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Of Fish and People

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/05/2022 - 2:00am in

Belarusian and Ukrainian intellectuals have been applying postcolonial theory to Russia since the 1990s. But they have largely been ignored in the West. Now it is time to listen to those voices from the ‘borderlands.’...

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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

Once Upon a Time …

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 24/04/2022 - 9:18pm in

 … people followed the news to be informed. I’m not sure that’s the case anymore.

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As I write this, the French are voting in the second round of their presidential elections. French Lefties have a bitter choice between the first and second candidates by vote in the first round, the neo-liberal Rightist Emmanuel Macron (28% of the vote) or the populist far-Rightist Marine Le Pen (23%), respectively. (Say, should I vote for Macron for foreigners’ sake even though he will make me work three more years for my own retirement; or should I vote for Le Pen to keep my earlier retirement and screw the foreigners?)

Those who voted for Leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon (21%) and Éric Zemmour (7%) will have either to vote for one of the two top contenders or abstain/vote blank.

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(source)
A week before the first round ABC Foreign Correspondent released a report by Michael Rowland.

Rowland was alarmed with the unexpectedly high voting intentions results Éric Zemmour was getting: “the ideals of equality and fraternity that inspired the [French R]evolution may yet be beaten by the politics of hate and division”.

Rowland’s concern seem justified – to me, at any event. You see, rightly or wrongly I tend to trust ABC journos.

For Rowland – and I have no reason to doubt him – Zemmour is “proudly racist” and a “promoter of the Great Replacement” furphy. Even if one discounts as hyperbole some of Rowland’s interviewees more dramatic statements (i.e. “I think Éric Zemmour is a terrorist”), the bloke seems like the kind of person I wouldn’t like to see in a position of power. The Great Replacement thing, for instance, is an article of faith of far Right, white supremacists/white nationalists all over the world.

It’s also closely associated to the notorious “Fourteen Words” (or just 14 or 14/88)[*]. Indeed, white supremacy isn’t so much a part of no-frills Fascism in general, but of Nazism in particular (Übermenschen versus Untermenschen). That, it would have seemed to me, is a relatively straightforward argument.

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So, if one believes Rowland – as I do – there were good reasons then to worry. Even taking into account the first round, the combined results of the duo Le Pen and Zemmour (30%) show 3 in every 10 French vote for the far Right and at least 7% start to look alarmingly close to Nazism.

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Now, I’m not so sure about that conclusion. That argument, clear cut as it seemed to me, has a counter-argument. This is how one of Zemmour’s supporters defended him against the charge of racism:

Éric Zemmour is Jewish! He has Arab origin. He’s from Algeria. So [to say he is a racist] is like saying that a gay is homophobe; it’s nonsense.

What gives that counter its power is that ABC’s Kevin Nguyen adopts it:

Russia tried to build the foundation of its invasion of Ukraine on a lie — such as declaring the country, run by a Jewish president, had a Nazi problem.

So, if a fact-checker finds that a slam dunk, can a simple mortal like me object?

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You may – or not – find that persuasive. It’s up to you.

I believe it falls short. In fact, to be blunt, I believe it’s childish. It’s a typical gotcha “argument” from Twitter, meant to subtly suggest one’s debate opponent’s ignorance. 

I’ll bite. Frankly, I don’t care what Zelensky or Zemmour’s real ideologies are. They may well despise certain beliefs, while finding the believers useful. For example, neither Zelensky nor Azov love Russians or Putin: they may believe my enemy’s enemy is my friend, at least while our mutual enemy is there. You guys have heard, I suppose, that “he may be a bastard, but he is our bastard”, no?

Is that so impossibly unimaginable? Should I draw a picture?

Note:

[*] “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”. The 14/88 adds Heil Hitler (H being the eighth letter in the alphabet).

North Atlantic’s Warm Winter.

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 02/01/2022 - 1:09pm in

(source)

With the exception of Scandinavia, all of Europe, parts of western Siberia, and the Atlantic coast of North America are set to register above average temperatures (1979-2000 base) on January 1st, 2022, according to ClimateReanalyzer.org. In eastern US and Canada, Germany, Denmark and Poland temperatures may exceed the average for this time of the year by more than 10ºC (18ºF).

A couple days ago, Spain was registering record temperatures for winter. Particularly Bilbao, in northern Spain: local thermometers rose to 24.7ºC for the first time since 1947, when temperatures started being collected. Spokesman for the Spanish meteorological agency (AEMET) Rubén del Campo, quoted by The Guardian, said: “These high temperatures are not normal. These are temperatures that you would normally see in the month of April.”

In western US and Canada temperatures are heading the other way: up to 10º to 12ºC below average. In particular, residents of Colorado witnessed in the last few days a cold and dry winter, with raging wildfires. Longer fire seasons, anyone?

It finally started snowing, which is a mixed blessing: it does help firefighters; the newly homeless, however, may feel differently.

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I can’t say I’m familiar with the weather everywhere in the northern hemisphere, but two things I can say:

  1. 25ºC in northern Spain at this time of the year is unusual and 
  2. winter wildfires anywhere do sound strange to me.

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In Australia, La Niña is bringing rain to the east. Enhanced cloud cover over southeast Queensland and northeast New South Wales (including Sydney) has contributed to a slightly, but much welcome, milder summer. But Little Tassie and New Zealand – of all places! – are having a warmer summer – I guess a re-think to my dream of retiring to Tasmania or the South Island may be required. Damn!

Workers of the World …

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/12/2021 - 6:00pm in

Boring intellectuals may recite their inane “ideas make reality” mantra until they are blue in the face. For a while it may – indeed probably will – fool some, but it won’t change much in the long run. It’s reality that drives action, which leads in turn to ideas.

(source)

And so, while a few Aussie hens are still fooled into making common cause with the foxes, workers are re-learning the painful lessons their elders knew well: there is no way around, they need to act. So organise yourselves, and, as the chant says, stand up and fight back.

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After two years of their bosses calling them essential workers and politicians waxing lyrical about their heroism, in NSW train and bus workers (see photo opening) and teachers are forced to go on strike today. The reward they were offered was privatisation, wage freezes/unequal pay, increased workload. Weren’t we supposed to be all in this together?

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet will now learn there is much more than PR and cheap flattery in the “essential worker” label: this absurdly sprawled town cannot run without those workers. Show them your might, guys and gals. Hit them hard, where it hurts, Rail, Tram and Bus Workers NSW Branch.

(source)

The NSW teachers are striking against mutually reinforcing huge workloads and poor pay. Resignations and labour shortages are the consequence, increasing workload in turn.

But the teachers make me proud for an additional reason. The not particularly gung-ho NSW Teachers’ Federation is striking – for the first time in a decade! – against an order from the Industrial Relations Commission

(source)

Then Sarah Mitchell appears before ABC reporters. In an spectacular display of self-contradiction and hypocrisy, the deplorable NSW Minister for Education first attempts to paint a business as usual picture:

“It's really fantastic to be here at a great local public school in Western Sydney, seeing the amazing teaching and learning taking place in our younger students in the classroom, a real privilege. Can I thank the thousands of teachers who work so hard each and every day to support our students, but particularly today?”

Yes, you can thank them with words, but a more concrete form of gratitude is much better: give those teachers stability, remove the excess workload, spend money on the schools, pay them well.

Instead, after thanking them, Mitchell accuses the NSWTF of “pitting teachers, families, and students against each other”. Let’s get things straight. The strike is against you, Mitchell, not against families and students. It’s a last resort measure against your intransigence.

By representing yourself as spokeswoman of parents and students (“I am disappointed and I am frustrated on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of parents”) it’s you who you are attempting to pit community and teachers and unions against each other. You speak on behalf of the Perrottet regime, Mitchell, not of the community. Literally minutes earlier everything was going fine, it was business as usual. How come now there are hundreds of thousands of people affected?

Incidentally, if one believes the pretty ABC reporter, the community seem fairly supportive of the far more disruptive train and buses strike.

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Mitchell may be right on something though. That seems to be an illegal strike. Industrial relations laws in Oz consecrate much anti-worker injustice. You see, in this pseudo liberal democratic country workers have no right to strike. What they – or rather their unions – have is “protected industrial action”, which the IRC can stop arbitrarily. This has got to change, whether Peter Hartcher and those on whose behalf he writes like it or not.

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(source)
And the thing is, workers are doing that at the same time, spontaneously, not only in Oz, but in Europe (the photo above is from Cádiz, Spain metalworkers) and the US. Bill Clinton’s crude “it’s the economy, stupid!” may have been a gross simplification of a materialist view, but it’s way closer to truth than the slogans as pretentious as they are vapid “cultural change!”, “free marketplace of ideas!”,  “ideology!”.

(source)

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Join your union. There is strength in union.

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“The proletarians have nothing to lose but
their chains. They have a world to win.
Working men of all countries, unite!” [A]

Image Credits:
[A] Karl Marx tombstone at Highgate cemetery. Author: Lars Larsen. Source: WikiMedia. File licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. Although I love Larsen’s excellent photo, my use of it must not be taken to suggest he endorses me or said use of the photo.