Monday 22nd of December 2014

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by Gus Leonisky on Mon, 2014-12-22 21:34

Finally one barnacle has been removed from the Abbott Government, and just in time for Christmas: Arthur Sinodinos is gone as assistant treasurer, writes Mungo MacCallum.

After months of procrastination, Arthur Sinodinos has been informed that his resignation as assistant treasurer has been accepted, whether it was offered or not. And to seal the compact, the resignation was leaked immediately, just in case there could be any second thoughts.

The embattled senator, it will be recalled, was invited to the ICAC to shed some light on the shenanigans involving Australian Water Holdings (AWH), the dodgy company promoted by disgraced entrepreneur Nick Di Girolamo and his ally Eddie Obeid. The Commission was particularly interested in the fact that large sums of money had been remitted from the firm to the federal Liberal Party, and felt that Sinodinos, in his joint role of AWH director and Liberal Party Treasurer, might be able to help.

But alas, Sinodinos knew nothing - an important qualification for a front bench position within the Abbott Government. And he is convinced that, in the end, he will be vindicated and indeed reinstated. He may be right: the only certain things against him are plausible denial and insensate greed, the latter from the hope and expectation of a multi-million dollar windfall from a shonky deal he was pushing on behalf of AWH. As far as his political colleagues are concerned, these are certainly not serious offences - indeed, they are more matters for congratulation.

But in the meantime Josh Frydenberg takes over as back up for Joe Hockey, recently crowned in the polls as the worst treasurer in a generation: something of a poisoned chalice, but a chalice nonetheless - prospective ministers can't be choosers. And Sussan Ley gains promotion, but mainly through headlines reporting her as a second token woman as female company for Julie Bishop - Abbott has played the gender card again. There is some movement among the junior ranks, but at the top it looks more like a case of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic. The big loser is David Johnston, dumped in spite of Abbott's fulsome (in the correct sense of the word) praise just a fortnight ago. Kevin Andrews and Peter Dutton have been moved to Johnston's political death zone of Defence and Scott Morrison's demolition area of Immigration respectively and Morrison himself gets Social Security with an opportunity to prove that he can be as brutal with welfare recipients as he has been with refugees. And so the ship founders on.

by Gus Leonisky on Mon, 2014-12-22 21:30

news limit

Yes, stop Morrison from being the next bludgeoning marriage consoler counsellor. "Stop the bludgers"? Where are they? Most of the people I know are either dead from overwork or working their arse off without being able to make ends meet. If there is one bludger on this good land of Australia it is Tony Abbott who is hell-bent on destroying the working social fabric of this country. Further more he is the one who milked the government for his little personal enterprises like promoting HIS book and "charitable" pedalling... Yep, the biggest bludger in this country is TONY ABBOTT... 

News limited goes beyond the limit of decency yet again... but we should not expect anything more from the bastards who write crap for the merde-och press... And please, boffins with a pen, stop writing puns in headlines as if it's news... It's not. It shows your gross infantile character that is still in nappies...

by Gus Leonisky on Mon, 2014-12-22 12:45


Sydney bureau chief Ross Jones ponders Tony Abbott's new team and wonders: where is Mal Brough?

You put your right foot in (it)
You take your right foot out (of it)
You put your right foot in (shit)
And you shake it all about (like a turd)
You do the hokey pokey (mokey)
And you turn yourself around (and around and around)
That's what it's all about (reshuffling deck chairs)


This merry ditty provided the leitmotif to the great Abbott Cabinet Reshuffle. (comments by Gus)

Why a reshuffle and not just a plain, garden-variety shuffle is anyone’s guess. The LNP has been in power just 15 months and the only previous shuffle I can recall was a bit of tinkering at the edges to try and fill the yawning intellectual gap left by Arthur Sinodinos when he decided hiding was the better part of valour and stepped aside as assistant treasurer. The gap, sadly, remains unfilled.

You will recall Arthur as the chap in the ICAC witness box running his finger round the inside of his blue-tied collar when pressed on his memory, or lack of it, of sending money to himself, from AWH, of which he was a director, to the NSW Liberals, of which he was treasurer.

Arthur’s career finished at that point. He didn’t resign though. He kept the job title but just kind of hung around in the background, mooching. That left the overworked Joe Hockey to carry the nation’s financial burdens without an able assistant, and we all know how well that’s worked out.,7215


by Gus Leonisky on Mon, 2014-12-22 11:30


A Senate Committee was told the total cost of the review was $587,329. That figure does not include the salaries of the staff on the secretariat or overheads such as IT and accommodation.

Mr Warburton received fees in the order of $73,000; Mr Fisher $39,900; Ms In’t Veld, $43,900; and Mr Zema, $29,700.

Clean energy representatives were shocked by the panel’s appointment as chief advisor and modeller of ACIL Allen, a consultancy seen as close to the fossil fuel industry, and whose highly contested research formed the basis of the coal industry’s attempts to dismantle the RET in 2012.

They refused to include in their modelling the benefits of renewable energy – including the health benefits, job benefits, and the network benefits – which the panel dismissed as “too hard to model” and little more than a “transfer of wealth”, presumably away from the coal generators and network providers.

ACIL Allen were paid $287,468 for their modelling

We also have seen Christopher Pyne’s National Curriculum Review which cost $283,157 to tell us we need less Indigenous focus and more Judeo-Christian, less creativity and more rote learning, and less about progressive reform and more about business.

Kevin Donnelly and Ken Wiltshire appointed 16 external experts to make contributions, including Barry Spurr, each of whom were paid $8250 for their reports.

This government’s intentions are clear. They have bypassed government departments and statuatory bodies, ignored expert advice and the results of previous reviews, to pay hundreds of millions to consultants, vested interests, and party hacks to produce the results that endorse their stated policies or that damage the previous government.

See toon at top...


by John Richardson on Mon, 2014-12-22 10:04

The shooting down of MH17 is part of larger, longer-term conflict, writes Dr George Venturini*. In Part 7 Dr Venturini concludes his investigation into the ‘oil factor’ in this conflict.

Cui prodest? Huh … It is the oil, men! (Continued).

The downing of Malaysia Airlines MH17 – Part 7

by Gus Leonisky on Mon, 2014-12-22 07:38


From Amanda Vanstone


Are we better off for seeing people in an horrifically frightening situation? I think not. My preference would be to allow filming, provided there was no operational interference, but for it not to go to air until the ordeal was over. An exception would be made if airing the coverage was part of a demand to which the authorities had acquiesced.

Some might say such a limitation would be inappropriate because "we have a right to know" or because of "freedom of the press". I support both those propositions, with a few caveats.

We do have a right to know, but it is questionable whether that right should extend to being able in real time to see how law enforcement is handling a continuing operation. We need a strong media to monitor how our governments and agencies are carrying out their duties. But monitoring a siege situation need not involve relaying it all instantaneously to us. There is always plenty of time after the event to assess what happened and offer praise or criticism.

Our voracious voyeurism doesn't end there.



I have no clue if Amanda knows or not. According to people in the media, the images we got from the various TV channels were already censored... and the faff from the "journalist commentating kind" was also quite limited, though puffed up. There was a lot of speculation that prevented us to know the reality of the situation. Even Tony Abbott got a few things wrong. I felt he was possibly trying to score a sympathy vote for appearing to say something which was quite faffy as well — a bit slow like a Michelle Grattan rehash of news for Fran's show, on a loop...

But the police and cameraman had already set up some cameras that gave extra vision and contact we did not see. It was exclusively linked to the police. It was not a movie.

Our voracious voyeurism is often no more than "caring distorted by fear" under the habit of being "informed" in order to sell us more dishwashing liquid. Our entire social system — via its MMMM (mediocre mass media de mierda) demands we become voyeurism addict — to buy something — even to the three word political sound bite. It's not about knowledge. It's about emotions and manipulations thereof so we become sheep who are being informed there is a better floor mop out there. It takes an insensitive bastard like me not to cry when people die in horrific situation, including more than 130 children being slain because they sought education — or eight kids a desperate mum killed. But most of the MMMM will treat far away dreadful act at first as if it was a "faits diverts" while something "closer to us" with less dead people is developing. I have learnt long ago that in order to be level headed, one cannot absorb all the misery on the planet in one's heart... But one can help thy neighbour allay his/her suffering and the feeling should spread around.

As well one is never sure if one's friend John is caught in the siege... We care about John. We need to know and there is nothing vicarious about finding out if John is okay. Or even people I don't know but I know people who know the parents of people inside the cafe during the siege. We know a lot of mistakes were done in trusting a nutcase. She'll be right mate... in 99.99 per cent of cases she'll be right. One some occasion the system goofs, badly. Our system, to a great extend, relies on trust. In many countries, people distrust each other and this is the saddest thing of all. We cannot let ourselves distrust each other because of a nutcase. But our system is designed for maximum freedom and allows for flaws — and benign nut-cases... And we have to maintain our trust between each other, hence the sea of flowers — not because we've lost our innocence (or as some media outlet say "the day things have changed forever" — idiots) but because we need to show we care and trust...

And by the way, I did not watch the faff... but I stayed somehow informed... What bothers me a bit is we've got no tab on who shot whom...


See toon and story at top

by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2014-12-21 16:20


Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced a major reshuffle of his frontbench as he moves to "reset and refocus" his Government for next year.

Scott Morrison has been appointed the Minister for Social Services taking on an expanded portfolio which includes welfare, families, child care and the paid parental leave scheme.

Mr Abbott has announced David Johnston is leaving Cabinet and will be replaced as Defence Minister by Kevin Andrews.

Peter Dutton moves to Immigration and his former portfolio of Health will be held by Sussan Ley who has been promoted, making her the second woman in the upper ranks of the ministry.

Josh Frydenberg has been promoted to the outer Ministry as Assistant Treasurer.

Mr Abbott said he used the resignation of Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos to have a "significant" reshuffle.


See toon half-way up...


by Gus Leonisky on Sun, 2014-12-21 06:41

North Korea says US accusations that it was involved in a cyber attack on Sony Pictures are "groundless slander" and has demanded a joint investigation into the incident.

An unnamed spokesman of the North's foreign ministry also said there would be "grave consequences" if Washington refused to agree to the joint probe and continued to accuse the North of the attack, the country's official KCNA news agency reported.

"As the United States is spreading groundless allegations and slandering us, we propose a joint investigation with it into this incident," the spokesman was quoted by KCNA as saying.

"Without resorting to such tortures as were used by the US CIA, we have means to prove that this incident has nothing to do with us."

The cyber attack prompted Sony Pictures to cancel the Christmas Day release of The Interview, a madcap satire about a fictional CIA plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.


Why not make a comedic movie about US torture around the world and Guantanamo bay?... That would be a riot, no?

by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2014-12-20 20:15

The UN General Assembly has passed a resolution asking Israel to pay Lebanon more than $850m (£544m) for a major oil spill during Israel's 2006 war with Hezbollah.

The UN has asked Israel to compensate Lebanon before but this is the first time a figure has been given.

The assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour by 170 votes to six, but its resolutions are not legally binding.

Israel's UN mission said the resolution was biased.

The slick was created when Israeli jets bombed a power station, releasing about 15,000 tonnes of oil into the eastern Mediterranean sea.

At its peak, it stretched for 120km (75 miles) along the shore.

The resolution calls the incident an "environmental disaster'' which caused extensive pollution.

'Anti-Israeli agenda'

The Lebanese ambassador to the UN, Nawaf Salam, said the resolution was "major progress".

by Gus Leonisky on Sat, 2014-12-20 19:50


The sanest thing anyone said in Washington this week was a reminder, on the Friday before Christmas, when Barack Obama took a break from oscillating between reassuring rationality and understated fear to make an accidental joke:

It says something about North Korea that it decided to mount an all-out attack about a satirical movie … starring Seth Rogen.

It also says something about the over-the-top rhetoric of United States cybersecurity paranoia that it took the President of the United States to remind us to take a deep breath and exhale, even if Sony abruptly scrapped its poorly reviewed Hollywood blockbuster after nebulous threats from alleged North Korean hackers.

Unfortunately, acting rational seems out of the question at this point. In between making a lot of sense about Sony’s cowardly “mistake” to pull a film based on a childish, unsubstantiated threat, Obama indicated the US planned to respond in some as-yet-unknown way, which sounds a lot like a cyberattack of our own.

“We will respond, we will respond proportionally, and in a place and time that we choose,” Obama said at his year-end news conference. Why should we be responding offensively at all? As the Wall Street Journal’s Danny Yadron reported, a movie studio doesn’t reach the US government’s definition of “critical infrastructure” that would allow its military to respond under existing rules, but that didn’t stop the White House from calling the Sony hack a “national security issue” just a day later.


This is also critical moment to take another look at the FBI’s proposal to force tech companies to install an insecure backdoor in all communications systems that use encryption, and the NSA’s own aggressive hacking of companies and governments overseas – both policies that would make attacks like the Sony hack more likely in the future. Shouldn’t we be asking why America is purposefully degrading its own cybersecurity in an attempt to make sure we keep our vast surveillance capabilities on everyone else in the world?


See toon at top...