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Bits and Pieces: Arc of Idiocracy.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 26/04/2022 - 7:59pm in


Last Sunday ABC Insiders host David Speers interviewed Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce from Gladstone. One of the topics was climate change. At about 10:06 (AEST), Speers asked Joyce:

The issues here in Gladstone, China and national security have been on the minds of people I have been speaking to. They’re also a little worried about the energy transition. That’s, you know, often talked about here. There is hope this region becomes a powerhouse for green energy and hydrogen. But there is some uncertainty, they want to see a plan. What is your plan?

From that moment and up to almost 10:11 Speers repeated that question nine more times. I repeat: NINE … MORE … TIMES. Beyond babbling incoherently “Lay-bah” blah-blah-blah, “Lay-bah” blah-blah-blah, Joyce did not say what the Nationals Party plan for climate change was.

Why?

You could be forgiven to believe that was merely a display of cretinism and/or ignorance.

And there’s more than a kernel of truth to that, but that’s not the whole explanation. The deepest reason is that Joyce didn’t want to answer, so he instead used Labor as a distraction, in the hope people won’t notice.

He doesn’t want to answer because his party’s plan is the same COALition plan: screw climate change. He’s just unwilling to admit it, for in this election honesty on that could be costly.

But we’ve known the answer for a long time. You see that grotesque mug just left of Scotty from Marketing laughing at Scotty’s hilarious lump of coal stunt? That’s Barnaby’s answer.

----------

You still remember this?

(source)
That was in Queensland. The Black Summer fires started just a few months later. Barely the fires were out, we went into full La Niña mode (and we still are there).

That’s how Barnaby’s plan for Queensland and Australia looks like. Hilarious, uh?

----------

This infographic – reflecting the location of US military bases in the Western Pacific area as it was in 2011 – is dated. To update it a bit, I added the yellow arrow, showing where the Solomon Islands is. So, who is rightly worried about potentially hostile military powers in their neighbourhood?

(source)
Since then the US, India, Japan and Oz created their anti-Chinese Quad and the US, UK (!) and Oz joined hands in the anti-Chinese AUKUS.

And yet, it is Australia, not China, that is in panic mode.

----------

The thing with Joyce is that Labor pollies are much, much better at wrecking their own credibility.

That’s what Penny Wong did today, as she talked about how climate change and national security are linked. She began by scoring some points against the COALition:

Pacific Island leaders have made absolutely clear that their number one national security and economic challenge is climate change and what has Australia, under this government, given them? The climate wars, Mr Dutton making a joke about water lapping at their door steps and Mr Morrison thumbing his nose at them.

She was talking about this:

Fair enough. But then, a journo reminded her that Pacific Islanders regard climate change as an existential threat, to ask: “If they say or warn that they don't want any fossil fuel projects, will you listen and act?

Wong’s answer? The same Joycean blah-blah-blah, but spoken in an infinitely more articulate manner. It amounts to “no”, however.

Smelling blood in the water, another reporter asked: “Will Labor sign the UN pledge to put an end to coal? And if not, why not?”

This time Wong’s answer at least had the virtue of being straight to the point: “No

----------

Bottom line: neither the COALition nor Labor take climate change seriously.

Pray that the election ends in a hung Parliament and Labor forms a minority government, so that the Greens and/or the Socialist Alliance have the balance of power to drag Labor, kicking and screaming, into some kind of action.

----------

Bill Birtles (ABC East Asia Correspondent) is worried with Chinese interference, and remarks with irony:

Non-interference” remained China's mantra, a contrast to America’s foreign policy. But it was now “non-interference by invitation”.

Unfortunately, he didn’t specify the target of the suspected Chinese interference in this particular case.

Could it be the Solomons themselves he has in mind? After all it is them inviting the Chinese: if they indeed establish military facilities there, it is with the Solomons Government’s consent. But in that case, his claim of interference seems as odd as claiming that consensual sex is rape. Thus, I suppose it’s not the Solomons he fears would be the target of interference.

So, against Solomons PM Mannasseh Sogavare’s assurances that the “pact” “won’t involve a Chinese military base”, maybe it’s Australia he thinks could be the target?

Well, he might be right. But I would like to ask something. First, how do you, Bill, define foreign interference? Because the way the Australian Government defines it does not seem to match your definition. And second, how do you, Bill, describe this?
(source)

----------

Last week, Scotty explained why he didn’t send Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne to the Solomons to try and persuade its PM, Manasseh Sogavare, not to take the deal.

It had nothing to do with the fundraiser, believe it or not. The fundraiser was mere coincidence.

It was all about “sensitivity”. All of a sudden Scotty – of all people! – turned into a sensitive man. And touchy-feely Scotty decided that Payne’s visit could have made the Islanders feel bullied or disrespected or overwhelmed or otherwise unimpressed. The risk is that they would have felt compelled to double down in their defiance.

Now, I must admit that second bit actually makes sense. I mean, pompous, supercilious, condescending, fat Payne is really likely to elicit less than goodwill on anybody.

See what I mean? (source)

Oddly enough though nobody seem to have sent Minister for Defence Peter Dutton the email about sensitivity, for last Thursday Dutton went to a radio station to say this:

“I make this point: China conducts its business in a very different way than we do,” he said.

“We don’t bribe people, the Chinese certainly do, and they’ve demonstrated that in Africa and elsewhere. People can draw their own conclusions.”

I mean, nothing spells sensitivity like accusations of corruption. It’s almost like sensitivity never was a consideration at all, isn’t it?

As far as I can tell, the little question that Aussie journos never seem to remember (i.e. is there any evidence backing up your allegation?) never popped up.

----------

Winning an election makes all the difference. Last year Scotty was making no apologies for being mightily pissed off at Emmanuel Macron. Macron had all but grabbed a megaphone to call Scotty a liar in front of the whole planet.

Now everything’s forgiven, everything’s forgotten. Scotty is sucking up desperately:

(source)

Scotty is a natural: cruel and ruthless with those he finds weak; subservient with those more powerful than himself.

----------

So, what do you make of that? I’ll just say this: Scotty you are so full of shit!

The Difference Between Honiara and Kiev? Yellow Peril v2.0.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 21/04/2022 - 3:35am in

Australians are getting pretty fed up with walking on eggshells every day because they’re worried about upsetting people – Scotty from Marketing earlier today.

The distance between Honiara (the capital of the Solomon Islands) and Canberra (Australian capital) is 3,074 kilometres. Because a mile is roughly 1.6 km, that distance is equivalent to about 1,900 miles.

But Australia is a big place and there are cities and towns much closer to Honiara. Cairns, for instance, in northern Queensland, is 1,745 km (1,084 mi) away.

In fact, Oz is a continent island as well, which means that to reach Australia you need to cross the sea (see the picture above?). Seas are formidable natural barriers, as the Nazis discovered during the Battle of Britain: the English Channel at its narrowest is 33 km (20 mi).

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 (source)
I’ve written about that “pact” between the Solomons and China. Not much is known about it here, but what little is guessed has caused much concern among locals involved in international relations and defence (it has also caused concern among American policy-makers, by the way).

More cautious experts say this may “destabilise the region”, but offer little concrete details about how that destabilisation would happen. As John Barron, hosting today the ABC’s The Drum, put it: “The Solomon Islands signs a pact with Beijing prompting concerns over China's growing influence in the South Pacific.”

Others, less cautious and apparently less familiar with maps, seem to believe that would allow China (our largest trade partner!) to block Australia’s international trade routes (?). Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce: “We don’t want our own little Cuba off our coasts.”

Anyway, Aussie experts consider it perfectly reasonable to worry about Australian national security: for them even the possible (not certain, not even necessarily likely, but merely possible) presence of the military of a potentially hostile nation that close to home (1,745 km), constitutes a serious threat requiring urgent diplomatic actions. (The crazies, on the other hand, are already clamouring for an outright invasion of the Solomons).
----------

The distance between Kiev and Moscow is 843.5 km (524 mi).

Is not just roughly half the distance between Honiara and Cairns. Is that there are no real natural barriers between the two cities. In fact an American man in his late eighties, with early stages Parkinson, could easily walk that distance in four to six months, without any change in his daily routine. It’s simply a matter of clocking the distance covered in his daily morning walks (or “constitutionals”, as former PM John Howard used to call them).

And yet, experts in international relations and defence – particularly Australian and American ones – almost to the last man deny Russia ever had any legitimate security concerns with NATO’S eastward expansion, concerns that the Yanks and their European allies deliberately ignored with obtuse recklessness. Indeed, even that very real American man in his late eighties. The Ukraine-Russia war is a tragedy, but the blood of the innocent is on the hands of many people. ----------
 At any event, Scotty from Marketing has been giving the Aussie public the whole song and dance about the existential threat that “pact” constitutes (on this, they have been greatly aided by Labor: the Yellow Peril v2 is a bipartisan thing). And in their narrative, only themselves can assure us of our safety.

So you would have thought Scotty sent a heavyweight to try and persuade Solomons PM Manasseh Sogavare not to sign the “pact”. And nobody heavier, literally and figuratively, than federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne: a member of Cabinet.

You would have been wrong. Payne was too busy attending a fundraiser which apparently takes precedence over otherwise all-important matters of “national security” (this is an election campaign, people). Instead Scotty had to send some loser named Zed Seselja, who screwed things up and the “pact” got signed. Not a member of Cabinet, he’s been given a minister title because the pay is much better than the already considerable pay ($200k plus a year, not counting 12% super and allowances) a rookie MP ordinarily gets. The Yanks will have to step in, again, to try and clean the mess Scotty left behind.

----------
 Let me put it this way: either Scotty and his gang are stupider, more inept and irresponsible than we thought or this whole Solomons-China thing is nothing but a rich, English-speaking nation’s mass hysteria, with little real substance to it: a nothingburger deliberately hyped to provide Scotty some credibility as “national security leader”. (You should read Trita Parsi’s piece for MSNBC to learn how the Global South sees the West).

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 Incidentally, someone please tell that returd (yes, that’s not a typo, I’m fed up with walking on eggshells every day because I’m worried about upsetting imbeciles) calling himself Deputy PM that the distance between Havanna and Miami is 367 km (228 mi): their bigger Cuba is only one fifth away and the Yanks eventually learned to live with it in their doorsteps. If they could, so can we.

External Affairs Minister Jaishankar: India Has Concerns About U.S. Human Rights Record

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/04/2022 - 3:55am in

Look to India to stay an independent foreign policy course, pursuing its national interests in a multipolar world, instead of joining the U.S. kennel of poodles.

Government Turns Blind Eye to Offshore Migrant Processing Problems Faced by Australia and Israel

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/04/2022 - 8:28pm in

The policy of sending people seeking asylum to camps and centres 'offshore' has led to criticism and human rights abuses – but the UK Government is doing it anyway

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Migrant men arriving into the UK via the Channel could soon be removed from the country for processing in Rwanda, if Government proposals announced today become law. 

But the decision to process people seeking asylum and other migrant people offshore shows that lessons have not been learned from other countries which have tried this – notably Australia and Israel. 

The policy of offshore processing for people seeking asylum and migrants has been much criticised by those working on migrant rights. Tim Naor-Hilton, chief executive of Refugee Action, has called the policy a “grubby cash-for-people plan” that is “a cowardly, barbaric and inhumane way to treat people fleeing persecution and war”.

Sonya Sceats, chief executive of Freedom from Torture, said: “Boris Johnson’s plan to imprison refugees in prison camps in Rwanda is deeply disturbing and should horrify anybody with a conscience. It is even more dismaying that the UK Government has agreed this deal with a state known to practice torture, as we know from the many Rwandan torture survivors we have treated over the years.”

An Opportunity for Smugglers

In 2013, Israel signed secret agreements with Rwanda and Uganda to transfer people seeking asylum from Eritrea and Sudan. Although the scheme was billed as voluntary, people from Eritrea and Sudan had to choose between detention in the Holot facility and signing a document to ‘willingly’ leave.

Research by the University of Oxford on Israel’s policy found that those individuals who agreed to leave “were not granted protection in Rwanda or Uganda, forcing them to embark on a dangerous journey in search of safety, ending in Europe”.

The researchers spoke to 19 people who had eventually come to Europe and found that none of them had been given the opportunity to apply for asylum once they left Israel and arrived in Rwanda. All interviewees told the researchers that, on arriving in Rwanda, their travel document produced by Israel – the only identity document in their possession – was taken away. They were held in hotels guarded by armed men. 

Realising that there was little hope of claiming asylum, all of the interviewees said that they only remained in Rwanda for a few days before deciding to take their chances and travel to Europe by so-called 'irregular' routes. They paid people smugglers to take them through South Sudan, Sudan and then Libya, where migrants are routinely jailed in camps, subjected to rape and other forms of violence.

From there, they made the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe, where 16 were given refugee status. At the time of the research, three more were waiting for asylum decisions to be processed.

The UK Government’s plan for immigration is to deter people from making so-called illegal crossings and only take safe, regular routes into the UK. It hopes that by introducing offshore processing, it can prevent people making dangerous journeys across the Channel. 

But the experiences highlighted by the University of Oxford research show that people in desperate need of asylum will risk taking more dangerous journeys out of Africa to reach Europe. 

Back in 2018, the UN Refugee Agency, the UNHCR, appealed to Israel to end its policy of relocating Eritreans and Sudanese to sub-Saharan Africa after some 80 cases were identified in which people relocated by Israel risked their lives by taking dangerous onward journeys to Europe via Libya. Four years later, the UK Government is mimicking the policy.

The Angry Sun

Lessons have also not been learned by Australia’s much-criticised offshoring processing policy, with vulnerable people seeking asylum held in Manus Island and Nauru – territory owned by Papua New Guinea. The cost of holding people offshore was $2 million per person per year.

In 2014, Amnesty International in Australia launched a campaign to end the detention of children seeking asylum on Manus Island, one of the camps. 

As part of its campaign, it released illustrations created by children held there. All of them depicted massive, angry, hot suns – reflective of how they felt oppressed under the heat in a camp where there was little shelter. Most of the children drew pictures of men crying. 

The Home Office has said that it will only be taking male migrants to offshore processing centres, not women or children. This raises questions for family reunification policy.

But the human suffering of men being held offshore is clear, with Amnesty International finding evidence of men regularly attempting suicide and self-harm on Nauru. Daily violence was also recorded. 

In a joint report by the Refugee Council of Australia and Amnesty International, the camps were described as places where minds and bodies were broken. 

“Australia’s horrific experiment sending refugees thousands of miles away led to rampant abuse in its camps, as well as rape, murder and suicide,” said Tim Naor-Hilton.

Sonya Sceats agreed, saying: “Australia’s experiment with offshore processing camps became hotbeds of human rights abuses, where sexual abuse of women and children was rife.”

In 2021, Papua New Guinea's Supreme Court found that the facility on Manus Island was "illegal". Remaining refugees were either transferred to Nauru or given the choice to stay in the country and start the process to become a permanent citizen there. As recently as 22 February this year, 112 people were still held in Nauru. 

The human suffering documented in Manus Island and Nauru was criticised around the world. Now the UK Government is following in Australia’s footsteps. 

“Ministers seem too keen to ignore the reality that most people who cross the Channel in flimsy boats are refugees from countries where persecution and war are rife who just want to live in safety,” said Naor-Hilton.

“It’s time the Government found its moral compass and started treating refugees with dignity and compassion, creating more routes to safety to claim asylum here and building protection system that’s just and humane.”

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Labor won’t Increase JobSeeker: Google it, Mate.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 14/04/2022 - 5:02am in

Prof. Mitchell's unemployment benefits rate versus poverty line, source

Forget about it, boys and girls. What Labor promises one day, they forget the next.

Although leaving the amount unspecified, last year Shadow Social Services Minister Linda Burney promised a new Labor government would increase unemployment benefits (JobSeeker). Full stop, end of the story. How could Labor not do that? You know the tale Albanese likes to tell, all teary-eyed: his single mom, living in public housing on a pension. He grew up on Struggle Street. He’s “Albo” and he cares about you.

Well, that was then, this is now:
(source)

So, what changed between then and now to make Albo renege on his word?

Look at Mitchell’s chart. As prices take off on a plane, unemployment benefits struggle on a ladder. The gap grows larger and larger and larger. This keeps changing but it demands an increase in the unemployment benefits rate, not a freeze.

I’ll tell you what changed. The election campaign began and the COALition is questioning the ability of a Labor government to manage the economy. That’s what changed.
 Good “economic management” translates as “fiscal responsibility” for Labor: Government spending cuts. So, Albo decided to sacrifice the unemployed at the altar of “fiscal responsibility”. Why the unemployed? It could have been climate change, or the workers, or whatever. It just happens that the unemployed are a softer target.  More generally: Labor’s “fiscal responsibility” is a byword for “Albanese’s ready and willing to betray whatever and whoever it takes to gain the approval of the rich”. He’s showing he’s the kind of PM the rich can go to bed with: ruthless, cruel with the little people, subservient to the rich.

And get this: Albanese is a member of the “Socialist Left”, the Left wing of the centre-Left Australian Labor Party. What can you expect from the COALition? This is what bipartisanship means.
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 Although Albanese’s bastardry still makes my blood boil, if I am honest, I have to admit this latest betrayal wasn’t unexpected – and it shouldn’t surprise you either. Back in 2020 one could already see Labor’s re-discovery of “fiscal responsibility” coming (believe it or not, I did).

Fraudenberg announced the Government’s “eye-watering” (as the pundits used to describe it) 200+ billion dollar spending in March. All talking heads were stunned: the COALition “spendathon” contradicted everything they claimed about “fiscal responsibility”.

Kevin Rudd was pointing fingers at the COALition’s hypocrisy. And yes, Government debt exploded – much to the concern of so-called experts. But in the two years since, the sky hasn’t fallen. There is some inflation and it may still go up, but it’s due mainly to imports.

On March 31st that year shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers was already telegraphing his party’s unwillingness to do anything in the eventuality of their victory:

One of the consequences of this is that we will be saddled as a nation with a generation of debt. It might be something like a trillion dollars by the time the government’s finished.

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 I think the problem is general to Labor, but Albanese exemplifies it well: unwillingness to fight back. I don’t know about you, but I can’t see him – or any other Labor politician, for that matter – doing what Marina Ovsyannikova did.

Let me give you an example. Scotty from Marketing is currently savaging Albanese over his (Scotty’s) allegedly masterful management of the economy. Yesterday a blond female reporter, echoing Scotty’s talking point, asked Albanese about his credentials as economic manager.

Albanese could have shot back at the reporter: “I have an economics degree, but what are Scotty’s credentials? His field is marketing. He’s a glorified salesman. And, judging by his ‘Where the bloody hell are ya?’ campaign, a not very talented one. His one undeniable talent is at self-promotion: because truth means nothing to him”. With that Albanese would have not only defended his own position, that would have put the ball straight back into Scotty’s side of the court: everybody knows Scotty’s a liar.

Instead, he mumbled weakly about his degree in economics.

His instinct is to keep his head low. Lack of principles, I think, is at the root of Albanese’s (and Labor’s) cowardice.
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 By comparison, federal Greens Leader Adam Bandt gave me a very pleasant surprise today. He went to the National Press Club to outline the Greens’ policies. During the Q & A session following, Ron Mizen (Australian Financial Review) asked him the following question:

You said in the speech that wages growth wasn’t going particularly well. What’s the current WPI?

Local commentators call this kind of dishonest, childish, trick question “gotcha questions”. Of late “gotchas” have become popular among journos working for pro-business media (like the AFR).

Just last Monday Albanese was asked point blank what the current unemployment and cash rates were. Instead of honestly admitting he didn’t memorise the latest ABS releases and asking Katty Gallagher, his shadow Finance Minister – who was with him and actually knew the answers – if she could answer, his first reaction was to try to bullshit his way out – to universal hilarity. (In fairness, journos working for Left-leaning media launched that trend last February, when they asked Scotty if he new the price of a loaf of bread.)

Bandt, on the other hand, put Mizen on his place in a way neither Labor nor the COALition pollies ever could. He replied:

Google it, mate! If you want to know why people are turning off politics (…)

And those questions are designed to show that politicians are somehow out of touch and not representative of every day people. News flash! Most of the people in Canberra are on six figure salaries just passing time until they go out and work for the coal and gas corporations and get a 6 or 7-figure lobbying job.

You know what would be a better way of showing that politicians are in touch with the need of everyday people? It would be passing laws that lift the minimum wage. It would be making dental and mental into Medicare. It would be making sure that we wipe student debt and build affordable houses. And when you’ve got wages growing at about 2 per cent and inflation at three and a bit per cent, that is the problem. And I hope that at this election, we can lift the standard and turn it into a genuine contest of ideas.

And you know what? The journos attending – largely Labor or Liberal, you can bet your backside – applauded Bandt. People can tell when someone has the guts to tell the truth. With that question Mizen intended to embarrass Bandt. Mizen himself ended up red faced. Good on you, Adam.
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 If you really care about the poor, the working people, the environment, give the Greens some thought this election. Your preferences matter. Labor only cares about getting cushy parliamentary jobs.

‘A Crime Against Humanity’: New Study Finds ‘Explicit’ Proof of Live Organ Harvesting by Chinese State

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 11/04/2022 - 9:36pm in

CJ Werleman reviews a new Australian National University report, providing horrific new details of China’s abuse of political prisoners

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Arguably, the most outrageous human rights atrocity taking place in the world today is the forced removal of live organs from political prisoners in China – a criminal practice industrialised by the Chinese Government after carrying out the first known case of live organ harvesting in 1994, when authorities in Xinjiang removed the still-beating heart and kidneys from a Uyghur Muslim.

The oncology surgeon who was ordered to carry out the grisly operation is Dr Enver Tohti, who described to me the horrors he was forced to inflict upon the detainee.

“I was called by my chief surgeon to go to a room near the Urumqi execution grounds to remove the liver and two kidneys from an executed prisoner. It turned out he wasn’t fully dead because they [the Chinese execution squad] shot him through the right chest [intentionally] to knock him out [without killing him], so I would have time to remove his organs”.

This was an operation performed without administering the detainee with an anaesthetic drug, he said.

But despite Tohti’s testimony and that of many others, along with an array of independent investigations – including the UK-based Uyghur Tribunal, headed by British barrister Sir Geoffrey Nice, which concluded that forced organ harvesting in China constitutes “one of the worst atrocities committed in modern times” – the absence of official Chinese Government documents has denied human rights campaigners their long awaited ‘smoking gun’.

That is until now, with a newly released study conducted by Australian National University (ANU) claiming to have unearthed evidence that Chinese surgeons are executing death-row prisoners by removing their hearts before they are clinically dead, a criminal practice that improves the prospect of a successful organ transplant.

“We were shocked by what we found, not that it was happening,” said Matthew Robertson, the study’s co-author, in an interview last week. “We were surprised that the admissions were so blatant and clear, and that we actually found what we were looking for.”

After using an artificial intelligence algorithm to scan and analyse more than 120,000 published medical journal reports, the researchers found 71 “explicit” instances in which organ ‘donors’ had not been properly pronounced dead prior to the surgeries taking place. 

The 71 reports span a period of 35 years and include 35 hospitals, spread across 33 cities and 15 provinces, which is indicative of a practice that is systematic and widespread. Robertson described these findings as the “tip of the funnel” in the Chinese Government-sanctioned system.

“We had a suspicion that these admissions were in the database but to actually find them, again and again, was the surprising part,” Robertson said. “There were many other cases where it wasn’t as explicit. And in those cases, we just ditched them, because we wanted very clear evidence on the primary claim.”

Robertson’s co-author, Professor Jacob Lavee, told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that the findings, which have been reviewed with a “fine-tooth comb” by the editorial board at the esteemed American Journal of Transplantation, constitute a “smoking gun”, given they provide for “the first time testimonies made by people involved in their own language”.

The study was also reviewed by Professor Arthur Caplan, the head of medical ethics at New York University, who said that it provides “incontrovertible proof” of Chinese doctors removing vital organs from people who were not clinically dead.

Both Robertson and Lavee pointed to public health officials within the Chinese Government who have admitted that 95% of the organs used for transplantation come from prisoners, along with documentation that shows China had no voluntary organ donor system during the time when the 71 papers were published. 

An Unspeakable Horror

According to the International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China (ETAC), Uyghur Muslims and followers of Falun Gong – a religious spiritual practice banned by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) – are the prisoners most at risk.

Two years ago, as reported by Byline Times, a report published in the journal BMC Medical Ethics revealed what appears to be a concerted effort by the Chinese Government to cover up its criminal organ harvesting program by falsifying organ donation data. It suggests that more than 90,000 Muslims and other political prisoners are being executed each year for the purpose of profiting from the sale of their live organs.

“A variety of evidence points to what the authors believe can only be plausibly explained by systematic falsification and manipulation of official organ transplant datasets in China,” the report states. “Some apparently non-voluntary donors also appear to be misclassified as voluntary. This takes place alongside genuine voluntary organ transplant activity, which is often incentivised by large cash payment.”

The report also blows a hole in China’s claim to be carrying out only 10,000 “legal organ transplantations” per year, with researchers able to demonstrate the number of transplantations to be upwards of 100,000 per year, based on data obtained from the country’s three largest hospitals.

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And whereas the Chinese Government claims that fewer than 100 hospitals are approved to carry out organ transplant operations, the researchers “verified and confirmed 712 hospitals which carry out liver and kidney transplants”.

The report’s authors conclude that the discrepancy between the CCP’s official figures and estimates made by researchers can only be attributed to a deliberate effort by the Chinese Government to hide what ETAC describes as an “elaborate cover-up that disguises the state-run mass murder of innocent people”.

China is the only country in the world that forcibly removes organs from executed prisoners for transplants. Robertson and Lavee’s study affirms what others have long claimed but in the words of the Chinese Government. This is an unspeakable horror, and one the international community must reckon with.

“As the son of a Holocaust survivor who was in a Nazi concentration camp, I cannot stand aside and remain silent when my professional colleagues, Chinese transplant surgeons, have for years been partners to a crime against humanity,” says Professor Lavee. We should all heed his words.

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Environmentally-Conscious Worker’s Mail.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 10/04/2022 - 8:16am in


Kat Tu, from Act!onAid Australia writes

Today we took to the streets of Sydney to demand that Nike pay its workers!

We stood with the 1,200 women workers of the Violet Apparel factory in Cambodia, who are demanding Nike pay the US$1.4 million in owed wages, benefits and damages.

After the Violet Apparel factory – which produced for Nike – abruptly closed down in 2020, these women lost their jobs overnight. They were relying on wages and benefits to feed their families, pay rent, and pay for medical care, but the full payments never came.

They've been waiting for nearly 2 years. Nike made over US$19 billion in profit last year, while these women who made their clothes are wearing the cost of the pandemic.

You can help those comrades (they are women, Act!onAid folks, but above all they are workers!). Give Nike a piece of your mind.
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 Yesterday the High Court threw out a challenge against Scotty from Marketing’s intrusions in the internal workings of the NSW Liberal Party. Settled the Liberal internal feud in his favour, Scotty won’t need Commonwealth money to fund his legal costs. Besides, he already gave his mates all the highly paid jobs they wanted.

So, having squeezed the last drop of public money, Scotty has no excuse left to further delay calling for the next federal election. Unfortunately for him, he still has to pay lip service to the law and is supposedly going to make the announcement today.

A traditional Labor voter, this election I will deny the Australian Labor Party my first preferences. Instead, I’m shifting my first preference to the Australian Greens/the Socialist Alliance. If, like me, you give priority to climate change action and workers’ issues, I suggest you give that some thought.

Both the Greens and the Socialist Alliance are accepting donations and they do need money. If, like me, you are a bit short, you can still help. Both the Greens and the Socialist Alliance are calling for volunteers. There’s a range of things you can do: phone calls, letter-box dropping, door-knocking.

NSW Greens website. The homepage links to policies, candidates, donation and volunteering information.

Socialist Allaince website. Somewhat less professionally designed, the homepage still provides most of the important links, except for donations (which you can find here) and volunteering, which you need to search for (SA comrades: take a hint on how to organise your website from the Greens).

Remember: in Australia we have a preferential voting system. This short ABC’s BTN video (endorsed by the Parliamentary Education Office) shows its basics (to be precise, for Upper House election):

 This SBS explainer is more detailed.  My suggestion? If in your seat Socialist Alliance, Greens and Labor are available, I’d give SA 1, Greens 2, Labor 3 and I’d put Liberals last. As a worker, I do not put much faith in the independents.  Very important: you don’t need to follow the instructions in the “how to vote” fliers party activists (most likely Labor or Liberals) hand out at polling stations on election days. ---------- You may also like to verify your electoral registration. This is the official page the Australian Electoral Commission set up for that purpose: https://check.aec.gov.au/.  For your own safety, I recommend – before giving away any personal info anywhere – you check that the page is encrypted (look for a locked lock icon in your favourite browser), and verify the URL in the URL line of your browser (it must show exactly https://check.aec.gov.au/ including the initial https). To be extra safe, open a link or two in a different tab (check the one on top with the AEC logo and the bottom ones), to see if it’s really the AEC website. 
On election day, if you do not have a driver’s licence with your current address, do not forget to bring with you utility invoices, bank statements or such documents, to verify your address.

Right to protest under attack in NSW as new laws threaten two years’ jail

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 07/04/2022 - 12:09pm in

New laws in NSW rushed through on 1 April are an appalling attempt to criminalise activism and protest at a time when it is deeply needed.

Anyone disrupting or damaging major roads or “a major facility” (including train stations, ports, and other public and private infrastructure) faces fines of up to $22,000 and two years in jail under changes introduced by Liberal Premier Dominic Perrottet.

The legislation gives the government the power to “prescribe” any road or facility to which the laws will apply.

Just days after they passed parliament, it listed common protest locations including Town Hall and more than 40 other train stations, as well as George Street, Oxford Street, Lee Street and Taylor Square as areas affected.

This would criminalise protests that block any of the entrances to Town Hall train station or that block roads commonly used for protest marches.

Greens MP David Shoebridge warned that, “We have all seen what happens when police have the power to veto protests in Moscow and Beijing, now they have been given that same power of veto and arrest at Sydney Town Hall.”

Shamefully, the changes passed with the support of the Labor Party, despite the opposition of the Greens, civil society groups and the union movement.

The head of Unions NSW, Mark Morey, called the bill “unacceptable”, and called on parliament to “pause and reconsider”. MUA Sydney Branch secretary Paul Keating added that it “risks subjecting workers and community members standing up for their rights to jail time and severely restricting the space for union activity”.

As a result of union pressure, industrial actions and industrial campaigns, as well as protests outside parliament or an MP’s office, were all excluded from the new laws. But the MUA and other unions have continued to oppose the laws in their entirety.

The changes have created uncertainty about the impact on all kinds of protest activity. It appears that protest marches would still be legal where organisers have notified police at least seven days in advance, under existing law in the Summary Offences Act, won as a result of the right to march campaign in NSW following the first Mardi Gras in 1978.

But the threat to the right to protest is still very real. Snap protests held at less than seven days’ notice would face the new penalties, as could rallies where police challenge a march route in the Supreme Court.

Blockades

This attack on the right to protest is a right-wing law-and-order response to a series of actions by Blockade Australia, which disrupted access to Sydney’s Port Botany for five days at the end of March. Another climate activist group, Fireproof Australia, has also blocked major roads during peak-hour traffic.

These actions are a cry of rage against the climate catastrophe we are facing, designed to disrupt the port and the wider economy in the hope that direct action protests will produce change.

Even before the new laws were passed, activists have already faced a draconian response. Max, who blocked the loading of a ship at the port for five hours, was sentenced to four months’ jail and a $1500 fine. He is appealing the sentence but has been denied bail.

Two other activists involved, brothers from Germany, have had their visas cancelled. One has already been deported while the other is in Villawood detention centre until his next court appearance in May, with NSW Acting Premier Paul Toole declaring, “If he can’t abide by our laws, he can go back to Germany because he isn’t wanted here.”

The real criminals are the politicians and companies profiting from the destruction of the planet, whose actions are putting millions of lives and entire eco-systems at risk, not the activists trying to stop this.

Just days after the laws were passed, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres slammed governments for “a litany of broken climate promises”, detailed in a new report from the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, that have “put us firmly on track toward an unlivable world”. He warned that “we are speeding toward disastrous global warming of more than double the limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius” agreed to at global climate summits.

The NSW and federal governments are working hand in hand with the climate criminals responsible, allowing a dramatic expansion of coal and gas mining when the need to phase out fossil fuels is beyond urgent.

The new laws are the latest in a growing effort to criminalise protest throughout the country. Similar laws were introduced in Tasmania in 2014, only to be defeated in the High Court in 2017, which found that they directly targeted the implied freedom of political expression in the Constitution. This decision reflects the essential nature of protest to any democracy.

We can’t accept this attack on the right to protest. The climate movement, unionists and other activists must unite to defend all those charged using these new laws and keep asserting our right to demonstrate and demand change.

By Angus Dermody

The post Right to protest under attack in NSW as new laws threaten two years’ jail appeared first on Solidarity Online.

Mass coral bleaching of Australia's Great Barrier Reef goes under the media radar

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 06/04/2022 - 1:56am in

The devastating event threatens reef's long term survival

Originally published on Global Voices

Great Barrier Reef faces another severe bleaching event

A screenshot from an ABC News video “Great Barrier Reef faces another severe bleaching event”

The busy news cycle seems to have crowded out coverage of the fourth mass coral bleaching in six years at Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority confirmed this in its Reef Health report on March 25, 2022:

It did not receive the attention such an event usually generates in mainstream or social media, either locally or internationally. The war in Ukraine, floods in eastern Australia, debates about Australia's Federal budget before a national election in May, the unexpected death of much-admired cricketer Shane Warne and other celebrity news took centre stage down under.

Coral reef scientist Professor Terry Hughes lamented:

NPR’s radio program “All things Considered” featured a brief report:

It included this comment from Emily Darling of the Wildlife Conservation Society:

What jumps out at me is the frequency of these events. There's just been no recovery window for the corals.

Not everyone on social media is convinced:

On the other side of the continent, Federal parliamentarian Josh Wilson is concerned that similar damage to the Ningaloo Reef in his State of Western Australia needs more publicity:

The Australian federal budget was brought down a week after the bleaching announcement. The speech by Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, mentioned climate change just once. Many condemned the lack of extra funding to combat climate change. The Climate Council lamented this failure of funding:

THE 2022 Federal Budget has failed to deliver any meaningful commitments to address escalating climate change in Australia.

Nicki Hutley, Climate Councillor, leading economist and former Partner at Deloitte Access Economics, who was in today’s Budget lockup, has calculated that just 0.3% of total expenditure for 2021-2024 has been committed to climate change initiatives, falling even lower, to just 0.2% in 2024-2026.

The pro-renewables Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) had a bleak take on the numbers:

They argued that: “Despite the Federal Government saying it’s committing funding to energy and emissions reduction measures in the 2022-23 Budget, the spending on climate is reducing over the next four years, and spending on LNG, gas, carbon capture and storage, and ‘clean’ but not necessarily ‘green’ hydrogen has increased.”

At “The Conversation”, scientists from north Queensland's James Cook University highlighted another unusual aspect of the bleaching:

This is the first time the reef has bleached under the cooling conditions of the natural La Niña weather pattern, which shows just how strong the long-term warming trend of climate change is.

Coincidentally, the United Nations World Heritage Centre's monitoring mission was visiting Australia to decide whether the reef should be listed as a World Heritage site in danger:

UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) will undertake a mission to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef from 21 to 30 March 2022 to assess its state of conservation and a long-term sustainability plan for its protection.

In July 2021, Environment Minister Sussan Ley managed to avert this potentially embarrassing outcome.

In a different part of eastern Australia, Sydney’s world-renowned Bondi beach was experiencing another climate-related event:

Meanwhile, the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has warned that “limiting global warming to 1.5°C is beyond reach”.

Retired soccer star and human rights activist, Craig Foster, was just one of many to underline the urgency:

Liberals hide behind COVID to force further cuts and marketisation of universities

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 05/04/2022 - 11:15am in

It’s widely known that Australian higher education funding has been hit hard by COVID-19. Less well understood is that under the cover of the crisis the government has been decisively restructuring university funding.

The “Job-ready Graduates Package” that passed in October 2020 not only cut government funding but introduced new mechanisms to force universities into increased levels of dependence on corporate funding.

The result was confirmed in last week’s federal budget, with overall university funding down 5.4 per cent next year in real terms, and another 3.6 per cent the two years after.

The border closures that governments enacted in the face of COVID had deep implications for the higher education systems of countries that rely on international student fees such as Australia, the UK, the US and Canada.

This was especially the case in Australia, which had the most immediate and total border closures, and the highest proportion of international students globally. Twenty per cent of students at Australian universities come from overseas, and international student fees have become essential after 30 years of per-student government funding cuts.

However, while 68 per cent of OECD countries increased funding for universities in the face of this (and also in recognition of the costs of a rapid move to online learning) the Australian government consciously refused to provide any financial support.

Even while the government constructed an historic stimulus program representing 16 per cent of GDP, it excluded the university sector from relief, amending its JobKeeper wage subsidy three times to ensure that public universities were ineligible.

Then in October 2020 it introduced the “Job-ready Graduates Package” which included a 15 per cent cut in government funding for universities. Before COVID, higher education was Australia’s third biggest export market. This is not a sector that any government can simply overlook. Rather there has been a clear decision to allow the system to go into crisis to force a structural adjustment.

Vice-chancellors, both of universities that suffered deep funding cuts and those that remained in surplus, have responded with historic job cuts, with one in five university staff losing their jobs since the start of 2020.

Initially these were layoffs of casual staff—turning off the labour tap just as casualisation is designed to do. But in the last year the cuts have been to permanent staff.

Job-ready graduates’

The Job-ready Graduates Bill affirms the Liberals’ belief that, for working class students at least, university should be a conveyor belt into the capitalist economy and nothing more. It rests on the false idea that students are wasting tax-payer funds by studying humanities and the arts where there are no jobs.

In fact arts graduates have a higher rate of postgraduate employment than science graduates studying in “priority areas”.

Even business groups opposed the de-prioritisation of arts, arguing arts degrees promote the flexibility and communications skills industry wants in an increasingly precarious and automated economy.

But as we saw with the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation debacle, culture war vendettas against university humanities departments remain close to the hearts of Liberal politicians.

Job-ready Graduates introduces price signals through fee increases and decreases to drive students into the government’s priority areas of study and out of others.

DOWN:

  • Those studying science, health, agriculture and maths will pay 62 per cent less for their degree than pre-2021 students.
  • Teaching, nursing, clinical psychology, English and languages students will pay 46 per cent less for their degree.

UP:

  • Students studying law and commerce face a 28 per cent price hike.
  • Humanities and most social science students will pay 113 per cent more to the point where they are paying 93 per cent of the costs of their degrees

This will leave students with considerable debts. Currently the average student debt is $20,000 but arts students will now pay $43,000 and the popular combined arts/law degree will cost $75,000.

While it might be cheaper for students to study nursing or teaching, it will be more expensive for universities to run these degrees. This may lead to fewer places in exactly the areas the government claims to want more graduates.

As nurses and teachers’ unions have said, if the government really wanted to ensure more graduate nurses and teachers, they should grant union demands for pay rises and improved conditions. This would do far more to attract workers into these crucial areas and retain those already there.

Humanities

The virtual de-funding of humanities is very acute in the Job-ready package. Previously fees roughly mirrored projected future earnings, with law students paying more for their degrees than arts students. Now students in humanities face a much larger student debt without any increase in their likely life-time earnings.

The government is attempting to steer working class students into professional degrees and away from some of the social justice content and critical thinking that social science and humanities departments still allow.

The children of the rich, of course, will continue to study humanities as they have always done, and as most of the parliamentarians who voted up this Bill themselves did.

But in families where no one has been to university before the increased costs are very likely to act as a deterrent. The deferral of fees under HECS-HELP may mask the real costs of study in the short term, but at the cost of long-term debts.

For women, who earn 22.8 per cent less over their lifetimes and make up two thirds of students in arts and social sciences, this debt burden will dominate their working lives.

Commercialisation of research

For decades now researchers have had to prove their connections to industry in order to have their work funded. But Scott Morrison wants to accelerate this.

The Liberals have waged a three-pronged offensive. First, they cut $1.4 billion from the Australian Research Council. Then they dismantled the existing research funding streams inside universities.

The Job-ready package prevents cross-subsidisation within universities so that earnings from student fees can no longer be used to fund research. Previously 30 per cent of research was funded through international student fees, and a further 10 per cent through domestic student fees.

In February this year they announced an entirely new $2 billion University Research Commercialisation Action Plan. This will fund research only in defence industries and government-priority manufacturing areas.

Announcing the plan, Morrison said: “We need to shift the focus from citations to commercial success … we need to develop a new breed of research entrepreneurs here in Australia so they can create the new products and new companies and most importantly, the new jobs.”

The Liberal government has used the COVID crisis to force universities to even more closely serve the needs of Australian corporations and the war machine. Students and staff must demand all these changes are reversed, and rekindle the fight for fully publicly funded, quality, accessible higher education for all.

The NTEU enterprise agreement campaigns kicking off around the country are a chance to start this fightback and raise the broad vision of education for human need.

The post Liberals hide behind COVID to force further cuts and marketisation of universities appeared first on Solidarity Online.

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