Sunday 29th of May 2016

Recent Comments

by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2016-05-29 19:12


... But opposition to the Iraq intervention is not the only thing Trump and Sanders agree on: Both have questioned the effect of the US' free trade principles, blasted the North American Free Trade Agreement and rejected Barack Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

More crucially, Trump agrees with Sanders about the 2008 financial meltdown, which Sanders blames on the Republicans. "When the economy crashed so horribly under George Bush because of the mistakes they made with banking and lots of other things, I don't think the Democrats would have done that," Trump said in July 2015. It was a remarkable Sanders-like statement.

The foreign policy and financial "elites" have noticed these similarities. Trump's victory has scared the hell out of establishment Republicans, who are migrating to Clinton's campaign, while Republican neo-Conservatives see in Clinton a symbol of their unapologetic militarism.

The most prominent among them has been Max Boot, a self-described "American imperialist" who has never seen a war he wouldn't send someone else to fight. "For all her shortcomings ..." he recently wrote, "Clinton would be far preferable to Trump."

OPINION: What US elections should look like in a real democracy

The Democrats' Max Boot is economist Paul Krugman, a liberal free trader who says Sanders has adopted "easy slogans over hard thinking". Krugman's resume is not in question, but he's never had to live paycheck-to-paycheck like large numbers of Americans.

While it is unlikely that Sanders will beat Clinton for the Democratic nomination, that hasn't stopped Krugman from calling Sanders' supporters "idealists", "romantics" and "purists".

Neophytes vs elites

Boot and Krugman have this in common: they love experts. Boot recently complained that Obama's chief foreign policy adviser lacks an advanced degree in "international relations, defence, area studies, or any related field", while Krugman tells us that every "serious progressive policy expert on either healthcare of financial reform" supports Clinton.

The message is the same: instead of listening to neophytes such as Trump or Sanders, American voters should put their trust in the experts - that is, the same people who gave us Iraq and bankruptcy.

read more:


by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2016-05-29 14:01


Childcare centres? Roads? 

The freshly minted City of Canterbury Bankstown is seeking consultants to brainstorm a "brand strategy".

"We are looking for a total brand strategy – not simply a new logo," a notice seeking expressions of interest reads.

There will be a brand audit, customer segmentation and "competitor mapping".

Focus groups are envisaged to develop "key messaging" and brand position. Then a campaign rolled out to deliver "important strategic outcomes" for the community.

There was a time when local government's goals and direction were determined by local residents in a voting booth.

Councillors were elected from within the community they served, in an old-fashioned notion this would give them the necessary insight into local concerns. If their "key messaging" was out of touch, voters dumped them – the ultimate focus group.

That was before the administrators were brought in. Welcome to corporatised Sydney, where 19 new councils will be run by unelected chief bureaucrats until September 2017, when democracy is restored with elections.

Canterbury Bankstown's administrator Richard Colley is an old hand. He is a past general manager of Bankstown Council. But it is his track record of taking over the running of Wollongong Council, which was sacked in the wake of an Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation into bribery, that provides a blueprint for this idea of an extended "administration" period for the new councils.

Colley was appointed in 2010, one of a string of Wollongong administrators, after elections were suspended for four years.

Before that, he had conducted an inquiry into Shellharbour Council in 2008, recommending it be dissolved for four years because of dysfunction. In 2014, he recommended administration for the sacked Central Darling Shire for unrestrained spending.

Whining, backbiting local politicians can't compete with the pure efficiency of an administrator writing policies, guidelines and getting things done.

Inside the Canterbury Bankstown "entity", the bureaucrats are finally off the leash. One insider questioned what a bunch of councillors and mayor should have to do with the brand strategy anyway, when the focus group process will give local businesses, potential investors and the community "buy in".

The $10 million in implementation funds given to each merged council by the Baird government was gleefully identified as a way to fund the brand strategy, which had previously been put on the backburner until after the next elections by since-sacked Bankstown councillors.

Canterbury Bankstown interim general manager Matthew Stewart says the brand is "very important".

"It is not necessary to wait until the next council election, which is 16 months away. This would also mean the new city is treading water for more than a year and missing out on potential economic growth and the creation of more jobs for its residents," he said.

A spokeswoman for Local Government Minister Paul Toole said the $10 million could be used by the new councils to cover the cost of  "expert implementation advice, integrating systems and other changes such as new signs and website". 

The mind boggles at what other projects will be unleashed while the councillors of metropolitan Sydney are missing.

"Brand audit, customer segmentation and "competitor mapping"? Who are they trying to kid? This is grand bullshit from the marketing bible for attracting "clients" to your ideas of selling THEIR assets... Here we can see that ordinary punters living in neighbourhoods would have no clue about the wording of the swindle, but savvy developers, used to flog horizontal strata in vertical towers knowing the snake oil vernacular, will rub their hands in glee and become the major influencers of development of the "clients" — while the community will see tinsel and dazzle go up their arse. 

Baird is a Catholic arsehole, mind you, for disbanding the councils so far from proper elections. The time till then will thus be used by developers in bed with administrators "in charge of "competitor mapping" (read high density developments) to push as hard as they can to destroy entire suburbs, with high rise towers and other unsightly developments...



See toon at top...

by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2016-05-29 11:07


After news broke in February that CSIRO was cutting up to half its climate scientists, 200 angry staff met with the organisation's CEO, Dr Larry Marshall, at the Black Mountain site in Canberra.

The government policy, frankly, determines public good.


In a secret recording of that meeting obtained by Background Briefing, Marshall tells climate scientists CSIRO is now less interested in science for the sake of curiosity.

'It's a fundamental shift away from curiosity-led research toward impact. That's the key,' he said.

The focus now would be on delivering the Prime Minister's innovation and growth agenda, said Marshall. That meant funds once devoted to so-called 'public good science'—such as monitoring and measuring climate change—would be directed elsewhere.

'The government policy, frankly, determines public good,' Marshall proposed to the meeting. 'That's their decision.

'The danger of us deciding what is public good for ourselves; the risk is that we are biased. If I poll the organisation−and I did−each group fundamentally believes that what they do is public good, in the truest, purest sense of the word.'


And according to Dr Marshall there was no mistaking the signal the government was sending: federal funding for climate science programs had been cut. The federal government was CSIRO's most important 'customer', and it no longer wanted what the climate scientists were selling.

'I don't mean to be insensitive,' said Dr Marshall, 'but you have to get real about your customer.'

In the tape, the scientists can be heard groaning and protesting at Marshall's comments. By the end of the meeting half of them had walked out, including the head of the Land and Water Division. One, however, asked Marshall how he could argue—as he appeared to be doing—that the science on climate change was 'done'.

'What I was trying to say was we have proven climate change,' replied Marshall. 'It's real, it's happened, I don't think there is any doubt about that. Not to say the science is done.'

It's talk like this that alarms the science community.

They're worried that if we don't measure and model how our climate is changing, and how and to what degree it is warming and acidifying the oceans, we'll have no chance of adapting.

read more:


It's time for Dr Larry Marshall to fucup, rack off, get out and go to hell... His attitude is damaging to the intent of sciences. Actually his curriculum vitae borders on the incompetent for the job he's been placed in by Tony Turdy's mob, who under Tony Turdy nasty views on sciences had no understanding of public good....



by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2016-05-29 08:08


News flash: Donald Trump has proven again that he would be a disastrous President who would let our planet fry. Today, he added further insult to existing injury, launching a jaw-dropping energy speech that defies reality.

April 2016 set a record as the hottest April on record since temperatures were first recorded. Unfortunately, this was not a fluke; This has become the “new normal.” April was the 12th consecutive month that broke monthly high-temperature records. In other words, the last twelve months have been the hottest months ever recorded for each respective month.

The Democratic candidates that have run for Party’s nomination have all been on the same page in terms of accepting the scientific consensus that the atmosphere is warming up and that human activity is the biggest cause. But the Republican candidates, a pool that has been whittled down to include only Donald Trump, have consistently declared that climate change is a hoax.


The New York Times explains Donald Trump’s previous comments about climate and energy as follows:

Mr. Trump has said he would undo President Obama’s climate change policies, particularly a set of Environmental Protection Agency regulations to curb planet-warming emissions from coal-fired power plants. Of the E.P.A. itself, he has vowed “to get rid of it in almost every form.”

He has said that as president, he would renegotiate the Paris climate accord, a global agreement committing nearly every nation to lowering greenhouse gas pollution. And, while demand for American coal has declined, he declared while campaigning in West Virginia, “We’re going to get those miners back to work.”


Not only could Trump prove to be a climate disaster because of his refusal to accept science, but his complete lack of political experience means that he is completely reliant on his advisors to develop his policy for him.

This is troubling for the United States because Donald Trump has already appointed a climate change denier, Republican Rep. Kevin Cramer from North Dakota, as his top energy advisor.

This week we finally got a peek at what Trump’s energy policy would be if he makes it to the White House when he gave a speech at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in North Dakota outlining his energy platform. As usual, his policies sounded more like a buzzword salad than actual proposals — key phrases like “energy independence” and “jobs” were thrown out constantly in his attempts to pander to the public.

Here is what we learned this week about what a Donald Trump presidency would look like:

  • Increased coal production, as Trump promised to put out-of-work coal miners back to work, blaming the decline on the industry on President Obama rather than a global decrease in demand.
  • The Keystone XL Pipeline will become a reality.
  • Oil drilling and fracking will be given the go-ahead to increase activities both onshore and off.
  • Remove any and all safety regulations that are in place to protect sensitive environmental areas and human health, and possibly dismantling the entire Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Repeal bans on selling U.S. oil to overseas countries.
  • Increase offshore energy exploitation.



Same rigmarole with the CONservative (liberal) policies here in Australia with a bit more mitigated subtlety to make doubters happy: we give money to CO2 polluters to pollute less, with accounting of emissions not worth a kindergarten's rubbish bins full of nappies. 

by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2016-05-28 12:01


... As more and more candidates dropped out of the primary race, Republicans who initially thought Trump unfit to be president faced a quandary: Willfully embracing him would mean recognizing that their decisions about whom to support were opportunistic rather than principled. That's a difficult pill to swallow as no one wants to see themselves as a hypocrite. But everyone does want their team to win.

Luckily for Trump—or, for that matter, any other candidate who might find himself or herself in the same situation—the human mind has a built-in solution for this problem: the whitewash. When faced with the option to either stand on principle or gain advantage, people tend to go with the latter. And if that means rewriting your perceptions, the mind is more than happy to comply while maintaining the illusion that you were doing what was right all along.


This is where the allied had to maintain the rage against Hitler... But I guess here that our own Rupert also knows the trick and has been practising for yonks. This is why he unofficially supported Trump from the start with subtle text messages: "I think that Trump has the winning strategy" he said in one Twitter... Uncle Rupe knows about demagogy: someone who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power (or/and stay in power). This is Uncle Rupe's bread and butter. As well, in most News Corp publication, this demagogy is supplemented by slanted views — but most importantly diluted to a specific formula with ENTERTAINMENT for the common man: sport and TV. This is why Murdoch wanted to control the NRL (National Rugby League) by buying the clubs and take it to his cable network exclusively. 


by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2016-05-28 11:15


In general, you shouldn’t pay much attention to polls at this point, especially with Republicans unifying around Donald Trump while Bernie Sanders hasn’t conceded the inevitable. Still, I was struck by several recent polls showing Mr. Trump favored over Hillary Clinton on the question of who can best manage the economy.

This is pretty remarkable given the incoherence and wild irresponsibility of Mr. Trump’s policy pronouncements. Granted, most voters probably don’t know anything about that, in part thanks to substance-free news coverage. But if voters don’t know anything about Mr. Trump’s policies, why their favorable impression of his economic management skills?

The answer, I suspect, is that voters see Mr. Trump as a hugely successful businessman, and they believe that business success translates into economic expertise. They are, however, probably wrong about the first, and definitely wrong about the second: Even genuinely brilliant businesspeople are often clueless about economic policy.

An aside: In part this is surely a partisan thing. Over the years, polls have generally, although not universally, shown Republicans trusted over Democrats to manage the economy, even though the economy has consistently performed better under Democratic presidents. But Republicans are much better at promoting legends — for example, by constantly hyping economic and jobs growth under Ronald Reagan, even though the Reagan record was easily surpassed under Bill Clinton.

Back to Mr. Trump: One of the many peculiar things about his run for the White House is that it rests heavily on his claims of being a masterful businessman, yet it’s far from clear how good he really is at the “art of the deal.” Independent estimates suggest that he’s much less wealthy than he says he is, and probably has much lower income than he claims to have, too. But since he has broken with all precedents by refusing to release his tax returns, it’s impossible to resolve such disputes. (And maybe that’s why he won’t release those returns.)

Remember, too, that Mr. Trump is a clear case of someone born on third base who imagines that he hit a triple: He inherited a fortune, and it’s far from clear that he has expanded that fortune any more than he would have if he had simply parked the money in an index fund.

But leave questions about whether Mr. Trump is the business genius he claims to be on one side. Does business success carry with it the knowledge and instincts needed to make good economic policy? No, it doesn’t.

read more of Krugman at the New York Times...


by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2016-05-28 10:41

Over the course of his presidential bid, Sen. Marco Rubio called Donald Trump a “con man” who was “dangerous” and unqualified to control the nation’s nuclear codes. He ridiculed the businessman’s manhood and warned he would “fracture” the Republican Party if he was the nominee.

By March — a few days before Rubio dropped out — the senator from Florida said with a cracking voice that it was “getting harder every day” to envision supporting his rival.

But now Rubio is on board, saying that he plans to attend the Republican convention in Cleveland and that he would be “honored” to help Trump however he can.

“I want to be helpful. I don’t want to be harmful, because I don’t want Hillary Clinton to be president,” Rubio said in a CNN interview that will be aired Sunday.

read more:


by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2016-05-28 10:09


... imagine my horror – nay disgust – when I clicked on The Guardian to find an article under the heading “Neil Young Permits Trump to Keep on Rockin.’  

I read that piece several hours ago and I’m still hyperventilating. Neil, what have you done?

“I’ve got nothing against him [Trump],” said Young. “One the music goes out, anybody can use it for everything.”

Wait, what?

Ok, let’s tackle the first portion of Young’s statement – “I’ve got nothing against him.” After spending a lifetime championing hyper-liberal causes – including racial equality – how on earth can Young claim he has nothing against a man who has effectively promised to wind the clock back a half-century on civil rights? If Young was as active in his songwriting today as he was in the 1970s, I’m sure many of his new releases would say something about proposals to ban Muslims entering the United States, and something else about reducing an entire race of people to drug dealers to rapists.

As for Young dismissing his earlier protest against Trump with the casually dismissive, “Once the music goes out, anybody can use if for everything” – this is a wimpy like cop out. Artists have, in fact, even sued politicians for co-opting their music without their endorsement.

In 1996, GOP candidate Bob Dole used a rework of Isaac Hayes’ ‘Soul Man.’ In turn, Hayes, a staunch liberal, sent the Dole campaign a cease-and-desist letter, threatening to sue Dole $10,000 for every time the campaign played the song. Hayes told the New York Daily News, "Nobody gave any permission here," adding, "It also bothers me because people may get the impression that David [Porter] and I endorse Bob Dole, which we don't."

Artists and bands such as Foo Fighters, Orleans, Bruce Springsteen, Van Halen, and John Mellencamp have also opposed Republican Party presidential candidates using their music for political purposes.

"I don't think it has anything to do with money. It has to do with the political viewpoint of the artist or songwriter or publisher," Chuck Rubin, founder of Artists Rights Enforcement Corporation, told Rolling Stone. "But they do have the right to either say yea or nay."

Tragically, Young has said yay to the most vulgar and racially divisive political candidate to reach the national stage, and for that I must now say nay to Young.

When I try to think of a reason for why Young turned over on Trump, I can only think of money. It brings to mind Michael Jordan’s response to a question on why he wasn’t more outspoken on matters of national political importance. “Republicans buy shoes, too,” Jordan replied, which, in a hyper-corporatized, overly privatized, universe, goes a long way to explaining why we rarely find heroes like Muhammad Ali and the very much younger Neil Young.


by Gus Leonisky on Fri, 2016-05-27 21:01

Kosovo, a predominantly Muslim land severed from Serbia by US and NATO military intervention, was turned into a hotbed of radical Islamism and a fertile recruiting ground for terrorists thanks to money pumped into it by Gulf kingdoms, the New York Times reported.

Among all European nations Kosovo holds the grim record of having the biggest per capita rate of people joining the terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Syria. In a land of 1.8 million, 314 Kosovars were identified by the police over the past two years as IS recruits.

Local authorities and moderate imams blame the problem on a network of extremist clerics backed by money coming from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and other Arab nations. Funded through a shady network of private donations, mercurial charities and Islamic scholarship programs, they spread the brand of Islam called Wahhabism, a hardline sect to which Saudi Arabia adheres.

“The first thing the Wahhabis do is to take members of our congregation, who understand Islam in the traditional Kosovo way that we had for generations, and try to draw them away from this understanding,” Idriz Bilalli, an imam of the central mosque in Podujevo, told NYT. “Once they get them away from the traditional congregation, then they start bombarding them with radical thoughts and ideas.”

“The main goal of their activity is to create conflict between people,” he added. “This first creates division, and then hatred, and then it can come to what happened in Arab countries, where war starts because of these conflicting ideas.”

Wahhabism tenets include the supremacy of Sharia law, the idea of violent jihad and takfirism, which encourages killing of Muslims considered heretics for not following its interpretation of Islam. Kosovo, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, states that it is a secular country in its constitution. Kosovars are predominantly Albanian Muslims who adhere to the moderate Hanafi school of Islam inherited from the five centuries of Ottoman rule.

Saudi charities and preachers flooded Kosovo after the Balkan wars, offering money to build mosques and help the poor in exchange for following stricter everyday norms such as wearing head scarves.

“They came in the name of aid,” Enver Rexhepi, a moderate imam in Gjilan, said of the Arab charities in an interview with the newspaper. “But they came with a background of different intentions, and that’s where the Islamic religion started splitting here.”

“I spent 10 years in Arab countries and specialized in sectarianism within Islam,” he added. “It’s very important to stop Arab sectarianism from being introduced to Kosovo.”

#Saudi embassy branded '#Daesh bank' in #Berlin projection stunt (PHOTOS)

— RT (@RT_com) May 16, 2016

For some moderates like Rexhepi opposing the spread of Wahhabism meant trouble. In 2004, he clashed with young radical preacher Zekirja Qazimi over an Albanian flag displayed in Rexhepi’s mosque. The flag features a double-headed eagle. Wahhabism considers depictions of living things idolatrous, so Qazimi tore the flag down. Rexhepi put it back.

Within days Rexhepi was abducted and savagely beaten by masked men in the woods above Gjilan, he told NYT. He believes Qazimi was behind the attack, but the police investigation went nowhere.

by Gus Leonisky on Fri, 2016-05-27 18:36


Jean-Claude Juncker isn't the kind of man who likes to be told to keep quiet. When it comes to defending the European Union, the Luxembourger doesn't usually hold his tongue for long. But when it comes to what could turn out to be the most important issue of his term in office -- the threat of Britain's exit from the EU -- the head of the powerful European Commission has been astonishingly quiet.


The reason is that Juncker had to promise British Prime Minister David Cameron that the EU executive branch would stay out of the Brexit debate. Officials in Brussels have a miserable reputation in Britain, and the last thing Cameron needs at the moment are EU commissioners promoting the union. Much to Juncker's chagrin, that also applies to the Commission president himself.

Juncker only managed to convince Cameron to give him a small loophole: If Brexit supporters have a clear lead in polls in the week prior to the June 23 referendum, the Commission president will be allowed to make his voice heard. That, of course, would be too late to significantly shift public opinion, but it would mean that Juncker could not be accused of having done nothing to prevent a Brexit. Under no circumstances does Juncker want to go down in history as the first Commission president to preside over a member state departing the EU.

Driven By Fear

The image put forward by the EU these days is not a strong one. On the contrary, fear appears to have the upper hand. Juncker's Commission, with its 30,000 civil servants, has nearly ground to a halt, with June 23 marked in red on staff calendars. All initiatives are anxiously examined to determine whether they might provide ammunition for Brexit supporters. Juncker even personally asked each of his 27 commissioners to use "common sense" during any visits to Britain.


Auf Wiedersehen