Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Corruption and colonialism, both alive and well ... if being sick is your idea of being well ...

It's as good an example of modern colonialism as can be found.

A rich country exports its problems to another, much poorer country, using cash as a bait and a bribe, and the poor country, beguiled by the cash, allows a portion of its land to be occupied and exploited by the rich country.

The rich country dumps what it perceives to be detritus, useless and irritating baggage in the poor country. Problem solved.

When there are problems with the solution, blame the poor country, or the people employed by the rich country to maintain order in the poor country.

Whatever you do, don't blame politicians on both sides of the aisle. After all, they only exported the problems because they didn't want the sort of unseemly and embarrassing behaviour that was seen when they ran the gulags onshore and caused the Howard government so much pain ...

Because we should all remember that politicians bleed too. Oh how they suffer at the sight of suffering, especially if it turns up in the polls ...

There's something to be said for the naked honesty of the brutality of dictators. They have no problems running their gulags onshore. Stalin, North Korea? Why not have a gulag or a camp at home? Where's the harm? Keeps people in line.

Today there's not been much attention paid to offshore events by the local media commentariat. After all, out of sight is out of mind, and failing business models mean there's no hands on deck or on the ground.

The few who've bothered - like Tory Shepherd, reprinted in the least trusted newspaper in Australia - don't know what to say: Reports about what happened to Manus detainees are contradictory and distance makes it harder to get the truth.

It sounds like chaos over there. There are no images, no video or pictures available as the paper goes to print — rare in the Age of the iPhone. Just rumours and glimpses of anarchy. 
The Government has been keen, particularly in recent weeks, to paint asylum seekers as people who are willing to act illegally, who are therefore untrustworthy.

Wombats in the dark and not a single word explaining the bleeding obvious, that Australia has exported its problems and if shit happens it won't be on home turf and that's enough for the politicians.

No doubt an inquiry will be held, bowls of water will be called for, paws will be ritually washed and cleansed, and throughout the land we'll hear the mantra "nothing to do with me".

Some cluck clucking and tut tutting, individuals blamed, politicians absolved, the country that pays to run its gulag at ease and continuing to dump people on their colonial patch, and both sides of the house free to go on with the business of demonising and persecuting the aliens ... shedding crocodile tears every so often in a bid to seem human.

The only other bizarre thing is that the politicians that sponsored the colonial solution - former chairman Rudd heading the pack in an attempt to save his own skin - routinely purport on their day off on  to be Christians.

They should wear the brands, Her Majesty's modern day colonialists and gulag keepers with pride ...

And meanwhile the media reports events with the same sombre tones as are reserved for the failure of Australian athletes at what is perhaps the most offensive and corrupt Olympic games in many a year - perhaps since Hitler himself so nakedly turned them to his own purposes (bugger the Godwin's Law swear jar, it's not the pond's fault it's full to overflowing).

Whatever happens on the ice and snow of Sochi in the next couple of weeks, one thing is certain: this Winter Olympics is the greatest financial boondoggle in the history of the Games. Back in 2007, Vladimir Putin said that Russia would spend twelve billion dollars on the Games. The actual amount is more than fifty billion. (By comparison, Vancouver’s Games, in 2010, cost seven billion dollars.) Exhaustive investigations by the opposition figures Boris Nemtsov, Leonid Martynyuk, and Alexei Navalny reveal dubious cost overruns and outright embezzlement. And all this lavish spending (largely paid for by Russian taxpayers) has been, as Nemtsov and Martynyuk write, “controlled largely by businesspeople and companies close to Putin.” 
Sochi is emblematic of Russia’s economy: conflicts of interest and cronyism are endemic. (The Sochi Effect, The New Yorker, currently outside the paywall here)

Enough already.

The pond is in need of a little light relief, and what better way than to read Julian Clarke's valiant defence of the evil empire.

It seems that rascally, wicked Paul Barry and Media Watch have been very naughty talking down the grand strides being made by the evil empire, as you can read - paywall permitting - in News Corp slams ABC's Media Watch.

It's a herculean task, and amongst other things what fun to see Clarke defend the empire's populist click bait littered site.

Media Watch also mocked as “click bait” some of “the top stories” on News-owned, Australia’s most popular news website. 
But Media Watch did not seek any data from about which stories were most-read. Had it done so it would have found none of its examples were on the list. 
“We never said they were the most popular,” Mr Barry said. Mr Clarke said: “The fact is people read both quirky and serious stories — not that you’d know that from Barry’s sneering and selective reporting.”

Indeed. The pond has absolutely no idea why the shocking and outrageous Paul Barry has come up with such a far-fetched idea, so we trotted over to confirm how wrong he was here:

(no hot links, screen cap)

Look, this very day there's vital information about implants, ugly F1 cars, the Viking apocalypse, and an explanation of why a supermodel wore a swordfish during a photoshoot ...

The tragedy, it seems, is that none of these stories are popular.

The site simply runs them as a public service, and as a way, perhaps, of making Wittgenstein blush as he comes to understand his inadequacy as an intellect up against the fine, feathered, peacock display of the best brains at

For the rest of the piece, Clarke indulges in standard News Corp practice, shooting the ABC messenger while attempting to pretend that all is well in print and digital land:

The episode also displayed a “lack of understanding about the media business”, he said. 
 “Barry quoted the Herald Sun’s circulation as being under 400,000 sales per day. If Media Watch was attempting to give the viewers some insight into the newspaper business, it may have pointed out that the Herald Sun’s total audience, print and digital, is larger this year than last year and that the public are happily paying for the digital version,” Mr Clarke said.

But as the pond noted yesterday, the rabbit was already out of the hutch last week, courtesy of mUmBRELLA, and stories such as The data is finally in. Newspapers aren't going to get enough digital subscribers.

Despite a lack of transparency from the major newspaper publishers, that question is now starting to be answered within the scraps of information they are sharing. 
And it now seems likely that while paywalls are going to bring in some dollars – they will be nowhere enough to make up the shortfall. And they will probably be the hardest earned media dollars out there. The pattern is beginning to look like an initial surge of loyal subscribers when a paywall is first activated, but then growth quickly stalls. It suggests the market size is far smaller than publishers would have hoped. 
The clearest part of the picture comes with News Corp’s The Australian, which was first to move to a paywall model, initially as a freemium (some content free, premium stuff for subscribers only) offer, then as a metered (a certain number of free articles per month) model.

Well you can head off to mUmBRELLA for the figures and the calculations, but you might wonder why Tim Burrowes isn't given the same rough slagging as Paul Barry.

And that's because mUmBRELLA is below the radar as old media spends its time slagging other old media - in the case of News Corp, the ABC and Fairfax - without the old media having the first clue that young horses are already contentedly grazing in other fields for their information and opinion.

Everyone knows that Chairman Rupert only keeps the loss-making lizard Oz running as a folly and as a source of political influence and power and he's been doing it for years.

And why not. Assemble a cast of opinion hacks and get them to type like monkeys day in day out, week in week out, following the party line.

Even for a dedicated follower of loons with a deep interest in their peculiar territorial and mating calls, it can produce a sense of ennui, tedium, boredom and existential despair.

Look at Dame Slap today:

Talk about a commentariat running on empty.

With newspaper subscriptions falling, News Corp needs to do something different. Fast!

You see, Craig Thompson has finally gone, and good riddance, and now in New South Wales, Eddie Obeid has been displaced by Liberal MPs Chris Hartcher, Chris Spence and Darren Webber ... with questions raised about corrupt payments (Liberal MPs face suspension for links to ICAC inquiry). In that story you'll find this:

Australian Water, which became one of the largest donors to the NSW Liberals before the 2011 state election, was allegedly one of the sources of the payments. 

And if you backtrack a little further, say to February 2013 you'll find this, Questions about Senator's involvement with Sydney Water:

Arthur Sinodinos was appointed chairman of Australian Water Holdings the day before the Obeid family signed a secret deal to buy one third of the company. He insists he was not told by the management of that arrangement. 
Under the Senator's chairmanship, Australian Water Holdings went on to become a key donor to the State Liberal Party. 
And a few months later, after the Liberals won power in the state, the company signed a 25-year deal with the new government to install infrastructure in Sydney's north-west growth corridor that increased the value of the company from $9 million to $75 million.

The third estate was supposed to earn its way by taking a fierce and fearless look at both sides of the aisle, instead of spending its days urging Bill Shorten to become a success by turning into Tony Abbott.

It's not just unions and the Labor party who get up to the neck in it.

Why not, instead of spending all their days union bashing, don't the commentariat spent a bit of time checking out the corruption on both sides of the aisle. 

Why, for example, do they consistently overlook the naked corruption and greed at work amongst developers and the corporate side of the construction industry, which in Sydney at least would make the builders of Sochi blush at their lack of ambition ...

It brings us back to James Surowiecki's observations on the Sochi effect:

... an economic boost based on corrupt spending is an illusion, the equivalent of a sugar high. Paolo Mauro, an economist at the I.M.F., says simply, “Corruption is bad for economic growth.” It’s well documented that corruption discourages investment, because it makes businesses uncertain about what it takes to get ahead; as one study put it, “Arbitrariness kills.” Corruption also skews government spending. The economists Vito Tanzi and Hamid Davoodi found that corruption leads politicians to overinvest in low-quality infrastructure projects while skimping on maintaining existing projects. (It’s easier to collect bribes on new construction than on maintenance.) And, in a pathbreaking study nearly twenty years ago, Mauro found that countries with high levels of corruption spent little on education. In economist-speak, corrupt politicians put too much money into physical capital and not enough into human capital. Crony construction capitalism leaves us with too few teachers and too many ski jumps to nowhere.

Uh huh, but why would anyone expect that a corporation which has just made out like a bandit at taxpayers' expense, with a windfall derived from phoney internal transactions designed to conform to the law while thwarting the intent of the law, concern itself with real journalism?

Why it's a lot easier to shout at Paul Barry and the ABC ... and follow the party line mandated by Chairman Rupert ...

And so once again it's left to the cartoonists to contemplate the real scandal of the day.

More Pope here and more Rowe here:



    "Tony Abbott should immediately suspend transfers to Manus Island until a credible and comprehensive inquiry determines what caused the chain of events that led to the death of one asylum seeker and injuries to more than 70 others.Scott Morrison's initial assertion that the inquiry will be carried out by Papua New Guinea authorities under PNG law was totally inadequate. The news that a departmental review will run concurrently also falls short of the kind of transparency the situation demands.
    The tragedy underscores the most fundamental flaw of the policy of deflecting Australia's responsibilities under the refugee convention to PNG and Nauru, countries completely ill-equipped to meet them."

    There's more.
    As there should be, or rather, as there should have been for the last 10 years or more.


  2. It's also worth examining the role that G4S plays on Manus. They have recently lost contract in the UK for overcharging. Yesterday they prevented an ABC journalist and a staffer for Ronnie Knight - the Manus MP - from entering Lorengau hospital to interview the doctor who treated the injured asylum-seekers.

    This is a public hospital on public land over which G4S has no jurisdiction whatsoever, and who are directly contracted by Australia to provide internal security within the detention centre only. Even PNG PM O'Neill says journalists should have free access. Morisson says "he has no knowqledge" of this.

  3. DP, Albrechtsen’s morning must begin with a morning swim in her pool of metaphors that prepares her mind for the moment she sits on her saddle seat and begins her whipping of Labor. I wonder if she has ever considered becoming a jockey but she’ll abandon the plan once the AJC informs her the use of a whip is restricted for RSPCA claims whipping does not increase a horse’s chance of placing.

    This morning Albrechtsen presented us with another fustian anti-Labor load of bullshit as she whips the Labor horse:

    “With Labor’s poll numbers falling, and the Opposition Leader’s personal satisfaction rating dive-bombing even further, Bill Shorten needs to do something different. Fast. To coin a phrase favoured by Labor, he has gone from “hero to zero”. The bright young thing of modern Labor looks more like the wrinkly face of a sclerotic political party.”

    If anyone is “dive-bombing even further” it’s that crap rag for whom she writes which is losing millions of dollars per year. It’s no conqueror in profit and never has been. There is no + sign on their keyboards. The Oz can’t break even. It’s about $40m to $50m below zero. And Albrechtsen is a contributor to this loss. She must be so proud writing garbage day after day.

  4. DP, I see Bolter's TV show has been expanded to an hour with his own version of Media Watch when it returns. Meanwhile that lefty Bongiorno's Meet The Press remains "on hiatus". Might have to put in a dam to handle the overflow of loons.

  5. Thanks for the juxtapose, DP. I had a half-formed idea of responding to Greg Craven's article with a letter but decided it wouldn't have a hope, up against breasts, Sophie Somebody and Real Housewives.
    One of Craven's suggestions is for a "short, dignified inclusion of indigenous people, along with the present references to ... the monarchy"? Maybe Craven is caught up in the pomp & regalia of ordained authority, maybe he is just obtuse, but can't he see that the part of monarchy in events post-1770 goes to the heart of the struggle for Aboriginal identity? ConCons like himself may be better advised to keep their powder dry until after the 70th anniversary of start of D-Day landings, after which QEII may make a determination on her role. Future King Chuck has announced what he thinks of anti-warming cranks, and won't be such an endearing figurehead for the Pellists to uphold.
    Craven's other notions - either of a short prelude to the Preamble or an expansive Declaration tacked onto the arse end of the document - couldn't meet the need for a permanent & enforceable recognition of Aboriginality. He wants to avoid potential for legal challenge, but that would dodge the essence of an amendment, surely, since any worthwhile change would have to be worthy of challenge in the High Court.

    1. You're braver than the pond Trev. Craven floated to the surface and the pond just didn't have the ticker and the gumption. But you've nailed everything he's ever written in one: obtuse and caught up in the pomp and regalia of ordained authority ....!! :)

  6. Thanks to Oliver Goldsmith and we have the idiom: “Ask me no questions, and I’ll tell you no fibs”.

    Ask the federal government why has a company decided to close with the loss of jobs and it will tell you a fib.

    Alcoa has decided to close “the last aluminium recycling plant in NSW leaving about 180 workers in western Sydney out of a job and also shut its Point Henry aluminium smelter and a rolling mill in Geelong, Victoria, resulting in the loss of 980 jobs in August, and Treasurer Joe Hockey and Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane blamed the carbon tax for the loss of nearly 1000 jobs.

    The company said the 50-year-old Victorian smelter was no longer economically viable and contradicted federal government claims the carbon tax led to the decision.

    The government lie is not a white lie which stops us from emotionally hurting or insulting each other with the cold, hard, painful truth.

    It is not a deceptive lie that is intended to harm or disadvantage the victim for their own benefit.

    The government lie is a malicious lie, or rumour-mongering, often used as a weapon in a competitive situation. Malicious liars set out to destroy the character and reputations of their victims.

    At least the government is consistent – in lying.

  7. The Newman fix is out, excluding disadvantaged voters; excluding independent and minor party candidate participation; concealing "gifts", concealing large "gifts"...


    2. Sheesh, Anons, it's just Queensland the ghost of Joh and a single chamber system so the gaulieter can strut about without let, hindrance, check, or review.

  8. Murdoch on Twitter at 3:15 PM - 18 Feb 2014.

    “Wild winter in US, UK, etc. no respectable evidence any of this man made climate change in spite of blindly ignorant politicians.”

    Is he really stupid, or is he just pretending?

    1. It could also be senility, of the kind that affected William Randolph Hearst, who didn't have the benefit of a twitter thumb to show his stupidity to the world, but managed it all the same, as when he broke with Roosevelt:

      Hearst papers carried the old publisher's rambling, vitriolic, all-capital-letters editorials, but he no longer employed the energetic reporters, editorialists and columnists who might have made a serious attack.

  9. More lolly for the chocolatiers?

  10. Let's see if Roop links to the live feed from Kiev and all its' attendant unlawfulness.

  11. It’s been said, but it can’t be said enough, imagine the outrage if the dead and injured in PNG were Australians. It’s just plain bald-faced fucking racism. It makes me sick to think that Australia is run by evil, cruel bastards like Morrison.


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