Sunday 22 October 2023

A Little Bragging.


To help de-escalate the Gaza crisis António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary General, has pleaded for:
  1. Release of hostages.
  2. Ceasefire.
  3. Humanitarian access to Gaza, so that essential supplies of food, water, medicine, and fuel are delivered immediately.
That sounds reasonable to me. More importantly, Australian organisations, ranging from the ACTU to charities – independently of the UN – were already asking the Albanese Government to lobby “like-minded” nations for something like that. So, I wasn’t surprised when last week two UN Security Council members proposed draft resolutions reflecting similar requests.

A week ago today, on Monday 16th, the Russian Federation submitted to the SC a draft resolution calling for “a humanitarian ceasefire, release of all hostages, aid access, and safe evacuation of civilians”.

To be approved such proposals need no less than nine votes from the 15 SC members (ten non-permanent members[*], plus the five permanent members with veto power: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States).

Four countries voted against the draft (France, Japan, the UK, and the US – unsurprisingly) and six abstained (Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, Ghana, Malta, and Switzerland). With only five votes (China, Gabon, Mozambique, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates) the proposal was rejected.

Thursday 12 October 2023

The Looming Genocide? (Updated).

Part of a museum exhibit in Rwanda about the country's genocide [A]

Over-use of a word leads to it losing meaning. Think of “neoliberalism”. More recently no current affairs show goes by without the word “trauma” being heard.

Thursday 28 September 2023

Karma (Updated).

But… but… but… we know that there is no such a thing as a Ukrainian Nazi. It’s an impossibility. It’s been scientifically proven that something in Ukrainian DNA makes them inborn anti-Nazi, democrats, liberals.

Besides, President Goloborodko is Jewish, people!

Justin Trudeau and this bloke, Anthony Rota, are fools playing into Putin’s hand. They are falling for conspiracy theories. Ask ABC journos.

Sunday 24 September 2023

Ms Wong goes to New York.

God, I admire Penny Wong. I honestly do.

If you have heard her speaking before the UN General Assembly recently you know why. If you haven’t, just look at her. Listen to her.

The climate threat … Kiribati, Tuvalu and Marshall Islands are only a few metres above sea level … Many developing countries are rightly frustrated … Approaching climate tipping points … We must demand more from permanent members [of the UN’s Security Council], including constraints on the use of the veto …

Powerful words.

Her forte is the dispassionate, almost academic, speech. Articulate, something extremely uncommon among Australian politicians, her clear diction and the earnestness, calmness and self-confidence with which she speaks as she addresses her audience reminds one of a wise, experienced teacher.

Well, I suppose with enough practice and effort (in my case perhaps with a lot more practice and effort than most others), one could acquire, in some measure, some of Wong’s skills.

But there is something in Wong’s public speaking I can’t imagine ever achieving, no matter how hard I tried. It’s something that I believe one has to be born with and I wasn’t born with it. It’s a limitation in my character.

Monday 28 August 2023

Let’s Take a Stroll Down Memory Lane.

Do you remember this?

If you do, congrats. People have short memories. But, yep, once upon a time, George W. Bush was the butt of everybody’s jokes. For very good reasons too, as you can see.

As a matter of fact, that wasn’t an exclusively American thing. Down Under Dabya was cause of much hilarity.

This clip, however, never made it to a top-10 list of Bushisms:

In part, I suppose, that was because people were not in a laughing mood less than two weeks after 9/11.

Thursday 27 July 2023

The Star-Spangled Roo, LOLZ.


The newest US Navy warship — allegedly built Down Under — was named USS Canberra and commissioned in Sydney (Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!) a few days ago. To symbolize the US-Oz “alliance” nothing better than to overlay the Stars and Stripes on the kangaroo, the Australian Defence Force national marking (quite appropriately, actually).

Oz just gave another step in the road to become the 51st State of the Union. We’re neck to neck with Puerto Rico (eat your hearts out, Latinx!) and we’re gaining ground fast, because we’re buying our membership.

A high-ranking official, speaking on condition of anonymity, revealed to Magpie News that Albo’s been promoted, from Prime Minister to Governor.

“Why now?” — I asked the source. “If not now, when?” — was the answer.




Tuesday 25 July 2023

Explaining the Russo-Ukrainian War.

Choose one:
“Destruction of Ukranian w:BMP-3 IFV by Russian troops in Mariupol” or
“A destroyed Russian BMP-3 near Mariupol, 7 March 2022”. [A]

You know the conventional wisdom about the Ukrainian war: it’s all entirely Putin’s fault. That story is easy to understand, isn’t it? Politicians and journos and pundits for hire never cease to drive home the message.

It has its weaknesses though. One of them is that it needs Putin – who on top of having Parkinson’s disease and at least two different flavours of terminal cancer – to be both bad and kooky … never mind that madness precludes responsibility. Depending on who you hear, the bloke is a Machiavellian master manipulator … or an inept tin pot dictator. Incidentally, the same applies to the Russian military, at times described as a serious and imminent threat to the security of Europe, at times lambasted as useless, clumsy, incompetent and corrupted – sometimes by the same people, at the same time.

Tuesday 18 July 2023

The Mountain in Labour: EU-CELAC Summit.

The mountain in labour (source)

The Summit of the European Union–Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC, by its initials in Spanish), held in Brussels just concluded.

Representatives of some 60 countries from the Americas and Europe, including President of the European Union Ursula von der Leyen and head of the European Council Charles Michel plus heads of state and government, gathered for the summit, the first in eight years.

Although the European side offered economic cooperation, one of the main topics on the agenda was to gain CELAC’s support in the NATO war against Russia. China was also part of the agenda.

Quotable Quotes.


Say what you will about us Aussies, there’s something you can’t possibly say: that we collectively suffer from pathological doubts about ourselves and our place in the world.
Did you [Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers] discuss the concessions that you expect from China on trade if there's to be a visit to China by you and the Prime Minister?

So, we are in a position to extract concessions from arguably the largest economy in the world, armed with ICBMs that can hit every major Australian city – including Hobart! – before we even talk, just in exchange for the privilege of setting one foot on their land.

Sunday 16 July 2023

NATO Summit 2024.


A high-ranking official in the Albanese Government, speaking under the condition of anonymity, confirmed to Magpie News that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was invited to the NATO Summit to take place in Gallipoli, Turkey.

Ukrainian President Vasily Petrovych Goloborodko has repeatedly asked for additional military assistance. It is understood that Albanese plans to donate one of the new AUKUS nuclear-powered submarines.

Military experts believe the Ukrainian military needs more materiel for their upcoming summer counteroffensive. “It promises to be as successful as their 2023 predecessor”, they believe.

Last week it was revealed that a number of Australian Army generals, with experience gained in Afghanistan and Iraq, are planning to travel to the Ukraine, to volunteer their expert professional services there.

“With that and the sub”, they say, “the war in the Ukraine could be over very soon, maybe even within ten years.”

Monday 10 July 2023

Robodebt: the Week that Was.

Sometimes the do-gooder/bleeding heart image can be an asset.

Surprising? Not really. It’s been one of Labor’s traditional selling points: voters perceive Labor as “caring” about fairness.

Using his mum as example, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has gone to great lengths to highlight that.


There is a historical reason for that perception. Although the term “welfare state” is no longer fashionable, the Australian Labor Party was key in its adoption here, and its governments established its general institutions, including public health (under Medicare). They also created the main welfare payments. The age pension, for example, dates to 1908, during the Fisher Government; the unemployment benefits (currently called JobSeeker) was product of the Chifley Government in 1945. More recently, in 2013, it was under the Gillard Government that the National Disability Insurance Scheme was created.

So, unsurprisingly the Albanese Government launched the Robodebt Royal Commission last year.

Sunday 25 June 2023

Russian Embassy Farce (II). Updated

The New Russian Embassy is still making headlines. The Australian – the broadsheet among the many other Murdoch tabloids – broke the news in exclusivity on Friday 23rd:

Presumably the day before – according to The Oz, remember that – its reporting team found a Russian diplomat on the Yarralumla block of land in dispute. (Was that man quietly enjoying the land – in the terms of the Federal Court’s decision – or squatting, as The Oz prefers? That’s for you to decide.)

The Australian Federal Police, the report added, is present at the site, but cannot arrest the man because everybody says he has diplomatic immunity.

Monday 19 June 2023

The Russian Embassy Farce: Jalisco Nunca Pierde … (Updated)

… y Cuando Pierde, Arrebata.

Jalisco nunca pierde y cuando pierde, arrebata. (source)

That’s a popular saying in Mexico. Literally it means Jalisco (one of the states of the Mexican federation) never loses, but if it ever were to lose, it would cheat. The “Jalisco” stands for “Mexicans” or “we”. Perhaps a less literal translation works best: we always win, by hook or by crook, if needed.

I suppose that saying’s appeal owes much to its unapologetic chauvinism. Personally, however, I doubt many Mexicans really use it as their guide when dealing with others, especially foreigners. Think about it. Would you be anxious to deal with Mexicans if you thought they take that saying seriously? Well, Mexicans are likely aware of that.

It’s ironic, isn’t it? Mexicans could be too scrupulous to apply their own saying.

Others are certainly a lot less squeamish. Don’t believe me? Read on.

Wednesday 17 May 2023

On Embarrassment and Humiliation.

Quad minus one (source)

You live and you learn. I never thought that a person’s embarrassment and humiliation was one of the most important things to consider when commenting on international events.

However, judging by how frequently Aussie journos have used the words “humiliation” and “embarrassment” lately, I might have been mistaken.

Monday 24 April 2023

War Schizophrenia (Updated).


Today Australians and New Zealanders commemorate Anzac Day: the anniversary of the tragic Anzac Corps landing in Gallipoli, in 1915.

Since then, however, Australians also commemorate today all the wars and engagements of the Australian military since Federation: from World War 2 to Iraq and Afghanistan – all of them, without exception, overseas, most of them in far flung places around the world.

The official ceremonies start before dawn. As you might expect, they’re a solemn even sombre affair, where Australians are warned “lest we forget”.

Tuesday 4 April 2023

The Interview: not Sarah Ferguson’s Finest Hour.

Sarah Ferguson (L), Alexey Pavlovsky (R).

I don’t know about you, but I think Sarah Ferguson’s interview on March 20th with Alexey Pavlovsky, Russian Ambassador to Australia, is not her proudest moment. Mind you, I’d be surprised she (and maybe even most Australians) agreed with me on this right now. But, who knows.

After welcoming her guest (a gesture which in its context is blatantly insincere) and barely seconds into the interview, Ferguson shot point blank:
“Ambassador, you’re here in Australia enjoying the benefits of a free and open society. How do you live with yourself representing the repressive, dictatorial Putin regime?”
Read that again. I’m not making this up.

Thursday 23 March 2023

The Pot and the Kettle: the Iraq War.

People living in Western liberal democracies have short memories. That makes them self-righteous. Perhaps a stroll down memory lane is due.

This week was the twentieth anniversary of the Iraqi War. Use your memory, my friend.

Twenty years ago your TV screen was showing that or something very much like it.

As a consequence of that war, the whole Arab world, from the Tigris River in the east, to the Atlantic Ocean in the west, was destabilised. Already poor countries lost valuable infrastructure. Millions of people were displaced or left disabled, orphaned or destitute.

But let’s talk about deaths only. Nobody knows how many people died in that war. The lowest partial death estimates range from some 100 thousand to 113 thousand civilians killed between 2003 and 2021. A higher estimate shows some 600 thousand civilians and combatants killed between March 2003 and June 2006 alone (roughly two thirds of them, civilians, including women and children).

How did we get there?

Thursday 16 March 2023

55 Years Ago: My Lai.

I’m sure experts can say many deep things about war crimes. Alas, I’m no expert. And yet, that caveat in place, I think I’ve noticed two things about war crimes. It’s up to you to judge how interesting they are.

The first thing I can say about war crimes is that for years we hear next to nothing about them, even during wartime. It’s almost like wars became civilised affairs.

Then, suddenly, news reports are full of alleged war crimes.

That’s what happened since February 2022, when the Russian Federation invaded the Ukraine: the term “war crime” became almost as frequent on our TV screens as the daily appearances of the Ukrainian President.

The second thing I’ve noticed is that current news coverage of war crimes is inevitably framed within a cosmic good versus evil conflict – sorry – Western liberal democracies versus autocratic regimes narrative. In this story war crimes are the preserve of the Other: autocratic regimes (aka, the bad guys). Western liberal democracies (We), the immaculately good guys, abhor such things. Living under the rule of law, We promote an “international rules-based order”.


If you are young enough (and certainly, many Aussies old and young do their best to erase this episode from public awareness) you probably never heard of My Lai, let alone remember it, but today is its anniversary.

Fifty five years ago the military of the United States of America, our ally, the world’s richest and most democratic nation, did this: