Open Thread


All through the ages, the first thing the great dictators did when they got into power was to burn the books. There hasn’t been a time throughout history when a dictator hasn’t burned or banned books. Whether it be Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Tse-Tung, Napoleon, Brezhnev, George Bush or Sarah Palin. Even now countries such as China, Saudia Arabia, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and Cuba just to name a few have strong censorship laws.

I came up through the sixties and seventies working for Collins Book Sellers who were battling the Henry Bolte/Aurthur Rylar government’s arcane censorship laws. Books like The Little Red School Book, Portnoy’s Complaint, The Outcasts of Foolgarah, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, were books that we were able to use to challenge the law; along with various editions of Playboy. Gough Whitlam came along and there was a new dawn with books. Most of the old rules were overturned and in Victoria there was very little trouble any more because Bolte was gone. Although in Queensland they still had Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

Labor governments in Australia through the ages have been on the progressive side of censorship. The Howard Government was doing it’s best to bring in strong censorship laws. Once even getting a law that would have had anyone arrest and charged for loading any sort of porn onto the Internet inside or outside the country, that is, if you were uploading porn to the USA you would be charged. It was stopped on the way to getting governors’ approval. Whose definition of porn was it?

I was most relieved when Kevin Rudd was elected. No more trouble with censorship laws. The ALP had more sense. The ALP would have much smarter people working in that department. No more trouble. Imagine my horror when I received an email from my son about the Great Firewall of Australia. You cannot imagine the anger and swear words that came from my mouth. The thing that really disappoints me the most is the amount of talent in the ALP that has not stood up against this law. One person in particular who is my hero, Maxine McKew, for beating John Howard in Bennelong. I have my own personal desktop background of the Bennelong result, she has not been stood up on this issue. Maxine is not the highest person in the ALP but she comes from a very strong media background. I expected that she would have taken a stand on this issue. But Maxine is not alone. There are many others in the ALP who remain silent.

Why won’t the firewall work? First of all, you could never make it a word based program. There are two many words that cross over, for instance the first and most obvious word is sex. If you ban the word sex, you also ban communicating with Middlesex and Sussex, you could never mention the word sextant. You would stop any email with a job application asking the persons sex or any document asking for your sex. That would just about grind the Internet to a halt in Australia. What about Virgin? Well there goes Virgin Airlines, Virginia and West Virginia for a start, then the online bible. Most of the words to do with women’s sexual health would be out. To show how effective a word based censorship firewall is to try blocking the word Viagra in your email. Ads by using the word Viagra will still get through. It cannot be done, because I still get V!agra Vi*gra and Viagr* coming through.

Senator Conroy says he only wants to ban child porn sites. Well I can tell why it won’t stop the child porn sites. Even if he blocked every site it would still get into Australia very, very easily. How? Every laptop coming into the country. Every portable USB hard drive on a key ring. Has anyone mentioned to Senator Conroy that the new portable hard drives can hold over 1Terabyte of information? Then there is Peer to Peer networks. His system won’t be able to block those at all. The record companies have been unsuccessful in stopping them, how is he going to stop them? Anybody with a little bit of computer knowledge can do that. Just ask your kids to show you how. Ask them about Limewire. Peer to Peer networks are a giant whole in Senator Conroy’s firewall, so big you could drive a truck through it.

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Senator Conroy’s intention is to block illegal websites. He has a budget allocated for that. It will be very difficult to do that for the present standard of the Internet without blocking a lot of innocent sites. But what Senator Conroy has not taken into account the huge explosion of the Internet in the USA that’s about to happen under Barrack Obama. Free up restrictions on the Internet, introducing broadband to large amounts of untouched area’s in the USA. Senator Conroy’s system will slow the Australian Internet down under today’s system. It will be worse when Obama’s Internet kicks in.

Let’s say Senator Conroy is 100% successful in the sites he blocks. All are correct none that shouldn’t be are blocked. The ALP is tossed out at the next election. The Liberals win in a landslide and Tony Abbott is the new Minister for communications. Not a nice thought is it? That would be senator Conroy’s fault.

Senator Conroy’s 40 million dollars would be much better spent and far more effective on extra police to crack down on child pornography. Oh I forgot, he can’t give that to another department can he?

Obama’s Internet Revolution Begins.

1,645 replies on “Censorship”

Auto handout killed in the Senate and US futures market have tanked.

Ugly looking night ahead folks.

Nikkei off 5.5% and Hong Kong was down 7%.

There’s a global downdraft on this one.

Of course the Republican senators delighted in shafting the UAW, especially the southerners who’ve got non-unionised foreign auto makers on their patch.

This might ugly pretty quickly as GM could probably implode before Santa arrives!

Catrina – yay!
gotta go s have visitors but qwill ctch you all soon – feels likwe a long time since a decent conversation with the faithful Ticksters in my life… makes me wonder how Obi is cvoping with the holding position before iinauguration ( and what are we douing fro tat momentopus occasdion I ask ).
RE the euthenasia discussion: amazing how the “pro lifers” are so hellbent on supporting war mongerers and armed coppers (just shot a15 year old in Vic).

Senate Republicans determined to block the $14 billion rescue package for Chrysler and General Motors have trotted out predictable rhetoric about the dangers of Big Government. Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, warned on Thursday that “a government big enough to give us everything we want is a government big enough to take everything we have.”
As the American economy sinks into the deepest recession in a generation — caused in large part by this sort of anti-government and anti-regulatory dogma — it would be folly to allow the ideologues to undermine efforts to pull the country out.

I congratulate you for what you are doing, and no doubt sacrificing lots for the personal rewards you feel you get for helping someone who desperately needs help.
I am fully aware of what you are going through though not in exact detail.
I had a lady friend during the late eighties early ninetys was doing what you are doing.
When she finished her shift some nights she was a nervous wreck and basically she was totally scared of what her supervisor would say after each counsel call.
She got to the stage where she was hardly game to answer the calls because she was unsure of what the supervisor”s reactions might be.
In the end i told her that if she did not tell the supervisor to politely jam it, it would not be long before she would be the one making the calls not answering them.
She had a dose of the guilts about doing it and leaving those callers without someone to talk to but basically quit the next day and was a totally different person.
There are times when you gotta do what you gotta do for your own sanity and peace of mind.
There are times when those kind of supervisors need telling that if they had a secret desire to be a plod they should have joined the plod force.

Slim Dusty did a song about people like them. It is called “Big Frogs in little Puddles” but i can not find it on U tube for you.

Santa & The Imbecile

Fri Dec 12:;_ylt=Ar_pLDOAW82XZ5y5Tq5pPZUXvTYC

This one from Wiley is reminiscent of Gary Larsen’s:
“Leonard Bernstein is shown his cell in Hell”, a cell occupied by four Deliverance types plucking banjos and hankerin’ fer a Hoe-Down.;_ylt=A0WTUdfw80FJ8sYA1AgDwLAF

Thurs Dec 11:;_ylt=A0WTUd99.0FJfwoAfw0DwLAF

Geez, Don, in these perilous economic times you’re one of the minority involved in a “growth industry”. Extreme financial stress no doubt is a major contributor to many of the poor buggers for whom you are possibly the last port of call as “somebody who cares”. Hope you take plenty of time-off to recharge your batteries between gigs. People who see the world feelingly are at greater risk of becoming emotionally overdrawn. And old pros deliver counsel based on the experience of a lifetime best when fresh.

General Motors Corporation has hired lawyers and bankers to consider whether the company should file for bankruptcy protection as it continues to await a Federal bailout package, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday on its Web site. GM management had recently contacted bankruptcy expert Harvey Miller of Weil Gotshal & Manges LP to handle what would be one of the largest filings in U.S. history, the newspaper said.

… I remember being ridiculed as an ignorant loathing leftie for suggesting (sometime late last year) that some icons like GM would not be with us long!

What’s the Growler doing tonight I wonder? Gawking in amazed astonishment as he mutters “who would have thought it?”


While Detroit slept – another view on the car industry. Well worth reading in more detail.

As I think about our bailing out Detroit, I can’t help but reflect on what, in my view, is the most important rule of business in today’s integrated and digitized global market, where knowledge and innovation tools are so widely distributed. It’s this: Whatever can be done, will be done. The only question is will it be done by you or to you. Just don’t think it won’t be done. If you have an idea in Detroit or Tennessee, promise me that you’ll pursue it, because someone in Denmark or Tel Aviv will do so a second later.

Why do I bring this up? Because someone in the mobility business in Denmark and Tel Aviv is already developing a real-world alternative to Detroit’s business model. I don’t know if this alternative to gasoline-powered cars will work, but I do know that it can be done — and Detroit isn’t doing it. And therefore it will be done, and eventually, I bet, it will be done profitably.

Ahh bless his cotton socks. The rude pundit is in scintillating form with his latest “gentle jibe” at the repugs. 😆

Note to Republicans and the Media: We Don’t Care About Obama and Blagojevich:


When Stupid Politicians Go Corrupt, They Will Call It “Getting a Blagojevich”:

Plus a big thank you to Kerneels for your recommended book.
“Tales of a Female Nomad.” By Rita Gelman.
Just got it from the local library and it’s turning into a bloody good read. No crappy summer TV for me this weekend. 🙂

Kirri, well may THEY call you an ignorant loathing Lefty……. to us ……you’re Mr. Fabulous!

With the uncertainty engulfing GM, The Street could drop double digits tonight.


Lots of character-defining moments coming up for the All Platinum “feature-me-as-a-high-net-worth-individual” brigade. Some of them are gonna be hurtin’ real bad all over again. Shocking thing really.

For the sake of the GM workers lets hope Toyota want to buy in cheap, and retool the lines for renewable energy fueled runabouts.

A couple of interesting snippets from Crikey today.
This one could be fun.

Max Uechtritz’s Interesting Move to Al Jazeera
“It’s going to be a roller coaster but I’ll love it!” So says the redoubtable Max Uechtritz about his just-announced move from editor- in-chief of Ninemsn to run English programming for Al Jazeera, based in Doha.
Plus an unsubstantiated rumour that Google might be in the market to buy the NYT.
Well it couldn’t be worse than Rupert. 🙁

Uh-oh! $50 bill …say it quick, it won’t sound like a lot…

Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) — Bernard Madoff confessed to employees this week that his investment advisory business was “a giant Ponzi scheme” that cost clients $50 billion before two FBI agents showed up yesterday morning at his Manhattan apartment.

“We’re here to find out if there’s an innocent explanation,” Agent Theodore Cacioppi told Madoff, who founded Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC and was the former head of the Securities Industry Association’s trading committee.

“There is no innocent explanation,” Madoff, 70, told the agents, saying he traded and lost money for institutional clients. He said he “paid investors with money that wasn’t there” and expected to go to jail. With that, agents arrested Madoff, according to an FBI complaint.

The 8:30 a.m. arrest capped the downfall of Madoff and businesses bearing his name that specialized in trading securities, making markets, and advising wealthy clients. Many questions remain unanswered, including whether Madoff’s clients actually lost $50 billion. The complaint and a civil lawsuit by regulators describe a man spinning out of control.


Gaffy, will that be like carol singers?

Yes Kirri, and Jeffs and Joes and helens and tinas and anyone else who might want to bash a couple of those rattler cymbals together.

Be all right if someone would run a book on your premons Kirri.
Even at a $1.15 we would all be winners.

“Hope you take plenty of time-off to recharge your batteries between gigs. People who see the world feelingly are at greater risk of becoming emotionally overdrawn. And old pros deliver counsel based on the experience of a lifetime best when fresh.”

Very true, Ecky. And as Gaffy said you’re left so much alone (I do an overnight shift) that you simply cannot afford to be looking over your shoulder. The focus has got to be on the caller.

One of the few advantages I can see to getting old (assuming you keep an open mind) is that you learn to see through all that corporate bull.

My experience has perhaps been a bit unusual in that most of my working life was spent two different service industries (tourism and employment placement) where there was a continuing tension between providing a product or service and conforming with bureaucratic/corporate demands.

I learnt from hard experience that these latter had nothing to do with improving the effectiveness of service delivery but a lot do with feeding corporate management egos and making petty savings on what was not essential to that aim.

So I am not easily taken in by these urges to modernise and improve effectiveness. Nevertheless Ecky is right about the need to recharge afterwards. It is part of the reason for supervision, only it doesn’t and shouldn’t be done as a school report. It can be done just as easily, maybe even better, by peers. I nearly always do that at the handover/changing of shift.

My shifts are only fortnightly, which allows plenty of refreshing and recovery time. Another coping mechanism is that during calls I often do a little self-revelation about my own difficulties in life or family. It is a legitimate counselling tool because it helps establish rapport and confidence from the caller. It can also be surprisingly good therapy for me because it allows me to air concerns hidden inside me, and occasionally the caller will offer useful advice.

As somebody who was earlier a professional counsellor, I was in awe of L/L: its aims and its volunteer phone counsellors. They were, of course, well trained before given responsibility. But they were/are still what I’d consider dedicated, well-meaning amateurs – a similar value, in another context, to paramedics.

I’d liken them to the early days of the Salvation Army movement – people from ordinary walks of life and all the more valuable because of it. There is a strong spirit of self-help and self-improvement. But it is the voluntarism that is the key.

The reward is something like the reward from love. The more you give, the more you get back.

I noticed the Senate Republicans have found a way to blame the failure of GM and Chrysler on the autoworkers. Predictable, but still breath-taking…


Makes the one in Townsville this morning look like a trickled down bonzai one at only half a Bil.

Gaffy The rude one never disappoints.
But the Existentialist Cowboy is certainly firing on all cylinders.
You get the feeling that he’s not too fond of supply side economics. 🙂

Aw shucks Ecky, and you bring your namesake to this little cyber abode too (as in Ecstasy!). Ya bring the lovin’ good vibes to us all!

Hmm, looks like Bush’s got the message, (as in don’t sink GM on your watch son, it won’t look good on your resume!), so he’ll probably raid the TARP jar for some cookies for those three poor kids that knocked begging on his door.

And yes BlindO, what breathtaking hypocrisy for some smug Republican senators to sink Detroit because those scumbag unionists earn a coupla bucks an hour more! WHoa, they said, we’re against big government bailing out everybody! (But not apparentlyNOT against expanding the size of the military and government spending on endless wars…hey, that’s clearly different! And we shrink government by privatising everything and then contracting it back on non-tendered contracts!)

What a hide!

Gaffhook Says:
“December 12th, 2008 at 7:35 pm
Makes the one in Townsville this morning look like a trickled down bonzai one at only half a Bil.”

Ah, now I understand the post. I was less than wide awake this am. You avoided the scam…well done.

Just been catching up on The Rude Pundit.

I love the Joe Biden Commemorative Plate lol.

Joe is such a typical smilin’, douchebaggery, bought and paid for politician. I swear guys like him, Romney, Edwards et al only have to flash their perfect Poli smiles from under their perfect Poli coiffes and every word they utter goes in one ear and out the other.

Wastes of space one and all.

KR @ 1425….
The Republican Senators are a foul lot, but I almost admire their gall: not only do they avoid being blamed for any waste of the taxpayers’ loot, they get to pass the parcel to Bush and the UAW. What a way to ruin a country! They take the cake. Bush, of course, has no choice: he has to ante up some TARP, if only to keep the problem alive long enough for Obama to tackle.

But in the meantime, the Republicans have laid down their first minefield for Obama: they will oppose any leftwing ideas like trying to save the US economy from catastrophe.

KR….note the bond market rallied again. Fear runs deep. The AUD dropped 2 cents in almost no time and the yen soared. The pound, needless to say, is still a run in slo-mo…somewhat less stable than the rouble these days.

I think Karl Marx would approve of the Republican Senators, though not for any reasons they would like to be remembered for, like having a hand in bringing about mass unemployment, widespread ruin and social turmoil. The cynicism is numbing.

Yeah, I’ve just been doing the rounds and it has a feel to it, as in the markets are ready to turn to sh!t in a bucket! LOL

The ‘flight to safety’ of US Treasuries is truly astonishing considering the 30 year is yielding a whopping 3%! This is the most extreme fear driven stampede of cash the world has ever seen, and considering you are virtually PAYING the US government to hold your money for you, (and return it to you in highly inflated US dollars…eventually) just reeks of panic and herd reaction.

Stand back when this bubble bursts…as burst it eventually must.

Think I’ll get a couple of hours kip BlindO, it’s going to be wild and fevered out there when NY opens.

(How long before Idiot George rides up with the cheque book, do you reckon? They seem to like pulling these announcements on Sunday night, and since GM is gasping it’s final breaths, and all it’s suppliers are gagging for air, it would not surprise me to see Bernanke and Paulson come out hand in hand over the weekend. They’ll be wedded by GWBush for the sake of the three kids, and be waving a big fat dowry.)

Probably worth a long punt at the end of tonight’s bloodbath I’d reckon.

I think you’ll see Dubya offer enough $ to allow GM and Chrysler to pay their suppliers (these are far more important than the auto-makers themselves) and continue to trade til end Feb. In Jan, Obama will come forward with a plan for a managed bankruptcy of GM and Chrysler. The US govt will become “lenders in possession” and appoint someone to re-structure the industry. In time – maybe over 3-4 years – I reckon you could see some of the better parts of GM sold off, a separately capitalised and re-listed GM International, and the rest merged with Chrysler. In the end, there will be a closure of maybe 40% of their North American plant. The legacy health-care and pension liabilities are a stumbling block to any plan to revive the makers in their current forms. These liabilities are probably going to rank ahead of shareholder claims, but will face some re-construction too. Lenders to the automakers are going to take a bit of belting too, probably getting some equity in return.

In my opinion, it makes no sense at all to just scrap the automakers, which is what will happen without official support. There could not be a worse time to embark on a liquidation…but then, this is George Bush’s America and anything is possible….

Franken vows to fight for seat.

Democrat Al Franken’s campaign has submitted briefs and voter affidavits to Minnesota’s Board of Canvassers ahead of its Friday meeting, promising to fight in any number of venues to force the counting of absentee ballots it alleges were improperly disqualified.

“We’ve known all along, and it’s become increasingly clear to all, that there are those individuals who cast lawful ballots and yet failed to have those ballots counted,” Franken campaign attorney Marc Elias said on a conference call. “That type of arbitrary treatment of ballots is simply not permitted under the law.”

Kirribilli Removals Says:
December 12th, 2008 at 9:49 pm
“The ‘flight to safety’ of US Treasuries is truly astonishing considering the 30 year is yielding a whopping 3%!”
well, consider the alternatives: would you buy equities (now on a 3% yield)? or yen? or euro? or oil futures?

what people want more than anything at the moment is liquidity. This has a value in and of itself. As well, if you think that the economy will worsen before it improves, then Treauries look ok. But beyond this, you have to ask: what has caused this contraction? Downturns nearly always follow from an excess accumulation of inventories of some kind. In this case, it is an excess inventory of household debt. Until households can rebuild their savings and pay down debt, consumption will contract. As consumption falls, so will incomes and employment. This is inevitable. As savings rise and consumption shrinks, prices will also fall and financial assets will be hoarded. Where better to leave your hoard than with the US Treasury? At least you can always redeem your stash at short notice….This process will take several years at the very least, so a long-term bet is not totally unwise, even if the yield is a humble 3%…

That was beautiful, Paddy. We had some good rain yesterday and all last night. I walked through the damp garden this morning and had a lovely “count your blessings’ moment. Have a good weekend and enjoy the Nomad.

Well, well, well…GWB blinked immediately!

Not that some small change will alter the ultimate outcome. The car makers are seriously cactus, but this will, as BlindO says, buy some time to restructure them and keep some of the suppliers in business.

Politically it’s pretty funny: republican senators just got walked over by their lame duck unpopular president.

Obama Has Had No Contact with Blagojevich for Months

Barack Obama has been avoiding all contact with Gov. Rod Blagojevich for months. Blagojevich was not invited to the Democratic convention and Obama never called him to ask for help or offer any perks. Apparently Obama knew that Blagojevich was a sleazy character and wanted to have nothing at all to do with him. As we go forward, this decision to completely avoid the Illinois governor will keep him from being tarred by the ongoing scandal in which Blagojevich tried to sell Obama’s Senate seat. In contrast, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. did have some contact with Blagojevich, which pretty much ends any chance Jackson may once have had at getting the seat.

Franken Wins Decision on Absentee Ballots.

The Coleman campaign is asking that the counting of rejected absentee ballots be halted until a standard procedure is established.

The campaign of Sen. Norm Coleman is taking its case to the state Supreme Court, asking the justices to order counties to follow a standard procedure in identifying wrongfully rejected absentee ballots. It is asking county officials to halt any counting of rejected absentee ballots from the U.S. Senate election until the justices can rule on the campaign’s request.

The campaign said that it feared what it called a chaotic “Florida situation” and that it is likely to go to the court today.

Minnesota board’s decision to help Franken.

Minnesota’s Board of Canvassers on Friday handed a victory to Democrat Al Franken, who is engaged in a fierce battle to unseat Sen. Norm Coleman (R).

The board unanimously voted to ask county-level boards across the state to count ballots that, Franken’s campaign alleges, were improperly disqualified in the Senate race. The decision is technically a recommendation without any force of law.


Obama Distanced Self From Blagojevich.

Long before federal prosecutors charged Blagojevich with bribery this week, Obama had worked to distance himself from his home-state governor. The two men have not talked for more than a year, colleagues said, save for a requisite handshake at a funeral or public event. Blagojevich rarely campaigned for Obama and never stumped with him. The governor arrived late at the Democratic convention and skipped Obama’s victory-night celebration at Chicago’s Grant Park.

Lots more here…

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. said Friday that he was fighting to get “my name back” after he was identified as “Senate Candidate 5” in a criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Jackson, the son of famed civil rights leader Jesse Jackson and a six-term Democratic congressman from Chicago, had publicly sought to succeed President-elect Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate.

Jackson had talked to Blagojevich, the person with the sole power to make the appointment, on Monday, just one day before federal agents arrested the Illinois governor. Jackson said he only presented his credentials and polling information that suggests he could win re-election in 2010.


Obama aide: How Clinton may have won.

“We were surprised because at some point it became likely that it was going to be a battle that went on for some time, and delegates that are gained through a caucus are no different than through a primary—so every contest mattered,” Plouffe told Portfolio Magazine.

In the end the better candidate won, even though I supported Hillary in the first place.

Blagojevich gives Obama the perfect opportunity to clean up corruption on both sides of politics. He isn’t going to get much opposition from anyone on the Democrats side now.

“Maybe Obama could set up an electoral commission, including powers to hunt down corruption.”

Chris, for a small interest I can provide you with information regarding the whereabouts of Lassiter’s Lost Gold Mine.

BlindO, here’s one blogger’s response to the potential sentence of Mr Madoff:

It’s really interesting to me that only one commentor so far has noticed the disparity between the potential sentence (assuming conviction) and the crime.

Stealing 50 Billion dollars, and then getting fined 5 million? ’20 years’ in a minimum security prison with 10 years off for good behavior? That’s not just low punishment, compared to the business I’m in, that is stellar return on personal effort. More than stellar. Galactic.

the fine is 0.01% of the take, and minimum security prison is no worse than being in grad school.

Kids if you have any doubt at home about what this society believes is important, where the rewards are (which according to our grand and glorious betters is how we should evaluate our choices in life), and where the punishments are (do not under any circumstances go into anything associated with public service, or being on the public payroll, including in particular, anything relating to ‘science’ — your work will be overseen and controlled by pest inspectors and ‘MBA’s), this story ought to straighten you out.

Good Luck America

…says it all really, eh? And when you look at what the Enron guys got, and the sheer misery and economic pain they spread around the world, you’d have to agree that white collar crimes get off pretty bloody lightly. Knocking off a few hundred bucks from the local store is NOT a good return on effort compared to fleecing investors of billions, is it? LOL

The NY Times notes that the Conroy Toy has some opponents:

…and what puzzles me is this: if the Federal GOvernment has a list of child porn sites, then why don’t they notify international law agencies (if, as they presumably are, offshore), or shut them down if here? Or if they exist in untouchable jurisdictions, then some simple denial of service attacks could lock them up.

The notion that the whole internet can be ‘filtered’ to stop the illegal activities of a small handful of deviants just seems, to use a US congressional term, “arse backwards”.

Enemy Combatant

Loved the Quiz! LOL

But really, it’s morbidly fascinating to watch the US implode as the government keeps handing out money to every corrupt and/or incompetent industry to keep their ‘free market’ economy on life support.

Of course they are either borrowing or printing this cash, so guess who gets it in the neck eventually, huh, Joe The Taxpayer? (And his descendants, if he can afford to have any!)

EC. Yeah, I’ll send it off to your Cayman Island account, with no questions asked, seeing as you’re such a nice and trusting guy.

“(And his descendants, if he can afford to have any!)”

Kirri, perhaps this fracturing of the Freidman Fault-line is nature’s way of enforcing ZPG.

1460 Kirribilli Removals Good to see we are getting international coverage. With Telstra opting out and everyone else not providing much co-operation it’s doomed anyway.

Congratulations on your excellent investment choice, ChrisB. Receipt and comprehensively gridded map of the mine area will be forwarded by return mail.

Kennedy groomed to join dynasty.

STRICKEN with a particularly aggressive form of brain cancer, Ted Kennedy set himself a high ambition last August by declaring his intent to be present when Barack Obama assumed the presidency.

More than two months before the presidential election, and five months before inauguration, the 77-year-old Senate veteran and Kennedy patriarch was speaking to the Democratic Party national convention during a brief discharge from medical care.


EC I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Look forward to having a drink with you when I dig up the treasure.

New hurdle for net censorship.

The ultra-conservative politician known for his attempts to censor television has strongly opposed the Government’s plans to introduce mandatory internet censorship, highlighting the policy’s lack of support across the political spectrum.

The proposed filters would not have blocked any of the 15,000 child porn videos and half a million child abuse images uncovered by police in a major sting this week as they cannot filter traffic on peer-to-peer networks – only websites.

Lots more…

Ecuador is to default officially on billions of dollars of foreign debt it considers “illegitimate”, says President Rafael Correa.

Mr Correa said he had given the order not to approve a debt interest payment due on Monday, describing the international lenders as “monsters”.

The president said the some of Ecuador’s $10bn debt was contracted illegally by a previous administration.


1457 @ Kirribilli Removals …

I was always taught the wages of sin are ok, but the hours are terrible. However, on Wall Street even the overtime seems tolerable…where do I go for a green card? How do you get away with rorting $50 bill? Where do you find people who’ve got that much to lose in the first place? Is Madoff a danger to society? Or only to High Society? I wonder where the loot is…..I spose his treatment is much akin to that imposed on Alan Bond: not enough to serve justice, imo…

Chris B, on Conrad as on other things, you’ve proven you have an uncanny eye for an issue of substance. I think you should be made look-out for the this floating tub, the “ms”. A fine crew we would then make: catrina at the helm, ec navigating by starlight, kr watching for rocky shoals, floating ice and drifting mines, jen running the cellar, gaff doing the cursing, paddy doing the morse code…i will swab the decks….katielou and megan could stoke the boiler if we have one, while david gould, don wigan and grace could man the pumps….

Where wine comes in 2 litre casks and More Scode is and acient mariners overproof rum drink which is stocked in only 5o gallon barrels!!!! :mrgreen:

Good heavens, Bo-Bo what about about kerneels, flaneur, Ferny the Fiesty and Cranky Asanque? And Grace, dear BlindO, will be having your guts fer garters. Ghost will haunt you, Spammy will box you, jv will cuss and Nooc will quit saying Bewdy!
Are they to be let drift in the swirling cyber seas or should we honour the mariners’ code and follow the example of Capt. Arne Rinnan.

Yay! I get the cellar…. and Paddy.
Which is excatly the place to be, as drowning one’s sorrows appears to be just about all that will be left to do once the financial fallout truly hits with all it’s force.
I suggest we all start saving potato peelings for the still, once we’ve exhausted`the wine supplies.

lol ec…perhaps we should rename this vessel the tampa-proof….the other able-bodied typists you mention are of course welcome aboard. can anyone cook? does it matter? where’s the grog?

Legal guarantees promised to Ireland and paving the way for a second referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in the country are to be written into a protocol together with Croatia’s accession treaty to the EU in 2010 or 2011, current EU President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday (12 December).
EU leaders in Brussels this week (11-12 December) agreed to a series of concessions to allow Dublin to make possible a second vote on the bloc’s Lisbon Treaty some time in the course of next year.


These include a guarantee that each member state will keep a commissioner in future European Commissions – despite the document initially foreseeing a reduction of the size of the institution, as well as a promise that the EU would not impose rules on Ireland concerning taxation, “ethical issues” – such as abortion, euthanasia and gay marriages – or interfere with its traditional neutrality.

Pan-Europe Libertas Party launched to fight ‘anti-democratic’ Brussels.

Declan Ganley, the Irish businessman behind the Libertas campaign group, of the key organisations that defeated the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland’s referendum on the text in June, has launched Libertas as the first truly pan-European political party.

The new Libertas Party, which aims to run candidates in all 27 European Union states for the European Parliament elections in June 2009, says it wants to democratise the European institutions, with an elected commission and a president.

Just what we don’t need.

Switzerland scraps land border controls.

Switzerland’s land borders opened up Friday with its membership in the European border-free Schengen zone.

Passport checks are now abolished for all travellers entering the country by road, but air passengers will have to wait until March 29 next year before they can benefit from the new rules.

The Schengen agreement, named after the town in Luxembourg where it was signed in 1985, now allows for passport-free travel between 25 countries after Swiss citizens voted in favour of joining the Schengen area in a 2005 referendum.

At the exit of northern Switzerland’s Zurzach forest bordering Germany, a Swiss mobile patrol team geared up for the change ahead of the transition at midnight.

Well on the way to making one world. Free to travel anywhere without fear or favour. Wouldn’t it be great if we could eventually have no borders throughout the world. It’s a dream, but something to aim for.


For nigh on 3 weeks now, since the horrors erupted in Mumbai, I’ve had a google news alert out for Arundhati Roy.
Well today, it just paid off in spades.
It’s such a refreshing change, despite being deeply depressing, to read what a proper “grownup” person thinks of the tragic situation in South Asia.

Arundhati Roy: Mumbai was not our 9/11

We’ve forfeited the rights to our own tragedies. As the carnage in Mumbai raged on, day after horrible day, our 24-hour news channels informed us that we were watching “India’s 9/11”. Like actors in a Bollywood rip-off of an old Hollywood film, we’re expected to play our parts and say our lines, even though we know it’s all been said and done before.

As tension in the region builds, US Senator John McCain has warned Pakistan that if it didn’t act fast to arrest the “Bad Guys” he had personal information that India would launch air strikes on “terrorist camps” in Pakistan and that Washington could do nothing because Mumbai was India’s 9/11.

But November isn’t September, 2008 isn’t 2001, Pakistan isn’t Afghanistan and India isn’t America. So perhaps we should reclaim our tragedy and pick through the debris with our own brains and our own broken hearts so that we can arrive at our own conclusions.

It’s a longish essay, but well worth the time to read it in full.
Hardly an optimistic take on the situation, but at least it faces up to the real issues and doesn’t accept the BS about the intervention of western armies being the solution to the problem.

First things first!

What the fuck has happened to Paul Hogan?? He looks like he’s fallen head first into a bowling ball polisher. Do these folk now how bizarre they look when they have a face-lift?

Paul….ya don’t look young. Dude! Ya look like ET!

Now…on the matter of euthenasia. Some of us are opposed to it for completely humanistic reasons and have grave (pardon the pun) concerns about giving the government power to legislate over who lives and dies. It has, for us, nothing to do with religion but with a consistent view that the presumption must always be towards the preservation of life (I oppose the death penalty for the same reasons). It is, in my view, too important a presumption to surrender to legislators.

But having said that, my main point is that it is simplistic and worrying to attack and categorise everyone who takes an alternative view as somehow misguided god botherers. I say this with love, folks, but sometimes we can be as bigoted as the right wingers we oppose.

Republicans: Don’t blame us, blame the UAW.

As General Motors announced the temporary closure of 20 plants Friday, Republicans who fought a White House-backed bailout plan want Americans to blame the United Auto Workers and think about Rod Blagojevich.

The GOP strategy, previewed in an “action alert” sent by a Republican lobbyist and outlined by Republican aides, is based on the idea that the best defense is a good offense — and the hope that the taint of the Illinois governor will rub off on organized labor.

“This is the Democrats’ first opportunity to pay off organized labor after the election . . . a precursor to card check and other items,” said the memo. “Republicans should stand firm and take their first shot against organized labor, instead of taking their first blow from it.”


Auto bailout’s death seen as a Republican blow at unions.

For some Senate Republicans, a vote against the bailout was a vote against the United Auto Workers, and against organized labor in general.
The congressional drive to help U.S. automakers was generally cast in terms of protecting the reeling national economy from another body blow — the collapse of one or more of Detroit’s Big Three.

But beneath the surface, what led conservative Republicans to drive a stake through the heart of a stopgap rescue plan worked out by President Bush and congressional Democrats was the chance to strike a blow against an old enemy: organized labor.,0,4830309.story

GOP warned to embrace technology or face ‘suicide’.

When Michigan GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis decided to throw his hat in the ring to head the Republican Party, he announced his intentions on an unlikely forum: Twitter.

Not too long ago, the social networking Web site most popular among teenagers and 20-somethings was probably the last place you would expect to find a candidate for the Republican National Committee chairmanship.

But then Barack Obama’s presidential campaign appeared to revolutionize the way technology could be integrated into every facet of a campaign — from fundraising to media outreach to voter mobilization.

The result was a Democratic Party that outpaced its rival in nearly every measure — in the process revealing how detrimental the GOP’s apparent lack of tech fluency proved to be on Election Day.

The Republican Party is playing catch-up, hoping to compete with Democrats in the next two pivotal election cycles.

The fundies avoid technology like the plague. It would open up their religions to new ideas, questions and facts. which would be detrimental to their religion. They are stuck in a Catch 22 situation.

Geez – for a moment then I thought we were trapped in another episode of Pirates of the Caribbean.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We pillage, we plunder, we rifle, and loot,
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho.
We kidnap and ravage and don’t give a hoot,
Drink up me ‘earties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We extort, we pilfer, we filch, and sack,
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho.
Maraud and embezzle, and even high-jack,
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We kindle and char, inflame and ignite,
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho.
We burn up the city, we’re really a fright,
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho.

We’re rascals, scoundrels, villans, and knaves,
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho.
We’re devils and black sheep, really bad eggs,
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho.

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.
We’re beggars and blighters, ne’er-do-well cads,
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho.
Aye, but we’re loved by our mommies and dads,
Drink up, me ‘earties, yo ho.

I can work with that.


Obama’s Economic Advisers Considering $1 Trillion Stimulus Plan
The president-elect is expected to be briefed on the broad parameters of the plan next week.

President-elect Barack Obama’s economic team is considering an economic-stimulus program that will be far larger than the two-year, half-trillion-dollar plan under consideration two weeks ago, people familiar with the team’s thinking tell the Wall Street Journal.

The president-elect is expected to be briefed on the broad parameters of the plan next week, with aides still hoping for Congress to pass a bill by the time Mr. Obama takes office Jan. 20.

With the unemployment rate now expected to hit 9 percent without aggressive intervention, Obama aides and advisers have set $600 billion over two years as “a very low-end estimate,” one person familiar with the matter said. The final number is expected to be significantly higher, possibly between $700 billion and $1 trillion over two years.

Pelosi Says U.S. House Stimulus Measure May Reach $600 Billion.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the U.S. House is likely to act next month on a $500 billion to $600 billion economic-stimulus measure aimed at making long-term investments in renewable energy as well as providing a short- term boost for the economy.

“Economists told us that the package had to be strong enough, half a trillion, $600 billion, somewhere near that,” Pelosi said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt.”

She said the legislation will be geared toward some broader Democratic priorities — such as boosting broadband Internet technology and making environmentally friendly improvements to the nation’s electric-power grid — in addition to more-traditional road-and-bridge projects. Some of the spending will extend beyond 2009, she said.

The Democrats top priority for infrastructure building is Broadband Internet. Shovel as much money as fast as possible into expanding Broadband Internet will be a huge plus for the Democrats. Obama’s use of the Internet reportedly saved the Democrats around 47 million in advertising costs. The extraordinary growth in the use of the Internet as the major source of political information, went from 16% in 2004 to 33% in 2008. If Broadband is rapidly expanded, this growth rate will be able to keep going over the next 2-4 years. The Republicans will take a long while to recover.

Ferny G, hi, and yes, I concur, Mr Winfield is a tragic.

On the state not having the right to control who lives and who dies, I think your ethical concerns are shared by many, even those of us who think we should have legal access to the blue pill (or the ‘green dream’ as one my medical friends likes to call it).

If I decide my life is intolerable, or is about to be, then someone telling me they are ‘protecting the sanctity of life’ by stopping me from legally obtaining the blue pill appears either ludicrous or deluded. I perfectly understand that stopping people being forced into taking the blue pill is an evil we cannot condone, but conversely, stopping someone who has a legitimate need for it is just as wrong. The outcome is I get to suffer for your principle, which seems, to say the least, not any kind of just outcome.

The law has great difficulty with these ambivalent areas: yes, life is precious, but it can also be insufferable. I cannot imagine someone rushing into the vet clinic to shoot the vet putting down a terminally ill animal because someone may put down a perfectly healthy one sometime. We understand what ‘humane’ means when applied to animals but not humans. Go figure, as they say.

For every principled antagonist to euthanasia, there’s a horde of religious fundamentalists who claim that the big Sky Daddy does not approve, but there’s also a vast majority who think they should have the right to take their own lives under special circumstances, and yet few modern democracies can accommodate it.

With the increasingly aged populations of many post-industrial nations I suspect this topic is going to get a lot of air play. Eventually a more sane (and more ‘humane’) position will be reached, one where the concerns for malpractice are balanced against the inhumane inflicting of suffering on those who are dying in pain.

Just as we are talking about the Internet….

McCain and Obama Web Gurus Come Together, Offer Lessons for British Politics.
Last month, we took a closer look at Barack Obama’s genuinely innovative use of social network media to win the American presidential election, and asked how the major British political parties might follow his lead, based on their current Internet efforts.

The web moves fast though, and the digital goalposts are already moving as the technological battle for the 2012 US elections intensifies, offering fresh clues to the future of Internet campaigning. In the ever excellent MIT Technology Review today, David Talbot reports on the coming together of the McCain and Obama web teams for a conference at Harvard’s Berkman Center in Cambridge, Massachusets. There are some interesting revelations:

More. Scroll down a bit after clicking on this link.

Franken vs. Coleman: Still Counting in Minnesota.

What if the 2000 presidential election had hinged not on a diverse, messy, weird and slightly creepy hick state like Florida but on the most organized, practical and cordial one in the Union: Minnesota? What if, instead of going to court after court over hanging chads and butterfly ballots and whether a recount should happen, election officials had just calmly looked at each ballot and tried to figure out what the voter wanted?


Chris B at 1497
Interesting comments in that article. In particular Chris Hughes view on a failure to leverage the bottom up. I was thinking along similar lines during the election, and again during my classified episode. It’s an interesting conundrum – centralize and maintain a semblance of control, or take the plunge and give power to the masses. Thing is – power to the masses is a dangerous thing in that the popular opinion is not necessarily the right opinion. I’m still working this one over in my head – how to harness the masses (and by masses I mean hundreds of employees, or millions of voters) without loosing control over direction and message.

the irony/tragedy with Hoges is that he would have totally taken the mickey out of a bloke having a face-lift when his career was kicking-off.

Re euthanasia: I reckon each person “of sound mind” has the right to choose when they exit stage left and likewise share the humanistic position that the government should not have the power over who lives and dies. That option is the province of the individual, imo.
All religions publicly oppose a citizen exercising what I think is a fundamental human right and a citizen’s decision alone. If spiritual franchisees kept their anti-euthanasia dictates to themselves and their followers, that would be ok in my book.

But they don’t. The churches lobbied fiercely against euthanasia when Marshall Perron introduced enabling legislation in the Northern Territory. As all churches are in lockstep with the government in their public anti-euthanasia stance, they are therefore, fair game. So I contend the notion that criticism of “somehow misguided god botherers” over this issue is bigotry.

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