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WHAT’S WITH POLITICS? July 31, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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I wrote a speculative comment on The Road to Surfdom in which I suggested that it was possible to have a democratic political system that was decentralized to the point that general elections would be unnecessary, and that with local control rather than centralized  political parties would be more participatory. Nobody challenged me.
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UNSAFE AND SORRY July 30, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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The Howard spin machine, with its target voters in mind, rolls out the unreflective line “better safe than sorry”. Policing subtended to the legal system has worked on the contrary assumption of better sorry than safe, it is better than an guilty person goes free than an innocent one is convicted.

The following You Tube video sets out some of the issue, at least in relation to the presumption of innocence:


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IMPERIALISM’S WOES July 30, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Iraq.
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Given the number of bombs set off in Iraq, it would be ironic indeed if the Americans were hoisted by their own petard. But it seems to the case. There was a tortuous and dishonest rationale for the invasion. First the weapons of mass destruction, and following the failure to discover the relevant evidence, there was the idea of bringing democracy to Iraq, to which end elections were held and a government established. You might get away with two governments if one is Caesar’s and the other God’s, but Caesar, when not driven by public relations, usually establishes one government with clear lines of command and control.
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HANEEF TO FLY OUT; HOWARD TO FLY BACK July 28, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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Does the story now die? According to ABC News Online, Dr Haneef is flying home to Bangalore to be with his wife and new baby. John Howard was conveniently out of the country while the story imploded, and so now can return in full dignity and every prospect of winning the next election in a landslide. Well if he does not the result will be inexplicable. Howard is not the greatest genius that ever breathed – let us not exaggerate here – but he is the cleverest politician that has risen to lead this nation, or so we are to believe.
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RED MOSQUE SUICIDE BOMBING July 28, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in South Asia, Terrorism Issues.
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The BBC reports that a suicide bomber has killed at least 11 people and injured about 40 people outside the Red Mosque which was stormed by Pakistani troops earlier this month. While this was perhaps a predictable outcome, it is a cause for concern. Police were targeted and are reported to have suffered the most deaths. The bombing follows a protest on Friday in which Security Forces fired tear gas into the protesters.

You Tube has the following report, via Juan Cole:

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HANEEF CASE COLLAPSES July 27, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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Peter Faris QC says that the case against Dr Haneef has fallen apart. If this analysis is correct we will be told today or tomorrow following the report of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. Let us then suppose that the charges against Dr Haneef will be dropped.The normal presumption then will be that he will go free, with just compensation. Faris has also called for Damien Bugg, the DPP, and Mick Kealty, the head of the AFP, to be sacked.
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YOU TUBE DEBATE July 26, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.
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I am pleased to see that The Boston Globe takes a positive view in its editorial of the Democratic You Tube debate.  Andrew Leigh identifies his favourite questions. Tonight on Late Night Live Cheryl Kernot there was no question that a politician experienced with the vox populi could not deal with.

I take a contrarian view in that my favourites were the questions that did not pass through the CNN filter. Specifically there was question concerning the adoption of proportional representation, and there began to be debate ( I prefer discourse) on You Tube site, but it did not get very far(This question I cannot now find). A question on standarized voting seemed to me to be common sense running headlong into the experimental possibilities of federalism.

The new technology is changing the relationships within the political system. It seems to me it is having an impact on the MSM, who are losing their monopoly over their until now sacrosanct gatekeeper role. In this instance to some editorial control was necessary to reduce the number of questions, but CNN cannot discard the unaired questions completely.

It is bound to happen this year in Australia, so get your questions ready and lodged for Howard, Rudd, et al.

RUNNING INTERFERENCE July 25, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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The prime minister seems to be suffering from an attention defective disorder. He accuses Peter Beattie of “running interference” and acting ahead of the decision of the court in the case of Dr Haneef. He fails to mention that there has been a pattern of leaking to New Ltd, either from the government or AFP, and that as a result of the release of the record of interview various inaccuracies were identified in the submission made on behalf of the Federal Government by the prosecutor. These are not matters of concern to Howard, although they might well be of concern to the public, perhaps especially judges and lawyers.
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MORE INDIGENOUS INTERVENTION July 24, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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We were first told that the intervention into Indigenous Affairs in the Northern Territory was all about child abuse, and justified on the basis of lack of action – as distinct from lack of resources – by the Northern Territory Government. Seemingly this was a pretext because there was a failure to follow through on the recommendations of the Wild/Anderson Report. We were told that the permit system that restricted to access to isolated settlements would be removed, creating doubt of the continuance of native title.

Now, in another dramatic announcement from the Indigenous Oberfuehrer, the federal government appears to have put the cart before the horse.
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WHERE TO AFGHANISTAN? July 23, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in South Asia, Terrorism Issues.
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Sooner, or later, it seems the invaders in Afghanistan have gone home. My sense from looking at photos is that Afghanis are decidedly uncomfortable in the presence of foreign military, regardless of how benign they may seem and how well intentioned. Secondly, somewhat like the Federal Districts of Pakistan, it is possible that the central government has often had nominal sway over the tribal areas, and as these things go the Karzai Government is par for the course. Thirdly, national boundaries in the part of the world are not as meaningful as linguistic boundaries as they were drawn by imperial powers. For example, are the Taleban in essence an Islamic Pastun nationalist movement?

The war against the Taleban has not been going all that well over past months. In September last year, the BBC was reporting:

Nearly five years after losing power in the country, the Taleban are making their presence felt by launching guerrilla operations against Nato forces, killing aid workers and kidnapping foreigners involved in reconstruction work. Parts of eastern and southern Afghanistan have been rendered more and more insecure due to the increasingly daring Taleban attacks. There has been a huge increase in violent attacks in recent months, particularly in the south where Nato forces are helping the Afghan government to extend its authority. The government blames most of the violence on what it calls “enemies of Afghanistan” – shorthand for the Taleban and their al-Qaeda allies. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to establish with any certainty who is behind some of the violence.

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“APPALLING AND FRIGHTENING” July 22, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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The former Governor-General Bill Hayden is reported by The Sydney Morning Herald as describing the Federal Government’s handling of the detention of Dr Mohamed Haneef as “appalling and frightening”. Is he right on both counts, and if so what is to be done?

John Howard is playing his well practiced routine of honest, innocence. As if the Prime Minister of Australia, and the government he leads, in the months before an election, would not attempt to destroy the reputation of an Indian doctor who is a Muslim. It is true there was a bungled suicide bombing attempt in Britain by doctors who came from a certain Middle Eastern country. Why would any Iraqi be interested in taking terrorist action in Britain? It might, just might, have something to do with the reign of murder and hardship inflicted the people of Iraq since there country was invaded and conquered by foreign powers, including Britain, might it not? Have not heard anything about that, well consider this video:


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NEW MEDIA TO MAKE A NEW ELECTION July 20, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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If the polls are to be believed, and prior to setting the election date so beginning the countdown to polling day, most Australians believe it is time. Television will be, perhaps for majority, the most important part of the election, much like 1972 really:


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UNDERGROUND WATER FOUND IN DARFUR July 18, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Modern History, Natural Environment.
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Sometimes there is good news. The BBC reports that a supply of underground water the size of Lake Erie has been found in Darfur, which should go some way to mediating the conflict between Arab nomads and local farmers.

The BBC reports observes:

More than 200,000 Darfuris have died and 2m fled their homes since 2003.

“Much of the unrest in Darfur and the misery is due to water shortages,” said geologist Farouk El-Baz, director of the Boston University Center for Remote Sensing, according to the AP news agency.

“Access to fresh water is essential for refugee survival, will help the peace process, and provides the necessary resources for the much needed economic development in Darfur,” he said.

The team used radar data to find the ancient lake, which was 30,750 km2 – the size of Lake Erie in the US – the 10th largest lake in the world.

Similar underground water has previously been found in Egypt. Still while this is undoubted good news, we are not likely to be so lucky the next time there is competition for scarce resources. At the same time the story shows how when the poorest people are supported by the best technology good things can happen.

UPDATE: 21 July 2007

It might have been too good to be true. The BBC reports another geologist believes the underground water source has long dried up, but it seems there are other sources of water in Sudan that may alleviate the dispute.

TWO OR ONE STATE SOLUTION? July 18, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Israel-Palestine.
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The New York Times reports that President Bush announced an initiative to begin building a Palestinian state and in the remaining time of his administration seek to establish peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Good Luck. I seem to remember that peace from the furtherest thing from their minds in the early days of the Administration, and up until recently the Secretary of State was proclaiming the birth pangs of a new Middle East. Supporting a puppet may not be a good plan. The people have a pretty good idea of who is who, and the President might remember that they actually voted for Hamas. But still puppet governments can be made to look like democratic governments, and if they are look enough to fool the embedded American journalists who cares? Bush plans to hold a meeting.

Sometimes the unembedded Israeli journalists get the story, and all they need to do, so it seems is pick up the phone and speak to their Palestinian friends. Via Paul Woodward of The War in Context:

“As Danny Rubenstein writes today in Haaretz:
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TERRORISM AND THE RULE OF LAW July 16, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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The fundamental threat to democratic society comes not from what terrorist have done, and might do, but how the elected government responds to terrorism, in its actuality and its potential, in its realized effects, and in its imagined effects. What is feared is often greater than what has happened.

Of all forms of society and systems of government there are reasons to suppose that democratic societies might be most resilient. Bombing of cities, which before Guernica without question a war crime, tends to strengthen resistance. The bombing campaign in England by the IRA did not cause that society to crumble. Of course, the IRA would typically ring ahead and announce the presence of a bomb, which makes me wonder whether the anti-Islamic hysteria and racism may be factors at work.
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LATE FOR THE REVOLUTION? July 15, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in European Politics.
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On reflection being one day late for the Revolution does not, and would not, have made a difference. True political revolutions are long in the making,with ramifications and implications that extend beyond their symbolic moments. It is enough that they have set the stage, established paradigms for the political actions that have gone before, even when our memory fails us, or our awareness does not serve us.
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FRDIAY NIGHT DOG BLOG – LOST KEYS July 14, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in DOG BLOG -.
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Small details and events can be revealing. When I was up at the dam today, Rebel and his master came along, while Sasha and Dexter got free. I am slightly concerned about Dexter. So I grabbed his lead, while Sasha and Rebel got reacquainted. It turns out that I had lost my keys along the track. I was thankful to have them returned.

Although I declared it would never happen, I came very close to losing my camera this week. It feel out of my shirt pocket and I was lucky to catch before it went sliding down the hill.

I cannot imagine how Sasha and Dexter would report the weeks outings, except they would have very different concerns. (There are, I know, too many photos.)

At the knoll. 7 July 2007

Side view. 7 July 2007

Quo Vadis? 7 July 2007.Posted by Picasa

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“NOTES ON NATIONALISM” July 13, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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Paul Keating gave a speech on Wednesday night at the Sydney Film School in which he made reference to George Orwell’s essay, “Notes on Nationalism. Keating is talking specifically about film and the arts in general (click onto the right hand side icon of the first video for a full screen view of the full speech) which he says are revelatory about us, and film in particular. The problem with arts and film he says in not the lack of funding but the environment. And the environment, the prevailing philosophy of what is important, has been set by the government and it largely reflects John Howard’s world view.

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PATHETIC – CENSORSHIP AT THE AUSTRALIAN? July 12, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
3 comments

The following post which I read this morning appears to have disappeared. While it seems improbable, it may well be a pathetic attempt at censorship, for no other reason than to protect the stupidity of a certain columnist of The Australian.

Here is the post from Blogogracy:
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GAME OVER July 12, 2007

Posted by wmmbb in Iraq, Iraq Policy.
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The American war in Iraq is lost, but the war is to continue, and the expectation is that American forces in some capacity will be in that country when the new President comes to office in 2009. It can be supposed that the British and other members of the Coalition will have long departed by that time, at least substantially so. The Australian forces will become irrelevant. These are the stark facts, the plain realities, despite the protestations of Bush, Howard and whoever else.

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