Tuesday 23rd of April 2019

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by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2019-04-23 15:44

THE MUELLER REPORT is now (mostly) public. The lurid speculation from Democrats and chunks of the corporate media that President Donald Trump was somehow a Russian agent was false. But the report, and Mueller’s previous indictments, should persuade any reasonable person that the Russian government did indeed intervene in the 2016 election in support of Trump.

The response from the U.S. political system to Russia’s meddling has been uniformly appalling, although in different ways from different factions. The whole thing’s such a degrading catastrophe that it’s tempting to give up on politics and human beings generally. But since we’re stuck with both, let’s take a step back and consider some profound advice on this subject from George Washington.

Incredibly enough, Washington called this whole thing back in 1796 as he was leaving office as America’s first president. His Farewell Address, as it became known, was until the 20th century as celebrated as the Gettysburg Address is now. The Senate still reads it every year on Washington’s birthday.

America’s founding fathers, Washington included, had grievous flaws. But they were serious people, who genuinely risked death to rebel against the British Empire. Because their lives depended on thinking deeply about politics, they did so in a way that few U.S. politicians have since.

So we should pay attention to the fact that much of Washington’s Farewell Address is devoted to a specific warning: “Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government.”

These words may sound overwrought or anachronistic. But Washington wasn’t president of the current United States, the center of the largest empire in world history. In fact, Washington implied in his Farewell Address that the U.S. could be considered “small or weak” and faced rivals who were “great and powerful.” Moreover, he had direct experience with the efficacy of foreign interference: The American Revolution would never have succeeded without French troops and matériel, provided by Louis XVI in an effort to humiliate his hated British rivals. This support was so critical that French commanders and Washington jointly accepted the British surrender at Yorktown that ended the war. (Then, in perhaps history’s greatest example of blowback, regular French citizens were so impressed by the American Revolution that they staged one of their own and decapitated Louis. Whoops!)

Americans have almost totally forgotten the relevant subsequent history. But the 223 years since the Farewell Address have proven that Washington’s anxieties were justified. Foreign influence indeed has repeatedly and perniciously warped U.S. politics.

The Civil War would likely have ended in a Union victory years earlier if Great Britain hadn’t unofficially intervened on the side of the Confederacy: The South had a minuscule industrial base and needed the British to build their navy and manufacture their guns. After the war, the U.S. forced Great Britain to pay $15 million for damages caused by the ships it had built for the rebels.


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The XYZ Affair was a diplomatic incident between French and United States diplomats that resulted in a limited, undeclared war known as the Quasi-War. U.S. and French negotiators restored peace with the Convention of 1800, also known as the Treaty of Mortefontaine.

The XYZ Affair and the Quasi-War with France, 1798–1800

The XYZ Affair was a diplomatic incident between French and United States diplomats that resulted in a limited, undeclared war known as the Quasi-War. U.S. and French negotiators restored peace with the Convention of 1800, also known as the Treaty of Mortefontaine.


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by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2019-04-23 15:18

Frauenkirche Expert on Devastating Fire

'Notre Dame Reconstruction Will Take Years'

The damage to Notre Dame cathedral is massive: The roof was destroyed, a spire collapsed and the stone was exposed to immense heat. What will efforts to rebuild look like? We asked one of the engineers behind the reconstruction of Dresden's Frauenkirche church.


In Germany, architects, art historians, structural engineers and construction workers faced a similar challenge in the 1990s. They wanted to restore Dresden's Frauenkirche, which had been little more than a pile of rubble since its destruction. The magnificent Baroque church was gutted by fire during the air raids on Dresden in World War II and collapsed on the morning of Feb. 15, 1945.

What did the experts learn from the experience? And what do they believe the next steps will be for Notre Dame? We asked Manfred Curbach, a professor and engineer who served on the committee that rebuilt Dresden's iconic structure.

About Manfred Curbach

Manfred Curbach is a professor and the director of the Institute of Concrete Structures at the Faculty of Civil Engineering at TU Dresden university. He also served as a member of the building committee for the reconstruction of Dresden's Frauenkirche church. He has contributed significantly to the development of carbon concrete and is a member of numerous scientific committees.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Mr. Curbach, how do you rebuild a church like Notre Dame, which is more than 800 years old?

Manfred Curbach: That depends greatly on how severe the damage to the walls is. The Frauenkirche in Dresden was also destroyed by fire during World War II, with the church's interior burning for 26 hours. The natural stones from which the Frauenkirche and most of Notre Dame are built stand up well to fire. The problem lies in the heat generated by the fire.


Curbach: The high temperatures only slowly penetrate into the rock. So, it gets extremely hot on the outside but remains comparatively cool inside. That temperature difference creates tension in the stone: Parts can burst out or the whole stone can shatter. Entire pillars collapsed inside the Frauenkirche.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What about Notre Dame?

Curbach: We don't know that yet. The fire raged mainly in the vaulted roof. It's made of wood, but it is set on top of the walls. Some weak points in the vault have apparently already been discovered. The big question is how hot the stone became. If just a bit of material broke off, then it can be repaired quite easily. Individual stones can also be replaced if they are damaged. But first they have to examine how stable the structure now is in its entirety.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: You saw the photos. How great do you think the chances are that the fire destabilized the entire cathedral?

Curbach: Given that the fire department arrived on the scene quickly, the damage to the walls is certainly not as dramatic as it was in the Frauenkirche. It's likely that stability has been broadly preserved. The cathedral's buttresses, which help support the load born by the walls and the weight of the roof, seem to be undamaged. That's a good sign.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: How can the roof be rebuilt?

Curbach: It's important to have good plans. There's a 3D model of Notre Dame, which will make reconstruction considerably easier, because you know exactly how the beams were arranged before the fire. But it will nonetheless be a great challenge, because Gothic buildings are very delicate and have many fine elements. Notre Dame is a perfect example of this construction style, including the spire that collapsed in the fire.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: After the fire in Notre Dame, will wood once again be used to rebuild the roof framework?

Curbach: I would assume so. Most other materials would probably be too heavy. Gothic builders didn't calculate the stability of their buildings the way that we do today. But they had a lot of experience and knew which materials they could combine in what way to ensure stability. If the people in charge decide on an alternative material, it would at least need to have properties similar to wood.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: And the roof itself?

Curbach: It's difficult to say whether lead will be used here again. It will come down to whether monument conservationists prevail and insist that everything be restored absolutely true to the original, or whether deviations are acceptable. If modern materials are accepted, it would also be possible to install modern insulation with foils and mats.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: How long do you think the rebuilding process will take?

Curbach: In this instance, bureaucratic hurdles are at least comparatively small, given that the cathedral is of great importance to Paris and, so far, all agree that the damage should be repaired. But Notre Dame is also a huge building. When we rebuilt the Frauenkirche, it took almost as long as the construction of the original building, even though we had cranes and modern technology at our disposal. Of course, it took more than 100 years to build the Notre Dame: I don't think it will take that long. But there is a lot of logistics and planning involved in a project like this. The roof truss was a work of art. Reconstruction will take years, perhaps even more than a decade.


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is paris burning?



For decades, the communist regime of East Germany refused to rebuild the most historic and well-known landmark of Dresden -- the city's dominant Frauenkirche church. Its ruins remained untouched as a symbol against war and as a memorial for those who were killed.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the church was finally rebuilt. Together with other sights and monuments, it now dominates the skyline of Dresden once again.


(see image at top.)

Painting of Dresden below by Canaletto (photo by Gus Leonisky):







by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2019-04-23 14:44

Former Water Minister Barnaby Joyce spent $80 million buying back floodwater from a Cayman Islands company set up by Energy Minister Angus Taylor. The Twitter sleuths who first uncovered this controversy, Jommy Tee and Ronni Salt, report exclusively for IA.

Australia: July 2007

It was a winter’s day in July when an agent from Allan’s Off The Shelf – a firm specialising in setting up and registering companies – visited the Australian Security and Investment Commission (ASIC) offices and lodged a set of registration papers, paid the requisite fee, and established a new company. 

The company that was born that day was Eastern Australia Agriculture Pty Ltd(EAA) and its owners likely held lofty ambitions for its future success.


A lot of water under the bridge... then:


It would not be until 2015 that the fortunes of EAA and EAI changed, a time that coincides with Barnaby Joyce becoming the minister with responsibility for water. Joyce would ditch his long-held opposition to water buybacks and take-up an unsolicited offer from EAA — a deal that resulted in the Coalition Government paying $80 million to EAA. This deal that attracted much ire and controversy when it was concluded and made public in July 2017. 

Matthew Bickford-Smith and Peter Cottle were EAA’s signatories on the relevant contracts. Tony Reid was both an adviser to EAA and EAI during the buyback process and involved in discussions between with Department of Agriculture and Water Resources during the negotiation phase.

After a series of allegations are made about the water buyback deal on Twitter in mid-April 2019, a spokesperson for Angus Taylor announces to Buzzfeed on 17 April 2019:

Allegations currently online that link Minister Taylor with EAA’s sale of water entitlements are incorrect.

Minister Taylor has not had any direct or indirect financial interest in EAA or its parent company at any time. He has never been a shareholder or held an equitable interest in either company. He severed all advisory ties with EAA well before entering Parliament.​​​​​


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by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2019-04-23 13:40

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Russia investigation is finally out and here’s the bottom line: he found no conspiracy between the Kremlin and Donald Trump’s campaign to fix the 2016 presidential election.

That’s good news for the president and the country. But it may only be the beginning of a new dilemma for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

Even in redacted form, the Mueller report is chock full of information that portrays Trump and some members of his team in an unfavorable light. We knew from Attorney General William Barr’s summary that Mueller would not take a firm position on whether the president obstructed justice. But the special counsel laid it on much thicker than the Barr letter implied.

“Wrongdoing is more likely to involve the ways in which the president behaved, used his power, expressed himself, and dealt with underlings and with law enforcement in response to the investigation of Russia’s interference in our election and of his campaign’s involvement in any such interference,” Yuval Levin predicted. “We probably already know most of what the special counsel discovered about these things, but not all—and in any case having it all laid out in one place may mean it adds up in ways that will be striking.”


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by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2019-04-23 12:21

Mr Negative versus Ms Positive.


Shopfronts in Cremorne... All the usual from the Turdy camp...


Meanwhile Zali tells a positive story:

get rid of the fossils...

by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2019-04-23 09:42

A host of government MPs fighting to hold on to their seats have erased the Liberals’ name and logo from campaign material, sparking Labor claims that the party’s brand is “toxic”.

As the Coalition struggles to lift its standing among voters in the lead-up to next month’s poll, MPs across the country appear to be relying on their personal standing to counter any backlash against the Liberals’ brand.

Victorian MPs Jason Wood, Sarah Henderson, Michael Sukkar and Russell Broadbent are among the state’s MPs who have chosen to drop the party’s branding from campaign material, relying instead on personalised campaign messages.

Scott Morrison was campaigning in government-held marginals in Victoria on Monday, where the Coalition fears up to six seats could be at risk.

Labor is confident that it can pick up the seats of La Trobe, held by Wood, and Corangamite, held by Henderson, as it exploits residual anger in the state about the removal of Malcolm Turnbull as leader.

Conservative MPs including Sukkar in Deakin and Nicolle Flint in the South Australian seat of Boothby have been targeted in their electorates for supporting Peter Dutton to become leader last August.

In Western Australia, conservative MP Andrew Hastie is running a presidential-style personal campaign, with the former SAS soldier’s Facebook page featuring a “Fighting for You” tagline alongside an image of an Australian flag.


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Note the use of the Australian flag is illegal in campaigning materials.

by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2019-04-23 08:00

More to come...

by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2019-04-23 06:40

The weather bureau has been tampering with temperature data in order to "perpetuate global warming hysteria", according to an under-fire Coalition candidate.

Key points:

  • Mr Rennick has accused the BoM of rewriting weather records to suit a 'global warming agenda'
  • The BoM says the integrity of its data was confirmed by the nation's leading statisticians and mathematicians
  • Labor has called on Scott Morrison to sack Mr Rennick from his winnable position on the Qld LNP Senate ticket


The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) has strongly rejected the conspiracy theory being peddled by Queensland Senate hopeful Gerard Rennick.

The ABC yesterday revealed Mr Rennick's unconventional views on pre-school, which were shot down by the Prime Minister.

Federal Labor is now calling for Scott Morrison to sack the candidate from his winnable position on the Liberal-National Party Senate ticket.

Mr Rennick last month accused the weather bureau of "rewriting weather records to fit in with the global warming agenda!"

"Our public servants are out of control," he said on Facebook.

The spray was in response to an article published in The Spectator magazine that accused the federal agency of concocting "a consistent global warming trend".


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The Spectator is an ultra-right wing denialist ragmag that should have gone out of business long ago for promoting ultra-right wing denialist porkies... Remember this ugly cover when Turdy managed to destroy the Price on Carbon — with the help (IT WAS A secretly SET double-cross CONSPIRACY) of Clive Palmer (place him last on all voting papers):


ugly spectacle


In this ugly spectacle we can see ALAN JONES, ANDREW BOLT AND TONY ABBOTT rejoicing like turdy idiots having passed the end of wearing nappies exams — about the saddest day in Australia's history

Gerard Rennick should be sacked from any political duties for having the unfortunate traits of being a liar, a deliberate ignoramus and an ill-intended man with the attention span of squashed gnat.

Yes, Morrison should sack this idiot, otherwise it WILL SHOW IN NO UNCERTAIN TERM THAT SCUMMO HIMSELF IS a liar, a deliberate ignoramus and an ill-intended man with the attention span of squashed DEVIOUS gnat. But we know this, don't we?


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by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2019-04-23 05:57

World politicians have sent their condolences to Sri Lanka after multiple explosions hit luxury hotels and churches during Easter mass on Sunday, killing at least 290 people and injuring 500 others.

Former US President Barack Obama and ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have reacted to the deadly Sri Lanka blasts in big-name hotels and churches, seemingly avoiding calling the victims targeted during Easter services “Christians”, having instead opted for a more obscure term – “Easter worshippers”.


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Brother... Down the Easter rabbit hole...


Meanwhile, traditionally:

The World Jewish Congress has condemned as anti-Semitic a tradition upheld by a small Polish town, which involves beating and burning an effigy of Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus Christ.

A video showing this year’s celebration of a dubious local tradition in Poland was published by a local news website ekspresjaroslawski.pl and drew international attention. The World Jewish Congress has condemned it in a statement on Sunday.

“Jews are deeply disturbed by this ghastly revival of medieval anti-Semitism that led to unimaginable violence and suffering,” CEO Robert Singer said. “We can only hope that the Church and other institutions will do their best to overcome these frightful prejudices which are a blot on Poland’s good name.”


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Condolences to all the families of the dead. May you be able to live in peace despite the horror of the deeds...

by Gus Leonisky on Mon, 2019-04-22 20:49



The conservationist and former federal Greens leader Bob Brown delivered a broadside at “disgraceful” coverage in News Corp newspapers as his Stop Adani convoy arrived in Queensland to fervour among activists and stoushes in the local press.

About 5,000 people joined Brown at a rally in the Brisbane central business district on Wednesday afternoon, protesting against the proposed Carmichael coalmine.

But Brown, whose Stop Adani convoy resembles its own mini election campaign, has attracted the ire of News Corp’s Brisbane masthead, the Courier-Mail.

The Courier-Mail’s front page on Monday reported on offensive comments criticising coal workers, made by someone using a false name, on a social media page for the convoy. It followed a story last week about businesses in mining communities refusing to serve activists.

Brown said the comments on social media “had no place in civil debate” but that they were now being used to tar activists and create hostility.

“Sure you can argue one way or the other, and I respect those who think Adani should go ahead,” Brown said. “I ask for respect in the other direction. Some of the headlines in the Murdoch media are simply disgraceful. They’re a disgrace to journalism and they’re a disgrace to the fourth estate’s responsibility for fair and balanced journalism in this biggest debate facing humanity.

“We come in peace, we come abiding by the laws.

“I absolutely reject [the offensive comments] and as I said to the Courier-Mail last night, I’m sure you take down those comments made on your website, and you separate yourselves from them.

“What [the Courier-Mail] has done today is to use those despicable comments and try to tar everyone else with them. That’s the lowest form of journalism.

“Those comments have no place in civil debate, and they have no place being used to stir up, no doubt, malevolence down the line. And I hold the Murdoch media is responsible for that, if it happens.”

Brown, who rose to prominence because of his opposition to the Franklin Dam project in the 1980s, was asked why the Carmichael mine, and not other proposals, have become the focus of environmental and climate activism.

“I got asked that very often about the Franklin Dam. Why this dam and why not other dams?” Brown said. “This has become a litmus test for coalmining around the world. Bloomberg indeed describes it as the most contentious coalmine in the world.”

Geoff Cousins, the outgoing president of the Australian Conservation Foundation, who is travelling with the convoy, said he had met with Adani Australia’s chief executive of mining, Lucas Dow, recently.

He said Dow had made a well-worn argument in support of the Adani mine; that end-users of coal would source their supply from elsewhere if it wasn’t mined in Australia.

“This country used to lead in these matters,” Cousens [sic] said. “That’s what we have to do now.


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