Monday, September 29, 2014

Goodbye to all that? Not if you're Fairfax or a bunch of war criminals ...

Who knows why Peter Gearin felt inspired to scribble European 'right to be forgotten' ruling should not make people disappear online  just a few days after a monumental Fairfax error.

Indeed with just a jiggle of the search engine you can turn up images that have the potential to embarrass Fairfax forever.

Oh well played pond.

Yep and you can discover photos with the faces intact just as easily (and we just had to leave that mug shot of George 'the bookcase man' Brandis in the mix, any search engine dredging up a photo of Brandis is just demonstrating the many shapes and forms of embarrassment available on the full to overflowing intertubes, especially for men who stare at their hand like Macbeth or a teenage boy).

Meanwhile, it's as if Gearin decided to write a brief for the man falsely identified as a jihadist and a terrorist a few days ago.

Could anyone begin to sum up the enormity of the damages required, to offset the enormity of the permanent, ineradicable damage done, in better style?

Ill-chosen words now have a half-life longer than uranium. Long-forgotten misdeeds can appear as if they happened today. 
It's a fact of modern life that we can't escape the far-reaching tentacles of internet search engines. They can find anything said, done and regretted since the web was born and bring it back to life, unencumbered by context. 
What is generated by a name search on Google, Yahoo! or Ping has the power to embarrass you forever. A misguided political comment written at 2am on Twitter, a starstruck note on a fan forum or a photo taken with a dodgy workmate at a Christmas party can haunt you for as long as a search engine's claws can snare them. 
It's even worse if that cringeworthy reference appears in a story on a reputable news website. The story in which you're named will stay close to the top of your name search while it's "live" (and you can only hope it hasn't been copied onto one or several news aggregation sites). That's the way it works

Indeed. Indeed. Or even the front page on a Fairfax publication.

So when the story has been copied onto one or several news aggregation sites, as that one was, and so destined to come back to life unencumbered by context, you're tarred for life.

But is Gearin apologetic? Well no, not really. Shit happens and it's vital to have a record of the shit:

Each situation is considered carefully but The Herald rarely agrees to delete or alter a published story. There are exceptions – a court ruling might make an article either misleading, incomplete or incorrect. There have also been cases where a story exposes someone to danger or harassment, or its appearance on search engines is having a long-term detrimental effect on someone's mental health. The simple fact is publishers must do whatever they can to protect the integrity of the public record. Just as you can't go to the State Library and chop out a page of The Herald from the bound copies to permanently erase its existence, stories found on the website should not be amended or deleted without good reason. 
The Herald regards its online archive as an important resource. It represents the collective work of our journalists who strive to get it right, every day. 
It should not be an easy thing to whitewash history.

Indeed, indeed, but if the victim abused by Fairfax on the front pages of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age decided to sue, the pond reckons that Gearin has just provided his lawyer with reasons to double the total on the tape.

Not only are you tarred for life, the Fairfaxians are proud of it, because you shouldn't whitewash history, or amend or delete the rich fruitiness of the error.

It was around that point that the pond could sense the lawyer's pocket calculator going into meltdown mode. You know, so the size of the settlement helps protect the integrity of the public record ...

What else? Well the reptiles are still running their wall-to-wall 'subscribe to the digital lizard Oz' campaign, which in its own small way is a blessing to the pond.

The pond is so over the reptiles, so tired of their predictable ways, that not being able to link to the kool aid drinkers produces a vast feeling of relief.

Instead the pond has been beguiled by stories today getting anxious about the need to settle a legal framework to justify going to war in Iraq.

Look, there's the man, in deep consultation with legal eagles:

Oh it's not dressed up as war, it's called a limited military action, or air strikes, with a framework, or some such twaddle, but nobody much minded when the war criminals still in parliament organised their first war in 2003, based on lies, deceptions, sexed up texts, and sundry bits of pompous and righteous twaddle.

It'll be a little more complicated devising reasons to bomb Syria, but no doubt it can be done.

Julie Bishop, as adept as selling war as the health-giving properties of asbestos, was at it in The Graudian:

Bishop said it was “a different situation in Syria” when it came to the legality of engagement. 
“The US is going in under article 51 in relation to a collective self-defence of Iraq,” she said of the justification for air strikes now being carried out in Syria. 
“It’s a different legal framework. Australia has been asked to support the Iraqi government. That’s what we’ve been requested to do and so that’s our mission,” she said. 
“Should there be a request in relation to Syria, we would consider it. We would also consider the legal framework that the US is relying upon in order to go into Syria but we would make our own judgment about that.” 
Bishop said she agreed with the view “that it is ungoverned space in eastern Syria”. 
“We wouldn’t be working with the Syrian government anyway; we don’t recognise that as a legitimate regime but we also know that there are different questions that arise,” she said. (here)

Uh huh. In the very same edition there's another story, Barack Obama says Syria is 'ground zero for jihadists around the world'.

How long before the Australian government is asked to venture into ground zero?

At that point the legalistic contortions will be wondrous to behold. There'll be strutwork and frameworks and foundations and ...

Oh look one reference to the reptile top story today won't hurt, especially if there's no link to the propaganda machine:

Yep, work with a dictator routinely denounced these past few years as a tyrant intent on the destruction of Syrians ...

And what's that you say? Australia is now effectively on the same side as the PKK, which at one time it designated a terrorist group (Greg Hunt it here).

The pond gives it three months before the Australian government is asked to join the hunt in Syria, and all the huffing and puffing about Assad is put to bed.

As for how useful and effective the "limited military action", which is to say war, might prove to be, the pond suggests giving it a decade or so.

At that point, there are likely to be more melancholy tales of the kind penned by Benjamin Busch  in the October edition of Harpers.

The story, "Today is better than Tomorrow" is behind the paywall, though you can catch a whiff of Busch's conclusions in a short interview here.

Busch has led an eclectic life - including a stint on The Wire - and writes in the clipped tones of a Hemingway, as he heads back to the village of Jassan where he was stationed and where "Major Busch" is remembered, though no one can associate that figure with the bearded American who has returned to contemplate what was wrought.

As required in this form of writing, irony is dominant, as Busch heads back to the airport to leave:

The main route to the airport was closed to allow Shia pilgrims to walk without the threat of car bombs, so we had to take the long way around to the south and then head west. As we passed a sign that said RAMADI, FALLUJAH, and ABU GHRAIB, I was reminded that I was crossing an invisible line between religious sects and into a part of Iraq where most stories about Americans are grim. On the long road to the terminal, a single word appeared in polished silver letters raised on a curve of concrete: GOODBYE. It was in English, without translation into any other language. No one else is bid farewell from Baghdad. We probably paid to have the sign installed, wishing ourselves away ...

Busch gets a note letting him know his guide escaped a car bomb, then provides a coda on the advance of the butchers of ISIL:

... Iraq ... seems a place far from itself now, its own ruins mostly distant, Iraquis in the east viewing Mosul and Ramadi as foreign places few have ever seen, the desert separating everything with sunlight. ISIL has gotten to within a few miles of the capital. They drive American military vehicles and they carry American weapons. Some now wear our uniforms. We have sent troops to guard our embassy and the Baghdad airport. The embassy is the last piece of ground we own, kept out of touch with Iraq in the International Zone, and the airport is the only way out. We are defending the silver sign that says goodbye.

Unsurprisingly, Busch, who does a tour of foreign war graves in his region - headstones have sensibly been recycled for paving in the ruined roads - emerges with a jaundiced set of impressions:

We spent our occupation complimenting Iraq on its sovereignty, its bravery, never believing it. What was most surprising, seeing our total disappearance, was that 1.5 million Americans served in Iraq. We were 5 percent of the country's population averaged over a decade; 4,486 of us died there; none of us are buried there.
I have now seen Jassan's old walls falling, its children eternally standing there only in my photographs. Jassan will continue to exist, its name still on maps exactly where it was, but it will not be the place the elders remember. It will not resemble their stories of it. I am already unrecognizable to the people there, part of Jassan's past life and not part of it at all. Why should I have expected us to be real to Iraq, to be lasting, when Iraq is starting over again every day without us?
We sought for years to define the Iraqi people, give their nation one cogent label that would allow us to administer a cure. But Iraq has every disease there is; its mind is deranged with too many voices, its organs corrupted, its limbs only long enough to tear at its own body. "It was religion that did this," one man I met shortly after I arrived told me. "It is religion fighting. Iraqis aren't themselves. They were an invention by the British. Me, I'm Sumerian." I asked how he knew. "I just do." When I asked whether he favored Iraq's division, he said, "No.That won't help. The three parties would be ruled by the outside countries, and they would fight." Several men I met said they were proud to be Shia, but they didn't think Iraq meant anything anymore. "It is just a place. Since Babylon it has just been a place."

But while it might be religion doing the fighting now, it wasn't religion that did it in the beginning or that started the fighting in 2003, unless you count that as a crusade by the other Bush, who lost the "c" in his name.

It was war criminals, who dressed up their behaviour with all sorts of legal finery. The third Howard ministry - handily listed for Greg Hunters here - were part of the conspiratorial cabal of war criminals.

Now Howard admits to being "embarrassed", as opposed to profoundly ashamed and deeply mortified, and full of contrition, in lieu of a period in jail for his war crimes and the consequences arising therefrom, as the result of replacing a tyrant with an even madder set of tyrannies ... just because they could, and just because cruel countries like North Korea were too tricky.

Many in that war criminal cabinet are now long gone, but a few survive - yep, there's Tony Abbott and Warren Truss and Kevin Andrews.

Now Greg Hunters, take a note of the Abbott ministry, and lets see where their legalisms and splitting of hairs gets them when we're down the track a decade or so ... and other Hemingways are writing their memoirs ...

Ah well, in due course, it'll be goodbye to all that ... (and while remembering the first world war, why not remember Robert Graves with a few Greg Hunted quotes here)

But before we go, the pond can at least celebrate a different kind of criminal, one given to drinking champagne with dictators, thanks to David Rowe, and more Rowe here

Just as well he doesn't notice what's in the bottle. Cheers!


  1. Doing the rounds, today...

  2. How many refugees are in Turkey? Estimates range from 1.5 million to 9 million. And Tongues complains about a few thousand here. What a complete heartless dick.


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