Australia’s Pine Gap now an intrinsic part of USA’s drone killing system (and a terrorism target, too)
Pine Gap communications facility’s operations ‘ethically unacceptable’, Professor Des Ball says, ABC News By Dylan Wench 12 Aug 14 A senior strategic analyst has called for the Federal Government to rethink the Pine Gap communications facility, saying some of its work now is “ethically unacceptable”.Australian National University Professor Des Ball previously supported the joint Australia-US communications facility near Alice Springs, but changes to its role since the Al Qaeda attacks in 2001 have changed his mind.
“I’ve reached the point now where I can no longer stand up and provide the verbal, conceptual justification for the facility that I was able to do in the past,” he said.
Pine Gap is the jewel in the crown of Australia-US intelligence sharing, detecting nuclear weapons and intercepting communications around the globe. But for the past decade it has also been involved in the US drone program, which has killed thousands of militants and some civilians in countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Iraq.
“We’re now locked into this global network where intelligence and operations have become essentially fused,” Professor Ball told 7.30. “And Pine Gap is a key node in that network – that war machine, if you want to use that term – which is doing things which are very, very difficult I think, as an Australian, to justify.”…….
“We’ve already entered into a new phase of warfare where intelligence and unmanned vehicles of various sorts, under the water, killer satellites in space, are being fed from intelligence sources like Pine Gap – still one of the two biggest stations of this sort in the world – and we’re thoroughly embedded into it,” Professor Ball said……….
…..what is causing Professor Ball concern. “The drone program puts some of these dilemmas on a plate in front of you,” he said. “You have to start confronting this conflation of intelligence and operations, which has been an ongoing process now for some time.
“But the drones bring it right out in front, including on your television sets, and including the fact that I don’t know either how many terrorists have been killed by drones.
“But I would not be surprised if the total number of children exceeds the total number of terrorists. I don’t know.”
And he fears support of lethal US operations is becoming a steadily increasing part of what Pine Gap does.
“Aspects of what is collected there, the general surveillance function expanding, and the now increasing military operational uses, if they were really to change the balance around so that Pine Gap basically became a war fighting machine rather than an intelligence collector, then I think we all have to have second thoughts.” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-13/pine-gap-us-drone-program-ethically-unacceptable-analyst/5669336
We inherit from the past our own conditions of living. We inherit the burdens, responsibilities and sacrifices, as well as the opportunities. Whether I like it or not, I am part of the rationale against you, that led to the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. All this I owe to you, Japan, when I apologise. ....
Apologising for the bomb: a letter on our anniversary. The Drum, Luke Stickels, 5 August 11
Dear Japan, Today marks 66 years since your city, Hiroshima, faced the world’s first ever nuclear attack, and I thought I would write to apologise……..
at approximately 8.15am on 6 August, 1945, the United States dropped a gun-type atomic bomb called Little Boy on Hiroshima. Between 70,000-80,000 people, or approximately 30 per cent of Hiroshima’s population, were killed instantly by what the subsequent US Bombing Survey termed “inefficient” nuclear fission, which nevertheless cleared 12 square kilometers of the city and 69 per cent of its buildings. I am sorry that Little Boy was not even less efficient; in fact I wish it had failed altogether. Another 70,000 of your people were injured, with 90 per cent of doctors and 93 per cent of nurses among the casualties, significantly disabling treatment for the injured and substantially raising the final death toll. Continue reading
Climate change: Dear grandchildren, I can only say sorry November 20, 2013 The Age, Ross Gittins The Sydney Morning Herald’s Economics Editor I don’t have grandchildren but I’m hoping for some, someday, so this column is for them. I want you to know that although, in the mid-teens of this century, Australians elected a government that wasn’t genuine in its commitment to combating the effects of climate change, and that even abolished the main instrument economists invented for that purpose, I never accepted this complacency……….
Abbott associated with outright climate-change deniers and said things that seemed to brand him as one of them, while always adding, sotto voce, that he accepted human-caused climate change and the need to do something about it.
Apart from attracting voters away from Labor and its frightening carbon tax, the result of making climate change an issue of party dispute was to give Liberal supporters a licence to stop worrying about climate change – if the leaders of my party aren’t worrying, why should I? – while providing a fig leaf for those Liberals who retained their concern……
You will find this hard to believe, but in the mid-teens, it was still common to think about ”the economy” in isolation from the natural environment which sustained it. Economists, business people and politicians had gone for two centuries largely ignoring the damage economic activity did to the environment.
The idea that, eventually, the environment would hit back and do great damage to the economy was one most people preferred not to think about. At the time, it was fashionable to bewail the lack of action to increase the economy’s productivity.
At the time, we rationalised our selfishness – our willingness to avoid a tiny drop in our standard of living at the expense of a big drop in our offspring’s – by telling ourselves half-truths and untruths about the global nature of climate change…..
Did I ever doubt that climate change represented by far the greatest threat to Australia’s future economic prosperity? Never. Should I have said this more often, rather than chasing a thousand economic will-o’-the-wisps? Yes.
The code says: “Persons who, after 6 December 2007, retire from office as a Minister or a Parliamentary Secretary, shall not, for a period of 18 months after they cease to hold office, engage in lobbying activities relating to any matter that they had official dealings with in their last 18 months in office”.
Greens’ claims over Ferguson lobbying are in the ballpark ABC News Fact Check 8 Oct 13
- The claim: Christine Milne says former resources minister Martin Ferguson’s new jobs make a mockery of the lobbying code of conduct.
- The verdict: By taking up the appointment within the cooling off period it can be argued that Mr Ferguson has made a mockery of the intent and spirit of the code.
- “……..Mr Ferguson’s new roles, six months after he resigned from federal cabinet in March, made a mockery of the ministerial code of conduct, Senator Milne said.”Martin Ferguson’s appointment as group executive of natural resources for Seven Group Holdings and as chair to a petroleum industry advisory board makes a mockery of the code of conduct which prevents former ministers engaging in lobbying activities relating to any matter that they had official dealings in,” she said.
The new jobs
Mr Ferguson accepted a role as chairman of an advisory board of the gas and oil industry’s peak body, the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association.
The association’s website acknowledges its status as a lobby group, Continue reading
Australia’s political climate: Three numbers ignored in this election Byron Smith ABC RELIGION AND ETHICS 3 SEP 2013. The national discussion concerning climate change in Australia has some curious blind spots. Despite having featured prominently in Australian federal politics ever since Prime Minister Kevin Rudd declared it to be “the great moral challenge of our generation” back in August 2007, at no point in the public debate have three crucial numbers been highlighted by either side of the political divide. Continue reading
Climate change gets religious SMH, 19 June 13 Few religious communities have gone as far in fighting climate change as a church in Queensland which has 24 solar panels bolted to the roof in the shape of a Christian cross. “It’s very effective. It’s inspired some members of our congregation to install panels on their homes,” Reverend David Lowry said of the “solar cross” mounted in 2009 on the Caloundra Uniting Church, which groups three Protestant denominations.
Many religions have been wary of moving to install renewable energy sources on their places of worship, from cathedrals to mosques – or of taking a strong stand on climate change in general – despite teachings that people should be custodians of nature.
But slowly, that may be changing, thanks to new religious leaders including Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church.
Paladin, which has been the subject of some controversy in Malawi over job cuts, was last year linked to a funding application through its employees’ charity – Friends and Employees of Paladin for African Children.
Paladin’s (African) Ltd general manager, international affairs, Greg Walker, who was invited late last year to be Australia’s honorary consul to Malawi, was involved in the process, according to 2012 correspondence from Australia’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Matthew Neuhaus, to Mr Walker. The letter obtained under freedom of information confirmed Mr Walker’s successful application for the employees’ charity funding proposal.
The Aidwatch director Thulsi Narayanasamy said it was not the place of the Australian aid program to fund the corporate social responsibility programs of wealthy mining companies.
Firms use tax money for aid projects : http://www.smh.com.au/money/tax/firms-use-tax-money-for-aid-projects-20130129-2ditd.html#ixzz2Jbp0RzOT January 30, 2013 Rory Callinan
WEALTHY resource companies operating overseas are tapping into Australian taxpayer funds to set up aid projects potentially benefiting their corporate social responsibility credentials.
Aid and mining watchdogs have expressed concerns about the practice, arguing the corporations are wealthy enough to bankroll their own aid and that linking donations to controversial mine operations is a conflict of interest.
Nine mining companies all operating in Africa have been linked to the successful applications via the Foreign Affairs Department’s Direct Aid Program – a scheme that allows heads of missions to give up to $30,000 to local causes.
About $215,000 of taxpayers’ money went to the mining company-conceived projects last financial year, including a school for the deaf, providing trade skill training to local workers, establishing women’s groups and digging wells. Two applications involved uranium mining companies, Paladin Energy in Malawi and Bannerman Resources in Namibia. Continue reading
Bishops slam NT intervention extension Big Pond News, May 07, 2012 Australia’s Catholic bishops have urged the Senate to block draft legislation to extend the Northern Territory intervention in Aboriginal communities.
Labor’s Stronger Futures draft laws are likely to clear the upper house with bipartisan support when federal parliament resumes this week. Continue reading
700 prominent Australians call for nuclear abolition, National Catholic Reporter, Feb. 16, 2012, By Joshua J. McElwee More than 700 prominent Australians — including former prime ministers, defense ministers, and Catholic bishops and priests — have signed onto a statement calling on their country’s government to adopt a “nuclear-weapons-free” defense posture and to take steps to initiate a global treaty to abolish nuclear arsenals.
The statement, which was put together by Australians for a Nuclear Weapons Convention and announced Jan. 25, includes signatures from 713 Australians who have received the Order of Australia, an honor granted by Queen Elizabeth II to note achievement or “meritorious service” and similar to a knighthood in the United Kingdom.
Among the Catholics who have signed onto the statement is Cardinal Edward Clancy, who served as the archbishop of Sydney from 1983 to 2001. Jesuit Fr. Frank Brennan, former chairman of the country’s National Human Rights Consultation Committee, and Fr. Michael Tate, a former ambassador to the Holy See, have also signed. Continue reading
It’s easy to condemn terrorism when it’s carried out by official enemies. You don’t need much moral courage to stand up against Emmanuel Goldstein.
But Israel and the US are key allies of Australia, and, on almost every issue of import, our government marches in lockstep with theirs.
Killing Iranian scientists: when terrorism isn’t terrorism The Drum, JEFF SPARROW, 16 Jan 12, Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage – torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians – which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by ‘our’ side…
George Orwell might have been describing almost exactly the Western response to the murder spree currently underway in Iran. Continue reading
Portfolio details must be disclosed, SMH, John Collett, August 20, 2011 – Super funds will soon list their investments for all to see The Australian Securities and Investments Commission wants superannuation funds and fund managers to disclose the investments they hold. Disclosure among super funds and fund managers is patchy. Some will list the biggest 10 holdings in their disclosure documents and perhaps on their websites.
But investors are mostly left guessing on how their super is invested – the biggest investment most people will have alongside the family home. Continue reading
On the back of purported concern over climate change, there is increasing noise from vested interests about the need to sell uranium to India, allowing the country to limit its coal use and high greenhouse gas emissions.
This is a debate we need to engage with. We simply cannot avoid Australia’s moral and political hypocrisy in this area.
In the midst of a debate about a proposed carbon tax – a tax we have to have (and should have had years ago) – there is another environmental proposal being prosecuted by a select minority of the Australian Government that is getting much less attention: uranium sales to nuclear-armed India. Continue reading
Climate policies slashed to pay for a natural disaster, Crikey, 29 Jan 2011, “……..Catholic leader Cardinal George Pell, who influences an even greater congregation, wrote a week earlier of his delight at the extraordinary freeze that had hit Europe in late December – an event that just so happened to have killed dozens and ruined the travel plans of millions – because he thought it disproved the theory of man-made global warming.
“Nothing so delicious has happened,” he wrote, since President Obama’s aircraft was snowed in at the global warming summit in Copenhagen in 2009. Continue reading
Considering Australia, he argues, is a country with abundant uranium reserves, our scientists should refrain from activities that have the potential to indirectly aid the production of nuclear weapons
The Responsible Scientist: A Philosophical Inquiry, Eureka: Ethics Research, Australian Museum, December 2010, WINNER – The Responsible Scientist Setting a Moral Compass for Scientists As atomic bombs fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the final stages of World War II in 1945, the world witnessed the devastation that science could inflict on humankind.Since that moment, countries around the world have been called to account on their nuclear weapons programs. But what responsibility rests on the shoulders of the scientists who make such grand-scale destruction possible? Continue reading
A dream come true for WikiLeaks founder, DAILY NATION 2 Dec 10, The founder of the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks whose exclusive dossiers have captured the attention of the world is a man who seems to have achieved his dream. Continue reading