Like buying a house, it’s easy to get a free trade agreement if you don’t care what you get or how much you pay. Since coming to office, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has closed a number of free trade agreements in record time, and it shows.
The so-called free trade agreement with Japan ensures Australia will not be able to export a single grain of rice to that country. Some tariffs will fall slightly, over the next 18 years, and many tariffs and quotas remain in place. It doesn’t sound very free, does it?
You should be able to write a free trade agreement on a single page. The key sentence would be “there will be no restrictions on trade between Australia and Japan”. But of course these documents often top 1000 pages because that’s how long it takes to spell out all of the exceptions and exemptions.
But don’t worry about the details, modern politics is about symbolism. Signing a fat document that lists all of the restrictions on trade between us and Japan is a good look as long as you do it at the Emperor’s house and call it a free trade agreement. It’s a pretty safe bet that no one will ever read it.
Dr Richard Denniss is Executive Director of The Australia Institute, a Canberra-based think tank, http://www.tai.org.au
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SPIEGEL ONLINE: You and others are launching a global campaign to ensure the legal protection of Web users’ rights internationally. What would you include in your personal Magna Carta for the Web?
Tim Berners-Lee: First, I would like us to have that conversation together. That is why we created webwewant.org. I want us to use this year to define the values that we as Web users are going to insist on. I would like every country to debate what that means in terms of their existing laws. In what areas must we enhance our regulations to guarantee fundamental rights on the Internet? The right to privacy must be in there, the right not to be spied on and the right not to be blocked. The commercial marketplace should be completely open. You should be able to visit any political website apart from the things that we all agree are illegal, nasty and horrible. Access to the Web is, of course, a fundamental right…
Steve Hickman, Psy.D., Executive Director of the UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness joins William Mobley, MD, PhD for a discussion of how to be present in the moment and leverage the practice of mindfulness to stay engaged, focused, and fulfilled.
… Tunisia, political equilibrium but what about the economy? Ukraine special report;middle Venezuela takes to the streets; Cambodia’s peasants revolt; India considers voting for Modi; Algerians move on; will theScots vote for independence? employment and the EU, special report… Mexico, art on a grand scale, and more…
pic courtesy of US LIbrary of Congress
Frustrated by politics of obstruction and deference when our nation needs serious democratic leadership and action – and with our respective books on America both coming out on April 8th, we decided to consider the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our nation’s longest serving president, indeed, the greatest president of the Twentieth Century. And after much deliberation, we offer here the Top Ten Reasons FDR was Hot.
Enjoy and stay strong – We have nothing to fear but fear itself!
~~Harvey J. Kaye & Nomi Prins
1) FDR was hot because instead of talking “hope and change” – and playing blame-game politics – he signed 15 major bi-partisan bills in his first 100 days as President and turned alphabet soup into powerful, stabilizing New Deal agencies like the SEC, the CCC, the WPA, and the NLRB during a Great Depression.
2) FDR was hot because he always walked arm-in-arm – and even when he was sitting down he was standing up for America.
Greens believe Western Australians deserve to know what their political leaders are proposing in the face of falling iron ore prices and job losses in the construction industry.
The Greens Energy2029 plan forecasts up to 26,000 construction jobs in a mature renewable energy market. Senator Scott Ludlam said continued investment in the renewable energy sector would secure thousands of jobs, at risk if the Renewable Energy Target were to be wound back…
“We can also create jobs in the timber and manufacturing industries by developing a pre-fabricated housing sector here in WA. We have the plantation timber, we have the need with 45,800 people on housing waiting lists, and we can take advantage of new innovations in modular housing.
“The Greens will support small business by reducing the tax rate, and we will continue to fight for the rollout of an end-to-end fibre to the premise broadband network that will underpin our strong services sector.”
“I would be delighted to debate these issues with other candidates in this by-election,” Senator Ludlam said.
As Australia’s ‘Mendacious Morrison’, (aka Abbott Junta ‘reichsfuhrer of refugees’), refuses to comment on Guardian reports that his Department for Immigration offered repatriation to two Syrian asylum seekers on Manus Island, despite one saying he faced “certain death” if returned, UK’s Channel 4 News are reporting on the increased use of ‘barrel bombs’ against Syrian civilian populations, still trapped in the war torn country…
“….Channel 4 News cannot show some of the video footage, which often includes severed limbs and mutilated corpses, because it is too distressing to watch. However, the footage we can show speaks to the mass destruction of lives and neighbourhoods that is taking place.
The barrel bomb is just that, a barrel filled with TNT and shrapnel. When it explodes the shrapnel sprays around the blast zone killing anyone in its path.
But the horrific simplicity of this weapon should not lead you to underestimate its devastating power. Barrel bombs typically carry between 1,000kg and 1,500kg. On impact, within a 250m radius, everything is destroyed – buildings are flattened, cars are torched, civilians die.
The barrels are so large the air roars as they plummet to earth – the briefest of warnings before mayhem hits.
And in 2014 their use has dramatically escalated…”
Current estimates are that a total of between 5,000 and 6,000 barrel bombs have been dropped during Syria’s civil war, killing at least 20,000 people.
1,600 of these deaths have taken place in Aleppo in the last month alone…Mendacious Morrison – take note!!!
艺术界 LEAP 25
Historically, the number of artists who left their homeland is too great to count: the Flemish Rubens and French Poussin in Italy; the Dutch Mondrian and Spanish Picasso in France; the French Duchamp and German Beckmann in the States; the Chinese artist exodus of the 1920s and 30s…the list goes on. Beyond being attracted to the great art capitals of world, artists have left their home countries to escape war and political persecution, as well as for personal reasons. This issue attempts to trace the footsteps of Chinese artists abroad over the last thirty years, starting with Berlin and then making our way to Paris and New York. Our explorations look at their creative journeys in terms of both cultural immersion and cultural conflict, and at how the concepts of homeland, separation, struggle, and limitation impacted the formation of artistic language. Barbara Pollack reviews the American perception of Chinese contemporary art; Zheng Shengtian discusses the roles Chinese artist émigrés have played in North America over the last several decades; Yu Hsiao Hwei does the same for their compatriots in France; and Chaos Y. Chen offers a glimpse into their lives in Berlin. Finally, we take a look at the artist Li Mu, who after years of avoiding the small village that is his hometown, returned to undertake a rather curious project…
click cover above for 艺术界 LEAP 25
With the venal bully, Dick Cheney, back in the news, here’s a timeless quote that somewhat nails the son of a…
“…half the world is ruled by secret police forces…The desire for pure power seems to be much more dominant than the desire for wealth…it is no more natural, in the sense of being biologically necessary, than drunkenness or gambling. And if it has reached new levels of lunacy in our own age, as I think it has, then the question becomes: what is the special quality in modern life that makes a major human motive out of the impulse to bully others?”
George Orwell, Tribune, 1946
The violent bashing of asylum seekers which has resulted in the death of a young Iranian man has totally changed the world’s perceptions of the Australian Government’s treatment of refugees and embarrassed decent Australians.
The Abbott Government has no alternative to shutting its third world torture camps for refugees. The policy of making an example of and terrifying refugees, to deter would be asylum seekers from travelling to Australia to seek asylum, has collapsed under the weight of lies, secrecy and violence.
The conservative Coalition Government and the previous Labor government have based the legitimacy of their refugee program on the camps on Nauru and on Manus Island being a safe haven for asylum seekers while they wait for orderly processing.
In reality the camps are a hell on earth for refugees seeking asylum. The people sent to the camps are immediately demoralized by being told that because they have traveled by boat they will be disqualified from getting asylum in Australia. The camps are designed to be a harsh place to live and totally unsuitable for asylum seekers who are unwell and for women and children.
Initially the Minister tried to blame the victims of violence by saying they had absconded from the safety of the prison camp, but despite the strict secrecy surrounding the camp the true story has emerged that people with weapons came into the camp and bashed and shot refugees and stole their belongings.
Whatever spin the immigration Minister uses to rationalize his psychological and physical punishment of refugees and his denial of responsibility , he cannot get past the fact that under international rules he is ultimately responsible for the safety and well being of refugees he has detained, even if he has shipped them to another country.
Minister Morrison has failed in his duty, he cannot protect the people under his care while they are under another country’s jurisdiction. He should be stood down and his unsafe refugee program should be closed down immediately.
Current issue: March 2014
… Europe, Ukraine, the next chapter; the new populist far right; Turkey, Gulen reveals himself; post-Gezi writers speak out; market in natural disasters; secrecy in the name of US safety; Mexico’s left out in the cold; who pays for Amazon clean-up? Sahara, spoils of war; pay the world’s workers! spam, from Monty Python to global crime… and more…
As Ukraine teeters on a knife edge between self determination and further Russian incursion, the UN Security Council assembles for crisis talks…here @ the interpretOr, we’re having another look at perspectives from Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International on the Putin regime… Reporters Without Borders...
…in the face of the Russian public’s calls for respect and democracy, the government has responded with repression. A spate of draconian laws has been adopted in record time. Legislation regulating human rights NGOs and unauthorized demonstrations was toughened, while defamation was reintroduced into the criminal code after being decriminalized in November 2011. In the name of “protecting minors,” a federal agency has been told to compile a blacklist of “pernicious” websites that can be blocked without reference to the courts and without any possibility of defence. And the Duma is not stopping there. Plans are under way to vastly extend the scope of what is regarded as “high treason” and “state secrets.” Tools for circumventing online censorshipare to be banned. And “offending the feelings of believers” is to be penalized drastically. The desire to control is as plain as ever. OFFICIAL VERSION “The media’s active and responsible attitude and a truly independent and courageous journalism are more than ever desired and indispensible for Russia.” (Address to the Union of Journalists, April 2013) REALITY Whether indispensible or not, independent journalism is a risky activity in Russia. No fewer than 29 journalists have been murdered in direct connection with their work since Putin became president. Physical attacks and murders occur with regularity and are encouraged by the impunity enjoyed by their perpetrators. After a particularly intense wave of violence from 2008 to 2010, Putin and Dmitry Medvedev both gave personal undertakings to combat impunity. With no effect. Mikhail Beketov, who suffered lasting injuries in a November 2008 attack, died in April 2013 without seeing his assailants brought to justice. The identity of those who ordered the murders of Anna Politkovskaya and Khadzhimurad Kamalov, and the attack on Oleg Kashin, is still unknown. Read in Russian / Читать по-русски
Amnesty International …
Vladimir Putin’s return as President, following widely criticized elections, led to a surge in popular protest and demands for greater civil and political freedoms, particularly around his inauguration in May. The result was increased restrictions. Protests were frequently banned and disrupted. New laws were adopted, often without public consultation and in the face of widespread criticism, which introduced harsh administrative and criminal penalties that could be used to target legitimate protest and political and civil society activities, and to restrict foreign funding for civic activism. The Russian Federation responded belligerently to international criticism of its human rights record. A law on travel and other sanctions on officials allegedly responsible for the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in custody in 2009 was passed in the USA and proposed in several other countries. The Russian authorities retaliated with reciprocal sanctions and by banning the adoption of Russian children by US citizens and prohibiting Russian NGOs from receiving funding from the USA. Russia continued to enjoy economic growth, although this slowed with falling oil prices, the global economic downturn and the lack of structural reforms at home. Public protest decreased by the end of 2012, but so did public support for the political leadership, according to opinion polls…
Low-income people of color stand to lose the most from the erosion of net neutrality. By Jay Cassano and Michael Brooks Keystone by the Bay Labor and environmental groups clash in Maryland over fracking. By Rebecca Burns Citizens of Nowhere Thousands of Haitian-Dominicans were stripped of Dominican citizenship. Where’s the U.S. outrage? By Achy Obejas Jersey Hustle The South Jersey political corruption depicted in American Hustle still persists, in a new form. By Bhaskar Sunkara Stamp of Disapproval Activists and union workers fight to stop the U.S. Postal Service from shedding buildings and jobs. By Theo Anderson For Once, Workers Win Over Walmart Walmart has signed onto a contract that guarantees Floridian tomato pickers fair treatment. By Alex Wolff China’s Green Movement Environmentalists cut through the smog of state repression. By Michelle Chen Anti-Fracking Fight Heats Up in Maryland Baltimore’s march against the proposed Cove Point project was the largest environmental protest in the city’s history. By Bruce Vail Free Contraception Is in Danger Again A Supreme Court case may prioritize employers’ religious freedoms over women’s health. By Ruth Rosen COMMENTARY The Billionaires’ Scheme to Destroy Democracy The 1% are advocating a campaign for a one-dollar-one-vote plutocracy. By Leo Gerard The Real Welfare Queens A new report shows corporations like Koch Industries have gotten billions in government subsidies. By David Sirota WORKING IN THESE TIMES After Chokwe Lumumba’s Death, Mississippi Auto Workers Mourn a Union Ally The late Jackson, Miss. mayor was an outspoken advocate for unions and workers rights in a fiercely right-wing state. By David Moberg THE PRISON COMPLEX New York’s Curbs on Solitary Confinement Could Signal National Sea Change The agreement makes New York the largest prison system in the country to prohibit solitary confinement of minors. By Alex Wolff
Australia has asked North Korea, one of Asia’s poorest countries, to take in asylum seekers detained while trying to reach the Australian coast.
On Saturday Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, asked regime head, Kim Wrong-un, if North Korea could house some migrants.
“The Australian minister has requested that North Korea takes in some refugees,” bouffanted Wrong-un told a news briefing with Bishop in Pyongyang.
“In the past, North Koreans have fled their country to other countries but now it’s time that North Korea takes in refugees from other countries,” he said adding he
would “take serious consideration” of the request.
The comments were also carried by the official KCNA news agency.
The terrible war in Syria provides a new window giving us a view out of the illusion that we still have a functioning Western democracy.
Following the Snowden revelations which showed us that our Governments have turned us all into potential enemies of the state while building walls of secrecy between us and reality. The war in Syria stretches the gap between reality and fiction, to the extent that tears in the fabric are exposing the deception visited upon us by our governments and the mass media.
Here in Australia the Abbott Government which was carried to an election victory by the cash of a coal and tobacco alliance and the fervent barracking of the monopolistic Murdoch media has exposed Australians to the worst possible outcomes of global climate change.They have diverted the populations gaze from nationwide droughts and wildfires by a xenophobic vilification and military led oppression of asylum seekers.
The refuge seekers are being locked up in appalling gulags on islands outside Australia to prevent them access to appeal, and to so demoralise the refugees, that they will stop seeking refuge in the country of “a fair go”.
All of this Guantanamo like torture is being done under the strictest secrecy using the military inspired excuse that it is an operational matter. Any questioning of this lunacy is branded un-Australian by the Prime Minister
What is missing in the media stories on Syria, the elephant in the room, is the Russian naval base at Tartus on Syria’s Mediterranean coast. This is the real reason for the conflict.
For some reason the mainstream Western media is loath to reveal the real story behind this terrible conflict. Perhaps they self censor because they do not want to show the US in a bad light, but there can be no end to the war until this cause is acknowledged and factored into the solution. Russia has too much at stake to back down on its support for Assad while the Americans who pose as the good guys who just wants to help, will push Russia as far as they can despite the casualties.
While some smaller websites like the Interpretor have noted the strategic implications of the naval base and the likely US involvement in the early demonstrations, it is the website RT nails the story in an interview with former Reagan Administration official Dr Paul Craig Roberts who expressed his view that:
“The United States is bold in stirring up the opposition and in arming it. They used the cover of the Arab Spring and Arab protests as they did in Libya,” he said. “These are not spontaneous protests, and certainly in an authoritarian state like Syria you wouldn’t find people in opposition able to readily supply themselves with arms, with military weapons.”
“What’s involved here is that the Russians have a naval base in Syria, and the Americans don’t want a Russian naval presence in the Mediterranean. And, just as in Libya, the problem was the Chinese oil investments. If Syria goes, Iran is in the target sights, and Lebanon,” he concluded.
What we in the West have to understand is that the avaricious nature of our societies has driven a psychotic desire for control of everything and everyone on the planet. The US with our meek compliance, is violently imposing its will on other countries at the same time that it spies on its own people and its allies in order to control and manipulate us all.
It is not the violence of Syrians or the Egyptians or even the Afghanis who test our resolve. The real challenge is for us in the West, and especially the US, is to take back the control of our countries from the backroom manipulation of the US Administration, the CIA, the corporate media and the Fortune 500 who are trashing our democracies for their own sick addiction to wealth and control.
What has happened to the movement towards world peace that began during the Vietnam War but disappeared under a blanket of consumption and competitiveness? I contend that most of us would still like to live in an empathetic world that is signified by awareness, openness and cooperation. Unfortunately we are heading in the opposite direction where ignorance, competition, distrust and conflict hold sway.
Unless we loosen the fierce grip of the establishment and take back our power as citizens we will be destined to live consumptive empty half-lives on a planet heading towards more conflict and eventual extinction. The first step out of this miasma is to wake up from our dream world and get engaged ln our own revolution.
An exclusive report filmed in the Australian asylum processing centre on Nauru, FEB, 2003.
The isolated pacific island of Nauru was used by the Howard Junta to detain and process asylum seekers. Denied access to lawyers or journalists, detainees were interned in a state of limbo for over 16 months. “We can’t take it anymore. It’s been a month since we had food or water,” despairs one detainee. Mothers were reduced to drinking rainwater and feeding their children expired milk. Access to medical services were severely restricted and the overwhelming feeling in the camp was one of despair.
“I want to die. I don’t have any future,” states one inmate.
Produced by SBS/Dateline
Distributed by Journeyman Pictures
“Terrorism, epidemics, poverty, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction: all challenges that know no borders…
…The reality is that climate change ranks right up there with every single one of them.”
John Kerry, United States Secretary of State, 17 Feb 2014.
Reports from Manus Island indicate a major protest and breakout has taken place on the island late this afternoon. The most recent reports indicate that the riot squad has been mobilised and that the perimeter fence has been breached.
Protests have been building all day, but escalated after a meeting (around 2pm Manus time) was held to answer asylum seekers’ questions about resettlement.
Shockingly, the asylum seekers were told that they “will not be resettled in PNG” and if they wanted to go somewhere else, they will need to arrange that themselves.
There had been protests throughout the day, but around 4pm Manus Island time, events escalated and the G4S riot squad went into Oscar compound.
A couple of hours later, fences were knocked down and the whole detention centre was locked down as the protests spread to all the compounds. There were reports of a fire being set in one compound and tents have been destroyed.
It seems the perimeter fence of one compound, perhaps Oscar, has now been breached and a major protest is underway.
There are reports of asylum seekers being injured by G4S guards. Some asylum seekers have been taken to the police station.
There have been daily protests on Manus Island involving hundreds of asylum seekers since 25 January as frustrations have increased over delays in processing and uncertainty about their future.
Today’s announcement that there would be no resettlement in PNG confirms earlier reports that resettlement was never a part of the PNG deal and the PNG government has never had plans to resettle refugees.
For more information contact Ian Rintoul 0417 275 713 @ Refugee Action Coalition – click here for their site…
What have they done to the earth?
What have they done to our fair sister?
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn
And tied her with fences and dragged her down
Australia is in flames from coast to coast and judging from online posts someone is to blame. Placing blame for these Australia wide fires on individual shires or a lack of precautionary burns is a futile exercise .
We as a nation and a world have allowed organizations set up by an ignorant greedy lot of billionaires to distract us from the truth. Our collective arse is on fire but most of us have not yet realized it.
Money power and consumption has dazzled us into thinking we are in charge of the earth and its ecosystems even as our houses burn down in front of our eyes or are swept away by raging torrents.
We ignore the spreading deserts and the great rivers reduced to a dirty trickle, the foul air that gives us cancer and focus our eyes on baubles and beads. Indeed we are the age of ignorance, the deniers of science and truth.
Hallelujah to the great great billionaires for they will bring us wealth beyond our dreams. The golden crumbs will trickle from their tables and make us all whole. Blessed are the rich for they are Gods among men.
These giants of industry and commerce who have bought our democracy and direct our governments, listen to our conversations, track our mail, investigate our habits and purchases. They gauge and direct our thoughts to design fantasy worlds that we can buy with our future..
So what is this truth we ignore and the science from which, we avert our gaze? It is that we have traded our children’s future for potato crisps, polar bears for a bigger car, gorilla’s for palm oil, bees for a quick buck.
We have untangled the web of life and found ourselves on the edge of extinction. But we have averted our eyes to the precipice we walk along because we are distracted by our new gizmo, we do not hear because we are on our mobile phones. Masters of the universe lost in a miasma of self- delusion.
We are to blame, we elected these lying deluding and secretive fools who sell us to the highest bidder. We have listened to their baying for war while praying for peace. We allowed them to create a world of division and conflict instead of friendship and cooperation. We allowed them to plunder the earth and poison our air. We are the ones to blame and we are the only ones who can repair the damage.