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Category Archives: AIM Extra

Britannia Turns Back the Boats

Pushing people back across borders; turning asylum seekers away from shores. When such tactics were openly adopted and used with impunity by Australia’s navy and border force, it caused outrage and concern in the maritime community and pricked the interest of border protectionists the world over.

Disgust and outrage have, in time, been replaced by admiration at the sheer chutzpah of Australian governments such as Tony Abbott’s, who introduced a turn-back-the-boats policy as part of an electoral promise to better secure borders. This meant that vessels heading for Australia could be literally turned back towards Indonesia without a care in the world. The drownings would not stop, nor would the danger to the passengers be alleviated; they would simply take place in international waters or the waters of another country.

Other countries duly followed. Greece and Italy fashioned their own turn-back policies at sea. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants Felipe González Morales spoke despairingly in June this year that the practice should end. “In the absence of an individualized assessment for each migrant concerned and other procedural safeguards,” he told the Human Rights Council, “pushbacks are a violation of the prohibition of collective expulsion and heighten the risk of further human rights violations, in particular refoulement.”

He also stated what all pupils of international human rights know: “States have an obligation to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of everyone on their territory or within their jurisdiction or effective control, irrespective of migration status and without discrimination of any kind.”

The concept of control is important in matters of interception, rescue and forcible return. As the European Court of Human Rights found in Hirsi Jamaa v Italy, which saw the forcible return by Italian authorities of migrants to Libya, the applicants remained under the “continuous and exclusive de jure and de facto control of the Italian authorities” during the course of their transfer, triggering the obligation to protect their human rights. “Speculation as to the nature and purpose of the intervention of the Italian ships on the high seas would not lead the Court to any other conclusion.”

The International of the Law of the Sea 1982 outlines the obligation of every state’s vessels to “render assistance to any person found at sea in danger of being lost.” The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and the International Convention on Maritime Research and Rescue affirm the obligation.

The LOSC also has a range of other relevant provisions on incursions of foreign vessels. Innocent passage into the state’s territorial sea is permitted under Article 17; in cases where such passage is not innocent – for instance, the breach of domestic immigration laws – states may take measures to halt passage. But under Article 18, a vessel, if deemed in distress, can also enter the territorial sea of the state in question even if migration laws have been breached.

Such thinking is bound to come across as soppily legal for the UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel, who has been coming up with her own turn back the boats model. This has formed part of an arsenal of hostile measures against migrants including the proposed Nationality and Borders Bill (Bill 14 of 2021-22), introduced on July 6. Having gone through two readings of the House of Commons, it now rests with the Public Bill Committee, which is due to release a report on November 4.

In moving that the Bill be read a second time, Patel told Members that Britons had “had enough of open borders and uncontrolled immigration; enough of a failed asylum system that costs the taxpayer more than £1 billion a year; enough of dinghies arriving illegally on our shores, directed by organised gangs; enough of people drowning on these dangerous, illegal and unnecessary journeys […].”

The Bill came into being despite warnings from various Australian lawyers, doctors and former civil servants that their country’s refugee model was hardly the sort of thing that should inspire imitations. In the view of Australian Greens Senator Nick McKim and Benali Hamdache of the UK Green Party, the “New Plan for Immigration imports all the worst parts of the Australian government policy.” This includes the possible establishment of offshore processing (read detention) centres to places ranging from Rwanda to the Isle of Man and the creation of a temporary protection scheme.

The Bill takes the battering ram to a range of maritime practices, proposing to criminalise the practice of offering voluntary assistance at sea by targeting “those assisting persons to arrive in the UK without a valid clearance.” That good Samaritan service provided by such bodies as the Royal Lifeboat Institution, which has been accused of being a “migrant taxi service” by its detractors, promises to be roped in.

Last month, it was revealed that Patel was already busily urging the Border Force to get into the pushback business in ways that would pass muster under maritime law. According to “sources” within the Home Office, as reported by The Guardian, Patel had effectively become “the first home secretary to establish a legal basis for the sea tactics, working with attorney general Michael Ellis and expert QCs.”

Pushing back boat arrivals is not only lacking in humanitarian spirit but filled with monstrous danger. The Straits of Dover, for instance, is the busiest shipping route in the world. One suggestion moving its way through the ranks is the targeting of certain boats, keeping the issue of safety in mind. Dinghies are unlikely to fall within the scope of expulsion, as tempting as these might be. Larger, sturdier migrant vessels are likelier prospects.

France, being the country where most of the migrants depart from, has been particularly vocal on the issue. Pierre-Henri Dumont, the MP for Calais, has suggested that Patel’s policy “tears apart the UN Geneva conventions giving the right to everyone to apply to any country for asylum.”

Interior Minister Gérald Darminin also expressed his displeasure at the new approach, warning Patel that his country “will accept no practices contrary to the Law of the Sea, and no blackmail.” Righteously, Darminin also claimed that “safeguarding human lives at sea takes priority over considerations of nationality, status and migratory policy.” While this is very much in the spirit of protection, it is an attitude that is looking worn and tired. Patel, for her part, hopes her cross Channel colleagues will see good sense and take up a promise of UK funding to prevent the migrant crossings taking place. They may well do just that.

 

 

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Nationhood and the ‘Pure’ Race (part 1)

Over twenty years ago I submitted my Honours thesis in Aboriginal Studies, that had the (academically proper but) gangling title of:

A review of the racist ideologies of Social Darwinism and eugenics in colonial Australia in the formative years of Federation, and how these ideologies were applied to purify and secure a White Australia.

When reading it recently I couldn’t help but ponder that there is so much of our colonial history that remains unknown, especially the cruel effects colonialism had on the First Australians.

Australia is, sadly, considered a racist country. But that’s how the country was born. My thesis – which was researched for twelve months – indicated strong evidence of this.

Over the next five days I will be publishing a shortened (and a less academic) version of my thesis, and of course, with a shortened title.

Here we begin:

White Australia and Federation

There has been much debate surrounding Federation over the past year. Recently, Mary Kalantzis in the Barton Lectures (The Australian, 21/2/01) introduced a concept that is indeed timely in the context of this thesis. For her, the timing is also critical (having just passed our centenary of Federation celebrations), asking her readers to face the racist origins of our nationhood. Kalantzis also noted the British position in the colonies’ desire federate. Namely, British colonial rule had made a serious effort to ensure that Aborigines – as British subjects – enjoyed certain rights. Bearing this, subsequent research sought to identify the British position (and its ineffectuality) in the frontier nation. She comments that as we approached Federation in the late 1890s:

Australia was ethnic-British by consciousness now, less than it was Colonial-Imperial and this changed the character of government fundamentally. Whereas an open Empire promoted unrestricted immigration and allowed no explicit discrimination between its subjects, the emerging Australian nation moved towards a white Australia Policy – in deliberate defiance of the edicts from London. Whereas the Empire had established fundamental rights for indigenes, [Federation] removed these (Kalantzis, 1998b).

The desire to remain one people without the admixture of other races was arguably one of the most powerful forces that impelled the colonists towards Federation. The thesis reviews key writers in Aboriginal Studies who have argued that the ethnic distinctiveness of colonial Australia could be ‘purified’ though a unified Australia, and that the Indigenous population was perceived as a threat to this ‘purity’. The discourse of this racist ideology included a set of hypothetical premises about human kinds (eg, the Great Chain of Being and the evolutionary theory of Social Darwinism), and about the differences between them (both mental and physical). In the formative years of Federation the racist ideology of social evolutionary theory was used as justification of a strong ‘white’ state in Australia. Colonists proclaimed that:

… human improvement had occurred in the past through beneficial struggle wherein the fittest alone had survived. Intervention by the state with the natural growth process of the economy, they concluded, could lead only to stagnation and race deterioration (Goodwin, 1964:415).

Emergent scientific thoughts in Social Darwinism and eugenics ultimately sought to purify and secure a White Australia. The Indigenous population, and the hordes of Chinese entering the colony, were a perceived as a threat to this ‘purity’. Unlike the Indigenous Australians, who nature had supposedly chosen for extinction, the Chinese threat came not only from the racial conflicts that inspired the doctrine of Social Darwinism, but from a media inspired regime of propaganda that exposed Chinese social habits as immoral, and more importantly, dangerous to the colonial society.

The research has purposely been directed to a review of the secondary sources. Secondary sources are seen as a valuable source of both data and analyses of theoretical contexts. Whereas the primary data can describe ‘what happened’ and as it happened, the secondary sources can provide some valuable analyses and interpretation of ‘why it happened’. The use of secondary sources is also pertinent as one endeavours to identify the knowledge and ideas that have already been established in the field of research.

Many historians provide works with a representative sample of literature (and opinion), as well as a broad ambit of material from popular journals of the late nineteenth century. In particular, the Sydney Bulletin – one of the most influential journals of the period – is a widely cited journal. It is proclaimed that the adaptation of evolutionary theory to the defence of radicalism was illustrated well from the middle of the 1880s in contributions to the Bulletin.

European racial ideals and preoccupations are indeed well exemplified by editorials, staff and correspondent’s features in a number of other journals as well, both influencing and reflecting public opinion. These publications harangued the public with sensational articles and cartoons warning of the threat to the social and moral well being of – and in particular – an emerging Australian type. These journals, they wrote, being:

Filled with articles of substance and lively debate on provocative issues provided their readers with a wealth of illustrative material which both popularised scientific racist theories and provided plenty of local examples to bear these theories out (Evans et al, 1993:15).

Most writers examined conclude that the ideology of Social Darwinism subsequently caught the imagination of the public and entered the discourse through the popular media, and that the ideology shaped the White Australia Policy. In summary:

  • The doctrine of Social Darwinism produced a set of ideas that were very engaging to the colonial society.
  • Popular literature of the nineteenth century depicted an image of the Australian Aborigine that reinforced these colonial ideals.
  • Australia was determined to maintain what it believed was its racial homogeneity. If the indigenous peoples continued their perceived decline towards extinction (and other migrant races were excluded or expelled), a ‘pure race’ could logically result (Cited in Evans et al, 1997:26).

White Australia, it is inferred, was designed to serve as ‘an ideological function in reinforcing the concept of an all-white nation’. It composed a policy of the most persuasive and effective journal in the country: “to preserve the White Breed pure” (Evans et al, 1993:358). With Federation, an immigration policy gained in salience and the logical sequel to the thinking of the fathers of Federation was the passing of racial exclusion legislation – The Immigration Restriction Act (1901). This Act came to be known as the ‘White Australia Policy’. Literature is examined that contends that this policy confirmed the racist ideology based on white supremacy and was used to deny citizenship to the Aboriginal people.

 

References

Evans, Raymond; Saunders, Kay; and Cronin, Kathryn (1993), Race relations in colonial Queensland: a history of exclusion, exploitation and extermination, University of Queensland Press, St Lucia.

Evans, R; Moore, C; Saunders, K; and Jamison, B. (1997), editors 1901 our future’s past; documenting Australia’s federation, Pan Macmillan, Sydney.

Gibb, D. (1973), The making of ‘white Australia’, Victorian Historical Association, West Melbourne.

Goldberg, David (1990), editor Anatomy of racism, University of Minnesota Press, Minnesota.

Goodwin, Craufurd (1964), ‘Evolution theory in Australian social thought’ in the Journal of the history of ideas, Volume 25, pp 393-416, in Knowledge, Ideology and Social Science (Level 1) Readings, University of South Australia, Adelaide.

Hollinsworth, D. (1998), Race and racism in Australia, 2nd edition, Social Science Press, Katoomba, NSW.

Kalantzis, Mary (September, 1998b), ‘Working to our cultural advantage’ in hotTYPE, volume 2, (Online, accessed 8 Aug. 2001). URL:http://www.rmit.edu.au/About/hotTYPEv2/

Markus, A. (1979), Fear and hatred: purifying Australia and California 1850-1901, Hale and Iremonger, Sydney.

McConnochie, K; Hollinsworth, D; and Pettman, J. (1993), Race and racism in Australia, Social Science Press, Australia.

McGrath, Ann (1995), editor Contested ground: Australian Aborigines under the British crown, Allen and Unwin, St Leonards.

Pettman, Jan (1988), ‘Whose country is it anyway?: cultural politics, racism and the construction of being Australian’, Journal of intercultural studies, Volume 9(1), Pages 1-24, in Race Relations in Australia: Theory and History Readings Part 2, University of South Australia, Adelaide.

Continued tomorrow: The Early Thought

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Morrison Batting on a Deteriorating Pitch

Cracks are beginning to show in the pitch. The pitch that Scott Morrison is making to the Australian public. Some of the gaps are so wide of the crease that they indicate a turning wicket.

His captaincy and batting for Team Neo-Liberal have been so bad over the season that many have suggested he retire on nought, not out. On form, those in the know say he has little chance of making a big score this summer. He doesn’t even want to attend the conference on the climate in Scotland. How else are we going to know how to prepare our pitches in the future?

The sneaky way he runs between the wickets, with that stupid grin on his face, would suggest a possible run out toward the end of the year. If not, the New Year.

The current state of play indicates a subtle but significant shift in how the game is being played. The Prime Minister is on the back foot firmly behind the ball, playing a negative straight conservative bat like any well-bred cricketer with right-wing origins.

But the opposition’s bowling has been tight, not giving much away. Albanese has been no-balled for bowling wide of the crease only once in this innings.

So, let’s see if we can analyse the match thus far, remembering this is a six-test series over three years.

Despite an ageing, out of form team of over the hill players who seemingly lost touch with the modern game ages ago, captain Morrison seems determined to take the game back to the W.G. Grace era.

However, there’s talk that he might chance his arm and change the line-up for the next match. “We need new bowlers who can swing the bloody thing to the right,” he was heard to say. But the young import de kok looks to be on a length.

Of course, the Murdoch press is playing ball with all this negative play. They continue to support his captaincy, despite his atrocious decisions. I mean, when you’re batting on a green top, why on earth would you bowl so much spin? Poor form, that. Just ask Warnie.

On the other hand, social media has stumped a few batters by chucking a lot of fast-talking positive commentary at a government deemed the worst since Abbott captained the side. Remember “Sports Rorts.” From now on, protectors are being made compulsory.

Sinking to underarm stuff is “simply unbecoming,” they have said of Morrison’s captaincy. You would think he would recognise that it’s time to concentrate on the game’s finer points and consider traditional fair play instead of lying as much as he does.

Even the umpires have chatted to him about his ball-tampering. His hands seem to be in his pockets more times than they are out.

The fact is, the team have been caught behind and need to play ball with the umpiring public. At the rate Morrison is scoring, he is unlikely to captain the side in the next test, and there is also some doubt about the team’s composition.

Some say that Porter should be dropped or that he should at least get a manager because he has been handling himself too long. On the other hand, he’s pulling the ball really well.

Another one on the back foot, as it were, is Dutton, who is always short of breath (or a length) and is finding it difficult to run between the wickets. Reading the rules while waiting to bat must be detrimental to one’s performance. He always seems to be full of shit.

He was well out of his crease and stumped several times when he wouldn’t give an undertaking not to go to war with China.

Image from pedestrian.tv

Meanwhile, the right of right in the member’s pavilion could be seen clapping his every shot – even the one’s he missed by a mile.

It’s fair to say that the Government is playing as though they have no leader, and everyone is telling him how to play. Scotty looks bewildered at times like he cannot decide on the batting order given so many are out of form.

I mean, Freydenberg has been on a pair twice in the last two tests. And goodness gracious, the pacemen Morrison, Dutton and Joyce have been swinging the ball so far to the right that they are continuously no-balled. Joyce, in particular, bowls so many full tosses that ‘Tosser’ has become his nickname.

They did get rid of the ‘carbon tax,’ but the entire team still seems confused by the plan the PM has replaced it with. Some think it’s a plan to have a plan and others believe it is our plan. The one we are sticking with unless Scott comes up with a better plan.

Having said that, some of the group still cannot come to grips (that reminds me to change mine. It’s an age thing) with the difference between weather and climate, which brings into doubt the quality of future pitches.

You might say the spectators have been hit for six on this one. Maybe it’s time to bring on the quicks back on. A bit of bodyline or direct action of the right sort, that’s what’s needed.

After bowling a few maiden overs, there can be no doubt, Porter copped one in the box over his deception. I mean, you can’t believe that the game should be played transparently, moderately and in the best interests of the game one day and then change the rules to suit yourself the next. Perhaps he needs a new protector to keep everything in place; otherwise, everything hangs loose.

After the lunch break

During the lunch break I thought I would ask the Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister, Penny Wong, a couple of questions, so I asked her how she was enjoying Foreign Affairs. She said that she had never had one. Then I asked her if she was likely to bowl a wrongen or two this innings.

“Yes” she said, “I would like to get into Barnaby Joyce for a few overs to see if it’s all true.”

“True?”

“Yes, you know the rumours?”

“What rumours?”

“I’ll catch you at tea.”

This session has been a balls-up. The bowler Tony Burke has been no-balled four times during the current over while trying to get his point of order across to the Speaker.

Fact is, Morrison’s policies are being comprehensively hit to square leg, and team mascot Puppy Porter was seen chasing after them because he’s not guaranteed a second knock.

Hunt nicked one to slips from Tony Burke but was caught out in France. It reminds me of something Merve Hugh’s said to a spectator at fine leg at the G after dropping a catch; “Fkn hopeless.”

And Morrison’s team are appallingly bad sports. It’s a pity the opposition can’t appeal to the third umpire. Once upon a time, it was a gentleman’s game, and we played by traditional rules, but Morrison seems to have let it all roll into the gutter.

He has replaced everything our beloved game stands for with Lillee white lies, and all the video replays confirm it. And the soberness Morrison has placed on the game, well, it’s a crying shame.

I think for the last two sessions he has just been batting with the breeze or must have been hit with a bouncer while not wearing a face mask. Concussion set in, and when he recovered he realised that there are real known facts in the world and that truth does matter.

Image from mix1023.com.au (Photo by Getty)

When I found out about all the lies and hypocrisy, whatever respect I had for the Australian captain had been hit for six.

I felt like I had just copped one in the nuts from Malcolm Marshall. I was so distressed – bloody hypocrite. No wonder a captain who bats at 10 isn’t a cricketer’s arsehole. No wonder he’s on a pair.

During the lunch break, he complained about the cost of living (or was it lifestyle?) pressures on the players and spruiked that it was perfectly OK to receive expenses even if they were given to the spouses.

Nothing worse than a bloody all-rounder who can only bowl arm balls. It was as well the public appealed against his version of free speech; otherwise, he might never have shut up.

Then after lunch, he brings on his slowest bowler George Christensen to bowl “Chinaman” deliveries (shit, in other words). In a recorded interview before play, he was quoted as saying that he was stumped as to why the game had never appealed to the Commies.

Goodness knows he is good at bowling spin on sticky wickets. George was on a hat-trick, but the umpire dismissed his third appeal based on an obstructed view – something to do with body mass and refusing a jab for the tour of the Philippines.

Anyway, at the close of play Morrison has shown little desire to get on with the game. He gives the impression he would rather play his own game, but the middle-order seems to have him by the balls. The team treasurer Josh Freydenberg is still saying the team budget is in good shape even though those handling our finances say it isn’t. But then he always bats below his average.

After a long, drawn-out final session, the captain of team Australia (as it was known under the previous Captain Tony Abbott) looks intent on a draw of sorts.

He doesn’t seem to have the members on his side, particularly those from the bush. His captaincy shows little innovation, and the team is in disarray. The pitch is deteriorating; even though there is moisture in the surface, with some grass. He shows little inclination to arrest his aggression against balls short of a length.

When fielding, his placements are terrible. Should we have a short or long third man?

At the after-play drinks, one player in the opposition was heard to say, “That bloody Morrison must have been born with two dicks. He couldn’t be this stupid playing with one.”

My thought for the day

I always used to say to my kids: “Think beyond the answer. There’s sure to be another one lurking there somewhere.”

For example. What do funeral directors England and Australia cricketers have in common? They don’t want to lose the Ashes.

 

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Murderous Fantasies: The US Intelligence Effort Against Assange

If there was any reason to halt a farcical train of legal proceedings, then the case against Julian Assange would have to be the standard bearing example. Since last year, the efforts by the US government to pursue his extradition to the vicious purgatory of American justice has seen more than a fair share of obscene revelations. While prosecutors for the US insist that the publisher must find himself in freedom land for having, incongruously, violated provisions under the Espionage Act of 1917, the broader political elements to this are impossible to shake.

From the moment classified US documents were released with daring aplomb on the WikiLeaks site, Assange was treated as a political target sneeringly condemned by Joe Biden (then Vice President) as a “cyber terrorist.” It did not matter that he had been granted political asylum by a foreign government, or that he had exposed the vicious nature of the US war machine in foreign lands.

The central strategy of the enraged in the face of such exposure is conventionally dull. Mock the publisher; redirect attention away from exposing the bloody mischief of empire. In the court of public opinion, such an individual can be queered and rendered indigestible, motives rubbished, intentions trashed. Cheeky public disclosure contrarians can be dismissed as cranks and discredited.

Once Michael Pompeo assumed the reins at the Central Intelligence Agency, WikiLeaks became something of an obsession, fascinating given Donald Trump’s sheer delight over its releases of those Democratic emails that holed Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016. “It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is,” he told an audience at the Center for Strategic and international Studies (CSIS) on April 13, 2017, “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.”

Such a perspective led to brazen efforts by the Spanish private security firm UC Global, hired to furnish surveillance equipment to the Ecuadorian embassy in London, to spy upon Assange and his various colleagues and confidantes. The firm, through its chief executive David Morales, was knee-deep with the Central Intelligence Agency and delighted to be of assistance.

The extent of Morales’s zeal alarmed a few former employees of the company, a point they were unreserved in expressing in the Old Bailey proceedings in September last year. “Around June 2017, while I was sourcing providers for the new camera equipment, David Morales instructed that the cameras should allow streaming capabilities so that ‘our friends’ in the United States’, as Morales explicitly put it, would be able to gain access to the interior of the embassy in real time. This request alarmed me greatly, and in order to impede the request, I claimed that remote access via streaming via the camera circuit was not technically achievable.” That witness noted Morales’s wish to bug the entire embassy and suggested that the purpose of installing microphones had been at the behest of the United States to target Assange’s legal representatives.

This was merely the start. One of the witnesses (for convenience, called Witness 2), revealed how Morales had asked him to “steal a nappy of a baby which according to the company’s security personnel deployed at the embassy, regularly visited Mr Assange.” The act was designed to ascertain whether, in fact, it came from “a child of the asylee.” It was “the Americans,” Morales claimed, “who wanted to establish paternity.”

Frustrated by a lack of movement on expelling Assange from the embassy, US officials began teasing out options. According to the second witness, “the Americans were desperate [in December 2017] and that they had even suggested that more extreme measures should be employed against the ‘guest’ to put an end to the situation of Assange’s permanence in the embassy.” An “accident” was proposed, one that could be claimed for covering an operation “which would allow persons to enter from outside the embassy and kidnap the asylee.” And just in case such a scenario would not unfold, another, more final suggestion was put on the table: a handy poisoning.

 

 

As is often the nature of the modern news cycle, such damnable revelations are dips in what is otherwise a more substantive, disturbing story. It takes such reports as those of Yahoo!News to add a chilling confirmation. To the credit of the authors, much flesh is added to the narrative. A former Trump national security official is cited as claiming that the administration was “seeing blood” after WikiLeaks published the Vault 7 files, a set of hacking tools developed by the CIA. “This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred millions line of code,” crowed WikiLeaks in a press release at the time, “gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA.”

But the interest in gathering material on the organisation in the intelligence community began prior, inspired by the revelations of Edward Snowden in June 2013 about the warrantless and expansive surveillance programs of the National Security Agency. Within the CIA, the Office of Transnational Issues got busy establishing its own “WikiLeaks team.” The intelligence community was abuzz with efforts to give the publishing outfit a different designation as “information brokers”.

With the publication of leaked Democratic Party emails, the belief among some intelligence operatives that Assange “was acting in collusion with people who were using him to hurt the interests of the United States” became, according to the community’s senior lawyer Robert Litt, palpable. With Trump taking up residence in the White House, a counterintelligence official could only remark that, “Nobody in that crew was going to be too broken up about the First Amendment issues.”

The Yahoo report is also filled with the wet dreams of adolescent functionaries pondering how the Australian might have made a dash for it. One of these involved the prospect that Assange might be spirited away by Russian agents after being granted diplomatic status by Ecuador. Scenarios involved crashing into any vehicle transporting Assange, snatching him and shooting the tyres of any plane intended to carry him to Moscow. “It was going to be like a prison break movie,” one former senior administration official fantasised with relish.

Outside the embassy, the area got cluttered with spooks and operatives. “It got to the point where every human being in a three-block radius was working for one of the intelligence services – whether they were street sweepers or police officers or security guards.”

Within some channels of the US government, concerns were aired that the rendition and kidnapping enthusiasts were getting out of hand. The fairly obvious point was expressed by some NSC officials that any such operation would be illegal. “You can’t throw people in a car and kidnap them,” a former national security official warned.

In the spring of 2017, assassination made it to the front of the queue as a possible remedy. President Trump put out the feelers for some advice. “It was viewed as unhinged and ridiculous,” a former senior CIA official is reported as saying. Another claimed that those proposing the idea “were just spitballing,” all part of an atmosphere where Trump was just being Trump. The spit balls in question evidently lingered long enough for rough sketches to be drawn up contemplating Assange’s murder and WikiLeaks members with access to the Vault 7 trove.

Assange’s US lawyer Barry Pollack wishes that this grubby state of affairs will lead to a sensible conclusion. “My hope and expectation is that the UK courts will consider this information and it will further bolster its decision not to extradite to the US.” The US appeal against the refusal to extradite Assange will be doing its best to avoid such thorny, and telling, revelations. Assange’s defence team will be doing its best to foil such efforts.

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The trailblazer

By Mark Baker

Journalist Jan Mayman pioneered reporting of Indigenous deaths in custody

Jan would hate this. She never liked the limelight, constantly doubted her talent and was always self-effacing, unsure of her place on the margins between Black and white Australia where she had such a profound impact for good.

Her humility as much as her humanity was perhaps the secret of her success, why those for whom she fought so passionately and tenaciously throughout her life trusted her and shared their stories – and why she was able to pierce the defences of the powerful to reveal often shocking truths.

Jan Mayman, who has died at the age of eighty, was the most important journalist of her generation in exposing the systemic cruelty, neglect and injustice suffered by Indigenous Australians – long before most of the mainstream media were awakened to that grim and abiding reality.

For Jan, the turning point came in a hotel in the town of Roebourne on the northwest coast of Western Australia in 1983. A teacher friend had told her the alarming story of a sixteen-year-old Aboriginal boy who had died in police custody in Roebourne after a brawl with police officers. She flew north from Perth to investigate.

After the Aboriginal Legal Service lawyer refused to talk to her, a tall Aboriginal man approached: “I’d never met him before, he just beckoned me and I sort of followed him… He led me to a hotel room and he had eight Aboriginal people, all men, and they were lined up sitting on two beds and he said, ‘Tell her.’ And they all told me this shocking story.”

John Pat had joined a drunken confrontation with four off-duty policemen outside the Victoria Hotel on the evening of 28 September 1983. According to the witnesses, he was struck in the face by one policeman and fell backwards, striking his head hard on the roadway. Another officer kicked Pat in the head before he was dragged to a waiting police van, kicked in the face, and thrown in.

Other witnesses, who had been across the street from the police station, said Pat and several other Aboriginal prisoners were beaten as they were taken from the van and, one after another, dropped on the cement path. Each was then picked up, punched to the ground, and kicked. According to one observer, none of the prisoners fought back or resisted. An hour later, when police checked on Pat in his cell, he was dead.

The dramatic story was accepted by Age editor Creighton Burns, who ran it on the front page. The subsequent inquest, which led to the four policemen being charged with manslaughter, triggered the public outcry that precipitated the royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody. Jan Mayman’s reporting earned her a Gold Walkley, the highest accolade in Australian journalism.

It would be the first of many powerful stories detailing injustice over the next four decades. These included more cases of abuses and deaths in custody, the plight of stolen generations survivors and the battle to protect sacred Aboriginal lands against the encroachment of mining – notably the epic struggle by the Yindjibarndi of the Pilbara against Twiggy Forrest’s Fortescue Metals.

Jan became a champion of Indigenous rights with an unlikely colonial pedigree. Her grandfather, George Mayman, was a pioneering gold hunter and mine owner in the Kalgoorlie goldfields.

She was never comfortable in the tough, ego-driven world of journalism, where she was always an outlier, a freelancer who worked for some of the biggest newspapers in Australia and overseas but was never really embraced by the mainstream. Her independence was an asset, but she always struggled to earn enough money and was fearful of ruinous litigation without the guaranteed backing of a monied publisher.

She was both a powerful reporter and an elegant, evocative writer – a rare combination in journalism. While her investigative journalism was compelling, her writing captured the beauty of Aboriginal lands and powerful mystery of Indigenous traditions.

A generation before the killing of George Floyd in the United States ignited the Black Lives Matter movement around the world, Jan Mayman had exposed the ugly truth of endemic racism and abuse in Australia to a largely indifferent or ignorant mainstream audience.

The royal commission triggered by her journalism promised a sea change. Its 339 recommendations lit the path to reducing deaths in custody, imprisonment rates, inequality and disadvantage. “Few Australian royal commissions have attracted stronger, more passionate media attention than the 1991 final report,” journalist Wendy Bacon would write. The failure of that promise of change broke Jan’s heart.

The issues on which she fought so hard remain as far from resolution as ever. In the thirty years since the royal commission, almost 500 more Aboriginal people have died in custody. To John Pat’s name have been added others whose deaths are etched in shame – Mulrunji Doomadgee, Mr Ward, Ms Dhu. But most are forgotten numbers on a roll without end.

 

This article was originally published on Inside Story and has been reproduced with permission.

 

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What Strategic Game is AUKUS playing in Asia?

By Darrell Egan

In the 2004 movie Alexander which depicts Alexander The Great’s push into Asia, his long-time colleague says to him:

“The generals question your obsession with Darius. They say it was never meant for you to be King of Asia.”

The newly established Australia, United Kingdom and United States AUKUS alliance has a similar obsession in Asia and that obsession is China. This obsession for conquest in clearing Asia from any China input ignores China has been trading with Southeast Asia, even as far back as the time of Alexander with the later part of the Zhou Dynasty having Maritime Silk Road trade routes into South East Asia.

This was the early times of trade and diplomacy for China with South-East Asia which existed right up to the 13th Century with sandalwood trade with East Timor, then the Australian Trepang trade through Malaysian seafarer traders, before Australia was colonised and invaded by Britain.

Throughout this interaction in South East Asia, in a strategic chess game of compromise diplomacy, China never had a desire to invade or take over countries in these trade areas and was mostly concerned with protecting their border regions which include the South China Sea.

China as a civilisation state dealing with many regional neighbours in its long history of diplomacy realise this, with offers to both Vietnam and the Philippines for a joint venture in the South China sea.

The United States seems to be undermining, with militarising the area with their Navy even though China is not interfering with the freedom of movement of international shipping in the South China Sea as admitted by retired US Admiral Cedric Leighton.

 

 

In the 16th century we saw invasions from western powers with the Portuguese, Dutch and British saw invasions of conquest right up to the US in the Vietnam war.

In these invasions was the western powers invasions of China and division on their country in the late 19th century, with a zero-sum, your with us or you are against us foreign policy with Asia. Many horse gamblers bet odds on the historical track record of a horse US lead AUKUS group who does not seem to have a strategy of Chess game but more like a game of Hungry Hungry Hungry Hippo zero-sum win game in Asia.

With this US pivot to Asia and dragging Australia into direct conflict with China in the AUKUS group, this hawkish strategic game of Hungry Hungry Hungry Hippo has even more dire consequences for the region and the world, than Western powers incursions in Asia starting in the 16th Century.

Asian countries must be vigilant with these developments.

 

This article was originally published on Dazza Egan Australia & China Watch Journo.

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Trumpism with a Biden Face: US Haitian Policy

With that orange haired brute of a president supposedly ushered out of the White House with moralising delight, the Biden administration was all keen to turn over a new leaf. There would be more diplomacy, and still more diplomacy. There would be a more humanitarian approach to refugees and asylum seekers – forget, he claimed, the Border Wall. Kindness would come over border officials and guards of the imperium.

Instead, we have had secret diplomacy culminating in the trilateral security pact of AUKUS, one reached unbeknownst to allies in Europe, Asia and the Indo-Pacific. And we have had a particularly ugly spectacle concerning Haitian refugees, with many being bundled into planes to be sent back to their country, having been taken from the burgeoning border camp around a bridge in Del Rio, Texas.

Having been blooded in the mass evacuation exercise from Afghanistan, the Biden administration was now doing the reverse in an exercise of expulsion, promising the deportation of 14,000 Haitians over a period of three weeks. The jarring contrast was not lost on Nicole Melaku, executive director of the National Partnership for New Americans. “When you contrast the welcome mat that was rolled out for many Afghan refugees who are deserving – of course – of our support and resettlement, with the deplorable treatment of Black migrants on our home soil, it is just an unfathomable contrast.”

At the Rio Grande River, US border agents, crowned by cowboy hats and sporting a thuggish élan, left a remarkable impression of ugliness by their free use of reins in pushing migrants back across the river. Many members of their quarry had made the journey to obtain food. “I can’t imagine what context would make that appropriate,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki expressed with the sort of wonder that is becoming her hallmark style. “But I don’t have additional details and certainly I don’t think anyone seeing that footage would think it was acceptable or appropriate.”

Political atmosphere and atmospherics is everything, and while Psaki might be puzzled, her colleagues in the Biden administration are happy to maintain a firm line against mischievous incursions. The US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas has been firm. “If you come to the United States illegally,” he declared on September 20, “you will be returned. Your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family’s life.”

Such conduct did not sit well with the May announcement by Secretary Mayorkas that Haiti had been designated for Temporary Protection Status (TPS) for 18 months. “Haiti is currently experiencing serious security concerns, social unrest, an increase in human rights abuses, crippling poverty, and lack of basic resources, which are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayorkas stated at the time.

Despite that official characterisation, the administration has taken comfort in using Title 42 of the United States code Section 265, a public health statute freely employed by the Trump administration, to prohibit “the introduction of persons or property, in whole or in part, from Mexico and Canada” into the US for fears of pandemic spread. The liberal use of the statue has received judicial excoriation, with US District Judge Emmet Sullivan claiming it “collectively deprived” asylum seekers and refugees facing “real threats of violence and persecution” of “certain statutory procedures.”

Public health officials have also been disconcerted. As Dr Ronald Waldman of the human rights group Doctors of the World remarks, “The prohibition for crossing the border has been applied selectively to asylum seekers.” It certainly has not been applied to students and those doing business.

In a sober assessment of Biden’s report card so far, Natasha Lennard of The Intercept points out that the Trump administration’s use of the law saw half a million people removed. During the short tenure of the Biden administration, the current number stands at 700,000. Over the course of January, 62,530 migrants were expelled according to the figures of Customs and Border Protection. For the month of April, it was 110,846.

In a resounding judgment of Biden’s policy towards Haitians and Haiti in general, Washington’s envoy to the country, Daniel Foote, has resigned. His September 22 letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was an effort of extrication from “the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti, a country where American officials are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life.”

Foote also took a stab at a long-standing practice of US foreign policy: that habitual meddling in the affairs of a country that had “consistently produced catastrophic results.” The de facto, unelected prime minister Ariel Henry had received yet “another public statement of support as interim leader of Haiti” from the US embassy, among others. They had continued touting “his ‘political agreement’ over another broader, earlier accord shepherded by civil society.” The now resigned envoy, sniping at this policy of backing “winners”, stated the essential heresy of the imperium: What Haitians needed was “the opportunity to chart their own course, without international puppeteering and favoured candidates, but with genuine support for the cause.”

In response to the resignation, US State Department spokesman Ned Price was a picture of regret and hollow advice. “It is unfortunate that, instead of participating in a solutions-oriented policy process, Special Envoy Foote has both resigned and mischaracterised the circumstances.”

Psaki was icily dismissive. “Special Envoy Foote had ample opportunity to raise concerns about immigration during his tenure. He never once did so.” Such bitchiness is a nice summation of the Biden administration so far: policies that continue to furnish us the acceptable face of Trumpism.

 

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Melbourne Quake: Shaken, Not Stirred

It began just after a news interview. Time: a quarter past nine. Morning of September 22, and yet to take a sip from the brewed Turkish coffee, its light thin surface foam inviting. The Australian city of Melbourne in its sixth lockdown, its residents fatigued and ravaged by regulations. Rising COVID-19 numbers, seemingly inexorable.

Then, an initial, gentle movement of floors, a slight, barely detectable swaying of the walls of the apartment. Across City Road in South Bank, one part of the beleaguered Crown Casino establishment seemed to be rippling, the glass forming gentle, shimmering waves across the surface. Melbourne was experiencing the rarest of earthquakes.

Within a minute, it had passed. The alarms in the building complex had not gone off. Sprinklers had not been activated. But the occupants were taking no chances. Families scooted to the lifts carrying toys, blankets and even the odd pillow, not thinking that this would be a risky prospect. Face masks were forgotten (they remain mandatory in Melbourne) and hearty apologies exchanged.

The concierge, a cranky though eminently well meaning Celtic beast of a man rushed out to the front of the building. Even with his face covered with a mask, his forehead was creased with concern. “I suggest you come back in and stay in the lobby. If something falls down, it will kill you.” As an afterthought, he added: “And no facemask is going to save you.”

An exodus followed. Within a matter of minutes, the cafes across the city started to heave with customers seeking their highly specialised Melbourne brew. Gossip was exchanged, rumours transmitted. Magnitude of the earthquake, concluded the smartphone users: 5.8 on the scale. Location of the epicentre: Alpine National Park southeast of Mansfield, 10km deep. Numbers are duly adjusted. To the 5.8 quake can be added two: one registering 4.0 and another 3.1.

 

 

The room for embellishment was vast. “The strongest earthquake experienced in Victoria since European settlement,” came the grave words of a seismologist. The anchors on the ABC News channel were addled enough by the incident to blubber about feeling terror. Hundreds of videos and images flooded social media, many prosaic catches, clippings and takes about swinging lights, shaking platforms, disturbed crockery and moving matter. All, in the big league of earthquakes, fairly amateurish for any seasoned survivor. On that score, that could hardly count as a bad thing.

Sketchy amateur audits on the extent of damage are made with tabloid hurriedness. Reports of damaged buildings on Chapel Street started filtering through. Historically, the street is known as a place to eat, drink and seek entertainment, though not much of late. A scruffy passer-by interviewed on national television cheerfully observed that “everything happens on Chapel Street.” At the very least, the lockdown might have saved a few lives.

In the meantime, the police presence in the city seemed awe inspiringly boisterous in anticipation of anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown protests. For the last few days, violent gatherings have menaced the offices of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union. The union has taken the position that vaccines are, in the words of a statement, “the only way out of this pandemic” but believes it is “up to the individual” to reach a decision on receiving them. A certain number of union members have berated the CFMEU for not taking the pitchforks to those urging compulsory vaccination in the construction industry.

The protesters received further encouragement with the announcement by the Victorian government that the construction industry in the city and other regional centres would be shut down for 14 days. The reason cited for this drastic action: poor compliance with public health directives. “We’ve been clear,” Tim Pallas, Victoria’s treasurer and minister for industrial relations huffed, “if you don’t follow the rules, we won’t hesitate to take action – we have seen widespread noncompliance across the industry and that’s why we’re taking necessary steps to protect every single Victorian.” Sites will be permitted to reopen on demonstrating that they have complied with the public health orders.

The honchos in the movement are wondering if there has been an infiltration by what they describe with flapping vagueness as right wing elements. Sally McManus, secretary of the Australian Council for Trade Unions, certainly thinks so, while Steve Purvinas, federal secretary of the aviation engineers’ union is philosophical. “The anti-vaxxers think those people who are vaccinated are crazy, the people who are pro-vaccine think the anti-vaxxers are crazy. We represent all our members regardless of how crazy they may be.”

The picture is, as often the case with such movements, more complex. The Australian Financial Review opined that many of the protestors “looked less like neo-Nazis and more like desperate men who felt they had little left to lose.” But the CFMEU has become a different creature over the course of a decade, one less amicable to left-wing, class-based causes. Its burly Victorian State Secretary John Setka keeps company with shop stewards from family circles and those of the Croatian community whose ties with the nationalist right and anti-vaccination are known. Some of the marchers, seeking to square the stubborn circle, link the quake to the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews. “Dan Andreas Fault” starts to gain traction through the sewerage outlets of Twitter.

The quake has left its mark, even if it has not come in the form of catastrophic loss of life and a huge reconstruction bill. Melbourne’s residents await aftershocks and are warned to expect more, possibly over a period of weeks or months. Seismologists are finding themselves in high demand. A message from the Celtic beast circulated to all residents was forgiving. “Perfectly fine to have a stiff drink, even though it’s only 11 in the morning.”

 

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Nuclear Subs? Time to get Atavistic!

Perhaps we need to become a little atavistic now and turn Australia, if not the whole world into a 5th Century BCE Athens, into a place where our soul goes to a theatre to be cured of all its traumas, of all its infirmities.

Athens of that era did that once a year. She went to the theatre to heal herself. Religiously, on the week of the festival of its youngest and most important god, Dionysius, the god of, among many other things, fertility.

Once the two Persian attacks were done, once the last barbarian soldier left Plataea and Mycale, once the last Persian ships were driven out of the waters of Salamis, once Greece had rid herself of all attacks from the East, a burgeoning epidemic of arrogance, of hubris, overtook Athens.

COVID-19 wrecks the flesh but hubris wrecks the soul.

The Athenians had established the Delian League, an alliance which incorporated some 300-odd cities, all paying tributes of either money or men or ships as a means of boosting Greece’s military and to build an adequate protection against possible further revenge-attacks from Persia.

That League became, in fifth century terms, quite considerable in size. With Athens its unquestionable ruler, the once-small Attican city became the engine of a powerful empire – initially benign, but soon an oppressive, colonial power much like the one they had just repelled. It happens often, doesn’t it: he who defeats the oppressor becomes the oppressor himself. Power corrupts. Power corrupts the powerful.

Initially too, the treasury was placed on the uninhabited island of Delos, Apollo’s sanctuary island, but it took little time before it was moved to the temple of the goddess Athena, the Parthenon, in Athens’ Acropolis and not long after that, the city began to raid it, spending the money on glittering and begemming herself and on other self-serving interests. The allied parties of the Delian League, who were dutifully paying their taxes, saw this blatant plunder of their wealth and it made them angry and unruly.

In response, Athens became increasingly more brutal, more arrogant and more corrupt, increasingly more afflicted by its burgeoning hubris, in other words, quite sick. Athens, it was obvious to one and all, had to be urgently cleansed of that sickness – purged of those symptoms that brought her to that state. This is where theater came in. (Classic Wisdom, The Healing of Athens).

The first play we have in which this epidemic is identified is Aeschylus’ Persians, a tragedy which he wrote in 471 BCE. In this play, Aeschylus shows the horrendous consequences of this disease. He staged it as a warning to the Greeks, who, by then showed the same temperament and proclivity for war-mongering and conquest as did the Persians. Arrogance, to paraphrase in shameful oversimplification, two of the greatest philosophers of all time, Aristotle who said “man is a political being” and his teacher, Plato, who had put his view in his Republic and elsewhere, “arrogance overwhelms all human values, and replaces them with forces destructive to the soul; and, after all, is not the soul of the man the soul of his city?”

Athens became strong militarily but feeble and infirm mentally, morally and spiritually. Her moral compass, as Thucydides remarked later in his History of The Peloponnesian War, was abandoned and replaced by the rules of savagery.

Sparta began to see the new belligerent Athens as a military threat, (see “The Thucydides Trap“) sweeping away her own allies and, in 431 BCE mounted a challenge: a proxy war on the island of Corcyra (today’s Corfu). This war broadened to encompass almost every Greek city and became known as the Peloponnesian War. It lasted, on and off, almost thirty years, ending in 404 BCE with the destruction of Athens and the establishment of a new anti-democratic government, ruled by Thirty Tyrants, puppets of Sparta.

In the interim, on the Dionysian stage, Athens’ illness was examined as meticulously as a surgeon examines bodies in the operating theatre, exposing the affected parts under painfully glaring lights. This work of diagnosis was done by the tragedians of whom we, alas, have only some of the works of three of many, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides.

Some 15,000 Greeks would go there to observe the work of their doctors. The question about whether women were also observing, is all but concluded and the answer is in the affirmative.

The stage exhibited the sickly Athens as well as the cured Athens, the Athens of the Erinyes, the avenging furies, as well as the Athens of the Eumenides, the benevolent protectors of the city. They would see the Athens of the brutal men like Cleon and Cleophon, as well as that of the strong women who stood up to them: Iphigeneia, Antigone, Medea, Klytaemestra, Helen, Hecabe, Lysistrata, Praxagora.

So, when Pericles enacted a law declaring that henceforth only children whose parents are both citizens of Athens may be granted Athenian citizenship, Euripides showed how poisonous that law was for the people and for the country. He did so by making a slight change to an old myth. In his eponymous tragedy, he has Medea, effectively a refugee, kill her children instead of leaving them behind when she left for Athens, as the original myth had it. Her husband Jason is no more than an extra, a secondary character in that play. Medea’s words – the words Euripides had put into her mouth – showed which of the two sexes was the stronger, which was the more courageous, the more worthy of kleos (eternal fame) and which was the weaker, the coward.

To the Corinthian women Medea says,

“Then people also say that while we live quietly and without any danger at home, the men go off to war. Wrong! One birth alone is worse than three times in the battlefield behind a shield.”

In Euripides’ mind, the female wins the war on bravery and endurance of pain. In fact, the absence of women in Athens’ daily life is one of the reasons why the city’s spiritual health is so feeble. This point, this diagnosis, is made very blatantly by all the playwrights of 5th century BCE Athens.

Thus, it is no accident that women appear so often in both the tragedies and the comedies as far stronger than the men. This is why so many Greek plays feature such strong women uttering such powerful speeches. Iphigeneia’s speech (in Iphigeneia in Aulis) must have had the whole of Athens shedding tears for days.

In 416 BCE, the Athenians slaughtered all the men of Melos and enslaved all the women because the Melians (allies of Sparta) would not pay their taxes. Athens gave them no option at all: “pay or die.” Thucydides has the full account of the dialogue between the two sides, a dialogue that brings the political pragmatics of war to a full display. War pollutes the soul. Corrupts it. Empties it of virtue.

A year later, Euripides, enraged, produces his Trojan Women, where the victorious Greek men behave in exactly the same savage way as they were doing in his time. Yes, that stage enacted myths, but these myths were parables of real life, these myths were the modern microscopes that peered into the man’s body and soul.

After three days of Tragedies, where Athens’ afflictions were glaringly displayed and diagnosed, Athens was visited by the comedy writers, of whom, again unfortunately, we have the works of only one: a satirist, and perhaps the indubitable master in this field. Aristophanes knew the Athenians very well, as he also knew the stage. He knew the Athenian of the agora, the market place, as well as the member of the council and of the Ekklesia, the Parliament.

Aristophanes, then, was the one to prescribe the remedy for sickly Athens:

“Have a sex strike,” said, in as many words his Lysistrata, in his eponymous play, Lysistrata) and “Give all the legislative powers to the women,” or words to that effect, would be heard from Praxagora’s lips. (Women In Parliament) “Get rid of the jury men who sting Athens like wasps sting people!” (Wasps). “Send away the sausage sellers,” (Knights) and “learn how to use Clever Logic rather than Wise Logic, if you want to avoid the clutches of your creditors” and, “don’t listen to the cloud-inhabiting sophists, like Socrates!” (Clouds) are the messages that would be taken home from Aristophanes’ many satires.

The satirist has the most powerful tool in his hand, because satire is a flame thrower. Aristophanes aimed that pointy flame at the belly of Athens’ corrupt politicians. He cauterized the wounds, prescribed the cathartics, delivered the purgatives.

Dionysus, tyrant of Sicily, once asked Plato what his fellow Athenians were like. Plato’s response was to give Dionysus the books of Aristophanes’ plays.

Aristophanes not only knew the Athenians, he also knew what they were made of, he knew the full contents of their character, as Martin Luther King Jr put it.

Scholars also called the Athenian stage a school, “The school of Athens,” with the intimation that it was also the school of the world.

This appellation is also quite valid. After all, is not a teacher also a doctor and is not a doctor also a teacher? Don’t they both try to purge the man (and thus the city) of all his ills, his undisciplined pride, his ignorance, his injustice, his brutality and his corruption?

The practical details may differ, but both aim for the same thing: healing.

In both cases – school and clinic – Aristotle’s Catharsis takes place. It takes place not only at the end of every tragedy, purging all the painful emotions that the trilogy had brought to the surface, but also, and far more importantly, at the end of the entire festival, all the symptoms have been examined, displayed and all the necessary remedies prescribed.

Fifth century BCE Athens went to the theatre to be healed, and the theatre did its very best to provide that healing.

Unfortunately, Athens continued to be ill. Her arrogance was not removed, her war mongering and her brutality were not tempered and the inequality between the sexes continued. Women were still kept away from the more significant positions and slavery continued unabated. All of the plays -tragedies as well as comedies, in one way or another, point out that the women are punished for the wrongs committed by men. The young, Juliet-like Iphigeneia of Euripides’ Iphigeneia in Aulis is a victim of her father’s sin against Artemis and of his wanting to go to war through no fault of hers. Antigone, in Sophocles’ tragedy by the same name, suffers the death sentence because of her uncle Creon’s extreme, autocratic views. Helen, the most complex character of the mythological cosmos, suffers abduction and endless insults because of what Paris has done. Hecabe, Cassandra, Andromche, Medea, are just a few more examples of women suffering the consequences of men’s arrogance and disrespect, their need to enforce and exhibit their deluded view that they are powerful, more powerful than something, anything, someone, anyone, slave or woman.

The death of Aristophanes marked the end of a golden age of culture and thought and the beginning of Athens’ steep decline.

Then came the era of the Macedonians, of Phillip and of Alexander which was, in turn, followed by the era of the Romans. Homer of the 48 rhapsodies which decried war, was replaced by Virgil of the 12 which praised a Caesar, much like the soviet painters and writers praised the post Czar regimes.

Yet it was during that era – the fifth century BCE – that the Greeks had given to the world a new word to ponder over: paradox (at odds with the common view). For it was during her most turbulent era, the era of war and inequality, that she gave birth to the most magnificent, intelligent and effective remedies for society to heal itself.

Any student today – and I daresay for many eras to come – can walk in any direction he or she chooses, enter any theatre in any University in the world, and he or she will hear references made to the fifth-century Greek theatre, when the first healers made their appearance.

Time to be atavistic. Time to learn from History. Time to abandon weapons of every kind, especially those that bring the worst of the diseases of the soul, hubris, the most treacherous of diseases. Time to abandon the nuclear weapons, the weapons of mass destruction – of the soul.

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The Right to Clean Air in Jakarta

It seems utterly beyond debate but acknowledging legal rights to clean air has assumed the makings of a slow march over the years. The 1956 Clean Air Act in Britain arose from the lethal effects of London’s 1952 killer smog, which is said to have taken some 12,000 lives. The Act granted powers to establish smoke-free zones and subsidise householders to shift to the use of cleaner fuels (gas, electricity, smokeless solid fuel).

There is certainly no shortage of advocates for the self-evident point that clean air is vital. Some of this has been reduced – at least historically – to an issue about the non-smoker’s wish not to have the air clouded by the selfish actions of a smoker. But this is small beer when compared to the general levels of global pollution that keeps the Grim Reaper busy on an annual basis. According to the World Health Organization, air pollution kills 7 million or so people each year, with 9 out of 10 people breathing air “that exceeds WHO guideline limits containing high levels of pollutants, with low- and middle-income countries suffering from the highest exposures.”

In 2019, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment David R. Boyd noted approvingly that a majority of States had, be it through their constitutions, statutes and regional treaties, recognised the right to a healthy environment. But recognition for such a right on a global level remained an unfulfilled object. The UN General Assembly, for instance, may have adopted a range of resolutions on the right to clean water, but never on the right to clean air. This is despite such a right being, according to Boyd, “implicit in a number of international human rights instruments, including the Universal Declaration to Human Rights (right to adequate standard of living), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (right to life) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (right to health).”

This month, a flutter of interest was caused by a ruling in the Central Jakarta District Court on a lawsuit lodged two years before accusing the Indonesian government of unlawfully permitting air pollution in the capital to exceed permissible, healthy limits. Citizens such as Istu Prayogi, who had never so much as touched a cigarette in their lives, joined the suit after his lungs revealed the sort of lung damage that would arise from being a heroic, persistent smoker.

The unanimous decision by the three-judge panel found that the seven officials concerned, including President Joko Widodo, three cabinet ministers and the governors of Jakarta, Banten and West Java were negligent in not upholding environmental standards. As Duta Baskara, one of the panel members observed, “They have been negligent in fulfilling the rights of citizens to a good and healthy environment.” The judges, however, dismissed the applicants’ submission claiming that the president had violated human rights.

The court directed that the seven officials take serious action to guarantee the rights of Jakarta’s residents by improving air-quality regulations and implementing measures to protect human health, the environment and ecosystems informed by science and technology. Environmental laws would also have to be policed more rigorously, along with the imposition of sanctions for offenders.

 

Photo from en.tempo.co

 

The scale of this effort is hard to exaggerate. On June 4, 2019, Jakarta registered the worst air quality in the world, if one takes the readings of the air quality monitoring app AirVisual as accurate. At 210 on the Air Quality Index (AQI), the city keeps ahead of the pack of other polluters such as New Delhi, Beijing and Dubai.

Rapporteur Boyd also offered his services to the 32 applicants, writing in his supporting brief that, “Protecting human rights from the harmful effects of air pollution is a constitutional and legislative obligation for governments in Indonesia, not an option.” The director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, Nur Hidayati, affirmed this view to The Jakarta Post in early June that breathing “clean air is our right that the government has to fulfil.”

These are not positions plucked out of some speculative realm of legal reasoning. The right to clean air in Indonesia is guaranteed by such legal documents as the country’s 1945 Constitution and the 1999 Law on Environmental Protection and Management. But the writ of law is not always a guarantee of its policing.

Before the September decision, Jakarta’s governor, Anies Baswedan, did not feel that a ruling against the authorities would cause much fuss. As the governor’s climate change envoy Irvan Pulunga explained, “The governor doesn’t see this lawsuit as a disturbance to the government’s work but a vehicle for collaboration.” Pulungan also insisted that improvements had been made to the city’s air quality over the course of two years.

This tune coming from the office of president has been somewhat different, more a case of fleeing rather than addressing a problem. In part, this is understandable, given that Jakarta has become a city of nightmares for policy makers, urban planners and the authorities. Few such concentrations of humanity on the planet are as plagued by environmental concerns. To debilitating air pollution can be added flooding, regular seismic activity and gradual subsidence.

Only a month after the lawsuit was filed, the president proposed relocating the capital to another spot to be built in East Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. “The burden Jakarta is holding right now,” he claimed at the time, “is too heavy as the centre of governance, business, finance, trade and services.” Such moves promise to abandon one problem by creating another, given the risks posed to the environment of East Kalimantan.

Showing a spirit not exactly collaborative in nature, an appeal against the ruling is expected by the government. Jakarta’s governor, in particular, finds himself facing a range of orders from the court, including designing environmental “strategies” and policies to mitigate the air pollution” under the direction of the supervision of the Home Affairs Minister.

Modest as it is, the victory for the applicants in the Central Jakarta District Court shows, at the very least, that that courts remain an increasingly important forum to force the hand of legislatures in ensuring that something so elementarily vital is not just seen as a right but enforced as one.

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Spanish Flu, Covid and Vaccines

By Annasis Kelly

People seem to be very careless about just how important this pandemic is so I will use the information presented from the 1918 Spanish Flu (or H1N1) Pandemic as a reference. Now that one has been dubbed as the worse pandemic in recent human history with amount of approximately 50 million people dying of the virus worldwide. With 500 million people contracting the disease which was approximately one-third of the population of the world at the time. In a comparison of the Covid-19 virus, we have, to date, 227,026,185 people worldwide who have been confirmed with having contracted the virus. The United States is on the way to having more dead with Covid-19 than they did have with the Spanish Flu, with 678,183 dead and 42,222,673 cases. The reported number of deaths in the US with the Spanish Flu is about 675,000, though the number generally sits at between 500,000 – 850,000 or 0.48-0.81% and 105 million cases or 25% of the population.

To put into perspective, India has a total population of 1,391,942,558 people, yet has 33,380,522 cases and 444,278 deaths due to Covid-19. The US has 331,449,281 people and has 42,222,673 cases and 678,183 deaths. India has fewer deaths and cases than America despite them being more than 1,000,000,000 more people. Yet has less, despite having more areas prone to having sickness being able to run rapidly because of the conditions there.

Australia fares better than other places in the majority of the pandemics that we have had over the past 100 odd years, currently sitting at 82,202 cases and 1,138 deaths. Most of the cases are in Victoria and NSW with 25,591 cases, 826 deaths and 49,611 cases and 276 deaths respectively. Most of these cases are internationally contracted.

Now back in 1918 we didn’t have the medical information we have now. But the absolute basic information was used back then, with masks, social distancing and isolations.

“A later study found that measures such as banning mass gatherings and requiring the wearing of face masks could cut the death rate up to 50 percent, but this was dependent on their being imposed early in the outbreak and not being lifted prematurely.” (Bootsma MC, Ferguson NM (May 2007). “The effect of public health measures on the 1918 influenza pandemic in U.S. cities.” (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 104 (18): 7588–93. Doi:10.1073/pnas.0611071104. PMC 1849868. PMID 17416677. S2CID 11280273).

In response to past pandemics, the scientific community had a calculation that it wasn’t a matter of if, but when the next pandemic was to hit, and sadly it hit in November 2019. So in preparation for this they had been developing a vaccine so when the time was right they were to be able to produce the vaccine and send it out in mass for the world. So all they needed to do was isolate the bit of information that was needed in order to create the vaccine. They have created a messenger to enter the cells via the RNA to address the issue. How that differs is; “Safety: Unlike live-attenuated or viral-vectored vaccines, mRNA is non-infectious and poses no concern for DNA integration – mainly because it cannot enter the nucleus which contains DNA. Other strategies such as protein-based or inactivated vaccines also require chemicals and cell cultures to produce. mRNA is made through a cell-independent process and does not require inactivation; thus, it poses no safety concerns due to contamination with toxic agents.” How does an mRNA vaccine compare to a traditional vaccine? (Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation). (https://t.co/KPGehAPYU2)

With the success of Covid-19 vaccines, the push for introducing the type of vaccine for the flu mRNA flu vaccines may face a sterner challenge than Covid-19.

The differences in how the vaccine was developed are why it seemed quicker to go from the lab to production. The fact that it is not reliant on live-attenuated or viral-vectored helps make the stages quicker. It is not dangerous because of this.

If you choose to not vaccinate that is your choice. I chose to vaccinate and have already received the first shot of Pfizer with a sore arm and currently a sore bump at the injection site. That is it. I do not feel ill in any manner.

 

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Eggs and Onions

I hold an indomitable dogma which, though at first blush it looks like it belongs to matters culinary, in fact it is a dogma, an undeniable teaching, that applies to one’s whole life, and it is this: no decent fried egg should present itself without a good-sized fried onion. Whether dressed as an omelette or as poached, or scrambled, or as sunny-side up or down, no epicurean worth his saffron, no gourmand worth his bearnaise, would have anything to do with such eggs, unaccompanied by their reasoning, by their alter eggo! (Cheff’s Play on words there). It’d be vulgar and an affront to the morality of reason. Treachery to Socrates.

Eggs are delicious on their own and, drunk – yes, drunk! – straight out of the shell, still warm and with the chook’s bum-fluff still attached, they are also beneficial to your throat and thus to your voice, if not to your general physical as well as mental health. (It’d be too uncouth of me to add that they also increase your sperm or egg production, so I won’t.) They are self-assurance, confirmation of the greatness of being alive, confidence in Nature and all her beasts and curiosities and they are a very pleasant greeting from rose-fingered Dawn, all in one little fragile container.

Certainly, about the throat and the voice, I am an unimpeachable witness. My grandfather, you see, was a village priest whose little house was built on the only little hill of our little village, just a few yards from his little church and every morning, when I was little – barely the size of his beard – he’d instruct me to go and “steal” a couple of eggs -without disturbing the blessed (by him) chooks. Then, just before he’d start his instructions to me on the Byzantine music, especially on the psalms I’d have to sing solo the following Sunday, we’d dig a couple of holes on the stolen eggs, one on their nose and one on their bum and suck out their contents.

Delicious yes but this daily practice gave us also powerful voices that were as clear as the water that gurgled in the little river at the feet of the little hill. My grandfather would often sing the vespers mass from his front door and all the farmers, working at their fields would stop to cross themselves and take a holy rest while their priest performed his duties. I would be right next to him, obeying his every command, though, quite early on I learned all the cues.

And to this day I make sparrows a mile away, cry when I sing a byzantine psalm to them. (Only respectful comments are accepted!)

Onions present whatever statement the eggs want to make with the reason for making that statement. They are the basis, the logic, the proof that the eggs use to fortify their view, whether sunny-side up or down.

No onions, no proof, no logic, no basis for saying what you’re saying, and your words are mere waffle that had come out, not of an honest chook’s bum but from a fox’s mouth wanting to kill all your chooks and steal all of your eggs. And we see this phenomenon almost every minute of the day, these days. Foxes talking, while standing on egg cartons, lying as the mountebanks used to lie, standing on soap boxes by the river bank, once upon a time.

“We need more tax cuts!” those charlatans, will yell!
or “We must do as the American Military Complex tells us because they are our buddies!”
or “We need to dump $20bil in the French égout and spend $200 bill more on building new “nukelar” submarines to protect our nightmarish paranoias.”
or “We need to give earth-killing mining licences to the rapacious filthy rich!”
or “China is our enemy!”
or “There are ‘weapons of mass destruction’ all over the planet and we must destroy them – by bombing the whole planet!”
or “We must incarcerate refugees, or non-white trash people!”
or “No marriage between gays! God said so!”
or “No abortions!”
or “No euthanasia!”
or “Rape in Parliament is acceptable!”
or “We need to privatise everything, now!”

Or – but I won’t go on, you get the picture by now, I’m sure!

So, next time you see one of these smug bastard politicians, talking like that, no matter how pretty, no matter how articulate, no matter how seductively they’re dressed, yell out to them, at the top of your egg-enhanced voice, “where are yer onions?”

You may even wish to carry a few eggs with you when next you have your family picnic by the river but hurling those precious little health-explosives at these lying, bum-fluff spitting politicians would be a culinary blasphemy, A treachery to logic, to reason, to Aristotle and to Plato, to Socrates and an attack on St John’s 1.1: “In the beginning was the onion!” (He meant “logos” of course)

Why, they’ll even dare tell you that they’re from your own loving party, the party you voted for all of your life, the party you’re rusted onto all your life! It was always Hawthorn and Labor with pies, tomato sauce and beer and that’s how it’ll be for all eternity. That’s how low they can get!

Eat those lovely eggs, always with a full, large, fried onion, or else drink them, raw. When you’re eating them on a plate, you’re looking down, thanking Earth. When you’re drinking them raw, you’re looking up, thanking the heavens.

I so very much miss the early morning rooster’s call to prayer!

 

Image from freecodecamp.org

 

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Massive Decisions – Zero Transparency

Australians for War Powers Reforms Media Release

The Australian people and the national Parliament have been bypassed and side-lined in today’s massive announcements on defence and nuclear powered submarines.

That’s according to former diplomat and acting President of Australians for War Powers Reform (AWPR), Dr Alison Broinowski AM.

“The lack of transparency and accountability in today’s declaration from the Prime Minister is breath-taking.

“These decisions, which will have far reaching consequences were once again taken by a small group behind closed doors, with no input whatsoever from all our MP’s and Senators.

“There are already suggestions that the defence budget will need to be doubled to accommodate the plan. And this comes at a time when health, climate and an aging population will be demanding attention and extra funding.”

In addition to the lack of consultation AWPR has several serious concerns about the new pact. These include:

  • The plan is likely to inflame tensions with China thereby increasing the risk of conflict.
  • Prospective visits by US & UK nuclear-powered vessels to Australian ports for repair and resupply further militarises our region.
  • The pact could far more readily draw Australia directly into any conflict between the US and China over Taiwan.
  • The new pact could have an adverse impact on Australia’s relationship with New Zealand.
  • The plan keeps Australia tied to a world dominated by superpowers and takes us away from a genuinely independent foreign policy.
  • The submarine decision breaks the long held and accepted understanding that Australia is nuclear free. This decision alone requires serious discussion within the parliament and community.

Dr Alison Broinowski is available for interview.

 

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Bitcoin the Messiah: El Salvador Goes Crypto

In a particular deli store in South Melbourne, a tongue-and-cheek message is attached to the cash register. “Bitcoin accepted there,” it proclaims brightly. Naturally, it is nothing of the sort, a teasing ruse for the punters and those casting an eye in the direction of the store. Cold hard cash remains king, albeit one with a tarnished crown; pandemic times have driven consumers towards such non-intimate transactions as contactless payment.

One country has decided to make using cryptocurrency a reality, sticking its neck out in adopting bitcoin as something akin to an economic messiah. Few thought it would be El Salvador, whose government made the currency legal tender on September 7. To mark the occasion, each citizen signing up to Chivo, the national digital wallet, has received US$30. Foreigners adventurous enough to invest three bitcoins in the country are promised residency.

The introduction was far from spontaneous. The surf town of El Zonte, with its Bitcoin Beach project, began an experiment to adopt the currency in 2018, a venture aided by the Californian cryptocurrency zealot Michael Peterson. Through the Evangelical Christian church, Peterson combined God and crypto, proselytising the value of such currency. Each local family received US$50, and the currency came to be used for such projects as rubbish collecting and lifeguarding.

Leaving aside Bukule’s own wish to mark the history books, this move into the world of digital currency has various motivations. One is the portion of income received from international money transactions from citizens abroad, which amounts to something like a fifth of the country’s GDP. With such transactions come high fees which whittle away the value of the transfer. To this can be added the need for having a bank account. (Only 30% of Salvadorans have one.) Bitcoin alleviates any such need, while also facilitating cheap payments.

Then there is the prevalence of the US dollar, which is also accepted as legal tender. President Nayib Bukele has been keen to give his citizens another option, a move intended to encourage greater expenditure in the country. Over 200 bitcoin machines are being put in place across the country to convert cryptocurrency into dollars.

The introduction of such currency presents a paradox of mighty dimensions. A degree of technological literacy is required, a challenge, to say the least. The Bitcoin law stipulates that “the necessary training and mechanisms” will be supplied by the government to aid Salvadorans access bitcoin transactions. This promises to be a herculean venture, given how many people actually understand the currency works. A survey by the Central American University of 1,281 people found that a humbling 4.8% actually comprehended what the currency was and how it was used. Of those, 68% took issue with using it as a legal tender.

The process of mining bitcoin is also a headache for policymakers, as it requires vast reserves of electricity and poses an environmental challenge. (Elon Musk was at pains to emphasise the latter in reneging on his decision to permit customers to purchase Tesla cars using the cryptocurrency.) The Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, looking at figures generated last year, puts the amount of energy used by global bitcoin mining at 105 terawatt hours of electricity.

In June, the state-owned geothermal electric company was instructed by Bukele to come up with a plan to facilitate bitcoin mining “with very cheap, 100% clean, 100% renewable, 0 emissions energy from our volcanoes.”

 

 

Then comes that testy issue of its status as legal tender. Under general circumstances, currency deemed legal tender must be accepted as payment for a debt. In the absence of a debt, the store owner, retailer or company may accept some other form of payment (credit card, online transactions). El Salvador’s Bitcoin law, however, has muddied matters by stating that “every economic agent must accept bitcoin as payment when offered to him by whoever acquires a good or service.”

Such financial coercion did not sit well. It caused a flurry of protests. Economists squawked in alarm. President Bukele had to relent, issuing a grumpy clarification last month that businesses would not be compelled to accept bitcoin. In doing so, he could not resist a snarky remark that those not seeking to win over customers with the currency were essentially discouraging growth and continuing the daft practise of paying fees on remittances.

The forces of orthodoxy have also baulked. When asked for assistance by El Salvador to implement the bitcoin scheme, the World Bank was dismissive. “While the government did approach us for assistance on bitcoin,” a spokesperson revealed in June, “this is not something the World Bank can support given the environmental and transparency shortcomings.” The International Monetary Fund, severe as ever, disapproves of a currency that presents “macroeconomic, financial and legal issues that require very careful analysis”.

The response to the introduction has been fairly predictable. Bond prices have fallen and bitcoin’s value has fluctuated. The naysayers suggest that the general adoption by residents will be small, fearing the currency’s volatility. Protestors fear that the cryptocurrency will simply enable further corrupt practices to take place.

The converse may also be true: given Latin America’s long history of fiscal instability, banking collapses, and failed economic advisors, bitcoin promises an unorthodox form of insulation from shock. “With bitcoin, for the first time in a very long time, people in Latin America saw an asset appreciate in dollar terms,” Mauricio Di Bartolomeo, chief executive of the Toronto-based digital asset company Ledn remarked. The time for this experiment, on the surface a quixotic one, is nigh.

 

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Australia now riding the US Quad Security Dialogue War Bike through Asia

By Darrell Egan

Hot on the heals of of Kamala Harris tour of South East Asia spouting that China is a nefarious influence in the region, whilst promoting that the US will not make South East Asian countries choose between China and the US, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne is now on jumped on the Quad Security Dialogue bike for a ride through Asia.

The Quad Security Dialogue group bike as I refer is the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue group established in 2007 by ex Vice President Dick Cheney, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, former Australian Prime Minister John Howard and ex Indian Prime Minister Monmohan Singh.

Dick Cheney as we know has had a war Hawk record in the false Weapons of Mass Destruction falsehood with John Howard coming on board dragging Australia into the Iraq war with the United States.

Shinzo Abe’s family side has also not had a good record in war. Sinzo Abe’s grandfather Nobusuke Kishi was imprisoned for only three years as a Class A war criminal.

Nobusuke Kishi in his role in Imperial Japan’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry he started the use of sex slave women in Japanese occupied Manchuria signing a law for the use of such slaves in 1937 which could be used by Japanese soldiers.

He oversaw the use of sex slave from Japanese occupied areas of China and south East Asia as Vic Minister of Commerce and Industry. Estimates of 360,000 to 400,000 sex slave comfort women were used by Imperial Japan in WW2 many of the female sex slaves were under aged.

 

 

After his light 3 year release Nobusuke Kishi he became a member of the Liberal Party in Japan and went on to be the Prime Minister of Japan in 1957.

China and most countries in Asia in general are in no hawkish mood for war, knowing the scourge and horrors of war in their region and on their home soil from WW2.

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue group call for a what they describe as a “Free and Open Indo Pacific.”

The cornerstone of this Quadrilateral Security Dialogue agreement is the statement of the enhancement of co operation with countries that share Japan’s Security interests in line with the US Japan alliance.

This is basically a Japan US hegemony in the Indo Pacific in a further effort to increase encirclement of China with US bases in South Korea, Japan, Philippines and the Marshall Islands with weapons pointed at China.

Added to this encirclement of China is the strike Force aircraft carriers in the South China Sea alongside with Australia’s Navy and US weapons pointed at China just under 10 kilometres off China’s coast on Kinmen Island near a bay on the coast of Xiamen China.

 

Kinmen Island location, and US M1 Howitzer on Kimen with 23 km range

 

These weapons can bombard China’s Xiamen Port city.

During his leadership from 2007 to 2010 previous Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd withdrew Australia from the Quad group for Australia to have a more independent approach to the Indo Pacific.

In a move taking Australia closer to re-joining the Quad Security Dialogue group former Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard enhanced US and Australian co operation in regards to the Indo Pacific by allowing a US marines base near Darwin, even though there is not invasion threat in that region.

In 2017 former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull took Australia back into the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue group in co operation with former US president Donald Trump, Indian Prime Minister, Nerendra Modi and former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Now with Australia back on the Quad bike, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne is on a ride to Indonesia, India and South Korea before heading over to Washington to report.

Her itinerary includes meeting with Indonesia’s defence Minister Prabowo Subianto to discuss Australia’s Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement with Indonesia.

It has to be remembered in the Lombok Treaty between Australia and Indonesia signed in November 2006 between then Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Indonesia Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda, the agreement forbids Australia supporting East Timor style Independence for West Papuans, who are enduring Indonesian occupation and Human Rights violation brutality by the Indonesian military.

The other part of Marise Payne’s trip is to meet up with South Korea’s Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and Minister for National Defence Suh Wook to elevate Australia’s Comprehensive Strategic Partnership which include strategic military co operation with South Korea.

Indonesia and South Korea appear to be encouraged to jump on board Marise Payne’s Quad Security Dialogue bike.

Similar discussions will be held in India, then it is off to report to head office in Washington.

Marise Payne’s Quad Security Dialogue group bike ride through Asia will leave tracks of an elevated hawkish strategic military approach in Asia and more potential of military escalation than peace in the Indo Pacific.

This article was originally published on Dazza Egan Australia & China Watch Journo.

 

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