Wednesday 17th of September 2014

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by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2014-09-16 19:23


The NSW government has shrugged off criticism that changes to City of Sydney businesses' voting rights are grossly undemocratic, and has backed a move to grant businesses double the voting power of residents.  

There had been speculation the government would seek substantial changes to a controversial Shooters and Fishers Party bill that forces businesses to vote in the council's elections and gives businesses two votes.

But the government proposed only minor amendments on Tuesday, and the two-vote rule has been retained.

Here, democracy is being thrashed for political gain. It's akin to corruption. WE SHOULD OPPOSE THIS SORT OF UNDEMOCRATIC CRAP with the loudest voice possible. Kick Baird in the balls. a least 10 of his Liberal (CONservative) members of parliament have been shown being corrupt by ICAC.


Clover is hated by the Liberals... nothing new. See toon at top...

by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2014-09-16 18:50


Most voters approve of the way Tony Abbott is managing “relations with other countries” but disapprove of his government’s handling of almost everything else, according to a new opinion poll that shows Labor retaining a convincing lead.

With international military action against Isis and the Malaysian air disasters dominating the news, 39% of those surveyed by Essential Media rated the government’s handling of “relations with other countries” as good and 24% as poor, resulting in a net rating of +15% – a substantial improvement from its -3% net rating in February (28% said its performance was average).

But voters delivered net negative ratings for the government’s handling of every other issue, with big slumps in how the electorate viewed the Coalition’s performance on climate change (net -27%), health services (-27%), social welfare (-26%) and education and schools (-26%).

The government’s rating has deteriorated significantly since February on each of these issues.

And voters’ views of how well the government is managing the economy also fell from a net rating of +3% in February to -6%.

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War is a deceitful way to improve ratings... 


by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2014-09-16 17:29


If there are two things that one is likely to hear from college faculty today, they are that 1. Students are too careerist, and 2. We need a more democratic society. They worry about the growing utilitarian cast of education in general, as well as the remnants of hierarchy, authority, paternalism, and inequality in today’s society.

What they generally don’t see is the deep underlying connection between these two phenomena. A familiarity with Tocqueville’s essential Democracy in America would prove enlightening.

Tocqueville expresses wonder and awe at the activity of the Americans that he encountered during his visit to the United States in 1830-31. In contrast to the relative complacency of people in their social roles in aristocratic Europe—where no amount of work, effort or activity could move one either from the ranks of the aristocrats to the commoners, or vice-versa—Americans live daily with the awareness that their station in life is one of variability, potential, and fragility. The result was a society that was, by appearances, industrious, but more deeply riven with anxiety. Thus, Tocqueville was moved to call this condition one of “restlessness,” or “inquietude,” the inability to be “quiet” or still or in a state of quiescence.

In one of his justifiably most famous chapters, Tocqueville describes the resulting social state. Chapter 13 of Part 2, Volume II of Democracy in America is entitled “Why the Americans are so Restless in the Midst of their Prosperity,” which begins:

In America I saw the freest and most enlightened men placed in the happiest circumstances that the world affords, it seemed to me as if a cloud habitually hung upon their brow, and I thought them serious and almost sad, even in their pleasures.

The chief reason for this contrast is that the former do not think of the ills they endure, while the latter are forever brooding over advantages they do not possess. It is strange to see with what feverish ardor the Americans pursue their own welfare, and to watch the vague dread that constantly torments them lest they should not have chosen the shortest path which may lead to it.

I think often of this passage, having taught at three extraordinarily prestigious and famous institutions of higher learning—and having witnessed daily exactly this “cloud” upon the brows of our highest-achieving students. Far from being complacent and self-congratulatory about their membership in America’s (and, increasingly, the globe’s) elite, they are anxious and perturbed, worried about their prospects for “success” and whether they will measure up to others who are similarly blessed with such advantages—while staying ahead of those who are aiming to overtake them from below. 

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What is defined here is the deplorable neo-fascist attitude swimming in socio-psychopathy... in which success is measured on how many people you've walked over (or killed) in order to be top dog... It's more common than we realise.

by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2014-09-16 16:29


John Howard has questioned the Coalition’s decision to launch two royal commissions in its first year in government, saying that the process shouldn’t be used for “narrow targeted political purposes”.

A royal commission into the home insulation scheme has already concluded, while another royal commission, into unions, is underway.

Howard told the Australian: “I’m uneasy about the idea of having royal commissions or inquiries into essentially a political decision on which the public has already delivered a verdict.

“I don’t think you should ever begin to go down the American path of using the law for narrow targeted political purposes. I think the special prosecutions in the US are appalling.”

Four young men died during work provided by the home insulation scheme in 2009 and 2010. The previous Labor government introduced the scheme as a way to stimulate the economy during the global financial crisis.

The home insulation royal commission cost about $25m and followed several previous coronial and Senate inquiries into the matter. The commission questioned former prime minister Kevin Rudd about the scheme’s roll-out, with the subsequent report finding that the program was seriously flawed.

“I am uneasy about those approaches,” Howard said. “I have to say I’m not happy about that but that’s a decision the government makes and, after all, the former government was tipped out on the strength of, among other things, the failure of the home insulation scheme. There has been coronial investigations.”

Howard is the latest former prime minister to question how the Coalition is handling the royal commission process. Earlier this year, Malcolm Fraser and Bob Hawke expressed concern that the government would break a long-standing convention of cabinet confidentiality by handing certain documents over to the home insulation royal commission.


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We all know that Abbott is a vindictive dick (or arsehole, depending on your viewpoint) who hates anyone who gave him a bit of political stick...


by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2014-09-16 14:22


Could Nitrogen Asphyxiation Replace Lethal Injection?

By Markus Feldenkirchen  in Oklahoma City

There have been several botched executions by lethal injection this year, turning many Americans against the death penalty. Now an Oklahoma politician wants to put death-row convicts to death using a new method: nitrogen asphyxiation.

Following a series of botched executions in the US, one lawmaker in the state of Oklahoma is now trying to gather support behind a new form of capital punishment. Mike Christian, a Republican in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, would like to see nitrogen asphyxiation introduced as a method to execute death row inmates. Nitrogen and noble gases such as helium are seen by proponents of assisted suicide as offering a reliable, quick and painless way to die.

Christian plans to introduce his proposal this week at a House hearing on the future of the death penalty. By December, Christian told SPIEGEL, he hopes to be able to present a draft law. Should it receive the requisite support, nitrogen asphyxiation could replace lethal injection as the primary execution method used sometime next year.

"It's the most humane way to die. You just sit there and a few minutes later, you're dead." Christian says. "I think it will definitely meet the standards (set) by the United States Supreme Court that it is definitely not cruel and inhumane."

For nitrogen asphyxiation executions, convicts would be placed in an airtight chamber or under a large plastic sack. The introduction of nitrogen, and the absence of oxygen, leads to a rapid loss of consciousness and, ultimately, to death. The method has never been used for capital punishment cases in the US. And there is disagreement as to whether it is as painless as Christian suggests, with some reports claiming that it is an agonizing way to die.

Of the 38 US states in which executions are carried out, 37 currently use lethal injection. The procedure was developed by a medical examiner from Oklahoma in 1977 and was long considered to be more effective and less painful than previous methods such as hanging, the electric chair or the gas chamber. "Back then, it was Oklahoma that came up with an innovation, and today we should take the lead again and come up with an innovative method," Christian says.

Dr. Michael Copeland, assistant professor at East Central University in Oklahoma City, has been tasked by Christian with providing an expert opinion on the issue. "Nitrogen is the most humane, cheapest and easiest way to execute people," Copeland says. In contrast with gases used previously for capital punishment, he says that convicts executed with noble gases such as nitrogen would not feel as though they were suffocating.

"With nitrogen we won't have the problem of drug shortage that we've witnessed recently," Copeland says. "It's ubiquitous." Unlike with lethal injections, little can go wrong, he says. "You don't need a doctor or other medical personnel to find a vein."


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Sometimes, I worry about my fellow humans... Their desire for sadistic quickery is astonishing, even in the case of "approved" killerisation.


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by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2014-09-16 13:51



Wendy Whiteley suggested long-term staff associated with the previous gallery director Edmund Capon may have been targeted for removal.

"There seems to be some deliberate idea that they're kind of shaking out the rug," she said.

Whiteley added: "I really don't know. Perhaps they think loyalties get split."

Vere Kenny, a gallery volunteer for 10 years, said alienating the gallery's team of volunteers could also jeopardise the gallery's fundraising efforts.

"Discarding an unpaid workforce when dollars are being begged for extensions is not a good look," she said. "Nor is it a good idea to alienate a 200-odd body of people who may have influence and indeed some dollars they may now withhold."

She said the volunteers were told it was too difficult to train them for the new role.

"There is now some mention of customer surveys being part of the ticket selling," she said. "Great way to piss off your public."

The plan to replace the AGNSW volunteer task force of mainly elderly and retired men and women with casual ticket sellers was announced earlier this month.




The painting in the mischief at top, Bailed up, is at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. It was painted by Tom Roberts.

by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2014-09-16 13:07

A joke making the rounds among Russian officials and hacks who take a keen interest in what is going on in the Middle East these days goes something like this: How will the Yanks deal with the Islamic State group? They will create "Islamic State 2", a bigger and better armed group, and let it deal with the original Islamic State group. And what happens when "Islamic State 2" turns against them as it happened with the original Islamic State? They will create "Islamic State 3", and so on.

But seriously, the rise and spread of the Islamic State group is no laughing matter. Now that the US and its allies have finally woken up to the dangers of the spread of the extremist group, the worry in Moscow is that the hotheads in the Pentagon and at Nato headquarters in Brussels will decide to start hitting Islamic State positions in Syria along with "other targets" there as well - for instance, Syrian army positions.

US President Barack Obama has already announced his plan to deal with the group, promising to lead a "broad coalition" that will "roll back this terrorist threat". In Moscow, the fear is that the US will seize this opportunity to intervene in Syria.

The Libyan scenario

According to Valeriy Fenenko from the Moscow Centre for International Security, the US can actually use the presence of the Islamic State group in Syria as a pretext to implement the "Libyan scenario".

"The Americans are bound to try to compensate for their failure last fall," he says. "At first, it will be air strikes against terrorists and then, in parallel, it may amount to helping the moderate opposition. The US may start a creeping interference, like it happened in Bosnia," he said.

by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2014-09-16 13:01



When it comes to controversies about curriculum, textbook content and academic standards, Texas is the state that keeps on giving.

Back in 2010, we had an uproar over proposed changes to social studies standards by religious conservatives on the State Board of Education, which included a bid to calling the United States’ hideous slave trade history as the “Atlantic triangular trade.” There were other doozies, too, such as one proposal to remove Thomas Jefferson from the Enlightenment curriculum and replace him with John Calvin. Some were changed but the board’s approved standards were roundly criticized as distorted history.

There’s a new fuss about proposed social studies textbooks for Texas public schools that are based on what are called the Texas Essential  Knowledge  and  Skills.  Scholarly reviews of 43 proposed history, geography and government textbooks for Grades 6-12 — undertaken by the Education Fund of the Texas Freedom Network, a watchdog and activist group that monitors far-right issues and organizations — found extensive problems in American Government textbooks, U.S. and World History textbooks, Religion in World History textbooks, and Religion in World Geography textbooks.  The state board will vote on which books to approve in November.

Ideas promoted in various proposed textbooks include the notion that Moses and Solomon inspired American democracy, that in the era of segregation only “sometimes” were schools for black children “lower in quality” and that Jews view Jesus Christ as an important prophet.

Here are the broad findings of 10 scholars, who wrote four separate reports, taken from an executive summary, followed by the names of the scholars and a list of publishers who submitted textbooks.

The findings:

  • A number of government and world history textbooks exaggerate Judeo-Christian influence on the nation’s founding and Western political tradition.
  • Two government textbooks include misleading information that undermines the Constitutional concept of the separation of church and state.
  • Several world history and world geography textbooks include biased statements that inappropriately portray Islam and Muslims negatively.
  • All of the world geography textbooks inaccurately downplay the role that conquest played in the spread of Christianity.
  • Several world geography and history textbooks suffer from an incomplete – and often inaccurate – account of religions other than Christianity.
  • Coverage of key Christian concepts and historical events are lacking in a few textbooks, often due to the assumption that all students are Christians and already familiar with Christian events and doctrine.
  • A few government and U.S. history textbooks suffer from an uncritical celebration of the free enterprise system, both by ignoring legitimate problems that exist in capitalism and failing to include coverage of government’s role in the U.S. economic system.
  • One government textbook flirts with contemporary Tea Party ideology, particularly regarding the inclusion of anti-taxation and anti-regulation arguments.
  • One world history textbook includes outdated – and possibly offensive – anthropological categories and racial terminology in describing African civilization.
  • A number of U.S. history textbooks evidence a general lack of attention to Native American peoples and culture and occasionally include biased or misleading information.
  • One government textbook … includes a biased – verging on offensive – treatment of affirmative action.
  • Most U.S. history textbooks do a poor job of covering the history of LGBT citizens in discussions of efforts to achieve civil rights in this country.
  • Elements of the Texas curriculum standards give undue legitimacy to neo-Confederate arguments about “states’ rights” and the legacy of slavery in the South. While most publishers avoid problems with these issues, passages in a few U.S. history and government textbooks give a nod to these misleading arguments.


In July, the Texas Freedom Network released a review of the various panels of people who had been selected by the Texas Board of Education to review the proposed textbooks. It said in part:



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Now watch for the Pyne review of curriculum in Aussieland. See article at top.

by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2014-09-16 12:04

Australia’s military involvement in Iraq is likely to cost half a billion dollars each year, Tony Abbott has revealed, as he confirmed some personnel had already left for the Middle East.

The prime minister said Australian special forces deployed to the region would be armed, but based in Iraqi and Kurdish military headquarters in an advisory role rather than directly fighting in the field against Islamic State (Isis) militants.

Abbott defended Australia’s decision to help transport weapons and other military equipment to the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in northern Iraq, after reports that the Peshmerga were working closely with the PKK, which is designated by Australia as a terrorist organisation.

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by Gus Leonisky on Tue, 2014-09-16 10:11

Climate Summit: European Union surprised Tony Abbott will not attend high level climate talks

The European Union's climate chief says it is a pity Prime Minister Tony Abbott will not attend a major UN climate meeting in New York next week.

World leaders including US president Barack Obama and UK prime minister David Cameron will attend the UN secretary-general's Climate Summit.

Mr Abbott will not be attending, despite the fact that he is due to attend a UN Security Council meeting in New York the next day.

EU commissioner for climate action Connie Hedegaard said it came as a surprise.

"It is, of course, I think, a pity that not everyone is going," she said.

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Surprised? Are they idiots who have not worked out yet that Tony is a turd opposed to the concept of global warming?