Sunday 5th of July 2015

Recent Comments

by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2015-07-04 20:41

Of course, it is entirely possible the Hockey bank balance will not suffer even if costs are awarded against him because he has, well, resources he can draw on. It is the Liberal way.

The puzzle continues to be: why did Joe do it?  He must have known the Fairfax allegations that cashed-up NSF members gained privileged access to his ear were true.

In court, he presented as an arrogant bully; maybe he was just so full of himself he thought the court might be cowed by his righteous outrage.

Or maybe it was part of a Team thing to see just how far they can go to frighten the media.



Why did Joe did it?... Because... I have no idea...

But thinking about it, one could believe that Joe had been deviously inspired by someone in the Murdoch media to get at Fairfax? I don't know...

May be Joe thought his belief in god was so strong that he could not loose? I don't know...

May be Joe though he was "morally" right to be offended, but did not look at the situation properly that, basically, he did not see that "someone" was selling access to him for big cash?...I don't know...

May be Joe though that a hollow "victory" was worth it, that is to say get savaging headlines in the Murdoch media against Fairfax, making Joe look like a winner against the competition of the Merdoch press.? Who knows...



by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2015-07-04 18:45

Labor senator Penny Wong says the prime minister, Tony Abbott, is Australia’s biggest roadblock to marriage equality.

She has also slammed the “illogical and outright offensive” language used by those against same-sex marriage.

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by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2015-07-04 16:20

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has denied filing a request for asylum in France after revealing the existence of a child he has not seen for five years.

His legal defence team took issue on Friday with a statement from the Elysee Palace that an asylum request from the Australian had been declined.

Defence team director Baltasar Garzon said in a statement an open letter written by Assange to the French president, Francois Hollande, had only expressed his willingness “to be hosted in France if and only if an initiative was taken by the competent authorities”.

Earlier Hollande’s office said in a statement it could not “act on the request”, adding Assange was not in immediate danger and there was a European arrest warrant out on him.

The Australian, who turned 44 on Friday, has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces allegations by two women of rape, sexual molestation and illegal coercion.

He says he fears if he goes to Sweden he will be extradited to the US and charged over WikiLeaks’ release of classified documents.

In his open letter published in Le Monde newspaper on Friday, Assange described himself as a “journalist pursued and threatened with death by the United States’ authorities as a result of my professional activities”.

He wrote that “only France now has the ability to offer me the necessary protection against, and exclusively against, the political persecution that I am currently the object of”.

Such an offer of protection would be a “humanitarian and symbolic gesture” and send a message of encouragement “to journalists and whistleblowers around the world”.

Assange said in his letter he had not seen his youngest child or the child’s mother, who are both French, for five years.

read more:

by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2015-07-04 16:13

The level of hypocrisy in the Australian political landscape has sunk to an all time low since Abbott & Co. took to using Karl Rove's faux shock and horror routine, writes Bob Ellis.

IT PROBABLY comes from the Karl Rove book of tactics. And it involves a pretence of shock, and a public declaration that there has never been anything like it, ever before. Last week it was when it was discovered that Bill Shorten had professed his loyalty to Julia Gillard three days after that loyalty had grown wobbly.

Peacock, Howard, Costello, Turnbull and Abbott had done this before him, Beazley, Latham, Rudd and Gillard. They had said they were “a hundred percent” behind their leader Howard, Peacock, Howard, Downer, Nelson, Turnbull, Crean, Beazley, Beazley and Beazley.

But we were told, last week, hand on heart – by Abbott, Pyne, Bolt, Reith, PVO, David Speers – that this had never happened before. Never ever. Shock horror. What a unique villain he is.

Last week, also, we heard the appearance of Zaky Mallah on Q&A was appalling, unprecedented, and grounds for selling off or starving the ABC. Not because of what he said on the show, but what he had written when he was nineteen, and had served his time for, that he would like to kill some men from ASIO. It was unprecedented, we were told, that such a man should be on Q&A, and that he had not been frisked for weapons before he was let in.  

But Alan Jones had also, lately, been on Q&A. And he had threatened the life of Julia Gillard. He had said she should be towed out to sea and, in a sugar bag, thrown over the side. (See IA’s story on Jones’ history of bullying and offensive behavior). Steve Ciobo had been on the show on the same night. And he had to be reprimanded on Lateline for using the phrase “slit Julia Gillard’s throat”. (See IA’s story here). Chopper had been on the show after saying he had slit the belly of a friend, and had written about it in his book. 

It is to be presumed that had Norman Mailer, who stabbed his wife, appeared on the show, there would have been no complaint. Or Roman Polanski. Or George W Bush, who illegally killed with firebombing and street-fighting a hundred thousand people in Iraq.

It was a near-run thing with Zaky. What he said was unexceptionable:

“it’s people like you, and the things you say, that make young Muslims want to join ISIS." 

But he had threatened to kill someone, not meaning it, thirteen years ago, and a few weeks ago had expressed his lust – "gang bang" is not rape, it’s consensual, and frequent in the motel rooms of football stars – for a couple of female journalists whom he named.

Part of the trick is to quickly conceal what was actually said, and go into other details: how he was let in, what else he had said. With Peter Slipper it went quickly from his rorting of money – of which he was proven guiltless – and his office harassment of a male, of which he was proven guiltless, to what he had said – “cunts in brine” – in a private communication to a friend. For this vivid phrase he was hounded from office, made mad and ruined. The word “cunts” was shown to be a new word in the world, though it was old as Chaucer and a staple of English, Irish and American literature. And Australian drama also, as in the first words of Don’s Party, “G’day, cuntface”.

The feigned shock is the trick. And then the concealment of what was actually said, or done.

Let us imagine Malcolm Tucker was a real person – and I have met one of the men, John McTernan, he was based on — and he was accused, accurately, of violent threat and bad language, and told he could never, ever appear on Q&A. How stupid that would be.

Zaky Mallah, meanwhile, remains at large. He drinks coffee in Lakemba. He advises disaffected young Muslims not to join Daesh. No warrant is out for his arrest, no ASIO agent follows him, and photographs him, or records his phone calls. He has served the cause, he has provided the Karl Rove Moment, and he is no longer of interest to his persecutors.

It is as though he had never been.,7893

by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2015-07-04 16:01


The Australian arts sector held a crisis meeting in Sydney on Thursday night. More than 120 arts leaders from around the country attended to discuss what to do about one of the gravest threats to Australian culture in decades. Meanwhile, I received an email from a commissioning producer at a Melbourne performing arts centre. “Dark days,” he wrote. Several of his friends in small performing arts organisations are being laid off.

I spoke to one of them on Friday morning, who did not wish to be named. The chaos in the industry after the massive cuts to the Australia Council funding announced by arts minister George Brandis in May’s federal budget was directly responsible.

“There’s really no clear pathway towards multi-year funding, or even project funding for organisations where you need a small subsidy to underwrite management,” she told me. The uncertainty created by the 28% cut to the Australia Council is flowing through to job losses across the sector.

Bad news is starting to filter in. “I have also heard from lots of other people about how their funding is simply running out and they don’t know what is going to happen next year and if they will have jobs,” the producer said. “I think any organisation that went for the Australia Council’s six-year organisational funding round that was cancelled is now looking at laying off staff or folding.”

What was the six-year funding round? Only the Australia Council’s most important funding program for the so-called small-to-medium sector of small, innovative cultural organisations. After more than 400 organisations spent months developing their applications, the entire round was cancelled after Brandis ripped $104.7m from the Australia Council’s funding in the May budget, in order to create his new national program for excellence in the arts.

For those not intimately acquainted with the arts in Australia, it can be hard to get your head around a complex and multilayered industry. The cultural industries employed 311,000 workers at the 2011 census, and account for around 7% of Australia’s economy.

At the core of this vast enterprise, relatively small amounts of federal funding catalyse huge amounts of cultural activity. The Australia Council plays a crucial role, supporting a large and highly innovative cluster of small companies, galleries, publishers, collectives and individual artists.

Small investments in talent at an early stage can pay big dividends. To take just one example, Aussie songstress Courtney Barnett was the recipient of an innovative Australia Council-PPCA recording grant to record her first full-length album. You might have heard it’s done quite well.

The Australia Council currently funds 145 “key organisations” with ongoing operational funding. The list includes some of the nation’s best-known cultural exports: Back to Back theatre in Geelong; Circa from Brisbane; Lucy Guerin dance from Melbourne. It includes every funded literature organisation, scores of galleries, the entire federally-funded community arts sector, and most small Indigenous performing arts companies.

Now all bets are off. The key organisations funding runs out at the end of 2016, and no one has any clue about what will happen – least of all the Australia Council. This crisis has been caused by one man: George Brandis.

A quick list of some of Brandis’s actions makes for sobering reading. As opposition arts spokesperson in 2013, he tried to amend the Australia Council Act to include more ministerial discretion over funding. Since taking office in September 2013, the Abbott government has slashed Commonwealth funding for the arts: the 2014 federal budget saw $87m slashed from the federal arts portfolio and there were further efficiencies in the 2015 budget.

Despite reductions overall, the arts minister has been active in individual funding allocations. One of his first moves was to give $1m to the Australian Ballet School, an organisation with the wife of a former Howard government cabinet minister on its board. “‘I have taken a close interest in the Australian Ballet School and visited their facility on 6 February,” Brandis told journalists at the time.

The minister then gave Melbourne classical music record label Melba Recordings a $275,000 grant. It was not part of any official funding round and the grant was not peer-assessed, but Melba did lobby the minister about funding. The funding was decided in April 2014, but the Melba grant was not publicly announced in any media release or listed in the May 2014 budget papers. The first official acknowledgment was in an obscure attorney general’s department spreadsheet. Melba’s patrons and supporters include a cavalcade of highly-connected individuals, including a former Howard government cabinet minister.

Brandis has also given $1.15m in non peer-reviewed funding to the Australian World Orchestra, a company closely associated with his policy advisor Michael Napthali. Napthali was a director of the orchestra immediately before taking up his role in Brandis’s office, although the ministry insists he was not involved in any Australian World Orchestra funding decisions.

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by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2015-07-04 15:42

Iceland's parliament has abolished its blasphemy laws, despite opposition from some of the country's churches.

A bill was put forward by the minority Pirate Party, which campaigns for internet and data freedom.

It came after the deadly attack the same month against French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

The bill said it was "essential in a free society that the public can express themselves without fear of punishment".

As three members of the Pirate Party stood before parliament on Thursday, each said: "Je Suis Charlie", an expression used globally to express solidarity with the Charlie Hebdo victims.

After the ruling, the party wrote on its blog (in Icelandic): "Iceland's parliament has now established the important message that freedom will not give in to bloody attacks."

The blasphemy law had been in place since 1940, and anyone found guilty could have been sentenced to a fine or three months in prison.

by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2015-07-04 15:30


Petition shared on Facebook!

Don't change the school enrolment form. Give parents all the information they need to decide if they want to send their kids to religion, ethics or "supervised" activities in NSW public schools.


by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2015-07-04 09:40

Black seabirds circle high above the giant concrete dome that rises from a tangle of green vines just a few paces from the lapping waves of the Pacific. Half buried in the sand, the vast structure looks like a downed UFO.

At the summit, figures carved into the weathered concrete state only the year of construction: 1979. Officially, this vast structure is known as the Runit Dome. Locals call it The Tomb.

Below the 18-inch concrete cap rests the United States’ cold war legacy to this remote corner of the Pacific Ocean: 111,000 cubic yards of radioactive debris left behind after 12 years of nuclear tests.

Brackish water pools around the edge of the dome, where sections of concrete have started to crack away. Underground, radioactive waste has already started to leach out of the crater: according to a 2013 report by the US Department of Energy, soil around the dome is already more contaminated than its contents.

Now locals, scientists and environmental activists fear that a storm surge, typhoon or other cataclysmic event brought on by climate change could tear the concrete mantel wide open, releasing its contents into the Pacific Ocean.

“Runit Dome represents a tragic confluence of nuclear testing and climate change,” said Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, who visited the dome in 2010.

“It resulted from US nuclear testing and the leaving behind of large quantities of plutonium,” he said. “Now it has been gradually submerged as result of sea level rise from greenhouse gas emissions by industrial countries led by the United States.”

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by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2015-07-04 09:32


First the inquiry.


Then the inquiry into the inquiry.


Then the Zaky Mallah royal commission.


And then?


All hail Emperor Tony!


emperor has no clothes

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by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2015-07-04 09:13

Today, Wednesday July 2, 2015 at 1500 CEST, WikiLeaks continues publishing documents from the secret ongoing TiSA (Trade in Services Agremeent) negotiations, with four Chapters in key areas ahead of the next negotiating round on Monday: Electronic CommerceTelecommunications ServicesFinancial Services and Maritime Transport Services. All four texts include the confidential negotiating positions for each of the TiSA participating countries. Today WikiLeaks is also publishing detailed analyses on each of these Chapters, totalling 26 pages, explaining how they have changed since previous rounds, also published by WikiLeaks.

The Annexes show a concerted attempt to place restrictions on the ability of participating governments to regulate services sectors, even where regulations are necessary to protect the privacy of domestic populations, the natural environment or the integrity of public services. Today's TiSA documents follow WikiLeaks publication yesterday of five TiSA negotiating texts including the Core Text, and brings WikiLeaks' overall total of published secret TiSA texts to 28.