When News becomes Propaganda
In The Wake Of Domestic Terrorist Attacks, RNC Chair Declares Our Country Is Safer Under Trump | Crooks and Liars
How obliged is Kavanaugh to GOP, and Trump now to be a Judge for Life on SCOTUS. What Damage will be done? (ODT)
To reward both their financial backers and the mass of their voters in one fell swoop, and to accomplish something that will last possibly for 30 years, is far to central to the GOP to let a little thing like a youthful attempted rape get in the way. This step is a form of extreme political corruption of the sort the Founding Generation dreaded when they denounced political parties and party spirit.
The rich and partisans of the rich are too few by themselves to hope to prevail in a popular election, so the GOP allied with Evangelicals, for whom Kavanaugh serves to hold out hope that Roe v. Wae will be overturned. Some
political Christianity, like some Political Islam, tends to stand for the proposition that God has given control of women’s bodies into the hands of men.
When it was revealed a few hours later that the three reluctant “switcheroos” – Cormann, Fifield and Cash – had actually signed Dutton’s petition when it still needed another 20 or so more names, Cormann’s interview straight after the ballot was revealed for what it was. Not only a pathetic display of self-pity and personal pique but a pack of lies and a desperate attempt to save his own reputation. Cormann was part of the push to dump Turnbull — not an anguished bystander who was forced to act honourably in dishonourable circumstances.
Shame, Cormann, shame. Walking confidently with Dutton to the party room meeting, you showed your true colours and your reputation is rightly now in tatters.
They are MEN Andrew Bolt just everyday MEN (ODT)
And when I talked about it, again, the questions came. Why were you out walking so late? How were you walking? What were you wearing? Did you smile at him?
And again they meant: “What did you do wrong, so we can avoid the same mistake?” What action did you take, so this won’t happen to me? How do I help my loved one stay safe? How can I stay safe?
I wrote as much in my victim impact statement to the court, asking the judge why must the conversation immediately turn to my actions, instead of the most obvious one – why are men attacking women in the street? In their homes? In parks, and on public transport, and in taxis and on doctor’s examining tables?
A friend told me it’s because he thought they were not men. That they were animals. “How do you even begin to reason with an animal like that?”
But he’s wrong. They are men.
They are sons and brothers, and fathers and boyfriends and husbands and friends and co-workers and the guys around you in the cafe.
We know they are, because the few who face the justice system get character references about how they are good guys, who are good sons and brothers and fathers and boyfriends and husbands and friends and co-workers who made a mistake.
Tessa Sullivan said she felt “very pleased” after an investigation into Mr Doyle on Tuesday upheld four allegations against him, including that he grasped her breast.
But she says she won’t run for public office again, despite the findings, and has criticised former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett for jumping to Mr Doyle’s defence.
‘‘It is a huge vindication after 11 weeks of waiting,’’ she told ABC Radio on Wednesday.‘‘Four findings of gross misconduct really display the vulgarity and the disgusting actions by Robert Doyle towards us.’’
It’s so heartwarming to hear this from the man who promised to end “this American carnage” in his inaugural address. Of course, at the time he was talking about gang murders, just as he did in his State of the Union address last month.
He must have forgotten to mention school shootings with assault weapons, like the AR-15 used at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida. It was the same assault weapon used at the Sutherland Springs church in Texas in November. It was the same assault weapon used in the Las Vegas massacre the month before that.
It’s as if no politician could talk about protecting airplane cockpits after 9/11 because all we could was pray and send our condolences.
From Ebola to earthquakes, Havana’s doctors have saved millions. Obama must lift this embargo
Four months into the internationally declared Ebola emergency that has devastated west Africa, Cuba leads the world in direct medical support to fight the epidemic. The US and Britain have sent thousands of troops and, along with other countries, promised aid – most of which has yet to materialise. But, as the World Health Organisation has insisted, what’s most urgently needed are health workers. The Caribbean island, with a population of just 11m and official per capita income of $6,000 (£3,824), answered that call before it was made. It was first on the Ebola frontline and has sent the largest contingent of doctors and nurses – 256 are already in the field, with another 200 volunteers on their way.
While western media interest has faded with the receding threat of global infection, hundreds of British health service workers have volunteered to join them. The first 30 arrived in Sierra Leone last week, while troops have been building clinics. But the Cuban doctors have been on the ground in force since October and are there for the long haul.
The need could not be greater. More than 6,000 people have already died. So shaming has the Cuban operation been that British and US politicians have felt obliged to offer congratulations. John Kerry described the contribution of the state the US has been trying to overthrow for half a century “impressive”. The first Cuban doctor to contract Ebola has been treated by British medics, and US officials promised they would “collaborate” with Cuba to fight Ebola.
But it’s not the first time that Cuba has provided the lion’s share of medical relief following a humanitarian disaster. Four years ago, after the devastating earthquake in impoverished Haiti, Cuba sent the largest medical contingent and cared for 40% of the victims. In the aftermath of the Kashmir earthquake of 2005, Cuba sent 2,400 medical workers to Pakistan and treated more than 70% of those affected; they also left behind 32 field hospitals and donated a thousand medical scholarships.
That tradition of emergency relief goes back to the first years of the Cuban revolution. But it is only one part of an extraordinary and mushrooming global medical internationalism. There are now 50,000 Cuban doctors and nurses working in 60 developing countries. As Canadian professor John Kirk puts it: “Cuban medical internationalism has saved millions of lives.” But this unparalleled solidarity has barely registered in the western media.
Cuban doctors have carried out 3m free eye operations in 33 countries, mostly in Latin America and the Caribbean, and largely funded by revolutionary Venezuela. That’s how Mario Teran, the Bolivian sergeant who killed Che Guevara on CIA orders in 1967, had his sight restored 40 years later by Cuban doctors in an operation paid for by Venezuela in the radical Bolivia of Evo Morales. While emergency support has often been funded by Cuba itself, the country’s global medical services are usually paid for by recipient governments and have now become by far Cuba’s largest export, linking revolutionary ideals with economic development. That has depended in turn on the central role of public health and education in Cuba, as Havana has built a low-cost biotech industry along with medical infrastructure and literacy programmes in the developing countries it serves – rather than sucking out doctors and nurses on the western model.
Internationalism was built into Cuba’s DNA. As Guevara’s daughter, Aleida, herself a doctor who served in Africa, says: “We are Afro-Latin Americans and we’ll take our solidarity to the children of that continent.” But what began as an attempt to spread the Cuban revolution in the 60s and became the decisive military intervention in support of Angola against apartheid in the 80s, has now morphed into the world’s most ambitious medical solidarity project.
Its success has depended on the progressive tide that has swept Latin America over the past decade, inspired by socialist Cuba’s example during the years of rightwing military dictatorships. Leftwing and centre-left governments continue to be elected and re-elected across the region, allowing Cuba to reinvent itself as a beacon of international humanitarianism.
But the island is still suffocated by the US trade embargo that has kept it in an economic and political vice for more than half a century. If Barack Obama wants to do something worthwhile in his final years as president he could use Cuba’s role in the Ebola crisis as an opening to start to lift that blockade and wind down the US destabilisation war.
There are certainly straws in the wind. In what looked like an outriding operation for the administration, the New York Times published six editorials over five weeks in October and November praising Cuba’s global medical record, demanding an end to the embargo, attacking US efforts to induce Cuban doctors to defect, and calling for a negotiated exchange of prisoners.
The paper’s campaign ran as the UN general assembly voted for the 23rd time, by 188 votes to 2 (US and Israel), to demand the lifting of the US blockade, originally imposed in retaliation for the nationalisation of American businesses and now justified on human rights grounds – by a state allied to some of the most repressive regimes in the world.
The embargo can only be scrapped by congress, still stymied by the heirs of the corrupt US-backed dictatorship which Fidel Castro and Guevara overthrew. But the US president has executive scope to loosen it substantially and restore diplomatic ties. He could start by releasing the remaining three “Miami Five” Cuban intelligence agents jailed 13 years ago for spying on anti-Cuba activist groups linked to terrorism.
The obvious moment for Obama to call time on the 50-year US campaign against Cuban independence would be at next April’s Summit of the Americas – which Latin American governments had threatened to boycott unless Cuba was invited. The greatest contribution those genuinely concerned about democratic freedoms in Cuba can make is to get the US off the country’s back.
If the blockade really were to be dismantled, it would not only be a vindication of Cuba’s remarkable record of social justice at home and solidarity abroad, backed by the growing confidence of an independent Latin America. It would also be a boon for millions around the world who would benefit from a Cuba unshackled – and a demonstration of what can be achieved when people are put before corporate profit.
Last night the Senate narrowly passed the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014. Its passage into law came with very little fanfare; the bill was passed late at night, by which time several hundred of the nation’s top journalists were several drinks into their post-Walkleys celebrations, and it slipped in near to the end of the Parliamentary sitting year, in between MPs wishing each other a Merry Christmas in end-of-year speeches.
That’s unfortunate, because if you had to pick a single piece of legislation that deserves a vigorous examination, it was this one. The new law gives Immigration Minister Scott Morrison unheard-of powers over the fates of asylum seekers and refugees, allowing him to turn back boats with impunity, return asylum seekers to their home countries even if they face torture, and removes all references to the 1951 Refugee Convention, the defining document for nation-states dealing with refugees which Australia helped write, from Australian law. With regards to asylum seekers and refugees, Australia now effectively operates entirely outside international law.
I’ll leave the broader ramifications of what this bill will mean for asylum seekers, both in detention and those who are turned away in the future, to others; the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, which works to help resettle refugees in the community, said yesterday that Senators voting for the bill would be “condemning children to a life of uncertainty and allowing others to rot in offshore detention”. In an excellent piece for the Guardian, Ben Doherty says the law makes Morrison “the most powerful person in the Australian government”.
What’s really interesting is why most of the crossbench eventually decided to vote for the bill. The prospect of having hundreds of children released of detention seems to have been the deciding factor that secured the support of enough senators to push the bill over the line, and it’s this that needs to come under greater scrutiny.
Kill Them With Kindness: The Crossbench And Scott Morrison
Speaking for the Palmer United Party last night, Senator Glenn Lazarus said: “Australia’s reputation across the world is being damaged. We are being viewed by the world as a country that locks up innocent and defensive children, subjecting them to jail-like conditions without hope, compassion or any sense of a future. The sad truth is that we are a country that locks up defenceless children who have been washed up in our waters, children who have been dragged onto boats as innocent victims by their parents or others at the hands of unscrupulous people smugglers.”
Clearly Lazarus wants to see children out of detention and asylum seekers dealt with in a more compassionate and humane manner than they’ve been subjected to in recent years; Palmer United Party policy says as much. Still, Lazarus and fellow PUP Senator Dio Wang voted to pass the bill, which seems at odds with their policy and personal sentiments — until you learn that in exchange for their support (with several PUP amendments), Morrison promised to release around 1,500 asylum seekers on Christmas Island in time for Christmas, including 460 children. Lazarus explicitly stated in his speech that seeing “the 460 children in detention on Christmas Island, including the 32 unaccompanied children…be removed from Christmas Island by Christmas this year” was a major deciding factor in PUP’s support of the bill.
Thing is, Morrison has had the power to release those people from detention all along; a fact pointed out last night by independent Senator Jacqui Lambie. “First of all, my concern is that this government has now been in for 15 months. These kids have been sitting there for 15 months, and you want a pat on the back? You have got to be kidding,” Lambie said. “These kids could have been out 15 months ago. Secondly, I would like to know whether the good senator over there [Liberal Senator and Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Michaelia Cash], if all these kids are not out by Christmas Day, is prepared to put her Senate seat on it and resign”.
Lambie did not end up voting for the bill, but the government found the numbers elsewhere on the crossbench; despite having reservations about granting Scott Morrison more powers, the extremely understandable temptation of releasing kids from detention overrode their concerns. Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young described Morrison’s tactics as like using children “as bargaining chips, as pawns in his political play, to get legislation that he wanted through this place which previously had no support in this chamber…Minister Morrison is a sociopath who has held children as hostages in order to grab the power he wants in this place tonight”.
Between A Rock And A Hard Place: Senator Ricky Muir
As the deadline on the vote loomed, it became apparent that the bill’s chances of success came down entirely to Australian Motoring Party Enthusiast Senator Ricky Muir; with Labor, the Greens and independent Senator John Madigan all opposing it, and the Palmer United Party senators announcing their intention to vote for the bill yesterday afternoon, Muir held the one vote that would either pass or sink the bill.
Muir gave a heartfelt and at times emotional speech in the Senate last night, outlining his desire to see children freed from detention and saying that “coming to a decision on this bill has been, without a doubt, one of the hardest decisions I have had to face”.
Muir expressed serious reservations about the bill — “in its initial form, I could not vote for this bill. What the government is proposing is not ideal. There are parts of the bill that I am not comfortable with” — but said he would support it because “the government has said that, if this bill does not pass, the 30,000 people currently awaiting processing will continue to be left in limbo. The government has said that, if this bill does not pass, the 1,550 people who arrived between 19 July 2013 and the election would be sent to Nauru. The minister has said that, if this bill does not pass, he would be unable to use statutory processes to assess refugee claims and would need to go through an administrative process. He has publicly stated, ‘What it means for those 30,000 people is they will just wait longer and longer and longer.’”
That claim by Morrison is patently untrue; he has always possessed the power to free people from detention, and his not doing so is a personal choice.
Muir went on:
“Tonight I have also spoken with people who have worked closely with detainees on Christmas Island. They told me that this bill is not completely fair, but that the detainees are tired. They told me that the detainees have had enough and that they want out. They are desperate. She told me that they have watched the news and they know it is down to one vote, and that vote is mine.
“While I was speaking to these people and they were informing me, they started to break down and cry as they were speaking about children who have been in detention since they were born who are two years old. They speak about the word ‘out’. To them ‘out’ means going to church on occasion, and that is it. When they hear the word ‘out’, they cannot begin to associate it with freedom.
“They told the people in detention that they rang the office of the man whose decision it was to decide whether they would be out of detention before Christmas. That man wasn’t the Minister for Immigration; it was me. It should not be like this but it is. The crossbench should not have been put in this position, but it has.”
Going by that statement, it seems pretty clear that last night Ricky Muir spoke directly with Christmas Island staff members and case workers by phone, all of whom urged him to pass the government’s bill. If what Muir said is true, those case workers were also relaying messages from asylum seekers, whose mental and emotional states were nearing breaking point, directly to the Senator.
Senator Hanson-Young went a step further, claiming that “children on Christmas Island” were “being handed the phone number of Senator Muir, and they were asked to call that number and beg that senator to let them out”. (Junkee has sent Senators Muir, Lambie and Lazarus a series of questions asking them to clarify whether they spoke to asylum seekers, including children, prior to voting on the bill yesterday. All three Senators are yet to reply.)
It seems as though a large number of crossbench senators genuinely wish to alleviate the suffering of people in detention. It also seems as though the Immigration Minister has exploited that very human impulse in order to garner more power for himself and his department, using the lives and suffering of children in his power as collateral to obtain it. It is a frightening prospect: that a man willing to keep children behind razor wire until they are of use to his political ends has just been granted further power.