Stay indoors but stay informed. Check out alternative, non-Murdoch, current affairs. This week’s menu includes: Trump takes USA from hero to zero; Stop rorters from exploiting the pandemic; Two new dictionaries show how language is being Americanised; Debut of the word “sportswashing”; Didn’t Australia get gold for “sportswashing” at the Sydney Olympics?; Opus Dei enthusiast tips “Dom” Perrottet as next NSW Premier; Mark Latham lavishes praise on Liberal Party broadcaster Alan Jones; plus Headline of the Week and New Word of the Week.
Trump’s America: from hero to zero
In March 2016 Donald Trump announced that “America First” would be “the major and overriding theme” of his run for the US Presidency. He was successful and became the 45th President.
Since then, the USA has retained its No 1 Super Power status by virtue of the largest nuclear arsenal in the world – enough atomic bombs, missiles and rockets to obliterate Planet Earth and destroy everything on it. But is “America First” any more? No. Here’s the current score:
- In handling the COVID-19 pandemic, the US has slipped to 100th place and is currently behind every major Western country.
- In placing prisoners on death row and then executing them, the USA leads the world.
- In jailing its minorities, the USA leads the world. African and Hispanic Americans, from the poorest strata of society, comprise the largest sector of the American prison population.
- In swindling its population while giving tax breaks to the richest 10%, America leads the world. The gap between America’s richest and poorest is the greatest in the world, and it is widening.
- Streets of major US cities are littered with homeless people sleeping under cardboard boxes. Every morning, after freezing winter nights and snow, council workers collect the dead. America has the richest real estate in the world.
- More illegal drugs are consumed in America than any place on the earth. The biggest killers in the ILLEGAL category are heroin and ice. The biggest killers in the LEGAL, prescription-only category, are opioids. “Big Pharma” is making a fortune from prescribed killer drugs.
- Face masks are de rigueur in most Western countries – except the USA. About 60% of Americans are wearing face masks, 40% aren’t. Those NOT wearing face masks can’t afford them, have no access to them or don’t wear them as a political (right-wing Republican) statement. Meanwhile, Americans are dying at the fastest rate of any country in the Western world. India and Brazil, both led by right-wing Trump-supporting demagogues, are catching up.
- Ocean-going luxury cruises are still being advertised and sold to rich Americans. By going abroad, they believe that they are escaping the pandemic. However, they are trapped aboard a ship which is incubating the killer virus faster than an overcrowded prison cell in Mississippi. Remember the Ruby Princess. Bon voyage!
Stop the rorters
About 90% of Australians are obeying the rules. They are either self-isolating, wearing masks or doing what medical science, and common sense, asks them to do. That leaves 10% of Australians who have decided to use the pandemic crisis to rort the system.
Today’s reporters are so gullible that every time I turn on radio or television, I hear a rort being celebrated as a wonderful example of Aussie resilience. Pardon me, but I don’t believe it.
Therefore, I have compiled a list of questions that reporters should ask to sort out people who are genuine and people are aren’t:
- Are you an Australian citizen with an Australian passport or are you a dual citizen?
- Do you own any property in Australia other than the one we are standing on?
- Where is that property? Do you use it yourself, or do you rent it out?
- Have you ever filled in an Australian Taxation Office (ATO) return?
By asking these simple questions, reporters will know whether he/she is talking to a genuine person who is inspired by the pandemic to do some good, or a rorter. Do your job and try it out.
Words have meanings
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has just published its latest edition and our very own Macquarie English Dictionary will release its new edition on 28 July with a startling 3,500 new entries.
From what I can gather, both dictionaries have been swamped by Americanisms. This is not a new development but it has accelerated under US President Donald Trump. Both Trump, his supporters and opponents have added a great number of new words to the conduct of American politics.
Brits on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and Australians on the other side of the Pacific have simply inherited them and they are already detectable, particularly in the media space occupied by Rupert Murdoch’s reactionary trash.
Macquarie Dictionary will be offering new words such as “eco-anxiety”, “cancel culture”, “deepfake” and “Me Too”. I am unlikely to use any these words and I don’t need a new dictionary so any sales pitch to me is probably wasted.
By the way, when out shopping a flatly refuse to ask for a bottle of “ketchup” and insist on a bottle of “tomato sauce”.
Debut of “sportswashing”
I was intrigued to see that one of the new words in the OED is “sportswashing”. According to Wikipedia, “sportswashing” is the hosting of a sporting event, or owning a famous team, as a means for a country to improve its reputation, particularly if it has a poor record on human rights.
In 2019, for example, Amnesty International’s UK branch criticised the choice of Azerbaijan as host of UEFA’s Europa Final League on the basis of its human rights violations, calling the hosting of the final an “attempt to sportswash its image.
Hang on a minute – sportswashing began long before 2019. What about 2000 when Sydney hosted the Olympic Games? Games organisers, politicians, sports bodies and the media “sportswashed” Australia’s racist history of mistreating Aboriginal Australians and subjecting them to racial, cultural, political and social discrimination. No argument, Australia easily takes the sportswash Gold medal!
Sports laundering fires up
Veteran sports writer Jim White has nailed the growing use of sportswashing in undemocratic, repressive, thoroughly unpleasant political regimes to use sport as a reputational laundromat.
He argued that “sportswashing” neatly summed up how “odious operators stage major international competitions or buy up gilded teams in a bid to re-position themselves in the world as decent, free and, above all, good places to do business”. (The Oldie magazine, February 2020).
White condemned the decision to stage the World Heavyweight title fight in Jeddah, home of Sunni Moslems holiest shrine.
“The Saudis tend to prefer swords to fists, generally applied to the necks of homosexuals or adulterous women,” White wrote. “But they embraced Anthony Joshua’s bout with aplomb, to show the world they were an open, progressive place. Neither Joshua nor his promoter Eddie Hearn seemed embarrassed about acting as a fig leaf for the most repugnant of regimes. But then they were trousering more than AU$150 million.
“That’s the thing about sportswashing. There’s always a long line of those willing to act as a laundry service, any hint of moral qualm crushed under the weight of cash.”
Things heard in NSW Parliament
Damien Tudehope, Minister for Finance and Small Business, Liberal Party Leader in the Upper House and resident supporter of opus dei, the Vatican’s custodian of medieval clerical absolutism: “This Parliament and this State ought to be thankful that a Treasurer like Dominic Perrottet, as Treasurer of the largest State, is driving a national vision of Federation and the State can sustainably provide services and infrastructure for our citizens now and into the future.”
Abigail Boyd, NSW Greens MLC: “I was thrown by the Hon Damien Tudehope’s expressions of love and admiration for the Treasurer. It is fantastic that the Minister believes the Treasurer has done a good job.”
Damien Tudehope: “He is a genius. He would be a good Premier. (pause) After the greatest Premier in the country retires.”
One week later, “genius” Treasurer Perrottet froze the wages of 400,000 public sector workers, including all public servants, teachers, nurses, fire-fighters, police and prison warders. The pay freeze will last 12 months but can be extended at any time. Around 70 of the current 100 awards covering public sector workers will be frozen too.
Will private business owners follow the NSW Government’s leader? Of course, they will! The private and public sectors are using the pandemic crisis to lower wages, reduce the size of their work force and crush trade union involvement in pay and conditions negotiations.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s cynical attempt to impose a new “social contract” is about the same thing: wage-cutting and smaller work forces. Jim Stanford, director of the Centre for Future Work and the Australian Institute, summed it up: “This is a recipe to take this recession and turn it into a depression.”
Meanwhile, 13.3% of the NSW population are in poverty and the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reports that 221,400 people in NSW have lost their jobs since the pandemic was declared in March.
Who still believes “we are all in this together”?
Mark Latham launches NSW One Nation campaign
Mark Latham, One Nation MP in the NSW Upper House and former Labor Party leader, said:
“I say a few words in praise of Alan Jones. He has been an institution, a wonderful feature of NSW politics, public life and sporting life for well over 40 years.
“His lifelong vocation has been to spread ideas and information and to educate the public as much as possible from his perspective. Even Anthony Albanese has acknowledged in recent days that Alan gave people from the other side of politics a go on the show. [Senator Richardson received Life Membership of the ALP – so why not Latham, a former party leader?]
“I would argue that no-one in Australian history has distributed so much well-researched, edifying information and now, like Bradman and Menzies, he is going out on top.
“He is a successful horse breeder. I do not know how he is going to go now as a professional punter. Some of the tips I got at Randwick one day were not so helpful.
“How did I get to know him? When Richo got sick at the beginning of 2016, he gave me a crack on the show that became known as Jones & Co and I was the ‘Co’. Then I had the good fortune to have a weekly spot with him on 2GB. When you look around in the trenches, Alan is always there for people.”
PS: This is another piece of Latham revisionism. Everyone who was allowed on Jones Radio was vetted. If they agreed with him, they got on. His verbal attacks on Jacinda Ardern, Julia Gillard, Helen Clark and Clover Moore (all high-profile women) were disgraceful and sickening. My advice? One of his future guests on Sky News should simply say: “I will not be lectured by THIS man. He should be sent to the public toilets of London to warm his hands.”
Headline of the Week
“Road closed after cabbage lorry spillage”
- Boston Target, a newspaper in Lincolnshire, England
New Word of the Week
Hirple – to walk with a limp.
Tale of two headlines
Headline in Murdoch’s Australian: Labor on the nose in Queensland, WA [two Labor States!]
My Headline: Murdoch on the nose all over the world