A regular collection of links to writings and broadcasts covered in other media. Continue reading

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RICHARD TANTER and BUSINES INSIDER INDIA. Darwin, the Marines, and touring the American empire of bases

The idea of ‘US imperialism’ may be seen as a fiction of the ideological left, or as an overblown presentation of the presence of a few US bases in different countries. But the US military does indeed operate on a global scale. Australia is far from a unique position in the US empire of military bases. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, Politics | 2 Comments

FINTAN O’TOOLE. How Brexit Broke Up Britain (New York Review of Books, 13.11.18)

So, at long last, it seems that the negotiations on Brexit between the United Kingdom and the European Union have produced a draft agreement. We do not yet know what it contains but it will be a compromise that falls far short of the high expectations of June 2016 when the British voted to leave. It will tie Britain to the EU’s customs union and single market for an indefinite but probably very long time. Instead of making a glorious leap to independence, Britain will become a satellite orbiting the European planet, obliged to follow rules it will have no say in devising. Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE- Sacrifice is being politicised. Militarism is becoming the norm.

Remembrance is morphing into  acceptance of conflict. The culture war about remembrance being waged by conservatives and the military is winning with little opposition.  The never ending stories of Gallipoli, the Western front and Armistice go on and on. We are celebrating war on a scale that no other country does. Government ministers,  Veterans Affairs, the Australian War Memorial and the media  imbedded in the military complex can’t contain themselves. Public occasions are invariably  backgrounded by numerous  flags and  the military, often regardless of the subject at hand.

So that we won’t ask the hard question WHY we fight in so many futile wars we immerse ourselves in HOW we fight. We are deceiving ourselves.

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Posted in Defence/Security, Politics | 8 Comments

PETER RODGERS. Morrison and Jerusalem – what a way to run a foreign policy!

Scott Morrison’s revelation last October that he was thinking about relocating Australia’s Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem should go down as one of 2018’s crassest comments. For the PM was not “thinking” at all. Casting the possible relocation as shock therapy for the non-existent Israeli-Palestinian peace process is a fraud. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 2 Comments

LAURIE PATTON. Time to ditch our dud NBN – beaten by the ‘All Blacks of Broadband’

The contrast could not be any starker. As warnings emerged that Australia’s telcos are seeing their profits squeezed by the end of NBN Co’s short-lived wholesale price discount (with the likelihood that retail prices will rise), across the ditch came word that New Zealanders are about so see their broadband speeds greatly increase while the price of connecting to the Internet comes down. How could this be? Continue reading

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JOHN HANNON. What is good leadership? Lest we forget.

Can’t we see parallels in leadership today, both in the Church and in society, where it can easily get more enmeshed in its own self-importance and self-interest, than in the rights and the good of the ordinary people, whom they are meant to serve, rather than command, control and oppress. Leadership by example, in service and humility, sounds nice, but it is not so simple to practise in reality, is it, as we face up to Remembrance Day and what it might mean for us today? Continue reading

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TREVOR COBBOLD. Australia’s education system is nearly the most unequal in the developed world.

Australia prides itself on its egalitarian ethos, but it is a myth in education. Not only do we have one of the most segregated school systems in the OECD and the world, but a report just published by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) shows that Australia’s education system is nearly the most unequal in the developed world. There is a clear link between social segregation and education performance in Australia.    Continue reading

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HENRY REYNOLDS. Has the Cavalcade of Commemoration Finally Halted?

With Remembrance Day behind us we may finally have some relief from the relentless commemoration of conflict which began twenty years ago and climaxed with the centenary of the First World War. Historians of the future may well wonder where this obsession with war came from and why we spent more on the centenary than any other comparable country. It has been one of the most striking features of both political and cultural life for the last quarter of a century. Despite the continuous and lavish expenditure of public money there has been almost total bipartisan support and few attempts to ask what it has all been for. The apotheosis of the warriors has lifted them far above sceptical assessment and even the normal cut and thrust of public life. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security, Politics | 6 Comments

JOHN KERIN.   Trump Economics.

Not being aware of what is being written in economic journals by the profession I find it difficult to understand why more of our commentating economists and academic economists are not publicly calling out Trump’s economic policies. Are we to believe that what many commentators say about the US and its economy only currently applies to the US or should we re-write our economic text books? Continue reading

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JOHN MENADUE. How the politically urgent pushes the important health issues aside.

Australians have some of the best health outcomes in the world measured for example by high life expectancy and low death rates, although that is not the case with Indigenous Australians.   Continue reading

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ANDREW GLIKSON. Which planet is the media living on?

While extreme weather events are being reported almost daily on news bulletins, only rarely is it conveyed that these events constitute the manifestation of advanced global warming and a fundamental shift in the state of the atmosphere. Rarely do major ABC TV forums, such as The Drum, The Insiders, Q and A, Four-Corners, the 7.30 Report, Breakfast, Matter of Fact and other programs include climate scientists to discuss the trends and consequences of climate disruption, mitigation and adaptation. In a recent interview with the ex-PM on the ABC Q&A program, the climate has hardly been mentioned. Given his statement (on the 12th August 2010) “Now our response to climate change must be guided by science. The science tells us that we have already exceeded the safe upper limit for atmospheric carbon dioxide. We are as humans conducting a massive science experiment with this planet. It’s the only planet we’ve got question could have been raised.  Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate, Media | 1 Comment

GILES PARKINSON. Lazard hails “inflection point” as wind, solar costs beat new and old fossils (Renew Economy).

Lazard hails “inflection point” as wind, solar costs beat new and old fossils. 

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GARRY EVERETT. A tale of two processes.

Last year I participated in a community consultation about increasing the water supply in south east Queensland. It was a very satisfying experience because of the process and skills of the consultants.  This year I was invited to participate in a different kind of process.  The Catholic Church has instituted a process for decision-making called a Plenary Council. Continue reading

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GREG BARTON. Morrison wants Muslim leaders to do more to prevent terrorism, but what more can they do? (The Conversation)

With the simple statement “more needs to happen”, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was emphatic. In the wake of the terror attack on the crowded streets of Melbourne’s CBD last Friday, it is difficult to argue against any plan to do more to fight terrorism in Australia. Continue reading

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MARC STEARS. Don’t give up on politics. It’s where the fight for the fair go must be won (The Conversation).

This article is the third in the Reclaiming the Fair Go series, a collaboration between The Conversation, the Sydney Democracy Network and the Sydney Peace Foundation to mark the awarding of the 2018 Sydney Peace Prize to Nobel laureate and economics professor Joseph Stiglitz. These articles reflect on the crisis caused by economic inequality and on how we can break the cycle of power and greed to enable all peoples and the planet to flourish. The Sydney Peace Prize will be presented on November 15 (tickets here). Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics | 2 Comments

ANDREW FARRAN. Brexit: When is a horse not a horse? When it is a camel.

This note was prepared following a five hour emergency Cabinet meeting last night accepting the deal with the EU and a brief statement without details by the British PM, Theresa May, declaring that the draft Agreement was the best deal possible, was in the best interests of the British people, and better than no deal. Such detail as we have at this stage is based on well informed leaks to the British media. Continue reading

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PAUL COLLINS. ABC -Shenanigans at Ultimo’s Level Fourteen.

Monday’s Four Corners on the ABC’s management shenanigans—the Guthrie-Milne, she said-he said fiasco—and the failure of the rest of the ABC Board to own-up and answer publicly for their performance tells you everything about what’s wrong at the top of the national broadcaster. Its not imagined left-wing bias, or ‘inaccurate and unbalanced reporting’, or Emma Alberici, or Andrew Probyn. It’s the bevy of management and business clones appointed by government to the Board of the ABC and the kind of person they chose to run the organization. Continue reading

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RICHARD BUTLER. What is History?

President Macron’s warning against growing nationalism and the need to ensure the preservation of values, as against unalloyed selfishness in international relations, was an important way to mark the Centenary of the end of the First World War. Trump was present, but certainly not listening. The show was not about him and, he couldn’t find his umbrella. Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 5 Comments

JIEH-YUNG LO. Ross Cameron sacking shows we won’t tolerate racism any further.

In typical fashion, Andrew Bolt through his blog at the Herald Sun mounted a defence of Ross Cameron’s sacking from Sky News Australia. Instead of recognising its racist connotations directed towards Chinese people (and people of Chinese origin for that matter) Bolt went on by saying Ross Cameron’s intentions, while recognising his poor choice of words, was to defend China. What the defenders of Ross Cameron need to understand is that, despite his pro-China intentions, it does not justify his ignorance and the right to be racist.  Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Media | 2 Comments

PETER STANLEY. PM Hughes said ‘I bid you go fight for White Australia in France’- WW1 as the war for White Australia

Peter Stanley reviews Peter Cochrane’s Best We Forget: The War for White Australia, 1914-18

Australians’ racial anxiety towards Asia in general and  Japan in particular in the decade before 1914 made Australians’ political leaders prepared to underwrite an imperial war in the hope of securing British support for the security of White Australia. Continue reading

Posted in Defence/Security | 4 Comments

The Queen’s representative in Australia sits next to Putin in France – what nonsense!!

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PETER ARKELL. Choosing our head of state does not need to be difficult.

The Australian Republic appears to be coming back into the community’s discussion. The stumbling block for previous models seems to have been how the head of state will be chosen and even concern that we do not offend the Queen. Perhaps there is a solution that she would be pleased to step aside for.  Continue reading

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RICHARD BROINOWSKI. Will Japan’s Love Affair with Nuclear Power be Resurrected?

On Friday 11 March 2011, a tsunami knocked out emergency generators at Fukushima Dai-Ichi, resulting in melt-downs in three of six reactors, covering the countryside in eastern Honshu with radiation. Some isotopes were short-lived, others will be around much longer. Seven and a half years later, an endless torrent of sea water continues to be pumped into the damaged cores to try to keep them cool with no safe options for disposal or preventing leakage into the biosphere. Some of Japan’s most productive pastoral land around the reactors has been permanently poisoned against future use.   Continue reading

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DUNCAN GRAHAM.Jerusalem and a Free Trade Agreement with Indonesia


Now here’s the weirdest thing about the way we handle policy with the neighbours:  

Canberra politicians are proven fumblers and bumblers when dealing with big Muslim-majority Indonesia. Yet at the Australian National University just a ten-minute bike ride across the lake are some of the world’s foremost experts, able to inform, advise and caution.

Instead we have policy on the run  when Scott Morrison edged the idea that our embassy in Israel might shift 70 kilometres inland from the Mediterranean. Unsurpisingly he was caught in the slips.

The PM’s office has instant access not only to government think-tanks, but also leading academics. They speak slang garnered in kampongs while doing doctorates. They’ve savoured durians, recited  dawn prayers, sweated through nights of wayang magic. In brief they can feel the nation’s pulse.

Last century Cornell in the US, and Leiden in the Netherlands, were the specialists on the archipelago to our north.  Now Melbourne University, Monash, the ANU and to a lesser extent Murdoch in Perth and Flinders in Adelaide have taken over.

Does no-one in Parliament House have scholars on speed dial?  ‘A quickie, mate … whaddya reckon? The boss might give Ambassador Chris Cannan a new pad in Jerusalem.  Good idea – or what?’

Had the calls been made the profs would have been of one voice: ‘Are you joking? Indonesians will go spare … they back Palestine all the way. You’ll blow the whole Free Trade Agreement.’   Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 4 Comments

GEORGE BROWNING. Nationalism: the world’s greatest threat

We owe President Emmanuel Macron a debt of gratitude for yesterday’s speech in Paris. “Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism,” the French leader said.

“In saying ‘Our interests first, whatever happens to the others,’ you erase the most precious thing a nation can have, that which makes it live, that which causes it to be great and that which is most important: Its moral values.” Continue reading

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JOHN KERIN. Phasing out the Live Sheep Trade.

It is now nearly 60 years since the accelerated live sheep trade commenced from Australia to the Middle East. Early opposition to the trade came from the meatworkers union (AMIEU) in the 1970s, but has increasingly come from animal welfare groups and exposure of the cruelty in the trade (550,000 dead, 2000-2012?). After all this time it is more than evident the trade cannot be conducted without animal deaths and animal cruelty, either on ships or in slaughter by buying countries.  Continue reading

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NCR EDITORIAL STAFF-Open letter to the US Catholic bishops: It’s over (National Catholic Reporter).

Dear brothers in Christ, shepherds, fellow pilgrims,

We address you as you approach this year’s national meeting in Baltimore because we know there is nowhere left to hide.

It’s over. Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 4 Comments

PETER SAINSBURY. IPCC’s 1.5oC report makes Paris Agreement redundant.

The report ‘Global Warming of 1.5oC’ was published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October 2018. Although the report does not say so, the evidence it presents renders the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change redundant. It asks the wrong question, and its goals and strategies are now revealed to be completely inadequate for avoiding catastrophic climate change. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 3 Comments

ABUL RIZVI. An Agricultural Visa Would Change Australian Society – for the Worse

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has, for the time being, rejected creation of an agricultural visa in favour of changes to the existing working holiday maker program and the seasonal worker visa (see here). These are unlikely to satisfy demands of the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) for an agricultural visa. While most Australians would see this as a marginal issue, they should not. An agricultural visa has the potential to take us down a very slippery slope if the experience of other nations with such visas is any guide. Continue reading

Posted in Refugees, Immigration | 4 Comments