Saturday 25th of January 2020

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by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2020-01-25 16:02
US Vice President Mike Pence’s speech on the Holocaust left the impression it was American soldiers who liberated Auschwitz, erased the Soviet Union’s well-documented act, and even used the solemn occasion to lash out at Iran.

Speaking at the World Holocaust Forum in Israel on Thursday, Pence said that it was “soldiers” who opened the gates of Auschwitz on January 27, 1945. Which soldiers? Pence does not say, whether accidentally or on purpose. 

Pence’s omission became much more glaring a few moments later, when he honored the memory of “all the Allied forces, including more than two million American soldiers, who left hearth and home, suffered appalling casualties, and freed a continent from the grip of tyranny.”

Listening to Pence’s speech, one might be tempted to conclude that it was these American soldiers who liberated Auschwitz, or bore the brunt of the burden of liberating Europe from the Nazis. Yet if we want to talk about truly “appalling casualties,” how about the nearly 27 million soldiers and civilians of the Soviet Union who perished in that war? 

What about the Red Army’s 322nd Rifle Division, under General Pyotr Ivanovich Zubov, that actually kicked in the doors of Auschwitz, only to be ‘erased’ from memory by an American vice-president 75 years later? One word – “Soviet” before “soldiers” – would have sufficed to give credit where it’s due. 

There is nothing wrong with being an American patriot, but this sort of dissembling is at best ignorance, and at worst outright stolen valor, both entirely unbecoming of a statesman. 


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by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2020-01-25 14:22

Prince Charles used his first speech at Davos for three decades to essentially outline a new economic model that rewrites traditional investment mandates and risk assessments to put nature at the heart of business decisions. The future king even challenged governments to drop "perverse" subsidies for fossil fuels and endorsed carbon pricing regimes - a message that would have gone down like a lead balloon in the ministerial corridors of Parliament House in Canberra.

A couple of hours before that address, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also spoke of a proposed scheme that has received a staggering lack of attention given its potentially huge ramifications for emissions reduction policy. Expect to hear a lot more about this big idea over the coming months.

Von der Leyen's 'carbon border adjustment mechanism' would essentially slap a tax on certain carbon-intensive goods imported from countries that are not doing their bit to lower emissions under the Paris climate accord. China would be an obvious initial target.


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I am sure Tony Abbott is trusting of science-based evidence as he is being wheeled off to an operating theatre, or boarding a plane to France to attend the Tour de France, or, if he can’t be there, turning on a television to watch them as they cycle through the French countryside. Popping something in the microwave to heat up for a midnight snack as he watches them cycle up The Pyrenees, I doubt will call his faith in scientific-based fact into question.

So, why the debate over climate change?

Simple. It is “The Convenient Truth”. It is based on our human interaction with the natural world. The natural world goes back several billion years longer than we do. Plenty of wriggle room for us to deny any mea culpa. How far back do our precise, reliable records of human activity on the planet go? Not billions of years.

People who expect the planet to come up with something new after billions of years of doing what it does have rocks in their heads.

Climate change hasn’t invented fire, flood, drought, typhoons or hurricanes. All are gifts the natural world bestows us from time to time. And there’s the rub. The science suggests we are increasing the frequency of these dramatic natural episodes way above what our limited historical knowledge would have us believe should be the case. It can do no more than that.

Climate change is the convenient smoke-and-mirrors of where our global attention currently resides. We’ve all heard a disgraced public figure say they would like to apologise if their actions have offended anyone. They rarely then go on and actually apologise. I would like to compose a world-famous song but, as yet, I haven’t. Get my point?

We can say we believe in climate change, but it is hard to define what we are actually saying. It is not our fault. We live for 100 years if we are lucky. Doesn’t really compare to 6 billion years.

Some say we are being extremely human-centric in thinking we can actually impact at a major level something as powerful and grand as the Earth and our universe. Whether we do or don’t, I see no harm in living a life less cluttered with pollutants, CO2 emissions, plastics and oil spills. Cleaner air and less pollution can only do us good, but don’t expect our lifestyle to create anything new in the natural world.


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the doomest of all...

by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2020-01-25 11:16

It’s invasion day again only, this time, the eyes of the world are upon us. Under headlines like "Australia shows us the road to hell", the world is wondering if our economy isn’t every bit as fragile as the landscape it routinely exploits. It’s wondering about our tourism, with massive cancellations already from China and a US travel warning putting Australia on par with Gaza and PNG. It’s asking how long Australia will be habitable. But beneath those questions lies another. What, at this crossroads, does it mean to be Australian?

The first three are questions of both fact and perception. As such they may be partly addressed by Scott Morrison’s $76m commitment to beef-up Australia as a brand. But the last is a question for us. Who are we, as a nation, and who do we wish to be going forward?

As the fires rage on, bringing little but anti-green and pro-coal propaganda from our governments, we have a choice. We can go on pretending that exploitation is a sustainable way of life. We can pursue this culture of denial, where truths about nature, climate, women and Indigenous peoples are held in contempt. Or we can dust off our angel wings and smarten up.

Australian culture has always relied on easy exploitation. From the moment white people arrived, we’ve been kidding ourselves that arrogance and theft add up to a lifestyle with a future. We dig stuff up and flog it, no value added, no questions asked. We grow food in the most destructive possible manner – clearfelling, monoculturing, irrigating and overgrazing; destroying soil, desertifying land and belching carbon. We crowd to the edge of the continent, gazing out to sea, chucking our trash over our shoulders, pretending it won’t come back to bite.

And sure, to some extent, that’s just colonialism. Colonialism is inherently macho, and inherently denialist. But it should be transitional. Now, as the NY Times argues, our political denialism is “scarier than the fires”. Smarten up? It’s time we grew up.

This is Australia’s moment of reckoning. It’s time we lost the attitude. Time we made a clear, rational and collective choice between survival-by-respect and death-by-stupid.



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by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2020-01-25 11:03

It’s been too long since we were in each other’s warm embrace. But here we are, back from a fume-filled break. As they say in Hawaii, aloha.

It’s not been an easy time for Scotty from Marketing. He is supposed to be a PR genius, yet the art of public relations suddenly got too complicated for him. PR is the place people end up when all other professional options fail, and now Schmo has failed at the failures’ last resort.

The sight of him in his post-Hawaii scramble for street cred will stay with us for yonks: wantonly grabbing at the hands of people who were telling him to “piss off”, dashing about for photographic moments, jabbing his fingers into maps of fire-torn country, ordering “boots on the ground”, producing a grab bag of money that will turn into a trickle when the carnage fades, and his video conflating the Liberal Party with national salvation.

Citizens desperately wanted to believe that promises of an “evolving” climate policy and “balance” were signs that things would change. Nothing will change. We’re trapped in a country led by rorters and snake-oil merchants.

One thing is clear, the Nasty Party is split – clearly evident in the putdown of New South Wales Environment Minister Matt Kean, someone who wants to take more than a timid step on climate policy.

Schmo is a control freak who has lost control, a fearmonger who is afraid – mainly for his own political future. Australia is an international pariah and newspapers such as the Financial Times are mentioning that the prime minister is an “absolute arsehole” – an observation from a ministerial colleague as reported by Niki Savvain her book Plots and Prayers.

Praise be.



You may have detected a touch of longshoreman’s patois has crept into the column. Unlike the hardworking hacks at the ABC, Gadfly has not received any language instructions from the editor.

In response to a miserable Twitterer who dubbed the national broadcaster’s reports on the climate and the fires as “fake news”, Laura Tingle retorted: “A rare editorial engagement: go fuck yourself.”

The Australian SpectatorThe Daily Telegraph and The Courier-Mail were among the guardians of public decency who were aghast. Mark Maley, the acting editorial director at Aunty, was quick to send out an all-points ukase to the ranks, urging them to do “nothing that brings the ABC into disrepute”.

“It is crucial that our ability to be impartial and to be seen to be impartial is maintained.”

This raises the question of whether a corrective response to someone who is not impartial itself amounts to impartiality.

Maley continued: “In short, if you wouldn’t say something or endorse a point of view on air, it’s best to avoid doing it on social media.”

Oddly, La Tingle’s lively remark is still available on Twitter, while the account of the anonymous character to whom it was directed has been suspended for violating the rules.


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tell scummo to fuck himself instead of the ABC...

by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2020-01-25 10:11

The Pentagon says 34 service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury following missile strikes by Iran on a base in Iraq earlier this month, a number higher than the military had previously announced.

US President Donald Trump and other top officials initially said Iran’s attack had not killed or injured any US service members.

Last week, the US military said 11 US troops were treated for concussion symptoms after the attack on the Ain al-Asad air base in western Iraq and this week said additional troops had been moved out of Iraq for potential injuries.

Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters that 17 service members diagnosed had already returned to duty in Iraq.

Eight service members who had been previously transported to Germany had been moved to the United States and would receive treatment at either Walter Reed military hospital or their home bases.

Mr Hoffman said the service members were being treated on an outpatient basis and were transported back to the United States in order to be closer to their pre-deployment bases.

Nine service members remain in Germany and are undergoing evaluations and treatment.

Mr Hoffman said the military had seen symptoms like headaches, dizziness, sensitivity to light and nausea.

On Wednesday, Mr Trump appeared to play down the injuries, saying he “heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things.”

Pentagon officials have said there had been no effort to minimise or delay information on concussive injuries, but its handling of the injuries following Tehran’s attack has renewed questions over the US military’s policy regarding how it deals with suspected brain injuries.

While the US military has to immediately report incidents threatening life, limb or eyesight, it does not have an urgent requirement to do so with suspected traumatic brain injury, or TBI, which can take time to manifest and diagnose.

Mr Hoffman said US Defense Secretary Mark Esper directed the Pentagon to review the process for tracking and reporting injuries.

Various health and medial groups for years have been trying to raise awareness about the seriousness of brain injuries, including concussions.

According to Pentagon data, about 408,000 service members have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury since 2000.


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by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2020-01-25 10:07

The fate of Deputy Nationals Leader Bridget McKenzie could come to a head this weekend, as newspaper reports unearthed further revelations into the so-called $100 million sports rorts scandal.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has asked his head of department Philip Gaetjens to investigate whether any part of Senator McKenzie’s handling of the $100 million Community Sport Infrastructure Program breached ministerial standards.

Mr Morrison is expected to hear from Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary as soon as Sunday.

An auditor-general report found the program favoured coalition marginal and targeted seats before last year’s federal election.

The audit found in the third round of the program, 73 per cent of projects given funding were not recommended by Sport Australia.

The Weekend Australian reports two of Mr Morrison’s senior staffers were involved in handling funding applications under the grants program before presenting them to Senator McKenzie when she was sports minister prior to the last year’s federal election.

Mr Morrison has rejected suggestions that funding allocations originated from his office.

Nine newspapers also reported that Senator McKenzie signed off on more that $1 million in grants for shooting clubs and associations, potentially opening her up to further allegation of conflicts of interest.

Senator McKenzie, a keen shooter herself, has repeatedly refused to step down from her leadership role in the Nationals party and from the government front bench as agriculture minister.


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by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2020-01-25 10:01

Bridget McKenzie’s office approved nine sport grants in key seats that it asked Sport Australia to assess after applications closed, despite a warning from the agency that it was “not appropriate” to accept or fund the projects.

The direct request from McKenzie’s office to Sport Australia under the controversial sport rorts affair asked it to consider nine new applications that had either been substantially amended or were new on March 20 – less than two months before the May election.

Four of the applications that came directly from the minister’s office came from proponents who had not submitted an application when the grants were open publicly in August and September 2018.


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Whether these rorts and other rorts like MPs slanted signs in chinese influenced the result of the last elections, the election should be deemed null and void for corruption in intent to influence voters with porkbarelling.

NULL AND VOID. BACK TO THE BALLOT BOX... If Scott Morrison had any Christian ethics he would sack McKenzie, Taylor and then sack himself... We now know his "miracle" was thus based on RORTS, as well as bullshit from the Murdoch media... 

by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2020-01-25 09:36

This garden orb spider, usually grey, has taken the red colour of the dead frond of a cycad leaf where it is hiding...


red orb spider

red orb spider



by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2020-01-25 07:43

If there is one thing that unites the nation on Australia Day, it is clichés. And on Australia Day weekend 2020, we seem to be surpassing our usual ration of clichés about beaches, barbecues, and revelling in our egalitarian ordinariness.

Of course these days we pay at least some respect and recognition to Indigenous Australia, while skirting around the controversy of what they think about the marking of our national day on January 26.

But this year there are more than just the usual clichés about Aussie-ness. We have drought and fire and rain all at once, and on a scale that has made the world sit up and take notice.


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