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THANKSGIVING DAY December 16, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
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The EU is on the theshold of a momentous decision as to whether Turkey will be accepted as a full member. I understand this decision will be made by the EU members from today or tomorrow.

In the normal run of events Turkey’s membership was always to be intriquing. For example, Turkey has a population in the order of 70 million, most of whom live in the 97% of the non-European portion of the country, and most of whom are muslim. The EU would then have borders with Iraq, Armenia and southern Russia. Then there is the question of the recognition of Greek Cyprus. And there are other issues as well.

Most of the discussion I am reading is about the problems, relativley little about the mutual economic gains, that Turkey’s membership means. Turkey’s full membership of the EU has become a political and religious issue for the existing EU members as much as for Turkey, and only secondarily a question of mutual economic advantage. The issue here is the integration of a Islamic country into a Christian economic union, perhpas the dilution of the idea of Europe, even with reference to the defence of Vienna against the Turkish armies, with the alleged failure of Muslims to integrate into Western European societies, in particular recent events in France and the Netherlands, which have taken place in the context of September 11.

Yet the it is more significant that Turkey has developed a secular and democratic society. Since the days of Kemal Ataturk it has engaged with wholesale modernization, but under the pressure of recent days not at the expense of its cultural identity. As Peter Fray observed in his recent article in The SMH, Turkey was “once better known for the torture of its prisioners and the undue political influence of its generals”. The army with 600,000 is one of the largest in the EU, and I suspect that the army, and by analogy with the Communist Party in China, was the agency of modernization. Agencies of modernization are almost never religious bodies, although it could be suggested that the Church of England played that role in the 15th and 16th centuries.

I suspect that fundamenalism in all its many vocations is a rejection of modernization. The Talibans rode around in their white Toyota trucks but still closed into their mediaval minds.

It will be interesting to see what unfolds. The foreign minister has made it clear that the Turkish Government will not accept anything short of full membership.

UPDATE: 19/12/2004



Turkey has passed one set of gates but there are more to come. This must among the most intricate membership applications known. They have the United Kingdom, France and Germany as members – and now they get fussy.

Even at this stage, the information relating to Turkey’s application would fill a truck.

UPDATE: 21/12/2004

I had not fully realized that the latest EU decision was to allow for accession negotiations beginning on 3 October, 2005, and that full membership may yet take ten to fifteen years. Here one commentator, a former Indian Ambassador to Turkey, describes the mood at the EU’ decision:

The Turks were disappointed, dismayed, irritated and angry. An aide in the Erdoğan entourage described the mood of the delegation in Brussels as one of disappointment. The opposition leader in Ankara, Deniz Baykal, called for the talks to be put on ice. Leftist parties and organizations demonstrated against the deal. If after more than a century of reforms, Westernization and modernization during its Ottoman era, later wholesale reforms under Kemal Ataturk and 81 years as a secular republic, is this how the Christian West treats a Muslim country?

K Jagendra Singh, the writer of this piece, argues that Turkey may have missed its best chance for membership in 1986, when Greece joined, but now September 11 makes all the difference. And then there are the interests of regional players such as Israel and Russia.

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“GO YOU GOOD THING” December 14, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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I was stoked to hear that Perth will be the site of the new franchise for the 2006 Super Fourteen competition. Of course, it means that players, coaches and support staff will have to relocate, but that is nothing new in the world of professional Rugby Union.

Perth to me was always a better choice than Melbourne. Melbourne had better corporate support, I suspect as with the Rugby League’s Storm, even when they won the competition, it did not amount to much. In Perth the field of sporting terms, even AFL ones is less congested, and therefore easier to support. In my limited experience there was never any antipathy between Aussie Rules and Rugby. The ARU will see to it that the Perth team has a blend of youth and experience, and in other franchises will be a spur for the local competition. There is a base level of support of Eastern Staters, Kiwis and South Africans, which I suspect is stronger than in Melbourne.

Sensibly, the project has the support of the State Government, who sees the potential created by the stopover in Perth of the stream of supporters of the existing franchises travelling from east and west. The stopover should provide a break in travel for teams flying across the Indian Ocean, perhaps in particular the South Africans.

UPDATE: 21/12/2004

Allowing for the possibilities with this post, I have to concede that some readers will not get it because they would not understand any reference to Rugby Union. That is possible OK. Well here you I have a link for you, and the writer is not so enthusiastic about Perth.

Professionalism for any sport always increases the number of games, and in body-contact sports, the number of injuries. Then there is pressure to increase the lenght of the season, which for Rugby means a curtailment or eclipse of the domestic competitions – club or provincial. Rugby does not like Leaque or the AFL have the advantage that games are concentrated in one city and is more travel based, with protential extentions to the Pacific Islands and Argentina. So maybe the answer is to hold a series of tournaments in a limited number of cities over the Super ZZ calendar. You might hold a number of games in Auckland, followed by Sydney and then Johanesburg, followed by the finals in Cape Town, and in following years changes the cities and order.

"GO YOU GOOD THING" December 14, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment

I was stoked to hear that Perth will be the site of the new franchise for the 2006 Super Fourteen competition. Of course, it means that players, coaches and support staff will have to relocate, but that is nothing new in the world of professional Rugby Union.

Perth to me was always a better choice than Melbourne. Melbourne had better corporate support, I suspect as with the Rugby League’s Storm, even when they won the competition, it did not amount to much. In Perth the field of sporting terms, even AFL ones is less congested, and therefore easier to support. In my limited experience there was never any antipathy between Aussie Rules and Rugby. The ARU will see to it that the Perth team has a blend of youth and experience, and in other franchises will be a spur for the local competition. There is a base level of support of Eastern Staters, Kiwis and South Africans, which I suspect is stronger than in Melbourne.

Sensibly, the project has the support of the State Government, who sees the potential created by the stopover in Perth of the stream of supporters of the existing franchises travelling from east and west. The stopover should provide a break in travel for teams flying across the Indian Ocean, perhaps in particular the South Africans.

UPDATE: 21/12/2004

Allowing for the possibilities with this post, I have to concede that some readers will not get it because they would not understand any reference to Rugby Union. That is possible OK. Well here you I have a link for you, and the writer is not so enthusiastic about Perth.

Professionalism for any sport always increases the number of games, and in body-contact sports, the number of injuries. Then there is pressure to increase the lenght of the season, which for Rugby means a curtailment or eclipse of the domestic competitions – club or provincial. Rugby does not like Leaque or the AFL have the advantage that games are concentrated in one city and is more travel based, with protential extentions to the Pacific Islands and Argentina. So maybe the answer is to hold a series of tournaments in a limited number of cities over the Super ZZ calendar. You might hold a number of games in Auckland, followed by Sydney and then Johanesburg, followed by the finals in Cape Town, and in following years changes the cities and order.

TEN WAYS TO MAKE BLOGGING EVEN HARDER December 12, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Blogging in general.
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Chris Shiel at the final post of his blog, Backpages, suggested ten things blog writers should do. These might be seen as the ten reasons I have few, or is it, no readers. OK art is about self expression, and in the absence of nothing, that might be a good thing too. People actually look at the paintings of Michelanglo and Picasso. Slackness is its own meagre reward. Here are Chris’s rules:

BP’s 10 rules of blogging for readers

Rule 1: Edit your posts thoroughly and severely. Blogging is an immeasurably more time-sensitive medium than print media, let alone the more substantial forms of print. Every reader is constrained by a blogging time-budget. Every reader has millions of alternative blogs a mere click away. No reader has paid to visit your blog. No reader has a sunk investment in your blog. No reader will sit down with your blog for the 15 minutes they’ll always do to justify them buying today’s newspaper. These elusive readers can slip away in nanoseconds flat. This means you can’t burden them with reading one paragraph, one sentence, or one word more than helps them to get your message. Non-working words aren’t permitted.

Rule 2: Go back and read rule 1 again. You call that an edit? You have not yet begun to edit. Do the whole edit again. This time, make sure you take tough decisions about your own writing. The great liberating benefit of blogging is that you don’t have to jump the hurdle of a professional editor to be published. The great danger is that you’ll take this freedom as an open licence to publish words. This time, get serious, really. Remember, no non-working words. Not one. Bludging words aren’t allowed. Dig every non-working sucker out. If the word isn’t functionally necessary, it must carry its share of the rest of the weight, or go.

Rule 3: Go back and read rules 1 & 2 again. You just don’t get it. You think that, because you happen to have personally written that stupid sentence and it’s your blog, the sentence can stay, even though the post would make perfect sense without it. You shouldn’t be blogging. If readers are what you want, you might as well give up right now. You need a grown-up editor. Do you think readers grow on trees? You’re wasting your readers’ time. Time is precisely what blogging is all about. You waste readers’ time, you don’t get readers. It’s that simple. You’re trying to write in the most time-sensitive medium that has ever existed on this planet. Go back, and really start editing, or give up.

Rule 4: Do a quality edit. OK, you’ve made a start. How brave! You’ve finally sacked the obvious non-working words, and these included some words you really liked. Congratulations. You’ve got your priorities right at last, taking your first step along the road to readership. Now you have to think in another way. You don’t have to think about getting rid of surplus words, but the productivity of the remainder. You must ask yourself whether readers will get a high value return per word ratio from your post. Yes, go over the whole thing yet again. This time you’re not searching for spare words; you’re hunting for slack arse, low-performing words. This time, you must ensure every part of your composition is not just working, but hard working. Find the slackers. Once you’ve found them, if you can’t cut them, figure out how to change them, or change them around, to lift their game. Piss off gratuitous affectations. Shoot on sight stuff like ‘furthermore’, ‘however’, ‘additionally’, ‘with respect to’, ‘in this regard’ and every other piece of writing jargon. These may have been useful in composing. They might have helped structure your thinking. But now that your thinking is structured, they’re superfluous. They were scaffolding. Now you only need the building. If you’ve completed your work, it will stand. If it won’t, you haven’t completed.

Rule 5: Edit your quotes. Forgot about them did you dummy? Go back and look closely. Yes, you can drop three-quarters of that quote. This is because it’s a reasonably sure bet that whoever wrote the thing was writing in a context nowhere near as time-sensitive as your medium. Dig out the other guy’s bludgers and slackers. If you’ve got a link that will allow readers to check the quote’s full context, be even tougher, a lot tougher.

Rule 6: Editing doesn’t mean short posts. No stupid. Now you’ve gone overboard. The time-sensitive nature of the medium doesn’t mean you can’t have long posts. Many of the most successful posts are long posts. These might even contain long quotes. Writing long posts merely means you must apply the same diamond-hard editing standards for longer. Don’t go the other extreme either, and only write long posts. Mix them up. Once readers feel confident you won’t waste their time, they’ll come back to your long posts. In the meantime, give them a shortie, so they’ve got something to take away now that they’re already at your place. And if you’ve really got rules 1-5, and only if you’ve really got rules 1-5, you can also begin to think about the delicate art of judiciously adding back-in a quality word or two or three – colorful or attractive words. Let the post out a touch. Let it breathe a little in the word straightjacket you’ve just strapped it in.

Rule 7: Yes, you must be original. Sorry about that. Don’t bother blogging unless you’re publishing something readers won’t get somewhere else. You must contribute to the ‘sphere, if readers are what you want, that is. This doesn’t mean you need an original topic or an original argument or an original style. The ‘sphere is a gigantic conversation where huge parts are all talking about the same things in similar ways to make the same argument. There are as many ways to add something as there are different people on this earth. You have to ask yourself what exactly it is that you’re adding. And if you come up with zip, forget about it. If you still must post on the subject, confine this to links to blogs that have already covered the story.

Rule 8: Don’t write mystery stories. Don’t try to make readers work all the way through your evidence before they discover whodunit. This is strictly for stylists who’ve worn low readerships for a long time, while they slowly became established. Unless you fancy your chances along this difficult path, you must always immediately sink your biggest, strongest, sharpest hook straight into the reader, burying it as deeply as you possibly can, and refusing to let go, not even in the slightest, before the end of your post. If you place the hook at the bottom of the post, or in the middle, or even in the second line, you may never get it into a reader at all. Don’t risk it.

Rule 9: Link often, link well. Linking is another of the special features of blogging. You must therefore make the most of it. Directly linking to the sources for your writing is one of blogging’s great advantages over print media. Linking supplies a degree of transparency that no other medium can so readily match, and accounts for most of the power of blogging. Don’t only link to the sources you’re relying on. You must also link to the places where you discovered those sources. Don’t be one of those blog-idiots who think that the way to get an edge on other blogs is to steal their sources without acknowledgement, if you plan to be around for the long haul. Don’t be one of those even bigger blog-idiots who refuse to link to good material they’ve seen at other blogs, because they don’t wish to refer readers for some political or other dumb reason. Good material stays good material, wherever it is. If your readers don’t find out about it through you, they’ll find it through someone else, to whom they’ll now be more likely to return – get it? No, it’s not rocket science.

Rule 10: Delete abusive and vexatious commenters without mercy and fanfare. You are the guardian of a public space. If you allow that space to be degraded, only degraded readers will visit. This is one area where the blogosphere has matured during my year of blogging furiously. When I began blogging, a faux-libertarian ideology ruled, holding that no comments should ever be deleted on principle. You might still find the odd old-time blogger doggedly holding to this antediluvian idea. Don’t be fooled for a nanosecond. The notion is crap. It has always been crap. Fortunately, it’s now widely recognised as crap. Anyone can establish a blog. Freedom of speech has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with your right to delete commenters who clearly have no intention other than to abuse or annoy you or your other commenters. Set your standards. Make them explicit. Don’t hesitate to enforce them. Readers will more readily contribute to a discussion if they feel confident they’re not going to be insulted or assaulted for their effort. On the other hand, it’s unquestionably counter-productive to the aim of attracting readers to frequently delete comments, especially if you delete for purely political reasons, or because you just disagree with the content of the comment. I’m pretty confident that I never deleted more than six or seven commenters, although two or three of these did come back for more punishment (yes, here’s looking at you Murph! Cheers ol’ son!). It’s up to you. By all means, turn your space into a toilet wall, if you wish. Just know that you don’t have to and, most importantly, this is not a route for attracting readers.

Yes, that’s all there is.

If this is what it takes, it has become so much harder than I anticipated. Let me go for simplification: Always respect the reader, and always edit. Even that is tough. At least I have the basis for the ten things that are wrong with this blog.

UPDATE: 14/12/2004

1. Although Chris has not stated the case as such, it is always reasonable to link to the source of any quotes, especially for extended quotes as in this case. The original is here. In this case this was an omission, now corrected (and the link should work!)

Scrupluousnes in these matters is underlined by the evidence of blog spamming and other malfeasance at John Guiggin’s site. (and this link should work now too!) My suggestion is to develop a shame blog site where the names of the spammers and others can be identified, along with any other associated commercial interests. That would, in a sense, bring back the stocks, and there would be a need to an independent referee or arbitor. As always, recourse to the law works for some but not for all. I would make the suggestion on MMB if I could register.

2. David Tiley at Barista has just remined me of this post of Juan Coles relating to blog trolling and astroturfing.

Bottom line:

If you don’t have readers; you don’t have problems. However, you (by which I mean “I”) should always act as if you do. The circle is joined, hence Chris’s points (and others) apply.

Postscript:

Everybody knows grammar, rational and beaten out by the tongues and prescriptions of centuries, is subtle and intangible, but spelling will bear no distraction, not even a cup of tea between your hands and the keyboard.

TEN WAYS TO MAKE BLOGGING EVEN HARDER December 12, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment

Chris Shiel at the final post of his blog, Backpages, suggested ten things blog writers should do. These might be seen as the ten reasons I have few, or is it, no readers. OK art is about self expression, and in the absence of nothing, that might be a good thing too. People actually look at the paintings of Michelanglo and Picasso. Slackness is its own meagre reward. Here are Chris’s rules:

BP’s 10 rules of blogging for readers



Rule 1: Edit your posts thoroughly and severely. Blogging is an immeasurably more time-sensitive medium than print media, let alone the more substantial forms of print. Every reader is constrained by a blogging time-budget. Every reader has millions of alternative blogs a mere click away. No reader has paid to visit your blog. No reader has a sunk investment in your blog. No reader will sit down with your blog for the 15 minutes they’ll always do to justify them buying today’s newspaper. These elusive readers can slip away in nanoseconds flat. This means you can’t burden them with reading one paragraph, one sentence, or one word more than helps them to get your message. Non-working words aren’t permitted.

Rule 2: Go back and read rule 1 again. You call that an edit? You have not yet begun to edit. Do the whole edit again. This time, make sure you take tough decisions about your own writing. The great liberating benefit of blogging is that you don’t have to jump the hurdle of a professional editor to be published. The great danger is that you’ll take this freedom as an open licence to publish words. This time, get serious, really. Remember, no non-working words. Not one. Bludging words aren’t allowed. Dig every non-working sucker out. If the word isn’t functionally necessary, it must carry its share of the rest of the weight, or go.

Rule 3: Go back and read rules 1 & 2 again. You just don’t get it. You think that, because you happen to have personally written that stupid sentence and it’s your blog, the sentence can stay, even though the post would make perfect sense without it. You shouldn’t be blogging. If readers are what you want, you might as well give up right now. You need a grown-up editor. Do you think readers grow on trees? You’re wasting your readers’ time. Time is precisely what blogging is all about. You waste readers’ time, you don’t get readers. It’s that simple. You’re trying to write in the most time-sensitive medium that has ever existed on this planet. Go back, and really start editing, or give up.

Rule 4: Do a quality edit. OK, you’ve made a start. How brave! You’ve finally sacked the obvious non-working words, and these included some words you really liked. Congratulations. You’ve got your priorities right at last, taking your first step along the road to readership. Now you have to think in another way. You don’t have to think about getting rid of surplus words, but the productivity of the remainder. You must ask yourself whether readers will get a high value return per word ratio from your post. Yes, go over the whole thing yet again. This time you’re not searching for spare words; you’re hunting for slack arse, low-performing words. This time, you must ensure every part of your composition is not just working, but hard working. Find the slackers. Once you’ve found them, if you can’t cut them, figure out how to change them, or change them around, to lift their game. Piss off gratuitous affectations. Shoot on sight stuff like ‘furthermore’, ‘however’, ‘additionally’, ‘with respect to’, ‘in this regard’ and every other piece of writing jargon. These may have been useful in composing. They might have helped structure your thinking. But now that your thinking is structured, they’re superfluous. They were scaffolding. Now you only need the building. If you’ve completed your work, it will stand. If it won’t, you haven’t completed.

Rule 5: Edit your quotes. Forgot about them did you dummy? Go back and look closely. Yes, you can drop three-quarters of that quote. This is because it’s a reasonably sure bet that whoever wrote the thing was writing in a context nowhere near as time-sensitive as your medium. Dig out the other guy’s bludgers and slackers. If you’ve got a link that will allow readers to check the quote’s full context, be even tougher, a lot tougher.

Rule 6: Editing doesn’t mean short posts. No stupid. Now you’ve gone overboard. The time-sensitive nature of the medium doesn’t mean you can’t have long posts. Many of the most successful posts are long posts. These might even contain long quotes. Writing long posts merely means you must apply the same diamond-hard editing standards for longer. Don’t go the other extreme either, and only write long posts. Mix them up. Once readers feel confident you won’t waste their time, they’ll come back to your long posts. In the meantime, give them a shortie, so they’ve got something to take away now that they’re already at your place. And if you’ve really got rules 1-5, and only if you’ve really got rules 1-5, you can also begin to think about the delicate art of judiciously adding back-in a quality word or two or three – colorful or attractive words. Let the post out a touch. Let it breathe a little in the word straightjacket you’ve just strapped it in.

Rule 7: Yes, you must be original. Sorry about that. Don’t bother blogging unless you’re publishing something readers won’t get somewhere else. You must contribute to the ‘sphere, if readers are what you want, that is. This doesn’t mean you need an original topic or an original argument or an original style. The ‘sphere is a gigantic conversation where huge parts are all talking about the same things in similar ways to make the same argument. There are as many ways to add something as there are different people on this earth. You have to ask yourself what exactly it is that you’re adding. And if you come up with zip, forget about it. If you still must post on the subject, confine this to links to blogs that have already covered the story.

Rule 8: Don’t write mystery stories. Don’t try to make readers work all the way through your evidence before they discover whodunit. This is strictly for stylists who’ve worn low readerships for a long time, while they slowly became established. Unless you fancy your chances along this difficult path, you must always immediately sink your biggest, strongest, sharpest hook straight into the reader, burying it as deeply as you possibly can, and refusing to let go, not even in the slightest, before the end of your post. If you place the hook at the bottom of the post, or in the middle, or even in the second line, you may never get it into a reader at all. Don’t risk it.

Rule 9: Link often, link well. Linking is another of the special features of blogging. You must therefore make the most of it. Directly linking to the sources for your writing is one of blogging’s great advantages over print media. Linking supplies a degree of transparency that no other medium can so readily match, and accounts for most of the power of blogging. Don’t only link to the sources you’re relying on. You must also link to the places where you discovered those sources. Don’t be one of those blog-idiots who think that the way to get an edge on other blogs is to steal their sources without acknowledgement, if you plan to be around for the long haul. Don’t be one of those even bigger blog-idiots who refuse to link to good material they’ve seen at other blogs, because they don’t wish to refer readers for some political or other dumb reason. Good material stays good material, wherever it is. If your readers don’t find out about it through you, they’ll find it through someone else, to whom they’ll now be more likely to return – get it? No, it’s not rocket science.

Rule 10: Delete abusive and vexatious commenters without mercy and fanfare. You are the guardian of a public space. If you allow that space to be degraded, only degraded readers will visit. This is one area where the blogosphere has matured during my year of blogging furiously. When I began blogging, a faux-libertarian ideology ruled, holding that no comments should ever be deleted on principle. You might still find the odd old-time blogger doggedly holding to this antediluvian idea. Don’t be fooled for a nanosecond. The notion is crap. It has always been crap. Fortunately, it’s now widely recognised as crap. Anyone can establish a blog. Freedom of speech has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with your right to delete commenters who clearly have no intention other than to abuse or annoy you or your other commenters. Set your standards. Make them explicit. Don’t hesitate to enforce them. Readers will more readily contribute to a discussion if they feel confident they’re not going to be insulted or assaulted for their effort. On the other hand, it’s unquestionably counter-productive to the aim of attracting readers to frequently delete comments, especially if you delete for purely political reasons, or because you just disagree with the content of the comment. I’m pretty confident that I never deleted more than six or seven commenters, although two or three of these did come back for more punishment (yes, here’s looking at you Murph! Cheers ol’ son!). It’s up to you. By all means, turn your space into a toilet wall, if you wish. Just know that you don’t have to and, most importantly, this is not a route for attracting readers.

Yes, that’s all there is.

If this is what it takes, it has become so much harder than I anticipated. Let me go for simplification: Always respect the reader, and always edit. Even that is tough. At least I have the basis for the ten things that are wrong with this blog.

UPDATE: 14/12/2004

1. Although Chris has not stated the case as such, it is always reasonable to link to the source of any quotes, especially for extended quotes as in this case. The original is here. In this case this was an omission, now corrected (and the link should work!)

Scrupluousnes in these matters is underlined by the evidence of blog spamming and other malfeasance at John Guiggin’s site. (and this link should work now too!) My suggestion is to develop a shame blog site where the names of the spammers and others can be identified, along with any other associated commercial interests. That would, in a sense, bring back the stocks, and there would be a need to an independent referee or arbitor. As always, recourse to the law works for some but not for all. I would make the suggestion on MMB if I could register.

2. David Tiley at Barista has just remined me of this post of Juan Coles relating to blog trolling and astroturfing.

Bottom line:

If you don’t have readers; you don’t have problems. However, you (by which I mean “I”) should always act as if you do. The circle is joined, hence Chris’s points (and others) apply.

Postscript:

Everybody knows grammar, rational and beaten out by the tongues and prescriptions of centuries, is subtle and intangible, but spelling will bear no distraction, not even a cup of tea between your hands and the keyboard.

THE FAIR GO IS GONE December 12, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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The Howard Government has a evil, vicious and mean spirited approach to the rights of employees. In these cases rights can be seen in the context of employment contracts which represent a field of mutual obligation, often implied and generally accepted on the practical requirements of the employment environment and industry. The right wing agenda has been pervasive, and I believe has influenced state governments.

The names of the employers are omitted to protect the guilty.

My case concerns the often contentious issue of casual and part- time employment. The employers are given the advantage of flexible terms of agreement, even though the hours of employment are full time. The cost of labor is reduced to the disadvantage of the employee. This is not seen as unconscionable behavior, but rather as good business practice, because I presume core management is conceived as the source of productivity, not the skills and commitment of the employee.

Nevertheless, I have submitted my case to the NSW Industrial Relations Section:

I began working at XYZ company in June, 2004. I was employed through an employment agency, ABC Ltd, on a casual basis, although I am normally required to work full time hours from 11.30am to 8pm, and on Friday from 10pm until 6pm.

In August, XYZ gave us the opportunity to change to Part Time Employment. We were required to make a written application. I did so, and was told that I had been accepted, subject to completing probationary hours. I took this to be offer and acceptance, and the basis for a new employment contract, whose elements would not be arbitrarily changed.

In September, I had to go into hospital – Concord Repatriation and General Hospital – for an operation, which meant that I was away from my employment for four weeks. Prior to going to hospital I had received core systems training, although I was not able to access these systems then, or for three to four weeks when I returned.

On returning to work, and the completion of the necessary hours of employment required to take up the offer of permanent part time employment, I submitted the required documentation.

The result of this application was that I was changed from my former employer, ABC to XYZ, as a Casual Employee, which I found out only when I received my pay slip. The hourly rate of casual employees is equivalent to the hourly rate of permanent part time employees, except the latter receive benefits such as sick leave and holiday pay.

I have received not written acknowledgement of my application, or the terms of the original offer to change from casual with an Employment Agency to the employers.

Prima face, this situation appears to me to be a significant breach of contract. It is, in my view, unconscionable, that is there is a violation of the fair trading, to transfer employment from one employer to another in a way that is arbitrary, contrary to the express understanding of the employee, and for reasons that might be seen to the advantage of the employee and contrary to intentions and understanding of the employee.

Normally, I would expect, that any change in employer and status should formal require written confirmation. Agreement and understanding entered into in good faith should not be arbitrarily changed.

THE FAIR GO IS GONE December 12, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment

The Howard Government has a evil, vicious and mean spirited approach to the rights of employees. In these cases rights can be seen in the context of employment contracts which represent a field of mutual obligation, often implied and generally accepted on the practical requirements of the employment environment and industry. The right wing agenda has been pervasive, and I believe has influenced state governments.

The names of the employers are omitted to protect the guilty.

My case concerns the often contentious issue of casual and part- time employment. The employers are given the advantage of flexible terms of agreement, even though the hours of employment are full time. The cost of labor is reduced to the disadvantage of the employee. This is not seen as unconscionable behavior, but rather as good business practice, because I presume core management is conceived as the source of productivity, not the skills and commitment of the employee.

Nevertheless, I have submitted my case to the NSW Industrial Relations Section:

I began working at XYZ company in June, 2004. I was employed through an employment agency, ABC Ltd, on a casual basis, although I am normally required to work full time hours from 11.30am to 8pm, and on Friday from 10pm until 6pm.

In August, XYZ gave us the opportunity to change to Part Time Employment. We were required to make a written application. I did so, and was told that I had been accepted, subject to completing probationary hours. I took this to be offer and acceptance, and the basis for a new employment contract, whose elements would not be arbitrarily changed.

In September, I had to go into hospital – Concord Repatriation and General Hospital – for an operation, which meant that I was away from my employment for four weeks. Prior to going to hospital I had received core systems training, although I was not able to access these systems then, or for three to four weeks when I returned.

On returning to work, and the completion of the necessary hours of employment required to take up the offer of permanent part time employment, I submitted the required documentation.

The result of this application was that I was changed from my former employer, ABC to XYZ, as a Casual Employee, which I found out only when I received my pay slip. The hourly rate of casual employees is equivalent to the hourly rate of permanent part time employees, except the latter receive benefits such as sick leave and holiday pay.

I have received not written acknowledgement of my application, or the terms of the original offer to change from casual with an Employment Agency to the employers.

Prima face, this situation appears to me to be a significant breach of contract. It is, in my view, unconscionable, that is there is a violation of the fair trading, to transfer employment from one employer to another in a way that is arbitrary, contrary to the express understanding of the employee, and for reasons that might be seen to the advantage of the employee and contrary to intentions and understanding of the employee.

Normally, I would expect, that any change in employer and status should formal require written confirmation. Agreement and understanding entered into in good faith should not be arbitrarily changed.

IS THIS MAN A COMPLETE FOOL? December 10, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Human Rights, Terrorism Issues.
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Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock – ABC file picture Posted by Hello

Or is he pretending to be acting as the Australian Attorney-General?

David Hicks, an Australian citizen and captive as “non-combatant” in the US Military prison at Guantanamo Bay, has it seems, through his American lawyers, has issued an affidavit claiming he has been tortured, and witness to others been tortured during the time of his three year incarceration. The story is from this ABC report.

Ruddock in effect dismissed Hick’s testimony, saying was contradicted by previous statements made by his lawyers. He says in effect that he will rely on the investigations made by US Authorities, whoever they might be. Ruddock does not sound like engaging lawyers talk, but somebody who is feeble-minded. Perhaps he is just playing for time, and hoping the story will go away. The story of the Australian inmates at Guantanamo is one story that will not go away.

What should an A-G do in these circumstances, allowing for the perhaps generally debauched level of behavior of political office holders in this country?

The Attorney-General, in my view, should be supporting an independent investigation, as indeed should the Americans, if only to clear their personnel of the allegations and to maintain proper standards among their military.

Vagrant torturers and murders on the streets and highways of America may in future years may represent the poisoned bread of the war of terror returned to shore.

FURTHER COMMENT: 10/12/2004

The ABC are not quite as biased as my comments about Mr Ruddock, but you might think the picture represents bias on the part of the left-wing media. Where is his amnesty badge? Or perhaps he does not wear it nowadays, as it might be inconsistent with the dignity of his high office?

UPDATE: 11/12/2004

1. According to the breaking news section in The SMH, the Pentagon is to undertake investigations of the allegations of torture made by Hicks and others. I had not realized that just four, including Hicks, of the 550 detainees have been charged.

2. A British detainee has also made allegations of torture as reported by The Guardian. Interestingly, the British A-G has an alternative view:

“At the heart of our culture is a commitment to the rule of law and human rights,” the lord chancellor said in a speech to the Institute of Public Policy Research, a leftwing thinktank. “We could never countenance individuals being put beyond the law as has happened at Guantánamo Bay.” That period of being beyond the rule of law had now ended, he added, as a result of a supreme court decision allowing the detainees to challenge their incarceration in court.

Australian A-G’s, both Ruddock and his predecessor, have not merely contemplated this violation of fundamental principle, but consistently excused it, and derogated those, whoever they might be, and regardless of their understanding and experience in this area. Realistically as we understand the political process, we must also hold to fundamental principle.

IS THIS MAN A COMPLETE FOOL? December 10, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment



Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock – ABC file picture Posted by Hello

Or is he pretending to be acting as the Australian Attorney-General?

David Hicks, an Australian citizen and captive as “non-combatant” in the US Military prison at Guantanamo Bay, has it seems, through his American lawyers, has issued an affidavit claiming he has been tortured, and witness to others been tortured during the time of his three year incarceration. The story is from this ABC report.

Ruddock in effect dismissed Hick’s testimony, saying was contradicted by previous statements made by his lawyers. He says in effect that he will rely on the investigations made by US Authorities, whoever they might be. Ruddock does not sound like engaging lawyers talk, but somebody who is feeble-minded. Perhaps he is just playing for time, and hoping the story will go away. The story of the Australian inmates at Guantanamo is one story that will not go away.

What should an A-G do in these circumstances, allowing for the perhaps generally debauched level of behavior of political office holders in this country?

The Attorney-General, in my view, should be supporting an independent investigation, as indeed should the Americans, if only to clear their personnel of the allegations and to maintain proper standards among their military.

Vagrant torturers and murders on the streets and highways of America may in future years may represent the poisoned bread of the war of terror returned to shore.

FURTHER COMMENT: 10/12/2004

The ABC are not quite as biased as my comments about Mr Ruddock, but you might think the picture represents bias on the part of the left-wing media. Where is his amnesty badge? Or perhaps he does not wear it nowadays, as it might be inconsistent with the dignity of his high office?

UPDATE: 11/12/2004

1. According to the breaking news section in The SMH, the Pentagon is to undertake investigations of the allegations of torture made by Hicks and others. I had not realized that just four, including Hicks, of the 550 detainees have been charged.

2. A British detainee has also made allegations of torture as reported by The Guardian. Interestingly, the British A-G has an alternative view:

“At the heart of our culture is a commitment to the rule of law and human rights,” the lord chancellor said in a speech to the Institute of Public Policy Research, a leftwing thinktank. “We could never countenance individuals being put beyond the law as has happened at Guantánamo Bay.” That period of being beyond the rule of law had now ended, he added, as a result of a supreme court decision allowing the detainees to challenge their incarceration in court.

Australian A-G’s, both Ruddock and his predecessor, have not merely contemplated this violation of fundamental principle, but consistently excused it, and derogated those, whoever they might be, and regardless of their understanding and experience in this area. Realistically as we understand the political process, we must also hold to fundamental principle.

FALLUJA AFTERMATH December 9, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed, Iraq, Modern History.
1 comment so far

The US Military claimed that the assault on Falluja was a success on twogrounds: it destroyed the safehouses for acts of terrorism ,including the beheadings, as it destroyed the command and control apparatus of the insurgency, and it provided the necessary security forthe elections to be held without intimidation.

At least to my knowledge there have been no more beheadings, which has to be a good thing. That has to be good outcome, and raises the question, if correct, could it have been achieved by other means. Otherwise, there is a descent into a calculation of compartive suffering. In some circumstances, coercion may be the only lawful resort, As a rule, I suggest, it should only ever be the last, and not the first resort, and within that difference their is a world ofdifference.
In an earlier post, the interim governments Foreign Minister, justified the military action by saying in part that all other means had been tried. Leaving aside the question of the legitimacy of the Interim Government, as one set up by an invading nation, on pretexts that have been subsequently proven to be untrue, the issue then would who to deal with in Falluja in the absence of a legitimate local government. I have always thought that the establishment of local government on a democratic basis and progressively throughout thecountry would have been a good plan to follow. As John Quiggin recently pointed out, Bremer prevented the holding of a national election at an earlier date.

Insurgency gained force in Falluja in reaction to a set of events,some of which represents gross and inappropriate behavior on the partof the American Military. These behaviors of themselves begs questionsof the professionalism of the invaders and the larger question of theirpurpose. American soldiers were suspected of using theirnight vision googles to prey on women at night time, an example ofinfantile behavior if true, but it was believed by the Iraqis to betrue which led to a demonstration at which people were murdered by American gunfire. Then the first assault on Falluja had to be abandoned because of the hospital reports of the deaths of non-combatants, including women and children, which accounted for the considerable andproud feat of American arms of capturing the hospitals during the second invasion, even allowing for fact this task was given to the Iraqi troops, who had been declared to apostates (tranliteration no doubt: a christian word in islamic context).

The assault on Falluja does not seemed to have been a success in terms proclaimed by a triumphant military leadership. In the following days the activity of insurgency increased in intensity, targeting the police statesand pressing on the green zone, in memory of Beirut, the presumed sanctuary of the American Embassy and the Interim Government.

In relation to successful attack on a police station in Baghdad,The Observer commented:

The ability of the guerrillas to capture a policestation in Baghdad shows they are increasingly well-organised. The slowUS military response underlines the problem of the US Army not havingenough soldiers to control the capital. Many of the 138,000 US troopsin Iraq are tied down by lines of supply, the need to defend theirbases or convoys or in routine patrols.

As the US increases the numbers of troops, the ongoing costs of theoccupation increase, with a decrease in the prospects of an national constitutional election in January, especially as the American created national police force and army become the targets of choice for the insurgency. The New Zealand Herald carried this Reuters report that said in part:

The attacks on Iraqi security forces, and the lack of backbone shown by some, have worried US military commanders who have based their exit strategy on building up capable Iraq police and National Guards.
Over the past year, US authorities have invested heavily in recruiting and training police and the military-style National Guard, only to see large numbers desert or not turn up to work in the face of insurgent intimidation.
The US military hopes it will be able to hand over national security to Iraqi forces before elections due at the end of January, but there are already signs that that may not be possible in all areas of the country.

Nor does it help if those Iraqis supporting the American mission are called apostates, which in its essence represents a significant and understandable problem, and in turn is, I suspect, adding to ethnic and religious tensions within the country. The Americans seem strong in the arms and weak in the head, which is not to minimize the task for which they have assumed responsibilty, and so often and wanting failed to live up to.

Secondly, the assault on Falluja was supposed to provide the conditions for holding elections. Given the upsurge in violence, the former UN special envoy to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, who designed the electoral process to be used in the January election, told a Dutch newspaper that if the existing situation in Iraq continued, elections would not be
successful, which I suppose is obvious enough.

Then the American Military, and we must suppose they are acting on the orders from those in the White House, have decided to create what the Boston Globe in its report, subsequently relayed by The SMH, described as a police state. The mechanisms of representative democracy are always and everywhere imperfect, and bear on the political culture
to supports their imperfections, but the Bill of Rights, which suitable adaptation, may have been a very valuable export. Instead with the military objectives in mind, rather than the politcal imperitives those who make the decisions for the Occupiers have opted for the following approach:

The US military is drawing up plans to keep insurgents from regaining control of Falluja, but returning residents may find that the measures make the battle-scarred city look more like a police state than the democracy they have been promised. Under the plans, troops would funnel residents of Falluja to citizen processing centres on the outskirts of the city to compile a database of their identities through DNA testing and retina scans. Residents would receive badges displaying their home addresses which must be worn at all times. Buses would ferry them into the city, where cars, the deadliest tool of suicide bombers, would be banned.

Then there have been disturbing reports that the US has been responsible for night bombing of Iraqi cities, which I suspect is a war crime, or at the very least represents acts of terrorism. And if true would imply that the hyperpower, who presumes to act unilaterally to defend its national interests in a far distant country, does not have the moral standing to pursue its cause.
(to be continued and to be edited – time for bed)

FALLUJA AFTERMATH December 9, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
3 comments

The US Military claimed that the assault on Falluja was a success on twogrounds: it destroyed the safehouses for acts of terrorism ,including the beheadings, as it destroyed the command and control apparatus of the insurgency, and it provided the necessary security forthe elections to be held without intimidation.

At least to my knowledge there have been no more beheadings, which has to be a good thing. That has to be good outcome, and raises the question, if correct, could it have been achieved by other means. Otherwise, there is a descent into a calculation of compartive suffering. In some circumstances, coercion may be the only lawful resort, As a rule, I suggest, it should only ever be the last, and not the first resort, and within that difference their is a world ofdifference.

In an earlier post, the interim governments Foreign Minister, justified the military action by saying in part that all other means had been tried. Leaving aside the question of the legitimacy of the Interim Government, as one set up by an invading nation, on pretexts that have been subsequently proven to be untrue, the issue then would who to deal with in Falluja in the absence of a legitimate local government. I have always thought that the establishment of local government on a democratic basis and progressively throughout thecountry would have been a good plan to follow. As John Quiggin recently pointed out, Bremer prevented the holding of a national election at an earlier date.

Insurgency gained force in Falluja in reaction to a set of events,some of which represents gross and inappropriate behavior on the partof the American Military. These behaviors of themselves begs questionsof the professionalism of the invaders and the larger question of theirpurpose. American soldiers were suspected of using theirnight vision googles to prey on women at night time, an example ofinfantile behavior if true, but it was believed by the Iraqis to betrue which led to a demonstration at which people were murdered by American gunfire. Then the first assault on Falluja had to be abandoned because of the hospital reports of the deaths of non-combatants, including women and children, which accounted for the considerable andproud feat of American arms of capturing the hospitals during the second invasion, even allowing for fact this task was given to the Iraqi troops, who had been declared to apostates (tranliteration no doubt: a christian word in islamic context).

The assault on Falluja does not seemed to have been a success in terms proclaimed by a triumphant military leadership. In the following days the activity of insurgency increased in intensity, targeting the police statesand pressing on the green zone, in memory of Beirut, the presumed sanctuary of the American Embassy and the Interim Government.

In relation to successful attack on a police station in Baghdad,The Observer commented:

The ability of the guerrillas to capture a policestation in Baghdad shows they are increasingly well-organised. The slowUS military response underlines the problem of the US Army not havingenough soldiers to control the capital. Many of the 138,000 US troopsin Iraq are tied down by lines of supply, the need to defend theirbases or convoys or in routine patrols.

As the US increases the numbers of troops, the ongoing costs of theoccupation increase, with a decrease in the prospects of an national constitutional election in January, especially as the American created national police force and army become the targets of choice for the insurgency. The New Zealand Herald carried this Reuters report that said in part:

The attacks on Iraqi security forces, and the lack of backbone shown by some, have worried US military commanders who have based their exit strategy on building up capable Iraq police and National Guards.

Over the past year, US authorities have invested heavily in recruiting and training police and the military-style National Guard, only to see large numbers desert or not turn up to work in the face of insurgent intimidation.

The US military hopes it will be able to hand over national security to Iraqi forces before elections due at the end of January, but there are already signs that that may not be possible in all areas of the country.

Nor does it help if those Iraqis supporting the American mission are called apostates, which in its essence represents a significant and understandable problem, and in turn is, I suspect, adding to ethnic and religious tensions within the country. The Americans seem strong in the arms and weak in the head, which is not to minimize the task for which they have assumed responsibilty, and so often and wanting failed to live up to.

Secondly, the assault on Falluja was supposed to provide the conditions for holding elections. Given the upsurge in violence, the former UN special envoy to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, who designed the electoral process to be used in the January election, told a Dutch newspaper that if the existing situation in Iraq continued, elections would not be

successful, which I suppose is obvious enough.

Then the American Military, and we must suppose they are acting on the orders from those in the White House, have decided to create what the Boston Globe in its report, subsequently relayed by The SMH, described as a police state. The mechanisms of representative democracy are always and everywhere imperfect, and bear on the political culture

to supports their imperfections, but the Bill of Rights, which suitable adaptation, may have been a very valuable export. Instead with the military objectives in mind, rather than the politcal imperitives those who make the decisions for the Occupiers have opted for the following approach:

The US military is drawing up plans to keep insurgents from regaining control of Falluja, but returning residents may find that the measures make the battle-scarred city look more like a police state than the democracy they have been promised. Under the plans, troops would funnel residents of Falluja to citizen processing centres on the outskirts of the city to compile a database of their identities through DNA testing and retina scans. Residents would receive badges displaying their home addresses which must be worn at all times. Buses would ferry them into the city, where cars, the deadliest tool of suicide bombers, would be banned.

Then there have been disturbing reports that the US has been responsible for night bombing of Iraqi cities, which I suspect is a war crime, or at the very least represents acts of terrorism. And if true would imply that the hyperpower, who presumes to act unilaterally to defend its national interests in a far distant country, does not have the moral standing to pursue its cause.

(to be continued and to be edited – time for bed)

OPEN COMMENT December 5, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Blogging in general.
add a comment

Writing this blog on a daily basis is proving more difficult that anticipated. So if you happen by, perhaps rather than casting your eye over this material you might make a comment suggesting what can be done to improve it, within my limitations.

I am not too concerned that comments are rare. And when comments are made, I will usually endeavour to respond to them. I like the apples. I think they are a interesting graphic feature. I can add more pictures. I could, and should, add a list of regular sites I visit, but I am not sure how to get the code for this to be successful.

The problem I have is time. When I eventually get home at night, I am usually too tired. And on the Weekend, as I am sure you appreciate, I have other duties.

Still all in all, constructive criticism will always be appreciated, as will some new ideas.

OPEN COMMENT December 5, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment

Writing this blog on a daily basis is proving more difficult that anticipated. So if you happen by, perhaps rather than casting your eye over this material you might make a comment suggesting what can be done to improve it, within my limitations.

I am not too concerned that comments are rare. And when comments are made, I will usually endeavour to respond to them. I like the apples. I think they are a interesting graphic feature. I can add more pictures. I could, and should, add a list of regular sites I visit, but I am not sure how to get the code for this to be successful.

The problem I have is time. When I eventually get home at night, I am usually too tired. And on the Weekend, as I am sure you appreciate, I have other duties.

Still all in all, constructive criticism will always be appreciated, as will some new ideas.

SOUTH AMERICA AS AN ECONOMIC UNION December 5, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Modern History.
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There are trading blocks springing up over the globe. Most recently the extention of ASEAN to include Australia and New Zealand – so significant that no question was asked of the Prime Minister on Insiders this morning. The driving force for ASEAN is the increase in the Chinese Economy. From reports during the week, the Australian Government is at long last aware of the potential of the Indian Economy, and we seem to be now positioning ourselves in relation to that development. The European Community seems to inexorably be expanding eastward, perhaps to include Turkey, within ten or fifteen years.And now there is a report that the South Americans are taking the first moves and looking at their options, albeit in the shadow of United States influence. According to The Independenst’s, Phil Davison:

The Peruvian highland town of Ayacucho, where fine-fleeced vicuñas roam wild along the snowline, is already a focus of South American history.
Here, in December 1824, forces loyal to Simon Bolivar, the independence hero, drove the Spanish conquistadors from the lands they had dominated for three centuries. Next Thursday, on the 180th anniversary of the battle, the presidents of all South American nations will sign a declaration that could prove historic in its own right.
Taking a first concrete step towards Bolivar’s own dream, they will sign a “fundamental charter” to give birth to the South American Community of Nations. It is time, they say, for their own European Union-style economic and political grouping.
Well, that’s the idea. The 9 December signing is little more than the symbolic launch of an ideal, to create a greater sense of unity among South America’s 360 million inhabitants. In the short term, the signatories hope the prospect of unity will give them greater clout in negotiations with the United States, the EU, Asia andfinance institutions
.

It seems the South Americans are taking the EU as their model. They will combining existing trading blocks – Mercosur and the Andean Community signed an agreement in October. The aim is to have a parliament, a common currency and all the other accoutrements of the European model for the 360 million people of South America.

That leaves Africa and the Islamic World, but no doubt we will see similar moves in the future.

SOUTH AMERICA AS AN ECONOMIC UNION December 5, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment

There are trading blocks springing up over the globe. Most recently the extention of ASEAN to include Australia and New Zealand – so significant that no question was asked of the Prime Minister on Insiders this morning. The driving force for ASEAN is the increase in the Chinese Economy. From reports during the week, the Australian Government is at long last aware of the potential of the Indian Economy, and we seem to be now positioning ourselves in relation to that development. The European Community seems to inexorably be expanding eastward, perhaps to include Turkey, within ten or fifteen years.And now there is a report that the South Americans are taking the first moves and looking at their options, albeit in the shadow of United States influence. According to The Independenst’s, Phil Davison:

The Peruvian highland town of Ayacucho, where fine-fleeced vicuñas roam wild along the snowline, is already a focus of South American history.

Here, in December 1824, forces loyal to Simon Bolivar, the independence hero, drove the Spanish conquistadors from the lands they had dominated for three centuries. Next Thursday, on the 180th anniversary of the battle, the presidents of all South American nations will sign a declaration that could prove historic in its own right.

Taking a first concrete step towards Bolivar’s own dream, they will sign a “fundamental charter” to give birth to the South American Community of Nations. It is time, they say, for their own European Union-style economic and political grouping.

Well, that’s the idea. The 9 December signing is little more than the symbolic launch of an ideal, to create a greater sense of unity among South America’s 360 million inhabitants. In the short term, the signatories hope the prospect of unity will give them greater clout in negotiations with the United States, the EU, Asia andfinance institutions
.

It seems the South Americans are taking the EU as their model. They will combining existing trading blocks – Mercosur and the Andean Community signed an agreement in October. The aim is to have a parliament, a common currency and all the other accoutrements of the European model for the 360 million people of South America.

That leaves Africa and the Islamic World, but no doubt we will see similar moves in the future.

TERROR AND TORTURE December 4, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Human Rights, Terrorism Issues.
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The war of terror continues apace. The International Red Cross reported that methods akin to torture were used at the military camp at Guantanamo Bay, and the participants included medical staff and psychologolists:

The accusation, made in confidential reports to the US Government, follows a visit by a Red Cross inspection team that spent most of June in Guantanamo.

The team of humanitarian workers, which included experienced medical personnel, also said that some doctors and other medical workers at Guantanamo were helping to plan interrogations, in “a flagrant violation of medical ethics”. Doctors and medical personnel conveyed information about prisoners’ mental health and vulnerabilities to interrogators, the report said, sometimes directly, but usually through a group called the Behavioral Science Consultation Team. The team, known informally as Biscuit, is composed of psychologists and psychological workers who advise the interrogators, the report said.

The US Government, which received the report in July, rejected its charges, government and military officials said. The report was distributed to lawyers at the White House, the Pentagon and State Department, and to the prison commander at Guantanamo, General Jay Hood. It was the first time that the Red Cross, which has been visiting Guantanamo since January 2002, had said in such strong terms that the physical and psychological treatment of prisoners amounted to torture.

The report on the June visit said investigators found a system devised to break the will of the prisoners, who now number about 550, and make them wholly dependent on their interrogators through “humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions”.

The Australian Government, through the Attorney-General, have today approved the use of evidence obtained through torture in military courts, according to the ABC news:

The Federal Government says that while torture is inappropriate, it has no intention of fighting plans by the United States Government to use evidence gained through torture in the trial of Guantanamo Bay detainees. A court in Washington has been told that military panels at the prison in Cuba can use evidence obtained through torture.

Australia’s Attorney-General Philip Ruddock says that while such evidence is not an accepted part of civilian trials, it is an approach used in military trials.

TERROR AND TORTURE December 4, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
add a comment

The war of terror continues apace. The International Red Cross reported that methods akin to torture were used at the military camp at Guantanamo Bay, and the participants included medical staff and psychologolists:

The accusation, made in confidential reports to the US Government, follows a visit by a Red Cross inspection team that spent most of June in Guantanamo.

The team of humanitarian workers, which included experienced medical personnel, also said that some doctors and other medical workers at Guantanamo were helping to plan interrogations, in “a flagrant violation of medical ethics”. Doctors and medical personnel conveyed information about prisoners’ mental health and vulnerabilities to interrogators, the report said, sometimes directly, but usually through a group called the Behavioral Science Consultation Team. The team, known informally as Biscuit, is composed of psychologists and psychological workers who advise the interrogators, the report said.

The US Government, which received the report in July, rejected its charges, government and military officials said. The report was distributed to lawyers at the White House, the Pentagon and State Department, and to the prison commander at Guantanamo, General Jay Hood. It was the first time that the Red Cross, which has been visiting Guantanamo since January 2002, had said in such strong terms that the physical and psychological treatment of prisoners amounted to torture.

The report on the June visit said investigators found a system devised to break the will of the prisoners, who now number about 550, and make them wholly dependent on their interrogators through “humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions”.

The Australian Government, through the Attorney-General, have today approved the use of evidence obtained through torture in military courts, according to the ABC news:

The Federal Government says that while torture is inappropriate, it has no intention of fighting plans by the United States Government to use evidence gained through torture in the trial of Guantanamo Bay detainees. A court in Washington has been told that military panels at the prison in Cuba can use evidence obtained through torture.

Australia’s Attorney-General Philip Ruddock says that while such evidence is not an accepted part of civilian trials, it is an approach used in military trials.

IN MEMORY OF THEODORE December 4, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in DOG BLOG -, Life Experience.
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Fours years ago, our dog died of snake bite. Today I recovered the story from the unforgetting internet:

Our dog died from a snake bite the Saturday before last.

Our house backs onto an old mine area with areas of open ground and bush with tracks through it, that for over ten years I have run my dogs, certainly with problems related to ticks, although I have found that problem can be reduced by keeping clear of water courses, but without seeing any snakes let alone having problems with them. I have always figured that if I as a comparatively large stumbling mammal make enough noise will keep away – and it seemed to work. Beyond this approach, I remained very ignorant about snakes.

We are very sad that our dog has died and invariably blame ourselves on two counts: failure to take preventive action and failure to recognize the clear symptoms of snake bite to take appropriate action to save him. Theodore was about eighteen months old and very active. He was different from our other dogs in having a hound as distinct from a sheep dog breeding. I have two other kelpie dogs.

There is a sunny embankment, which an established track up it that is used as well by motor bikes, trail bikes and horses. I have been running up it for years with my dogs. It is a area of low scrub with plent of leaves and bark, perhaps the ideal place for a snake to build its nest and do a bit of sun bathing.

In retrospect you see all the warning signs that somehow failed to notice at the time. Theodore unlike usual was not the first up the hill. So I am at the top, recovering my wind with the other dogs, and then Theodore comes with the snake coiled in his mouth like a garden house. The stomach, I was three to four metres away, looked yellow. Theodore put the snake down when I told him too. I watched the snake, which was coloured a walnut brown and at least five to six feet , very slowly moved away, diving through a puddle of water and into the grass.

We did not recognize all the symptoms when with 10 to 15 minutes later Theodore was back in our yard repeatedly vomiting green bile and frothing at the mouth. He also sought to burrow under bushes and went under the house.

In our ignorance we did nothing. The snake bite was not obvious. I did not know what a snake bite looked like. We waited three hours before we took him to the vet, by which time he bent up when he tried to walk and his gums were swollen and purple. Theodore died on the way. I was conscious of his rapid heart beat and he struggled in my arms before he died.

I was shocked to be told that Theodore was dead when he arrived. The vet examined him and found three distinct gashes in a back paw in a light plug configuration. In my state of shock and inarticulateness, I had trouble describing the snake that I had seen, to the extent that the vet cast doubt on my story.

I was completely muddled. I could not make the connections, as obvious as they were to anyone with any experience or knowledge. I had a theory that Theodore must have eaten something. When I was told on Monday that the vets thought that it could have been a snake bite, the scales fell from my eyes. And on Tuesday, we were informed that it was a tiger snake.

No doubt a tale of stupidity told by an idiot. Some of us are ignorant of the dangers of the natural environment, and when something happens we do not observe it systematically.

None of this detracts from the grief and remorse we experience. To have saved Theodore we would have had to recognize the symptoms and to find the snake bite. In our environment that should have been common sense. So too it would have been better to avoid the problem, which means been alert to the danger.

You might perhaps treat this as a case study of people who live in an environment without understanding it, and then only learn after the event and live with recrimination. The other recourse of ignorance is simply to destroy the eco-system.

Contributed by Ian Westbrook, October 2000.

IN MEMORY OF THEODORE December 4, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Uncategorized.
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Fours years ago, our dog died of snake bite. Today I recovered the story from the unforgetting internet:

Our dog died from a snake bite the Saturday before last.

Our house backs onto an old mine area with areas of open ground and bush with tracks through it, that for over ten years I have run my dogs, certainly with problems related to ticks, although I have found that problem can be reduced by keeping clear of water courses, but without seeing any snakes let alone having problems with them. I have always figured that if I as a comparatively large stumbling mammal make enough noise will keep away – and it seemed to work. Beyond this approach, I remained very ignorant about snakes.

We are very sad that our dog has died and invariably blame ourselves on two counts: failure to take preventive action and failure to recognize the clear symptoms of snake bite to take appropriate action to save him. Theodore was about eighteen months old and very active. He was different from our other dogs in having a hound as distinct from a sheep dog breeding. I have two other kelpie dogs.

There is a sunny embankment, which an established track up it that is used as well by motor bikes, trail bikes and horses. I have been running up it for years with my dogs. It is a area of low scrub with plent of leaves and bark, perhaps the ideal place for a snake to build its nest and do a bit of sun bathing.

In retrospect you see all the warning signs that somehow failed to notice at the time. Theodore unlike usual was not the first up the hill. So I am at the top, recovering my wind with the other dogs, and then Theodore comes with the snake coiled in his mouth like a garden house. The stomach, I was three to four metres away, looked yellow. Theodore put the snake down when I told him too. I watched the snake, which was coloured a walnut brown and at least five to six feet , very slowly moved away, diving through a puddle of water and into the grass.

We did not recognize all the symptoms when with 10 to 15 minutes later Theodore was back in our yard repeatedly vomiting green bile and frothing at the mouth. He also sought to burrow under bushes and went under the house.

In our ignorance we did nothing. The snake bite was not obvious. I did not know what a snake bite looked like. We waited three hours before we took him to the vet, by which time he bent up when he tried to walk and his gums were swollen and purple. Theodore died on the way. I was conscious of his rapid heart beat and he struggled in my arms before he died.

I was shocked to be told that Theodore was dead when he arrived. The vet examined him and found three distinct gashes in a back paw in a light plug configuration. In my state of shock and inarticulateness, I had trouble describing the snake that I had seen, to the extent that the vet cast doubt on my story.

I was completely muddled. I could not make the connections, as obvious as they were to anyone with any experience or knowledge. I had a theory that Theodore must have eaten something. When I was told on Monday that the vets thought that it could have been a snake bite, the scales fell from my eyes. And on Tuesday, we were informed that it was a tiger snake.

No doubt a tale of stupidity told by an idiot. Some of us are ignorant of the dangers of the natural environment, and when something happens we do not observe it systematically.

None of this detracts from the grief and remorse we experience. To have saved Theodore we would have had to recognize the symptoms and to find the snake bite. In our environment that should have been common sense. So too it would have been better to avoid the problem, which means been alert to the danger.

You might perhaps treat this as a case study of people who live in an environment without understanding it, and then only learn after the event and live with recrimination. The other recourse of ignorance is simply to destroy the eco-system.

Contributed by Ian Westbrook, October 2000.

THEY SAID IT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN December 2, 2004

Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.
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Glancing through the foreign press I noticed this news item, which says in part:

A total of 27 Iraqi asylum seekers being detained on the Pacific island of Nauru were today granted refugee status, with most to be offered residency in Australia. Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said 16 of the 27 refugees would be offered resettlement in Australia and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees would look to resettle the remaining 11. The Immigration Department reassessed the cases of 41 Iraqis being held on Nauru.

Senator Vanstone said 14 people were found not to be refugees, decisions on a another two were under consideration and four did not want their cases reassessed by Australia. She said the 27 found to be refugees would continue to receive accommodation, food, clothing and medical care while arrangements were made to resettle them. But Senator Vanstone said those who weren’t refugees should go home.


Home, I take to be Iraq, and perhaps Falluja, and other cities, where the American army has taken to a brutal and criminal suppression of a nationalist and religious uprising.

If I remember correctly, it was not previously conceded that these human beings might well have been refugees. Strange contradictions indeed. Oh I remember, there was an election.