World warmongers on heat

Anti-war protest in Glasgow

Alarming signs that world warmongers are on heat again

What country is the West going to invade or bomb this week? The war fever has become so intense it could be any of half a dozen countries.

Since the start of the year seven possible targets that have been suggested by Western “sources” and nightmarish commentators of the Andrew Bolt species.

They are: North Korea, China, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Syria, Russia and Venezuela. Afghanistan, Yemen and Boko Haram enclaves in western and northern Africa have been mentioned too. In recent days, North Korea has slipped as No 1 target to be replaced by Syria with Russia and Iran in No 2 and No 3 place. Meanwhile, no one is talking about targeting Israel which is killing Palestinian civil rights protesters and illegally bombing Syria on behalf of the CIA.

Obviously, the above mentioned “target” states can’t all be attacked at once – which some armchair field marshals, including newly appointed US national security adviser John Bolton, want – but what about suggestions of a rolling campaign to destroy them one at a time?

Will that work? No. Apart from the fearsome possibility of triggering a world war, there would be a public revolt of uncontrollable proportions; tottering, already unpopular warmongering Western governments would start to fall. The very fragile regimes of US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May would be most vulnerable.

US ballistic missiles

Trump’s Republican administration and May’s minority Tory government are facing a situation that is similar to Winston Churchill’s first post-war government. At a Cabinet meeting in October 1952, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rab Butler told fellow Ministers: “We all agreed when we took office that the defence programme we inherited was beyond the nation’s means. It was based on assumptions about American aid and the strength of our economy which have since been proved false. We are attempting to do too much.”

Today it is the American economy that is drowning in debt. This week the independent US Congressional Budget Office reported that the Federal Government’s annual budget deficit will top $1 trillion in two years’ time. Already the US national debt is $21 trillion.

This burden of debt is unsustainable and threatens to crash the US economy taking the rest of the Western capitalist world with it. Australia survived the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2007-08 relatively unscathed, but will the next one be so considerate?

Today’s war mania is largely led by people for whom war is an answer to all their prayers – providing they don’t have to take part in it, suffer any hardships or make any sacrifices. In other words, they’re people who were brought up on TV series such as Gilligan’s Island, McHale’s Navy, Hogan’s Heroes, Dad’s Army and ‘Allo ‘Allo!

Remember the hilarious jokes of Nazi Kommandant Colonel Klink and Master Sergeant Schultz in Stalag 13? Those were the days. Weren’t they?

Skripal and Assange

As the Skripal poisoning affair continues to unwind in Britain, spare a thought for Australian-born journalist and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Julian Assange at London’s Ecuadorean Embassy

He remains beleaguered in self-imposed exile in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London watching the British Tory Government and US President Donald Trump’s White House abduct Yulia Skripal, place her under illegal house arrest at an unknown location and plan her “rendition” to the United States or some country other than Russia, her homeland.

The same thing is likely to happen to her father, Colonel Sergie Skripal, the former Soviet double agent. Why are the British and Americans so intent on keeping the Skripals in their custody? Why did Salisbury District Hospital secretly discharge Yulia Skripal into the custody of the police and intelligence services?

No wonder Assange is nervous about leaving the Knightsbridge embassy: May’s police would arrest him and bundle him onto a US Air Force plane to America.

Meanwhile, Australian Prime Minister Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop are going along with this international kidnap plan. So much for their much-vaunted commitment to journalistic freedoms!

Also, the silence of the lambs at the ABC is deafening. Peter Greste, the Al Jazeera reporter freed from an Egyptian Jail after a widespread campaign by journalists all over the world, is notoriously silent too. It seems the human rights of journalists apply very selectively: Greste is a “good guy” and Assange, who has broken more stories than Greste has had hot dinners, is a “bad guy”. Go figure …

Commonwealth Games glory

Predictably, media coverage of the 21st Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast was swamped by “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi” yobbery and medals table triumphalism. Here’s a list of some of the Games news items that were lost in all the noise:

  1. Grenada’s women beach volleyballers bound for competition at Coolangatta were mistakenly taken by coach to a cycling velodrome in Brisbane 100 kms away. If it had been a white team from England, Canada or Australia we would never have heard the end of it.
  2. A special “party hub” established at Broad Beach for revellers was saturated with police in black military-style uniforms carrying guns, tasers and pepper sprays. The result was predictable: there were more cops on patrol than party-goers on the piss.
  3. The Gold Coast City Council decision to allow cafes, bars and restaurants to put up prices by 30% backfired. Locals stayed at home while visitors queued for cheap takeaways.
  4. Property owners normally renting their apartments from $1,500-a-week were asking for $10,000-a-week from interstate and overseas visitors. The result? Whole tower blocks remained almost empty.
  5. Pre-Games promotion by the Gold Coast Council, the Queensland Labor Government, the universities (which should know better) and the media claimed that hosting the Games would “create up to 30,000 jobs and inject $2 billion into the Queensland economy”. It didn’t.
  6. A 23-year-old Games athlete was rushed to hospital in a serious condition on the opening week of the Games suffering from malaria.
  7. A senior official of the Mauritian Games team has been charged with sexual assault of a female member of the country’s 54-strong team and refused bail.
  8. A 46-year-old Indian “investigative journalist”, Rakesh Kumar Sharma, has been charged with people-smuggling after being paid thousands of dollars to issue fake press accreditation to eight men to get them illegally into Queensland under cover of the Games.
  9. While homeless people were removed from the Gold Coast in a “social cleansing” procedure, medico Dr Michael Kazacos put his five-bedroom mansion at Broadbeach on the market for $9 million. His residential palace features a theatre with starlit ceiling, wine cellar, internal lift, swimming pool and manicured gardens.
  10. Brewers of Queenslanders’ favourite beer, XXXX, are charging $8.90 for a 375ml glass at the swimming venue. This is $1 more than a bigger schooner (425ml) of full-strength beer at Suncorp Stadium where State of Origin rugby league matches are held. Fancy a meat pie? At the Games they are selling for $6.50. That’s each!
  11. News item: “Security forces brought in from across Australia say the event is a shambles with some guards forced to sleep on the grass after buses were cancelled and others claiming they have not had Games-specific training promised by organisers.” Gold Coast Bulletin, 7 April 2018

On the other hand …

Not wishing to be categorised as some kind of Neanderthal curmudgeon, I want to record my continued excitement for the sheer beauty of sport, the magic of athleticism and the nerve-tingling elation of competition.

Despite the crass commercialism, jingoism and price-gouging by the parasites who hang around professional sport, the Gold Coast Games were a remarkable display of young people striving for excellence. The same determination can be found in classrooms all over the country but not in the boardrooms where the smug and self-satisfied are hiding behind a circle of wagons filled with publicists, consultants and spin doctors.

The Games were a summary of Australia at its best and its worst.

True sports: Australian athletes Sullohern, Hills and Wellings welcome Lineo Chaka across the 10,000 metres finishing line

Special medals should be awarded to 10,000-metre athletes, Celia Sullohern, Madeline Hills and Eloise Wellings. The Australians crossed the finishing line in their exhausting event and then waited on the track to hug Lesotho’s Lineo Chaka, aged 30, who finished last in her first-ever 10,000-metre run.

Judges are sorting through entrants for the fiercely contested David Warner Medal for Integrity. My choice is Mark Arbib, the former NSW ALP general secretary, ex-senator and James Packer lieutenant, who was spotted at the Star Gold Coast Casino.

Arbib is one of John Coates’s solid chums on the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) board and president of Athletics Australia. Does anyone else find Arbib and sport a deeply unattractive combination?

Socialist Feminists Arise!

The Jubilee Room at NSW Parliament House was packed on Wednesday, 11 April, for a tribute to Ann Symonds, Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) from 1982 to 1998.

The occasion was the launch of the Politics of Social Change Foundation, an initiative by women from Labor’s Left to further the social justice causes championed by Symonds: care for disadvantaged women and children, gay rights, drug reform and the arts.

Former federal MP Jeanette McHugh and NSW MP Carmel Tebbutt applauded tributes from speakers who including MP Penny Sharpe, who hosted the event, and Dr Alex Wodak of St Vincents Hospital, who credited Symonds with saving many lives through her campaign for the safe injecting room at Kings Cross.

Former MLC Ann Symonds speaking in Parliament House on April 11

But what brought them to their feet was the response by Ann Symonds herself. Showing no sign of recent illness, she gave a spirited address, recounting stories of her time in Parliament that gave credence to the new Foundation’s motto: “Well-behaved women seldom make history.”

She concluded with the rousing call: “I was a feminist then, and I’m a feminist now. I was a socialist then, and I’m a socialist now. And I believe we need to reclaim government as an instrument of public service.”

If only we had more politicians like Ann Symonds today!

The Foundation is raising funds to support a book on the former MLC’s political career, being written by historian Dr Hilary Golder for publication in 2020. For more information see www.politicsofsocialchange.org.au

Multi-cultural Australia? Gimme a break

Dr Tim Soutphommasane, Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner, has published a report showing only eight executives in the Top 200 listed companies have a “non-European background”. All the rest are white folk from a European background.

In the Federal Coalition’s 30-strong ministry there is no one who has a non-European background. (Strictly speaking this is inaccurate. WA Liberal MP Ken Wyatt has an Aboriginal background but he also has forebears who are English, Irish, German and Indian).

Dr Soutphommasane said: “All up there are 11 of the 372 CEOs and equivalents who have a non-European or indigenous background.

“Of those who occupy 2490 of the most senior posts in Australia, 75.9% have an Anglo-Celtic background, 19% have a European background, 4.7% have a non-European background and 0.4% have an indigenous background.

“Described another way, about 95% of senior leaders in Australia have an Anglo-Celtic or European background. Although those who have non-European and indigenous backgrounds make up an estimated 24% of the Australian population, such backgrounds account for only 5% of senior leaders.”

So when are the major political parties, trade unions, churches, diplomats, journalists and academics going to stop wrapping themselves in the flag of multiculturalism and do something practical to make it a reality?

One’s Quote of the Week

During the royal visit, Prince Charles, heir-apparent and Australia’s next Head of State, visited Bundaberg’s rum distillery for a tasting at the Bundy Barrel House.

Sipping one of five options, “Brian” murmured: “I can detect fruit cake overtones.”

He should know …

Who’s reading what?

Two of my regular readers have sent the following profile of newspaper readers in Australia. I’ve made some slight changes:

  1. The Australian Financial Review is read by people who run the country;
  2. The Canberra Times is read by people who think they run the country;
  3. The Australian is read by people who think they should run the country, and who are very good at crosswords;
  4. The Sydney Morning Herald is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don’t understand The Australian;
  5. The Brisbane Courier-Mail is read by people who wouldn’t mind running the country, if they didn’t have to leave Queensland to do it;
  6. The Age is read by people whose parents used to run the country;
  7. The Melbourne Herald-Sun is read by people who aren’t sure who’s running the country and don’t really care as long as they get a seat on the train;
  8. The Sydney Daily Telegraph is read by people who don’t give a stuff who’s running the country as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated, addicted, naked or with a prostitute;
  9. The West Australian is read by people in prison who used to run the State, and would like to do so again, as would their constituents who are currently free on bail on child sex charges, bank robbery and white-collar crimes.
  10. The Hobart Mercury is read (very slowly) by people who don’t pay tax and whose assets are overseas but they need the Aussie Rules scores;
  11. The Adelaide Advertiser is read by people trapped in a line at a supermarket waiting for the electricity to come back on so they can see the Aussie Rules scores;
  12. Darwin’s Northern Territory News is read by people who have caught a fish (or a croc) and need something to wrap it in.

And one of my very own readers generously added this:

  1. Come the Revolution blog is read by people who love the truth about self-serving politicians, the Murdochs and Packers and the corrupt mainstream media.

 

 

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