Saturday 30th of May 2015

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by Gus Leonisky on Fri, 2015-05-29 22:52


The comments fit a general trend here for vilifying the US, and demonstrate a conviction that consideration of Russia dominates global decision-making.

But Vladimir Putin's tirade also hints at genuine concern over the tournament's future.

This week, two prominent US senators urged Fifa against re-electing Mr Blatter as its head, because he continued to back Russia's right to stage the World Cup.

Acting as host was a privilege and a boost for Vladimir Putin "at a time when his actions should be condemned," John McCain and Robert Menendez argued.

Those actions include last year's annexation of Crimea and ongoing Russian support for rebel fighters in eastern Ukraine.

Moscow denies sending troops and weapons across the border, despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

A previous appeal asked Fifa to ban Russia from hosting the international event, but Mr Blatter has vowed repeatedly that politics would not "get in the way" of football.

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Putin may not be far off the mark in his comments about a "conspiracy" against Russia, 2018, considering that:


English Football Association chairman Greg Dyke has said England would support a possible boycott of the 2018 World Cup if Sepp Blatter is re-elected president of FIFA.

But his Dutch counterpart, Michael van Praag, said his federation had never discussed a boycott.

Dyke, speaking to BBC radio before Friday's presidential vote in Zurich, said England would not go it alone but would consider joining a wider European boycott.

"If the whole of UEFA said that, and all of the countries were willing to do it I think that is right," Dyke said.

"There is no point in one or two countries saying we are not going to take part because they will carry on with the tournament without them and that is then pretty unfair on the fans.

"But if UEFA as a group said 'look unless we get this sorted we are not going to be in the World Cup' then I think we would join them."


by Gus Leonisky on Fri, 2015-05-29 22:46



Still, this isn't a revolution. This pope may be a free spirit, but he's also conservative and doesn't appear to be poised or able to change much of the church's fundamentals. That, indeed, may be the source from the very beginning of one of the greatest misconceptions about Francis: the fact that he tries to be close to the church's followers and keep a distance from its apparatus doesn't necessarily mean he'll stray far from its doctrine and dogmas.

This year will be a decisive one for the pope. On Dec. 8, exactly 50 years after the closing of the Second Vatican Council -- which focused on the relationship between the Catholic Church and the modern world -- an extraordinary Holy Year will begin. With this scheduling, Francis wants to convey the message that he does, in fact, want to be a reformer. But in the process, he will have to battle the somnambulistic pace of the Catholic Church apparatus. Effecting change to the spirit of the Vatican requires years in office, the appointment of new cardinals and reforms. Francis may not have that much time. So far, the pope has only appointed 31 of the 120 cardinals entitled to vote for a successor.

Much will now hinge on how the pope continues to endure his 18-hour days. Francis is 78 years old and has lived for decades without part of his right lung. He also struggles with back pain. When he climbs up to the altar in front of St. Peter's Basilica, he sometimes starts wheezing heavily. It appears that Francis often thinks about throwing in the towel, and he's even open about it. He has publicly stated that "my pontificate will be a short one." But even if that turns out to be the case, there is one thing people will be able to say about his pontificate: that he has shown that the church can have a different feel to it than many people who had given up on it thought.

"Morto un Papa, se ne fa un altro" -- is a common saying in Rome that means, literally translated, if a pope dies, then the next one comes. It's as flippant as it is pious. When people first came up with the saying, nobody would have thought there could ever be two living popes, let alone three.

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by Gus Leonisky on Fri, 2015-05-29 22:41


Revisionist history is en vogue among Republicans this summer.

As Ramadi falls, hawks offer comfort in the argument that at least Iraq’s current troubles with ISIS can all be laid at President Obama’s feet. In the face of well-documented Iraqi reality, they are reviving the stale Vietnam-era trope to say that—if only the United States had the conviction to stay a little longer—it would have “won.”

The reviser-in-chief is none other than Sen. John McCain. McCain was Washington’s greatest advocate for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and he hated that the U.S. ever left. No doubt he dislikes President Obama, who thwarted the elder man’s bid for the White House in 2008, even more.

Just last week he told reporters that President Obama’s strategy for curbing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, was “one of the most disgraceful episodes in American history.” McCain’s widely known and tolerated flair for the dramatic now places an “episode” that most Americans could not rightly pin down, much less explain without the aid of Google, alongside slavery, the Trail of Tears, the federal crackdown on World War I-era Bonus Marchers, and the entire Vietnam War.

His partner in this long-running routine, Sen. Lindsey Graham, also reminiscent of Dr. Strangelove’s Gen. Buck Turgidson (“Mr. President, we must not allow a mineshaft gap!”), laid out the latest talking points in an interview about the ISIS takeover of Ramadi in Iraq this month:

It’s a predictable outcome of withdrawing all forces back in 2011…The military advised [Obama] to leave 10,000 troops. When he refused to take their advice, everything you see before you is a result of that big mistake.


Idiots. The big mistake was to concoct some fake intelligence to go and destroy Iraq in 2003. Leaving 10,000 troops would not have changed much of the tactics of ISIL, except possible delay an offensive into Iraq by a few months. ISIL being also involved in fighting the Syria government, the US might have been sucked into helping ISIL and thus be conned easier in supplying weapons. As well the news of "more" US soldiers deaths would not have been welcome within the US. The US is still in Afghanistan 14 years after the invasion and the situation is still tenuous. The Taliban is patient. 

To some extend, had Saddam died of a natural death about like say this year (thus aged 78), a more massive civil war could start and more readily involve Iran and the Saudis... The situation would be complicated but diplomacy could still manage the situation. There was room for negotiations with Saddam then to make sure that Iraq was not going to destroy itself in the future, US troops or none. There is little room now, especially when the Wahhabi religious mob control ISIL and Saudi Arabia and is eager to take "territory"...

The war against Iraq was a giant mistake. Trying to rewrite history is puerile and imbecilic. ISIL is purely due to George W Bush and his little helpers... including McCain.


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by Gus Leonisky on Fri, 2015-05-29 20:18


Australia faces more than decade of uninterrupted deficits according to an updated assessment by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office that shows Senate intransigence will carve a $100 billion black hole out of revenue between now and 2025-26.

Savings not realised as a result of parliamentary gridlock suggest the budget prediction of a near fiscal balance by 2018-19 is overly optimistic because it is based on budget repair initiatives that have not been legislated and, in many cases, are unlikely to ever pass the Parliament.

The PBO's assessment lists out the proposals such as welfare cuts and major higher education reforms already factored into the current budget projections as savings but which are not yet approved, in a table entitled "unlegislated measures carried forward from the 2014-15 budget".

The finding means Treasurer Joe Hockey's lower-than-expected deficit estimate of $35.1 billion for the coming financial year may already be out of date. Without a legislative breakthrough, and leaving aside other variables such as a further decline in revenue from iron ore, company tax, and personal taxes, that 2015-16 deficit jumps from the $35.1 billion stated just a fortnight ago to $38.3 billion thanks to the cumulative impact of un-passed savings measures over the next 13 months.

And the following year's deficit of $25.8 billion blows out to $30.6 billion, assuming no movement.

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by Gus Leonisky on Fri, 2015-05-29 18:42

It's not even three weeks old, but after a happy birth, Joe Hockey's second budget has been sent to the sick bay by the latest private fixed capital expenditure data.

Various budget clinicians are shaking their heads, some even daring to offer a gratuitous R-word diagnosis, albeit couched more softly and somewhat oddly as "recessionary".

Maybe that's a reference to a recessional – the hymn sung on the way out of church.

In any event, Mr Hockey is likely to be doing lots of praying over his budget, begging for a miracle of the loaves and tradies, asking for the Reserve Bank to be wrong and his Treasury forecasts to be right.

That's what the budget's welfare depends on, along with the welfare of the Treasurer and Prime Minister.

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by Gus Leonisky on Fri, 2015-05-29 17:41


Cristan Williams, a trans historian and journalist, interviewed Judith Butler about gender and the trans experience for The TransAdvocate. They discussed the problem with TERFs and the work of Sheila Jeffreys and Janice Raymond.

Cristan Williams: 
You spoke about the surgical intervention many trans people undergo as a “very brave transformation.” Can you talk about that?

Judith Butler: It is always brave to insist on undergoing transformations that feel necessary and right even when there are so many obstructions to doing so, including people and institutions who seek to pathologize or criminalize such important acts of self-definition. I know that for some feels less brave than necessary, but we all have to defend those necessities  that allow us to live and breathe in the way that feels right to us.  Surgical intervention can be precisely what a trans person needs – it is also not always what a trans person needs.  Either way, one should be free to determine the course of one’s gendered life.


CW: What, if anything, would you like trans people to take from your work?

JB: Gender Trouble was written about 24 years ago, and at that time I did not think well enough about trans issues. Some trans people thought that in claiming that gender is performative that I was saying that it is all a fiction, and that a person’s felt sense of gender was therefore “unreal.” That was never my intention. I sought to expand our sense of what gender realities could be. But I think I needed to pay more attention to what people feel, how the primary experience of the body is registered, and the quite urgent and legitimate demand to have those aspects of sex recognized and supported. I did not mean to argue that gender is fluid and changeable (mine certainly is not). I only meant to say that we should all have greater freedoms to define and pursue our lives without pathologization, de-realization, harassment, threats of violence, violence, and criminalization. I join in the struggle to realize such a world.


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meanwhile the first dog on the moon tells it straight:


by Gus Leonisky on Fri, 2015-05-29 17:10


One example of this “echo chamber” in action can be found with the Mont Pelerin Society (MPS) – a private membership group of free market protagonists established in the 1940s.

MPS has more than 600 members worldwide and meets regularly in all parts of the globe.

The society doesn’t publish a list of its members, although I have a copy of its 2013 membership list. There are currently about 40 Australian members.

Many have expressed scepticism or worse about climate change science or are part of organisations that push denial, reject the need to act and dismiss renewable energy sources.

These include former Prime Minister John Howard, Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson, Institute of Public Affairs boss John Roskam, former IPA fellow Alan Moran, mining magnate and Mannkal think tank head Ron Manners and conservative columnist Janet Albrechtsen.

Oh yes. Maurice Newman is a member too.

In the US, many MPS members work at think tanks that have campaigned against cuts to greenhouse gases and/or pushed climate science denial.

Charles Koch - one half of the “libertarian” oil billionaire Koch brothers who have pushed millions into campaigns to block action on fossil fuel burning – is a member.

So too is former Czech Republic President Vaclav Klaus, who thinks climate science and environmentalism are a threat to people’s freedom.

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The Mont Pelerin Society is composed of persons who continue to see the dangers to civilized society outlined in the statement of aims. They have seen economic and political liberalism in the ascendant for a time since World War II in some countries but also its apparent decline in more recent times. Though not necessarily sharing a common interpretation, either of causes or consequences, they see danger in the expansion of government, not least in state welfare, in the power of trade unions and business monopoly, and in the continuing threat and reality of inflation.

Again without detailed agreements, the members see the Society as an effort to interpret in modern terms the fundamental principles of economic society as expressed by those classical economists, political scientists, and philosophers who have inspired many in Europe, America and throughout the Western World.


This is a powerfully VAGUE statement that does not inspire confidence. It seems very "worthy" yet is unsharp and limited in its understanding of humanity at large, beyond the elements of "business". Nor do these folks have an understanding of the dynamics of this planet. These elements of business can be very misunderstanding of the contrary positions that the business actions can generate in regard to the equation of supply and demand, including destructive forces upon the earth, plus the powerful and often dangerous hocus pocus of advertising, while keeping people in debt in order to keep them "captive".

The "fundamental principles of economic societies" seem to be basically revolving around greed and the management of greed to favour those who can be greedier than most. Classical economy is not a science but an art form which is at best subjectively successful and at worse can let everyone down into the clutches of market manipulations as in the GFC. 

By contrast, the science of global warming and other natural sciences are specific in their equations and understanding of dynamics. It's as simple as that: add more CO2 in the atmosphere and the temperature of the surface of the planet is going to go up. Glaciers are going to melt, storms are going to be more powerful and heat waves will kill more people. And of all things, this is not going to be stopped by burning more fossil fuels. 

Overall, the Mont Pelerin Society has been highjacked by rich dudes and CONservative geezers who like to cultivate the future of this planet with the same "classical" incomplete and somewhat erroneous knowledge as the Romans and the Greeks. Old Sox would be proud of these idiotic foggies.



by Gus Leonisky on Fri, 2015-05-29 16:09


Why would I object to Senator Brandis' apparent self -indulgent creation of yet another art body designed for ministerial "excellence" in the arts?... Old Gus sees a highjack of intellectual vigour to tame creativity into very well-crafted mediocre rubbish. I could be wrong and could have misunderstood the intent or the shift.

But ART — especially since it freed itself from the clutches of Kings and Church — has become a conduit for revolutionary fireworks, stupid ideas and challenging visionary interpretations of life. There is no "excellence" in revolution. Excellence does not belong in new art.

Raw artistic emotions and critical reactions are part of throwing punches into the establishment. There is no "excellence" in throwing punches. It's a gut thing. It's visceral. There is no "excellence" in a gut feeling unlike the glitter of a polished gold ring.

I could not agree more than a lot of so-called modern art is poor on this subject and short of intellectual stimulation as it wades, like the rest of present society, into the self-absorbed narcissism and forgo of its social catharsis necessary role.

But this is art in search of new purposes like pharmaceutical labs are testing many possibilities in search of a cure. Thousands products are tried and most fail. And the Council for the Arts may get it wrong or not, from time to time. This is not the point. Old Gus never got a cent from the Council for the Arts nonetheless, and this does not mean he thinks he is above the fray as per the old dictum:

The pride and self-respect which are the natural comcomitants of genius will be more likely to keep a man out of the Academy than bring him into it...

The Times, 1830

Gus like most artists lives below the plimsol line... Clever enough but not enough to qualify as genius —which unlike scientific geniuses, rely on specific subjectivity manipulated by salesmanship into recognition by latte-drinking critics and unread rich business men...

But here Gus thinks the Minister is a bald pimp, when appropriating the arts as his his own to decide. Whether he succeeds in achieving something good or not is not the question. It is not for him to decide what lives or not in the difficult world of the arts. Let the professional revolutionaries and educated evaluators, even if they are asleep at the wheel, do it. 


by Gus Leonisky on Fri, 2015-05-29 15:14

The United States and other developed countries are in the midst of a digital revolution that may be even more profound than the industrial revolutions of the past. Advances in robotics, cognitive computing and other digital technologies promise untold benefits in a world of leisure hard to imagine. But there is also a dark side to this technological change. It could lead to joblessness for most and extreme inequality, threatening economic health and political stability.

Tension over rising inequality and a lack of good-paying middle class jobs is growing in Silicon Valley and nearby San Francisco, the epicentre of computerisation and the information economy. In San Francisco, buses for Google, Facebook and other companies ferry high-paid tech workers to their jobs in Silicon Valley. This allows tens of thousands to live in the city, fuelling popular anger over gentrification and high housing prices that are pushing longtime residents out.

In San Franciso – as elsewhere in the US – the speed at which top wage earners are pulling away from everyone else is becoming a major issue. According to Martin Ford, author of the new book The Rise of the Robots, "what you see is a few people essentially hoovering up all the income and all the success and everyone else kind of struggling. And one of the implications of digital technologies and the Internet is that more and more of the economy is coming to look like this."


Read from top... be patient... the pooping duck is eventually explained...

by Gus Leonisky on Fri, 2015-05-29 14:55


What is art? Prostitution...

                         Charles Baudelaire