The Bolivian government’s slightly late national contribution to the COP 21 contains many radical proposals for safeguarding the future health of the planet, accompanied by the argument that capitalism is responsible for “consumerism, warmongering and […] the destruction of Mother Earth”.
Some 122 countries have now shared their national contributions to the international climate conference in Paris, where countries will attempt to reach an agreement that will limit the global temperature rise to +2°C above pre-industrial times.
The texts contain many different proposals for reducing CO2 emissions, financing climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts and transferring technologies to developing countries.
But the South American country led by Evo Morales took advantage of the alternative World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Defence of Life, held in Bolivia from 10 to 12 October, to advance some alternative ideas.
Bolivia, whose constitution already guarantees the respect of Mother Earth, holds “the failed capitalist system” responsible for climate change. “For a lasting solution to the climate crisis we must destroy capitalism,” the national contribution states.
The Bolivian text does not stop at the denunciation of capitalism, but offers ten structural solutions to the climate crisis, including a guarantee for the protection of the rights of Mother Earth, the recognition by governments of the right to water and the elimination of technology patents in favour of a human right to science.
Another central proposal is the “establishment of an International Court of Justice for the Climate and Mother Earth,” which would ensure that all countries fulfil their climate obligations.
International climate justice
The idea of international climate justice is nothing new in Bolivia. Evo Morales had already called for the establishment of an international climate court, at the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009.
No international tribunal currently has the competency to judge climate crimes. As a result, climate justice is left to individual countries, and legislation varies considerably from one to another.
The Bolivian text expands on the idea of climate justice and proposes a system for sharing global greenhouse gas emissions. Using the estimate made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that 650 gigatons of CO2 emissions would lead to a temperature rise of 1.5°C by 2050, Bolivia proposed a carbon budget for each country, limiting its right to pollute.
This carbon budget would apply to both developed and developing countries, and would be based on a climate justice index defined by a country’s level of development, its historic responsibility for climate change, its ecological footprint and its technological capacity.
Applying this index would allow the remaining carbon budget to be shared out fairly among developed countries, which are largely responsible for climate change, and developing countries, which are often its first victims.
According to Bolivia’s calculations, this system would assign 11% of the remaining carbon budget to developed countries and 89% to developing countries.
Developed countries currently account for around 20% of the global population. But these countries (including the United States, Japan, France, the United Kingdom, etc.) emit four times more greenhouse gasses per inhabitant than developing countries.
Negotiations on climate change began in 1992, and the UN organises an annual international climate change conference called the Conference of the Parties, or COP.
The 20th COP took place in Lima, Peru, from 1 to 12 December 2014, and Paris is hosting the all-important 21st conference in December 2015.
The participating states must reach an agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the object of which was to reduce CO2 emissions between 2008 and 2012.
The EU’s contribution to the UN agreement is based on deal reached by EU leaders in October 2014. It sets out a binding emissions reduction goal of at least 40% by 2030 compared to 1990. The objective is described in the agreement as “a binding, economy-wide reduction target, covering all sectors and all sources of emissions, including agriculture, forestry and other land uses”.
Agreeing on a UN framework, whether legally binding or not, is the priority between now and December.
A few days ago I read this piece in New Matilda byphilosopher Dr Mark Manolopoulos on the coexistence of an accepted hyper-sexualistion of children, and strongly condemned paedophilia. The fact that the former is condoned while the latter is condemned suggests a societal hypocrisy that is shameful, is the crux of his argument.
Although Dr Manolopoulos stresses that he makes no correlation between the two, the fact that he situates their coexistence in the realm of the hypocritical and shameful strongly suggests that he assumes a connection of some kind. Without a connection there is no hypocrisy, and there isn’t any shame either.
The first question is one we’ve been debating on Sheep for a few years now: are children hyper-sexualised?
There is only one, extremely narrow representation of female sexuality that is imposed on young girls. The grotesque image heading this text is an example of an ideal of physical sexuality that promises gratification to any male who is attracted in spite of, or because of, its lack of subtlety.
It’s a mainstream wet dream. Consequently, many women strive to emulate the impossible plasticity of the Barbie doll, and some women inflict the same struggle on their daughters in a ghastly mother-daughter bonding that to this observer, does not speak of hyper-sexualisation as much as it does of a desperate desire to be desired, and for the daughters to vicariously gratify the adult woman’s need.
A man or a woman who looks at a child in “sexy” adult clothing and make up and thinks, gawd, she’s so sexy, has something terribly awry with their perceptions and desires. The child is still a child, albeit a dressed-up child, and the adult who cannot tell the difference between dress-ups and the real is sexualising the child rather than seeing the child, and needs urgent assistance.
Can anyone in their right mind really look at a dressed-up child and see her as a sex object?
How many mothers who dress their daughters “sexily” are actually pimping them out to paedophiles? Practically none, I’d guess.
There is no proven correlation between the manner in which young girls are dressed, and their vulnerability to paedophiles. If there was, Dr Manolopoulos might have an argument, but there isn’t, and he doesn’t. Quite apart from the fact that many victims of child sexual assault are boys, who aren’t dressed in anything other than ordinary clothes.
The implication of the doctor’s thesis is the same old same old: girls and women will be attacked because of what we’re wearing. Paedophiles aren’t responsible for their crimes: little girls looking “sexy” provoked them, they couldn’t resist, and their mothers are to blame.
His remedy is, yes you guessed it, ban things.
Personally, I wouldn’t choose to dress my daughter, if I had one, in a manner that is Barbie sexual, but then I don’t dress myself like that either, except once I was in a burlesque show and that was fun.
Blaming paedophilia, or any sexual assault at all on the so-called “hyper- sexualisation” of the victim is yet again shifting the responsibility from the perpetrator, where it belongs, to the victim, where it doesn’t. This is the most shameful hypocrisy society urgently needs to address, but how much easier to demand the banning of clothing and music videos.
We don’t get raped because we wiggle our hips, no matter what our age. We get raped because rapists rape us. How about society tells rapists not to do that, and leaves us to dress ourselves and our daughters however we wish, without having to fear for our safety?
This week it was announced that Transfield Services (rebranded as Broadspectrum) have had their contract to manage asylum seekers offshore detention centres (gulags) renewed for a second time – for four months. This is not surprising given the more than cosy relationship between Broadspectrum’s lobbyists and the Australian Government – in particular, the Liberal Party. This cosy relationship is more than just ‘mateship’ but is evident in dollar terms – thousands of dollars. More below…
Premier State Consulting, the lobbying company that acts on behalf of Transfield Services, is headed by former Liberal NSW state MP and vice-president of the NSW Liberal Party, Michael Photios.
In the 1990s Photios served as Minister for Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs and Minister Assisting the Justice Minister in the NSW Liberal Government.
In 1992 Photios helped bring down Nick Greiner and install John Fahey as leader of the Liberal Party in NSW. Since then he has made and/or broken another four Liberal leaders.
Later, in opposition, Photios served as shadow Minister for Transport and Minister for Tourism.
David Begg, another director and part-owner of Premier State Consulting, served on the NSW Liberal state executive from 1996 to 2001 and 2008 to 2011.
Premier State Consulting declared $98,426 in donations to the Liberal and National parties for 2012-13, election funding records reveal.
Nick Campbell, another Premier State Consulting director, is a former NSW Liberal president.
Photios, Campbell and Begg are also directors of another lobbying firm that handles Transfield’s affairs – namely Capital Hill Advisory.
In 2013 the federal government’s new Commission of Audit was headed by Tony Shepherd, the head of the Business Council of Australia and who was also the chair of Transfield Services. The Commission of Audit, also known as the ‘Razor Gang’,decimated many of Australia’s NGOs in a so-called cost-saving program.
Rupert Colville, spokesperson for UN High Commission, decries treatment of Abyan
On Wednesday the woman called Abyan (not her real name) was returned to Australia to receive medical treatment. She was returned entirely because of widespread public outrage that she had been flown out of Australia back to Nauru, back to where she had been raped. Demonstrations demanding she be returned to Australia to continue her medical treatment, which had been abruptly ended by the Immigration minister, Peter Dutton, took place in every state in Australia. Most newspapers – in particular the Guardian and The Age – were scathing in their condemnation of how this Somalian refugee had been treated. The Guardian’s article on Abyan, published before her return to Australia, was the most moving of the accounts. The UN also made its dismay known in a dramatic intervention – see below and full statement in the Appendix – that, together with the rising anger of Australians, could have been the tipping point that saw the Australian Government adopt an uncharacteristic u-turn. But this victory for Abyan and justice is only the beginning. Decisive action must now be taken to ensure Abyan is not returned again to Nauru. Time must not be wasted: not one day or hour or minute. Meanwhile, Amnesty International has published a damning reportconfirming that the Australian Government paid people smugglers to hijack and turn back two – not one – boats laden with asylum-seekers and in doing so contravened several international laws. Thus the moral vacuity of the Australian Government is laid bare…
(Breaking… 1. PNG Supreme Court flags that the Manus sland offshore detention centre isunconstitutional, that the Australian-PNG Memorandum of Understanding is invalid and that the detention of asylum-seekers is unlawful and contrary to their rights. 2. A report by the Guardian shows that the use of force in onshore immigration detention centres has seen almost 3000 incidents over two years. 3. It has been revealed that just like ‘Third World’ dictatorships, the Australian Government threatened NGOs on offshore detention centres with million dollars bankruptcy if they refused to agree to a gagging order.)
First, the statement by Rupert Colville, Spokesperson for the UN High Commission for Human Rights: “We call upon Australia and Nauru to urgently provide a decent option for ‘Abyan,’ to obtain adequate mental and physical care and to terminate her pregnancy if she desires”… [Full statement in Appendix, below].
Probably the most likely way in which Abyan can be given her freedom is via a court order. Such a court order was sought when Abyan was last in Australia, some two weeks back, but that never happened, as the Australian Government secretly flew Abyan out of the country, back to Nauru, on a specially charted RAAF plane, where a few days later she wastormented by a Government PR agent – Chris Kenny – who pretends to be a journalist. By flying Abyan out in this way, the Australian Government effectively told the legal system in Australia to fuck off.
Now that legal system has an opportunity to be redeemed. This weekend – and as long as Abyan’s fate remains in question – people across Australia will demonstrate their support for her. This is the perfect time for an NGO or a legal team to step up and instigate fresh action on her behalf in the courts. An injunction to allow Abyan to stay in Australia indefinitely should be sought. The most tenable basis for seeking a ruling in Abyan’s favour would be to argue that should she be returned to Nauru, her safety could not be guaranteed (her rapist is still at large) and, indeed, her life would be in danger. This is a sound legal argument that, when accompanied by all the necessay evidence, is likely to succeed.
There are other possibilities that should be explored too: for example, New Zealand may step up to the mark and offer Abyan a visa. Nor is it without merit that a European country could extend to her a welcome.
It was Ben Doherty’s article in the Guardian that perhaps summed up all that can be said about Abyan: “Abyan’s situation has become emblematic of Australia’s serious questioningof a policy of sending asylum seekers to its tiny, impoverished client state in the middle of the Pacific. She has become the symbol of the calculated cruelty, of the contradictions and of the unsustainability of Australia’s $3bn offshore detention regime.”
Doherty’s adds: “Critics of the policies – a noisy, sizeable, and growing minority – argue offshore processing ignores the human cost of a detention regime designed to be brutal in order to deter others. Successive parliamentary inquiries and the government’s own investigations have found allegations of systemic sexual abuse of women and children, violence against men and boys, inadequate medical care and neglect on Nauru. Instances of attempted suicide and self-harm are common. Caseworkers report children constantlybanging their heads against walls in frustration. Dozens of people have sewn their lips together. Rape victims refuse food for days and weeks.”
A victory for Abyan would be a small but significant one, though, ultimately, no decent Australian should rest until the entire asylum-seekers offshore processing program is ended and all those illegally detained are given their freedom.
Meanwhile there is evidence that Immigration Minister Peter Dutton lied in his account of what happened to Abyan. Guardian Australia revealed that International Health and Medical Services (IHMS) staff made the first request for Abyan’s urgent transfer to Australia on 16 September via a “request for medical movement” form, with two follow-up requests on 29 September and 6 October. On 8 October Abyan was found unconscious and was admitted to hospital in Nauru. On 9 October minister Dutton said: “There’s not been a case where the doctors have said to me that this person needs to come to Australia for medical assistance and we haven’t provided that support.” Abyan was found ‘not fit to fly out# of the island-state until 11 October. These were all unnecesary delays that only added to Abyan’s anguish.
Dutton’s lies are laid bare: he should either be sacked or he should resign.
Appendix: statement by the Office of the UN Commission for Human Rights
Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville Location: Geneva Date: 27 October 2015 Subject: Nauru / Australia
We call upon Australia and Nauru to urgently provide a decent option for ‘Abyan,’ (the pseudonym of a Somali refugee) to obtain adequate mental and physical care and to terminate her pregnancy if she desires. Abyan was allegedly raped in Nauru in July, and is now 15 weeks pregnant as a result. She was returned 11 days ago from Australia to Nauru, without a termination having taken place.
OHCHR has been in direct contact with her. Abyan is in a very fragile mental and physical condition and is deeply traumatised by her experiences since the day of the alleged rape. She has refused to give information to the Nauru police about her attacker because she is understandably afraid of reprisals. She does not feel safe, given that her alleged attacker lives on Nauru, which is a very small island State with a population of around 10,000. OHCHR is concerned about reports that the Nauru police have failed to take action against alleged perpetrators of violence against women, particularly when the victims have been asylum seekers and refugees.
We are aware of a growing number of sexual assault and rape allegations since Australia restarted its policy of transferring asylum seekers to Nauru for processing in 2012. For instance, one Iranian asylum seeker was allegedly sexually assaulted last May. She was subsequently evacuated to Australia where she is still receiving medical treatment for both mental and physical consequences of the ordeal. Her brother and mother, however, have been left behind on Nauru and do not know when they will be able to reunite with her. Another Somali refugee has claimed that she was raped in August. The police report, which included the name of the alleged victim and details about the rape allegation, was inappropriately given to the media. No one has been arrested in any of these cases.
OHCHR is very disturbed by this trend, since impunity for such serious crimes increases the risk they will be repeated. It is a matter of particular concern that asylum-seeker and refugee women who have allegedly been raped or sexually assaulted are left in unsafe conditions, given their own vulnerable status and the close proximity of their attackers, and tend to be stigmatized by the population and by members of the Nauru police force. Women are also less likely to speak out if they fear reprisals and see little-to-no chance of justice being done.
According to Newspoll, there are 4.2 million Australians who want Turnbull as Prime Minister and will nonetheless vote for Shorten.
Do you know any of these people? You should know at least fifteen.
Do you know even one?
If you don’t, and it’s likely you don’t, what then do these figures mean? Are they real? Or are they fabricated?
After Abbott’s weird speech in London (send back to their beheaders and crucifiers and sex-slavers those young girls fleeing in leaky boats their oppressors in Africa and Syria, believe me, it’s the only way, any hint of mercy is catastrophe) and Amnesty’s charge that Dutton is a people smuggler, it is likely, I think, not certain, that the Turnbull Surge has abated, and the figures above are brazen malicious nonsense, and there will be swings in the by-elections today in Victoria, and in North Sydney on December 2nd, to Labor and Arthur Chesterfield-Evans respectively.
The swing in Victoria will be 6 or 7 percent, in North Sydney 9 or 10 percent.
I say this in part because of the swing to Labor of 9 percent, first party preferred, in Canning in the first, joyous week of the Turnbull Risorgimento.
Labor launches inquiry into mega-branch-stacking scam Date October 30, 2015
Ben Schneiders and Royce Millar
The scam has been linked to factional leaders close to Bill Shorten and Stephen Conroy.
The scam has been linked to factional leaders close to Bill Shorten and Stephen Conroy. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen EXCLUSIVE
Labor has suspended its internal elections and will launch an investigation into one of the biggest-ever branch-stacking scams to hit the Victorian Labor Party.
The move by Labor’s powerful administrative committee on Thursday night comes after Fairfax Media revealed the massive rorting earlier this month.
On October 11, Fairfax Media reported that anonymous gift cards were used to pay the dues of hundreds of ALP members at the core of Bill Shorten’s Labor Right powerbase.
The scam has been run for years and is linked closely to the plumbers’ union and suburban factional warlords close to Mr Shorten and federal frontbencher Stephen Conroy.
Labor’s administrative committee suspended elections for Labor state conference, its country executive, women’s network and Rainbow Labor until February next year. The party appointed Labor Right figure Garth Head and the Left’s Liz Beattie to investigate the use of the pre-paid gift cards.
But their appointment ran into opposition from some at the meeting amid concern that the two dominant factions would try to sweep the issue of branch stacking under the carpet.
Also making an appearance at the meeting was factional warlord and Turkish numbers man Hakki Suleyman, who was a proxy for his daughter Natalie, a state MP.
The meeting endorsed a motion that noted “potential irregularities” in payments of memberships through the use of pre-paid debit, credit and gift cards and credit cards.
“The ALP must act to ensure that all party members can be confident in the acceptance of members, their renewal and a shared understanding around payments and eligibility,” it noted.
The internal investigation has been asked to report back by next month. It is understood as many as 500 memberships involved “irregular” payments.
Branch stacking involves factional players signing up members, or renewing memberships, in bulk. Cash for payment of membership dues often comes from unions or union slush funds.
For factional warlords, the “stacks” represent numbers and power within Labor – numbers to be traded in factional and sub-factional deals and wielded in important policy and preselection battles.
The Visa gift cards used by the branch stackers are, in effect, disposable debit cards that do not show who the cardholder is or who paid for them. Money can be placed on the cards but the cards expire once the money is used.
Each card has an individual number, similar to a debit or credit card, and an expiry date. The lack of ability to trace who paid for them makes them ideal for branch-stacking.
The royal commission into union corruption recently asked Victorian Labor for its membership list, after the Fairfax Media report, but backed down after Labor called the move “McCarthyist”.
Documents indicate the gift cards were used to buy hundreds of memberships in the last two weeks of May 2013, the period in which “multiple” party memberships are habitually renewed before the 30 May renewal deadline.
Many of the members involved appear to be of Lebanese background and linked to northern suburbs factional powerbroker David Asmar.
His wife, Diana, is the Victorian secretary of the Health Services Union No.1 branch.
Another group involved appears to centre on the family of former plumbers union official, Tony Murphy, who for many years was a Labor powerbroker in Melbourne’s north.
Under Victorian Labor’s byzantine factional arrangements the plumbers, and associated party members, make up a right-wing sub-faction loyal to Shorten.
While the HSU is not currently affiliated to the ALP – it disaffiliated in 2011 amid the scandals surrounding former leaders Craig Thomson and Michael Williamson – it is an important factional resource.
They are the home-grown threat that we’re all worried about. For decades, they have hated our freedoms. Where they could, they trod on them with impunity.
They refuse to assimilate or respect our way of life. Instead, they seek to subject us to their radical agenda.
It’s only a tiny minority. But it’s a minority we can’t afford to ignore.
The rich, I mean. Obviously. Did someone else come to mind?
This small but shady group is troubled by our cultural norms, like the weekend. We recognise it as a time of rest, but various business groups have begun to reduce pay for weekend work. Many thousands of café and restaurant workers have already had their Sunday rate reduced.
Picking on a vulnerable section of the population is a common tactic to sow fear within the community. A further 4.6 million workers could be targeted.
According to one of the group’s leading ideologues, BusinessDay editor Michael Pascoe, Sunday “is not so special”. The prime minister agrees. He is one of them – a devoutly wealthy man who has described weekend penalty rates as “nuts”.
Why does a minority in our society refuse to accept our way of life?
Other traditions are being renounced by extremist groups like the Business Council of Australia. Age-old customs have us show respect to the elderly, allow them to stop work and receive a pension in their later years. This custom already has been seriously undermined.
The Committee for Economic Development Australia reports that poverty among older Australians is triple the OECD average. But businesspeople believe that those who no longer work are heretics. Their sacred texts demand: “not until you’re 70”. The threat of reduced pensions has now been raised to “high”.
In fact, big business adheres to financial orthodoxy so fanatically that a virtue is made of all profit. Energy company Adani received blessing to set up the largest coal mine in Australia. Toxic waste will be dumped into the Great Barrier Reef, but these concerns are deflected with a soothing psalm: “Coal is good for humanity”.
Federal resources minister Josh Frydenberg, who was radicalised long ago, says that there’s a “strong moral case” for new coal exports.
Something must be done about this nefarious fifth column.
Pushing so hard against the will of the majority, they find it hard to accept our democratic rights and freedoms. To ensure devotion to their cause, operations to monitor the population have begun, including mandatory metadata retention of practically all communication.
Government agencies may access your data without a warrant, using the pretext even of a parking or littering offence. Mike Baird, a leading propagandist, previously made chilling threats to those seeking to avoid scrutiny. “We will hunt you down”, said the NSW premier. “You may well be listened to as we speak.”
The fringe billionaires are sponging off government handouts and giving nothing back. They simply refuse to adhere to the rules of our society.
Turnbull consistently uses a public platform to stir up support for this agenda. The Liberal Party leader recently moved legislation to exempt businesses with incomes of A$100 million or more from publishing their tax records. This is despite the fact that the Australian Tax Office reported last year that 22 percent of such companies paid no tax at all.
And news has surfaced of Turnbull’s immense fortune stashed away in the Cayman Islands. Should money found to have visited known tax-havens really be allowed to re-enter the country?
A conspiracy of secrecy shrouds high society. When will the millionaires speak out against the tax evasion rife in their community? Will big business expose the criminal elements in their midst? What are they hiding?
With such a powerful radical network openly wielding power in our society, it’s no wonder people are angry.
But the rich and their ideologues deflect the blame. They attribute all wrongdoing to someone else. Open the papers and you’ll see who. In psychology, it’s called “projection”. In politics, it’s called “governance”.
Deadly violence has now escalated into a Third Intifada over Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories in Jerusalem. Israel claims Jerusalem as theirs because Jews were its first inhabitants. Too bad it’s made up, says historian Juan Cole.
Netanyahu: “Jerusalem has always been the capital of the Jewish people, and no other”. Published 19 May, 2015.
Petty Canaanite kings continued to dominate the region after Egyptian control lapsed. Some of them over time gradually adopted practices later associated with Judaism, but many other streams of Canaanite belief remained. Probably there were petty tribal chieftains named David and Solomon after 1000 BC, but Jerusalem appears not to have been populated 1000 to 900 BC and so they didn’t have a palace there.
Whatever the character of the various Canaanite tribal confederations in Palestine, including the proto-Israeli, in 900-770 BC, in the latter year the region fell to the Assyrians.
In 597 BC, the Babylonians conquered Palestine and later transported at least some of its population to Babylon. Likely it was there that the Jewish religion became fully elaborated.
In 539 BC, Babylon falls to the Iranian Achaemenid Empire, which emancipates the Jews. The Achaemenids rule most of the civilized world, from Egypt to what is now Pakistan. Palestine is ruled by Iran for nearly 200 years, until 330, when Alexander defeats the Achaemenids.
The Greek Ptolemaic dynasty held sway over Palestine until 198 BC, when the Seleucids conquered it.
PM Netanyahu’s Remarks to the Jerusalem Post Annual Conference
Netanyahu: “Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years”. Published 31 May 2015.
In 168 the Maccabean Revolt established a small Jewish state in the area. Aside from the Israeli clans of the pre-Assyrian period, this was the only premodern Jewish state to have Jerusalem as a capital. Even so, they were vassals from 40 BC to the Iranian Parthian empire. Herod became a vassal of the Romans in Palestine in 6 of the Common Era (AD).
Jerusalem was Roman/ Byzantine until 614 CE, when the Iranian Sasanid Empire again conquered it.
In 629 the Byzantines took it back.
The Muslims conquered Jerusalem in 638 and ruled it until 1099, when the Crusaders conquered it it. The Crusaders killed or expelled Jews and Muslims from the city.
The Muslims under Saladin took it back in 1187 CE and allowed Jews to return.
So I think probably Jerusalem was the capital of, like, the Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem. for several decades.
Muslims then ruled it until the end of World War I, or altogether over a millennium.
So Iran ruled Jerusalem altogether for some 250 years, and the Crusaders for about 200 years, and it was the capital of lots of peoples, including Canaanite kingdoms and the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. It was also often a provincial capital under Muslim empires.
In the Sykes-Picot agreement between France and Britain during WW I, which shaped the Middle East, Jerusalem was awarded to Russia.
Lenin was outraged when he found the agreement in the Romanov palace after the 1917 October Revolution, and he had it published. He withdrew Russia from the war and forewent the prize of Jerusalem.
The city was awarded the British by the Versailles Peace Conference, as part of the British Mandate of Palestine.
In the 1947 UN General Assembly (GA) partition plan for Palestine, Jerusalem was designated a “Separate Body” to be administered internationally. It was not awarded to Israel by the UN. Although propagandists for Israel are always going on about how they accepted the UN partition plan, they did not, of course. They conquered a lot of territory that the GA did not award them, including West Jerusalem.
It was Jewish settlers in British Mandate Palestine who used violence to grab part of the city, disregarding international law and agreements. The city was mostly populated by Palestinians in any case, what with being a Palestinian city and all.
In 1967, the Israeli army took East Jerusalem, and ever since has squeezed the Palestinian population, driven them into poverty, usurped their property, and surrounded them by squatter settlements. There is no warrant in any part of any international agreement or law for the Israelis to behave this way toward the people who inhabited Jerusalem for over a millennium (and who are in any case almost certainly descendents of Palestinian Jews who converted to Islam). Violence is still a big part of the way Israel rules East Jerusalem, so Netanyahu warning of Muslim violence is rich.
Muslims consider Jerusalem the third holiest city of Islam. Despite Westerners constantly telling them they have no right to do that, they seem pretty attached to the doctrine. There are 1.5 billion of them, and their nerves are raw after centuries of Western colonialism during which they were told their religion was useless and backward.
The occupation of Jerusalem was given by al-Qaeda as one reason for its attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. The insistence of Jewish extremists on angering the Muslim world by invading the Aqsa mosque from time to time, and threatening to demolish it, is like those old Warner Bros. cartoons where the foolish little boy keeps teasing a tiger in its cage
This article was first published on Informed Comment on 18 May 2015. You can read the original here. Juan Cole is professor of modern Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. You can follow Juan Cole on Twitter @jricole.
It might well be that Tony Abbott’s last, or latest, ‘Duke of Edinburgh Moment’ was his Guildhall Thatcher speech on Monday. In a Europe beset by images of a million desperate, grieving, storm-tossed refugees, he said they should have been sent back to countries where they would have been bombed to bits, or beheaded, or crucified, or forcibly married to monsters, sent back at gunpoint to such places; trust me, it’s the only way.
By doing this he not only showed he was an idiot, but he brought to mind those images — of mothers and children on beaches and railway stations, and trudging the superhighways of Hungary, trying to make some sense of their miserable fate in a hostile world.
And by saying it he gave emphasis to our persecuted refugees, and the ill-treatment by our navy of innocents they kidnapped on their way to New Zealand, and paid people smugglers to deliver, illegally, to Indonesia, or so Amnesty alleges. And to Adyan, pregnant, maddened and messed about by Dutton who for ten weeks has refused her an abortion though her pregnancy was caused by rape. These images from Europe emphasise these recent matters. And Abbott’s fool speech emphasised the faces of the hungry, needy children and women and young men on the high roads of Europe, looking for a life.
And now…well, now it seems the refugee genie is out of the bottle; and we hear today of kids on TPVs wanting to go to university and being denied HECS; of adults on TPVs being forbidden paid work though they may be here for twenty more years; of the enslavement of foreign students at work in the 7/11s and chicken factories.
And so it is, and so has lately begun, all of a sudden, The Year of the Refugee; and Abbott’s proudest boast, that he stopped them coming here, looks more and more crazed and malign in the present context, this heroic, awful year of fleeing tribes and life-shattered, struggling multitudes.
It shows us how evil his administration was.
Can Turnbull keep Dutton any longer? Of course he can’t; but his party’s Right (anti-abortion, pro-torture) will force him to. And he will look weaker and weaker and more and more in the thrall of stupid, sadistic, merciless incompetents.
Four events this week have done damage to Malcolm Turnbull, undermined his authority and made him look, at the very least, unleaderly.
One was Abbott advocating terrorism in Guildhall, for which Malcolm did not reprove him.
Abbott said refugees should be forced back at gunpoint into countries where they might be executed. Though this can be seen to be a breach of Australian law and to attract a sentence of twenty-five years, the Prime Minister, a trained lawyer, merely gave a rueful smile and sadly allowed that Abbott, a mere backbencher, could now say what he liked.
He seemed weak in this, his response to the man he overthrew, now a terrorism advocate, unrepentant, unpunished and gone rogue.
Another event was the Amnesty International finding that a boat on the way to New Zealand was not in distress when Australian military personnel boarded it, kidnapped the people on it, treated them badly in airless cabins, denying one woman her asthma puffer, and paid people smugglers to dump them on a reef off Indonesia, which did not want to take them in.
This means the responsible Minister, Peter Dutton, was himself a people smuggler and in breach of international law, and liable under current Australian law to eight or fifteen years in gaol.
A third event involved Peter Dutton also. It turned out he had refused an abortion to a raped woman and sent her back to a very small country where her rapist, unpunished, could get at her again, and was now, on second thoughts, letting her back into Australia for a termination in her sixteenth or seventeenth week, a sizeable trauma that might endanger her mental health, before sending her back into her rapist’s vicinity again.
Another was a Minister, Fiona Nash, saying on Q&A that farmers should be able to refuse coal seam gas mining companies access to their land. This was after a farmer, George Bender, had suicided after fighting, vainly, the mining moguls for seven years. Malcolm did not fire her, nor make any comment on what she said.
On top of this, he will soon be facing allegations that his Treasurer, Scott Morrison, when Minister for Immigration, assisted the escape of one at least of the murderers of Reza Barati, and furthermore failed to seek punishment for the deeds of twenty other violent men who with bullets, knives, pipes and rocks injured sixty other young men on Manus Island, after having himself provoked them face to face with the cruel, implacable news that they would ‘never, never’ live in Australia, even those who have relatives here.
This will be on top of his neglect of children raped on his watch which makes him, as their sometime legal guardian, guilty of child abuse himself.
Will Malcolm sack him, or stand him down, when these investigations begin? Of course he won’t.
Has he shown himself in these matters to be a weakling? Or, worse, a collaborator in major crime? It certainly looks like both possibilities are now in play.
It is likely, though not certain, that our new Prime Minister’s popularity has peaked, and one or other of the above events will become his latterday ‘Godwin Grech Moment’, and his inevitable plummeting begin.
When Crabb breaks bread with the Morrisons and Macklins of the world she helps further marginalise the people being punished by their policies, writes Amy McQuire.
ABC journalist Annabel Crabb last night began her sickeningly sweet profile of former Immigration Minister and current Treasurer Scott Morrison like this: “People describe Scott Morrison as ambitious, hard-line, even arrogant. But I’ve also heard compassionate, devout and a rabid Tina Arena fan. Clearly the man requires some further investigation.”
Well, yes, he does require further investigation, but probably not on his infatuation with outdated popstars (no offence to Tina, of course).
Crabb has been hosting her cooking show Kitchen Cabinet for five seasons now, and no one has pulled her up on the fact it’s about as nutrient rich as the majority of her desserts. She fluffs her way through interviewing some of the most powerful people in Australia by coating their numerous acts of structural violence with sugar frosting, and expecting us to become so dizzy on sugar highs that we can’t process their numerous failures.
It’s akin to spending a life gorging on sweets and then finding out later you have diabetes. This insidious spread of propaganda, soft interviews with hard-line politicians who wield enormous power over the lives of the most vulnerable, is sold as a fun, light-hearted look into the lives of the people we elect. But this taxpayer-funded sycophantic date with power will end up making us all sick. It completely dumbs down debate and again re-ingrains the perception that politicians are just like us, while the people their policies hurt, aren’t. They are the others who don’t dine with famous journalists on television.
Morrison is only the most recent example of this sycophancy, and Crabb’s episode last night with the former Immigration Minister rightly raised the temperature of many.
It began with Crabb greeting Morrison at the door of his holiday home with roses.
“This is amazing; this is the first time I’ve been greeted with flowers, sort of like the Cabinet Bachelor or something!” Annabel exclaimed as both exchanged a series of Cheshire Cat grins at each other.
Crabb seemed to think we actually cared about why Morrison began cooking as he made his ‘scomosas’ and Sri Lankan curry, because apparently he had fallen in love with ‘Indian and Sri Lankan food’ while on a trip to the country as shadow minister. Obviously, he had not fallen similarly in love with the people, enough to show any semblance of compassion to those who still remain under persecution.
Crabb smiled intently, her eyes glistening, as Morrison told her since he became Social Services Minister and later Treasurer, he has a lot more free time. This is evidently because selling internationally condemned human rights abuses that have left deep scars of trauma on so many lives used to take up a lot of his free time. Now he can spend more of it with his family, while the victims of his policies wallow in detention centres in Nauru and Manus Island, living a life far removed from his own.
“I had quite a significant trip with Julie Bishop and Michael Keenan while we were in opposition… we were over there obviously working with the then Sri Lankan government in how we would be pursuing our policies with them… it was a really important trip, and we went and had this meal at this fairly dodgy restaurant… and it sort of said to me, wherever you went in Sri Lanka the food was fantastic,” Morrison says.
That trip was undertaken in 2013. Morrison used a press conference when he returned to justify his party’s hard-line policy to ‘stop the boats’, which would later help them win an election. He was adamant Sri Lankan boats wouldn’t cross Australian borders.
“They won’t cross our borders, they’ll be intercepted outside of our sea border and we’ll be arranging for their return to Sri Lanka.”
This came at a time when Triggs told the media up to 128 children had self-harmed at Christmas Island over a 15-month period. Crabb didn’t ask about this. Instead she let it slide, because Morrison sure can cook a mean Sri Lankan curry! He even makes his own chapatis!
“What! You’re making your own chapatis?!! What a renaissance man you are!” Crabb exclaims.
A renaissance man with a talent for locking up traumatised children.
Crabb wasn’t interested in that of course, because this show is about humanising Morrison, while the thousands of vulnerable asylum seekers who have been incarcerated for seeking refuge remain faceless and nameless, tucked behind bars thousands of kilometres so they become ‘others’, less than people.
Crabb asks Morrison about his demeanour while delivering ‘militaristic and impassive’ press conferences as Immigration Minister. She says “I’m interested because I can’t be the only person who watched you on the telly and thought, I wonder what it feels like to be that person?”
“You’re a human being like anyone else,” Morrison says. “The same things impact me that impacts anyone else.”
The only problem is – he isn’t. He is a man with a great deal of power who can perpetrate acts of structural violence that irrevocably change the lives of our most vulnerable with largely no sanction or accountability.
Crabb’s questioning, her curiosity about how Morrison must be feeling as he rolls out sociopathic border patrol policies and slanders people like Triggs shows that, as a journalist, her allegiances lie with propping up power rather than speaking truth to it.
I’m just wondering if she would ever think to ask that of an asylum seeker stuck in Nauru? Would she ask “I’m interested, because I’m not the only person who wonders, what it feels like to be that person?” Has she ever thought to ask that of those who are crying out for help, who are the victims of Morrison and his cronies? Would she cook a cake for them?
I’ve never liked the format of Kitchen Cabinet, but my disgust was heightened when in 2013, Crabb interviewed then Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin, who coincidently also made a curry.
Macklin was a minister who continued the greatest human rights abuse in Indigenous affairs in modern history – the NT intervention, a policy which led to a quadrupling in self-harm and suicide rates, and a severe feeling of disempowerment. At the same time she tried to sell her government as one that wanted to ‘reset the relationship’ with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. During the Rudd and Gillard governments – the time Macklin served as minister – the gap in life expectancy widened, the employment gap widened, Aboriginal children were removed at exponential rates, and Australia continued to jail more black men, women, and children.
Of course, none of that mattered to Crabb, who was more excited about the contents of Macklin’s spice drawer. Macklin never gave interviews to Aboriginal media, who would question her on her complete failure and the devastating consequences of her government’s policies. In fact, she would often only talk to sympathetic media, like The Australian. She once walked out in a huff from an interview with one of my closest friends – Kamilaroi journalist Chris Munro, who as the National Indigenous Television’s political correspondent used one of only two interviews he was ever able to secure with her to grill her on why she wouldn’t deliver reparations to members of the Stolen Generations. He never received another interview.
Maybe he should have cooked up a dessert, but Munners, from my knowledge, isn’t a very good chef.
When Macklin left the Indigenous Affairs portfolio, The Australian’s Patricia Karvelas delivered a glowing but completely irrational portrait of her tenure, claiming she had brought along the left to completely ‘transform Indigenous affairs’. It was completely ridiculous, but was a style of reporting that is well and alive in Australia – and it’s in the same camp as Kitchen Cabinet. There is nothing new about this. They’re just different styles of propaganda.
Crabb has her own type of power. She is very well-paid as one of the ABC’s ‘top’ political analysists and is complicit in framing the very limited discourse we have around issues affecting our most vulnerable. Giving Morrison a platform to sell himself does nothing in uncovering the dark, damp underbelly of Parliament House, the places where cake quickly turns mouldy.
In interviews leading up to last night’s Kitchen Cabinet, Crabb seems to have anticipated a bit of backlash. Questioned by the Sydney Morning Herald about how some journalists may think her show comes across as soft, she said: “My view is that when you sit down with someone in a peaceful way, or when you go to someone’s house… you get something different… For my money, I think it adds something and gives a more rounded sense of who this person is.”
Crabb seems to have a fascination with ensuring we realise that politicians are people too. She wants to humanise them because she feels they have somehow been unfairly maligned. She told the Herald Sun: “In my experience, they’re far better motivated and nicer people than is widely believed.”
But Crabb fundamentally misses the point of journalism. It’s not about humanising those in power, it’s about humanising those who are let down by those in power. But perhaps it is symptomatic of a wider problem, the fact that our most famous journalists, with the greatest platforms, now have more in common with those they are supposed to challenge, rather than those who are being let down by a corrosive political system.
Crabb claims that this was never the intention of the programme, that it is supposed to be soft, but the fact is in a space that is so crowded with soft, unquestioning journalists who are a complete disservice to the public, this high profile format provides only more of the same. We trust those we think we know, and we unconsciously prejudice their opinions above those who are unfamiliar. Crabb is helping Australia wash down the lies of our nation’s politicians.
This is certainly the case in Indigenous affairs, where solutions that are more palatable to white journalists are privileged over the solutions put forward by Aboriginal people themselves. The black voices of those who tell white people what they want to hear are accepted by non-Indigenous journalists because it mirrors their own experiences. That’s why white politicians can get away with so many lies, and spread their neoliberal agenda insidiously through Aboriginal policy – because white journalists are blinkered and, for the most part, don’t realise they are. They are more more likely to trust those who are like them – and sadly those people are likely to be a white politician than a blackfella dealing with multiple forms of complex trauma trying to heal his or her community.
The same can be said for Crabb and her ridiculous, sickening show. You can spice it up as much as you like, but the ingredients used to cook up Kitchen Cabinet are the same used in the majority of political journalism today. And until we start to realise that this is still largely propaganda, it will keep us, and our standard of political debate, dangerously unhealthy.
I’m a vampire, baby, suckin’ blood from the earth. Well, I’m a vampire, babe, sell you twenty barrels worth.
— Neil Young
Oil is crashing, and gas prices at the pump keep sliding lower and lower. As of October 2015, a barrel of Brent crude (the global standard) is selling for less than $50, that’s nearly half of what a barrel cost last year at this time. What does all of this mean? You wouldn’t likely think that a significant drop in oil prices could actually be a good thing for the environment and a bad thing for Big Oil and dirty frackers, yet it may well be.
It’s long been presumed that expensive oil makes alternative fuels much more viable. As this line of reasoning goes, cheaper oil will ensure that more of it will be pumped out of the ground and consumed. Gas guzzlers will replace smaller, more efficient vehicles, and more people will fly because plane fares will reflect lower fuel prices. Seems logical enough. That’s if, of course, you aren’t looking at Big Oil’s profit margins. Since 2008, oil production in the United States has increased 80%—from 5 million barrels a day to over 9 million and the oil barons would very much like to keep it that way. Most of this increase comes as a result of North Dakota’s nearly overnight oil fracking frenzy. But now prices are freefalling, and profits aren’t what they used to be. The real question is: how long will these circumstances last? One thing is for sure, the longer the prices decline, the more impact they will have on the entire industry.
Let’s start with the fracking boom (oil, not natural gas) in North Dakota’s once lucrative Bakken region. In May 2012, North Dakota leap-frogged Alaska to became the No. 2 oil-producing state in the country, trailing only Texas. More than $2 billion a month is spent in the state to frack oil out of the Bakken Shale Formation. As of June 2014, North Dakota was producing 1 million barrels of oil per day. This, while oil prices were well over $100 a barrel. To put it bluntly, it’s been a mad rush to frack every last bit of North Dakota’s oil. The environment be damned, it’s all about the money. But here’s the caveat and it’s a big one: at below $80 a barrel, nearly all of the major fracking operators in the Bakken start losing cash. The longer oil sits at around $50 a barrel, where it’s at today, the less oil will be fracked out of the frigid North Dakota tundra.
Investment bank Evercore Partners recently noted if this downward trend continues, companies in Asia, Europe and North America will be forced to dramatically cut capital spending. Evercore estimates that exploration and production in North America could be cut by as much as 25-30 percent and globally by 10-15 percent this year alone. If true, this means a serious recession will smack the oil producers in the very near future. If investments are indeed scaled back, it will mean that hard to reach oil reserves, those that cost a lot of money to access, will most likely remain in the ground. The signs are already showing up. ExxonMobile, Royal Dutch Shell and other major extraction outfits have recently announced lay offs and cuts in investment spending. In a nutshell, lower oil prices mean less oil production in the U.S.— not the other way around.
What’s the cause of this drop in prices? Some are taking conspiratorial jabs at the OPEC “cartel”, while others are laying blame at the feet of Vladimir Putin, but in reality the reason is much more benign: oil prices are simply reacting to the market and dropping to the average cost of global production, largely because oil prices have been overly inflated for the past two decades. Global commodity futures, not just oil, dropped throughout 2014, and strategic investors are now scaling back. In short, the world’s economy is slowing. This means, expensive oil-producing operations, like those in North Dakota, won’t remain profitable if the price of oil stays low.
For example, it costs far more to produce a barrel of oil from fracking in North Dakota (around $70-$80 per barrel) than it does to pump out a barrel of crude in Saudi Arabia ($4-$5 a barrel). The Saudis, one OPEC partner, certainly are not upset that prices are dipping even though they aren’t solely responsible (Venezuela, another member of OPEC, is taking a big hit as prices drop). The Saudis are now waiting for investors to turn their backs on expensive Arctic drilling in Russia, tar sands in Canada, and yes, oil fracking in the United States.
Oil frackers (and natural gas frackers too, we’ll get to that below) could now be at in the beginning stages of a collapse on the scale of what happened in 1986 when production slowed and oil prices hit a low of $9.85 a barrel. As a result, many high-cost oil wells in the U.S. became unprofitable and had to be shut down. That’s just the kind of news fracking’s foes would like to see happen across the country today.
There’s also another elephant in the room for the oil frackers: supplies are being depleted so fast that production is likely to flat-line and then dip in the years ahead, regardless of whether or not the price per barrel increases. Based on conservative estimates of shale oil reserves, the U.S. Energy Information Agency predicts that by 2020 U.S. oil production will plateau.
“I look at shale as more of a retirement party than a revolution,” Art Berman, a petroleum geologist who spent 20 years with Amoco, recently told Bloomberg. “It’s the [industry’s] last gasp.”
While others may challenge Berman’s assessment, there is no denying that dropping prices, coupled with expensive extraction methods, will eventually have a very real impact on Big Oil. It’s already happening. As of November 2014, permits to drill for oil and natural gas were down 40% from October.
Truth be told, the oil market is, and has always been, finicky, Yet renewables, like decentralized solar, are not. UN climate chief negotiator Christiana Figueres recently stated that “[oil price volatility] is exactly one of the main reasons why we must move to renewable energy which has a completely predictable cost of zero for fuel … We are seeing more and more the realization that investment in fossil fuel is actually a high risk, is getting more and more risky.”