by AP/REX/Shutterstock (8327315a)
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…]

November 28, 2018 World
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…]

November 26, 2018 World
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…]

November 23, 2018 World
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…]

November 22, 2018 World
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…]

November 16, 2018 Palestine
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…]

November 15, 2018 World
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…]

November 12, 2018 World
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…]

November 9, 2018 World
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…]

November 9, 2018 World
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…]

November 7, 2018 World
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…]

November 6, 2018 World
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…]

November 5, 2018 World
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…]

November 3, 2018 World
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…]

November 2, 2018 World
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…]

November 1, 2018 World
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…]

October 29, 2018 World
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…]

October 28, 2018 World
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…]

October 26, 2018 World
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…]

October 25, 2018 Climate Change
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…]

October 24, 2018 World
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…]

October 22, 2018 World
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…]

October 20, 2018 World
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…]

October 19, 2018 World
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…]

October 18, 2018 World
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…]

October 17, 2018 World
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…]

October 16, 2018 World
Photo by ctj71081

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…]

October 15, 2018 World
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…]

October 13, 2018 Human Rights
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…]

October 10, 2018 World
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…]

October 9, 2018 Arts/Literature
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…]

October 8, 2018 World
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…]

October 6, 2018 Human Rights
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…]

October 2, 2018 World
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…]

October 1, 2018 Arts/Literature
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…]

September 29, 2018 World
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…]

September 27, 2018 World
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…]

September 24, 2018 Imperialism
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…]

September 23, 2018 World
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…]

September 21, 2018 World
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…]

September 20, 2018 Human Rights
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…]

September 19, 2018 World
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…]

September 18, 2018 World
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…]

September 17, 2018 Climate Change
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…]

September 15, 2018 World
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…]

September 13, 2018 World
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…]

September 11, 2018 World
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…]

September 10, 2018 World
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…]

September 7, 2018 World
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…]

September 3, 2018 World
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…]

September 2, 2018 Environmental Protection
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…]

September 1, 2018 World
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…]

August 31, 2018 World
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…]

August 30, 2018 World
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…]

August 30, 2018 Imperialism
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…]

August 25, 2018 World
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…]

August 23, 2018 World
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…]

August 22, 2018 World
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…]

August 21, 2018 World
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…]

August 20, 2018 World
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…]

August 19, 2018 World
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…]

August 17, 2018 Environmental Protection
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…]

August 15, 2018 World
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…]

August 14, 2018 World
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…]

August 12, 2018 World
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…]

August 9, 2018 World
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…]

August 7, 2018 World
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…]

August 6, 2018 World
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…]

August 5, 2018 World
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…]

August 5, 2018 World
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…]

August 3, 2018 World
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…]

August 1, 2018 World
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…]

July 31, 2018 Imperialism
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…]

July 31, 2018 World
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…]

July 28, 2018 World
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…]

July 27, 2018 South Asia
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…]

July 26, 2018 World
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…]

July 24, 2018 World
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…]

July 21, 2018 Human Rights
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…]

July 20, 2018 World
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…]

July 17, 2018 World
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…]

July 15, 2018 World
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…]

July 13, 2018 World
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…]

July 12, 2018 World
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…]

July 11, 2018 World
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…]

July 10, 2018 World
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…]

July 6, 2018 World
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…]

July 5, 2018 World
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…]

July 4, 2018 World
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…]

July 3, 2018 World
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…]

June 29, 2018 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…]

June 28, 2018 World
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…]

June 26, 2018 Human Rights
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…]

June 24, 2018 Human Rights
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…]

June 22, 2018 World
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…]

June 21, 2018 World
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…]

June 20, 2018 Human Rights
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…]

June 19, 2018 World
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…]

June 14, 2018 World
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…]

June 13, 2018 World
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…]

June 12, 2018 World
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…]

June 10, 2018 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…]

June 9, 2018 World
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…]

June 7, 2018 World
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…]

June 6, 2018 World
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…]

June 1, 2018 World
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…]

May 30, 2018 World