Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Scott Morrison’s $billion missile spend, a gift to foreign war companies and their sponsor, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, (ASPI)

Foreign war lobby gets a $billion for missiles – media fawns

https://www.michaelwest.com.au/foreign-war-lobby-gets-a-billion-for-missiles-media-fawns/ 4 Apr 21,
Scott Morrison’s latest billion-dollar missile spend was deftly leaked to the media then talked up by ASPI whose sponsors have raked in $51 billion in Defence Department contracts while doling cash to the conflicted “think-tank”. Marcus Rubenstein investigates.

No sooner had Scott Morrison’s new cabinet been sworn in than it was back to business, feeding out distractions to the Canberra press gallery.

Nearly 14 hours before the prime minister announced to the nation that Australia was going to spend a billion dollars on building “our own missiles” Greg Sheridan from The Australian had the scoop—along with The Age/SMH, Nine Newspapers stablemate Australian Financial Review and the ABC. Along with the ranks of metropolitan mainstream media dailies who all fell in line behind the announcement.

And with military precision they all fired off their online reports at 10:30pm… or, to be more precise, 22:30 hrs.

The Age and Sydney Morning Herald both quoted ASPI (Australian Strategic Policy Institute) in their coverage as did The Conversation, along with others they listed potential weapons maker partners for this home grown missile mission.

Apart from the glaring fact that none of these companies are actually Australian, most were listed by ASPI in a report it published last year. Of the five potential partner companies being touted by mainstream media— Raytheon (USA), Lockheed Martin (USA), Kongsberg (Norway), Rafeal (Israel) and BAE Systems (UK)—all but one is a long-term financial backer of ASPI.

As is de rigueur there was no mention that ASPI’s enthusiasm for substantial new military expenditure was directed towards spending on weapons made by their sponsors.

A number of media reports included PR handout images from US missile maker Raytheon, which for years was a loyal ASPI sponsor and also the former employer of, recently demoted, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds.

The actual announcement was made by the prime minister, not at Parliament House, but at the South Australian facility of Raytheon.

Government access for weapons makers

Since ASPI’s foundation in 2001, when it was created to challenge the policy direction of Defence, it has become more and more commercialised.

This fact was highlighted by ASPI’s founding Executive Director Hugh White, who wrote on the 15th anniversary of its foundation, “The quality of defence policy slumped… [and] ASPI’s focus inevitably swung round to contributing to public debates not government policy-making.”

Under Hugh White’s leadership, ASPI preserved a great deal of independence and only took an average of $28,000 per year in commercial revenue.

In the last financial year, under the leadership of (former Howard Government adviser) Peter Jennings, ASPI raked in $6,953,000 in commercial revenue. Yet it maintains its façade of independence of outside influence.

ASPI sponsor, French-owned Naval Group was awarded the contract for Australia’s controversial $80 billion future submarine project. It has been in the headlines recently after an independent report released in March found the project was “dangerously off track”.

In 2016, when the contract was awarded Jennings, wrote a glowing opinion piece, about his sponsor, under the headline “Vive Australia’s choice of a French submarine”.

The release of the Future Submarines Report was very critical of the entire project and there were suggestions from highly credentialed defence strategists that Australia should walk away from the deal.

In response, ASPI wrote that not only should Naval Group keeps its contract but the Royal Australian Navy should commission un-maned Orca submarines whilst waiting decades for the French submarines order to be fulfilled.

And who makes the Orca? Another ASPI sponsor, Boeing Defense.

This comes after revelations in March that ASPI had been commissioned to write a report critical of the federal government’s awarding of cloud computing contracts to Australian company Canberra Data Centres (CDC).

As it transpires, ASPI had been commissioned to write the report by lobbying firm Australian Public Affairs (APA); the Commonwealth Lobbyists Register reveals APA represent CDC’s three main commercial rivals.

Last October, ASPI’s Peter Jennings told the ABC, “ASPI’s work as a think tank is genuinely independent” and suggestions it was controlled by sponsors were “frankly nonsense”.

The massive ASPI payoff

ASPI is not an independent think tank, it is in fact a Commonwealth Company which reports to the parliament through the Defence Ministry. In its latest annual report ASPI singled out the then Defence Minister for her “continuing close personal engagement and support”.

In her first speech as Defence Minister, Linda Reynolds boasted of her close friendship with ASPI’s Peter Jennings.

Clearly ASPI’s boss and his board, which is chaired by former Chief of the Army, Lt Gen (Ret’d) Kenneth Gillespie and includes former Liberal Defence Minister Brendan Nelson, has access to the highest levels of government and the Defence Department.

Since ASPI’s inception it has received sponsorship from 12 manufacturers of weapons and weapons systems. Over that period, they have been awarded 9,423 Defence Department contracts with a total value of $51.2 billion.

This does not include another 49 ASPI sponsors who do not manufacture weapons, yet Department of Finance data, reveals have benefitted from more than $30 billion in defence contracts since 2001.


ASPI’s most recent annual report revealed that in the year before the COVID-19 pandemic, it hosted 142 separate events and meetings, many of them bringing together defence policy makers and defence suppliers.

At one such event in 2019, sponsored by Thales, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, then Defence Minister Linda Reynolds was keynote speaker. Presumably executives from these foreign weapons makers had some level of access to the minister.

Department of Finance figures later revealed that ministerial and department staff were charged $30,723 by ASPI in order to attend that speech.

April 4, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, politics, spinbuster, weapons and war | Leave a comment

News Corpse fervently promoting nuclear power to Australia

From THE AUSTRALIAN, 17 Feb 21,  ‘‘Think of the deaths that could have been avoided, since installing solar panels and wind turbines is a surprisingly dangerous exercise. The death toll from solar power per unit of energy supplied is more than five times as high as the death toll from nuclear, according to estimates from Cambridge House in Canada. By the same measure, nuclear power is 1000 times safer than coal and 400 times safer than natural gas. Yet still Albanese persists with the lame excuse that nuclear power is too dangerous to consider.”

Cambridge House doesn’t seem like a credible source for deaths in different power sources.

Cambridge House is a networking and “investment discovery” company that runs a mining and investment conference in North Americahttps://cambridgehouse.com/about

Maybe not the most reliable source of info, journalist at The Australian.

Some excellent scientists did, in fact, do meticulous studies, and documented illnesses,deaths, birth defects resulting from the Chernobyl disaster.  The Russian government happily collaborated with the West in a successful campaign to discredit those scientists.  Most notably Alexey V. Yablokov – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chernobyl:_Consequences_of_the_Catastrophe_for_People_and_the_Environment

I wrote on the work of Wladimir Wertelecki, who documented birth defects in Belarus –  unfortunate title – but bear with it –  “A baby that has no head is a baby that has no head.”  https://noelwauchope.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/a-baby-that-has-no-head-is-a-baby-that-has-no-head/
From Sky News, 21 Feb 21,  “Broadcaster Michael McLaren says Australia has wasted “decades with silly moratoriums” on nuclear energy and that “we may well pay the price” for doing so.  “There is a growing sense of urgency now about which technology can provide the reliable baseload power Australia needs if coal is to go,” Mr McLaren said. “It is an issue of sovereignty and national security”.

 

February 21, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Australian government’s brazen duplicity concerning Julian Assange

What Assange and WikiLeaks said about Australia, https://www.smh.com.au/culture/books/what-assange-and-wikileaks-said-about-australia-20210129-p56xyo.html

By Jessie Tu  February 4, 2021 He has been called “truth-telling hero”, “evil and perverted traitor”, “heroic, trickster, mythical – reviled”. Robert Manne called him the “most consequential Australian of the present time”. The new US President has called him a “high-tech terrorist”.

The protean narratives of Julian Assange, who will be 50 in July, have been brewing since 2010, when his website published “The Afghan War Diaries”, “Iraq War Logs” and “Collateral Murder”, a video showing the US military killing two Reuters employees in Iraq.

December marked 10 years since Assange has been “arbitrarily detained” in Britain, according to Felicity Ruby and Peter Cronau in their introduction to A Secret Australia – a collection of 18 essays that survey the impact WikiLeaks has had on Australia’s media landscape and the consequences of our government’s attraction towards America’s intelligence and military empire.

The potpourri of authors and thinkers includes Julian Burnside, Antony Loewenstein, Scott Ludlam and Helen Razer, who critique “the powers opposed to openness and transparency” and examine the evidence, “not the likelihoods, the probabilities, the suspicions, and assumptions” around the “subversive, technology-based publishing house”.

WikiLeaks invented a “pioneering model of journalism” – one that embodied the “contemporary spirit of resistance to imperial power”, says Richard Tanter, from the school of political and social sciences at the University of Melbourne. It brought renewed debates on free speech, digital encryption and questions around the management and protection of whistleblowers who risk their lives to expose covert, deceitful actions by governments.

The documents exposed the “brazen duplicity” of the Australian government towards its citizens and presented “off-stage alliance management conversations”, Tanter writes. They invited the layperson into the green room of the performance that is politics and international diplomacy.
WikiLeaks unmasked reports that showed governments recommending media strategies to deceive the public, demonstrating their unethically utilitarian approach to international diplomacy and governance and “enlightened the public on the dark corners of wars”, writes journalist and author Antony Loewenstein.

Assange is still in a cell at London’s Belmarsh Prison, facing an appeal by the United States in its bid to extradite him to face charges for the 2010 publications. He is continuing to be “denied adequate medical care” and “denied emergency bail in light of the COVID-19″, says Lissa Johnson, a clinical psychologist and writer for New Matilda – one of the few Australian publications that have paid genuine attention to the WikiLeaks saga.

In Australia, there’s been a “striking absence of a solid debate on WikiLeaks in the mainstream public discourse”, according to Benedetta Brevini, a journalist and media activist who insists that our concerning “lack of a thorough and sustained debate” is incomprehensible. Loewenstein calls Australia’s lack of journalistic solidarity with Assange “deeply shameful”. He says we have an “anodyne media environment” – perhaps not unsurprising, considering our highly concentrated media market, one of the most severe in the world.

Most of the essays expostulate on the same things: Assange is a journalist, not a hacker. He’s won a Walkley Award (at least six mentions of this). We have an undeniable legal obligation to him. His persecution is a “gruesome legal experiment in criminalising journalism” – a long and tortured legal process that Ludlam declares “has degenerated into an unworkable shit-show”.

The standout essays come from Guy Rundle and Helen Razer – whose amusing voice cuts through the somewhat parched tenor of cold academic-speak that lightly threads through the other essays. Her addition is a breath of fresh air in the middle of a chain of same-same arguments.

The most useful essay is Rundle’s take on the historical basis for WikiLeaks. He surveys the swirling currents of Australian history that led to its founding, identifying WikiLeaks as a continuation of political activist Albert Langer’s resistance to capital.

“We need a whole new organisation of how recent Australian history is told,” Rundle concludes, seconding Lissa Johnson’s opinion that we demand citizens who “cut across the acquiescence and consent, remove the deadbolt on the torture chamber door, turn down the music and expose what is going on inside”. This collection of polemics, though at times repetitive, takes us closer to a future where these demands no longer seem beyond reality.

A Secret Australia: Revealed by the WikiLeaks Exposes,  Eds., Felicity Ruby & Peter Cronau, Monash University Publishing, $29.95

February 14, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media, politics international, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Press freedom hangs on the fate of Julian Assange

Sabine von Törne   14 Feb 21, 

What happens to Wikileaks founder and publisher #JulianAssange who remains unlawfully imprisoned at High Security Prison Belmarsh for exposing US war crimes and corruption of powerful elites matters to all of us.
Yesterday, on 12th of February 2021, the Biden administration submitted an appeal against Magistrate Baraitser’s decision to refuse extradition to the U.S. on humanitarian grounds.
This struggle is far from over. #TheWorldIsWatching with our eyes on #London. We must speak up for Julian’s human rights, for press freedom, free speech, the public’s right to know what those who govern us are up to in our name and thereby for the most basic principles of democracy. Keep fighting. We can win this. #FreeJulianAssange

February 14, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Murdoch’s Australia Day award — brought to you by miners and bankers

Murdoch’s Australia Day award — brought to you by miners and bankers
Those who promote and profit from fossil fuels have appropriated the phoney awards handed out by the obscure Australia Day Foundation. 
https://www.crikey.com.au/2021/01/27/rupert-murdoch-australia-day-foundation/ DAVID HARDAKER, JAN 27, 2021

There’s no faulting the Australia Day awards for throwing up some real doozies but lost in the Margaret Court drama this year has been a so-called lifetime achievement award for Rupert Murdoch from the Australia Day Foundation.

On the face of it it looks to be an extraordinary decision: a prestigious honour bestowed on the media mogul whose recent hits in the United States include helping fan an insurrection against democracy via Fox News and in Australia leading the way on climate change denialism in cahoots with the Morrison government it supports.

The Australia Day Foundation, though, is not as it seems. It is a not-for-profit organisation in the UK, set up as a networking base for Australian business and high achievers. Losers need not apply.

The foundation and its awards are backed by a group of international conglomerates including mining giants BHP, Rio Tinto, Woodside and Anglo-American. Australia’s big banks, the National Australia Bank and Westpac, are also in on the act. Another leading name is CQS, the wealthy London hedge fund founded by Australian business figure Sir Michael Hintze.

Hintze is not well known in Australia, but he is at the centre of a powerful network of business and conservative UK and Australian politicians. As we reported last year he has been a force behind the climate-sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation which has given voice to the views of Tony Abbott and Cardinal George Pell.

Nominally a business outfit, the foundation also blurs the lines with government. It is sponsored by Austrade and uses Australia House, home to the Australian High Commission, in London to hand out its “Australia Day” awards to UK and Australian figures of its choosing.

This year it gave its honorary Australian of the Year in the UK award to Conservative British MP Liz Truss who promoted the cause of Abbott as a trade adviser to the UK government. Past recipients have included Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Hintze is not well known in Australia, but he is at the centre of a powerful network of business and conservative UK and Australian politicians. As we reported last year he has been a force behind the climate-sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation which has given voice to the views of Tony Abbott and Cardinal George Pell.

Nominally a business outfit, the foundation also blurs the lines with government. It is sponsored by Austrade and uses Australia House, home to the Australian High Commission, in London to hand out its “Australia Day” awards to UK and Australian figures of its choosing.

This year it gave its honorary Australian of the Year in the UK award to Conservative British MP Liz Truss who promoted the cause of Abbott as a trade adviser to the UK government. Past recipients have included Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Hintze is not well known in Australia, but he is at the centre of a powerful network of business and conservative UK and Australian politicians. As we reported last year he has been a force behind the climate-sceptic Global Warming Policy Foundation which has given voice to the views of Tony Abbott and Cardinal George Pell.

Nominally a business outfit, the foundation also blurs the lines with government. It is sponsored by Austrade and uses Australia House, home to the Australian High Commission, in London to hand out its “Australia Day” awards to UK and Australian figures of its choosing.

This year it gave its honorary Australian of the Year in the UK award to Conservative British MP Liz Truss who promoted the cause of Abbott as a trade adviser to the UK government. Past recipients have included Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

 

January 28, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, politics | Leave a comment

The decay of mainstream media in Australia – and the rise of new independent media

Faustian Pact: no way back from public relations for News and Nine, Michael West Media by Michael West | Dec 31, 2020 Old media caps off annus horribilis 2020 with its traditional horrible week. Michael West, standing in for Michael Tanner, looks at the fall of Fairfax, PR masquerading as journalism, who guards the Guardian, Seven News’ calls for war with China and how Scott Morrison’s media team has the game sown up.

Independent. Always.

Ahem …

How about Independent. Sometimes.

As annus horribilis 2020 shudders to its Covid-ridden close, the once venerable Australian media properties, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, have spruced up their advertising.

We refer not to their advertising for the Liberal Party, or even the heavy editorial influence of their beloved corporate sponsors, but rather the advertising of their own unseemly decline.

The shining example of the week was this Op-ed piece penned by a Liberal Party PR person and lobbyist Parnell Palme McGuinness.

Your humble essayist was once, long ago, a cadet at Fairfax – now Nine Entertainment. Reading this slavering panegyric to Gladys Berejiklian, which kicked off with a gratuitous swipe at Jacinda Adern, approximated the feeling one gets when scraping one’s fingernails across a blackboard.

It wasn’t just the tacky story. More the creepy incursion of political PR people into what purports to be independent journalism.

Since when is it de rigueur for a media organisation to run propaganda clickbait by Liberal lobbyists who benefit from limited-tender contracts from the Liberal Government? Answer: since Fairfax (now Nine newspapers) installed Liberal editorial management.

To be fair, the decline has been afoot for more than a decade – well before the Nine Entertainment takeover. And many fine journalists remain there – albeit cowed and interfered with – and feeble management and the global decline of a business model are largely to blame. Still …

Two days later, The Age sallied forth with a piece by a sociology professor who writes for The Australian and Quadrant claiming Dan Andrews was “heading the most incompetent Australian administration in living memory”.

This bloke must have a very short living memory. Incompetence is endemic to government and there are plenty worse than Dan Andrews.

Mainstream media train wreck

If the basic task of a media organisation is to hold both sides of politics to account, particularly the side in government, most of the mainstream media in this country has failed miserably.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp gave it up long ago. The Australian, the state tabloids and Sky News are little more than agitprop – their daily daggy a capellas to government merely the thing of a propaganda machine to further the power and financial interests of a US billionaire.

And although still insisting forlornly it is independent, still touting the “Independent. Always.” slogan on its mastheads, replete with emphatic full stops, Fairfax has now joined the choir; the shrill descants of the News Corp sopranos ringing above the melodic Fairfax bass, all perfectly complemented by the altos of talk-back radio and the reliable tenors of commercial TV – together as one – singing the praises of the most corrupt government in Australian history.

Independent. Always.? What a clear breach this is of Trade Practices law; truth in advertising, if anybody could be bothered to prosecute the case………….

By changing the law to allow Nine to take over Fairfax, former Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield did a big favour for his government, as well as News, Nine and Fairfax.

Now “Mitchell Peter Fifield is the Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations”. Thanks Mitch, job well done – for the Coalition, which relies on an obsequious and beaten Fourth Estate to stay in power.

It is a symbiotic relationship to be sure; a marriage counsellor would call it co-dependent. So tightly in the clutches of Murdoch is Mitch’s successor, Paul Fletcher, that he and his office can’t, or wont’, answer questions about where Rupert Murdoch has taken control of Foxtel.

Neither can his regulator ACMA, the Australian Communications and Media Authority. Undaunted, ACMA pinged Four Corners earlier this month for its investigation into the dodgy Murray Darling Basin Authority because government refused to be interviewed – and because they refused to be interviewed, the show was not balanced, according to ACMA.

Elsewhere, Fletcher was busy harassing anybody at ABC who would listen, even browbeating chairman Ita Buttrose over the Four Corners episode, which exposed a couple of ministers for engaging in the act of extra-marital canoodling.

All this punctilious intervention and regulatory fussing over nothing while Rupert, the world’s dominant media mogul, took his government grants and scurried off to Delaware with Foxtel. To the sound of crickets from Fletcher and ACMA.

Where will it all go this year? What will the Government do to protect its machinery of public relations? If the trend is any indication, mainstream media will get even closer to governments and their corporate sponsors. It will get worse.

The formula is simple: you tickle my feathers, I’ll tickle yours………….

Doing journalism was an old-fashioned formula that seemed to take Fairfax by surprise. As its new, even more hopeless and sycophantic, editorial leadership under Nine tripped over themselves firing journalists such as Michael Pascoe, Peter Martin and yours truly and replacing them with pro-business toadies from News Corp, devising new ways to kowtow to governments and corporations, the biggest winner has been The Guardian. ………….

What then does 2021 hold for media? Younger Australians have deserted mainstream media in droves. Commercial TV, newspapers, MSM websites; they simply don’t trust them. It’s mutual.

For its part, the mainstream operators have clearly picked sides; they have picked the side of governments and corporate advertisers, and in so doing, cannot improve the public interest value or the authority of their products. This is immensely frustrating for the real journalists among them, and although the management agendas will continue to be interspersed with bona fide stories by reporters doing the right thing, the cultural malaise cannot be reversed.

The Faustian Pact has been struck. There is no turning back. Credibility can only ebb further as they rely on fewer larger advertisers to survive. The government will continue to come up with schemes to subsidise friendly media such as the attack on the digital platforms. The bright news is that, where there is demand, there will be supply. There is demand for the truth, demand for courageous and uncontaminated journalism, and that will be supplied as new independent sources of media flourish. https://www.michaelwest.com.au/faustian-pact-no-way-back-from-public-relations-for-news-and-nine/

January 4, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Assange hearing outcome could set an “alarming precedent” for free speech

January 4, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, media, secrets and lies, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corpse rises in ABC Insiders !

What’s happening with ABC ‘Insiders’?  Independent Australia, By Alan Austin  2 January 2021  The capture of ABC Insiders by Murdoch’s minions was a topic of debate all year, with this April Alan Austin piece attracting in excess of 35,000 unique views.

…………Has the ABC’s Insiders program become a vehicle for the promotion of News Corp? Alan Austin has been watching with interest and alarm.

AN INTRIGUING development in Australia’s media landscape this year is that it appears ABC’s Insiders, a substantial television program paid for by taxpayers, has become a vehicle for the rehabilitation and promotion of Rupert Murdoch’s tawdry media empire.

The first 12 Insiders episodes since Speers’ arrival as host, have featured 36 guest appearances. Of these, 12 have been current News Corp employees and another four, recent departees. So 44 per cent of all guests from one stable.

There is no need for the ABC to reference anything from News Corp — certainly not as the key source of information. Australia has more than 30 important media organisations. It is itself a well-resourced generator of news and news analysis. Murdoch’s minions are entirely dispensable.

News Corp a legitimate news organisation?

News Corp is not a reliable source of information. It has long since abandoned any commitment to media codes of ethics. The Australian Press Council routinely finds News Corp outlets violate media codes of ethics. Fact-checkers in the UK and the USA have found the same.

Murdoch’s Fox News in the USA is the go-to outlet for President Donald Trump whenever he wishes to share his fabrications and falsehoods. According to the Washington Post, the U.S. President told 16,241 clearly identified lies in his first three years in office. Many of these were Fox exclusives.

In Australia, several senior Murdoch employees have been found guilty of serious falsehoods — and were then rewarded by their employer.

In the celebrated racial discrimination case Eatock v Bolt, Murdoch’s Andrew Bolt was found to have concocted at least 19 damaging false assertions against the Indigenous people he was attacking.

In the wrongful dismissal case of former editor Bruce Guthrie, the judge found two senior News Corp executives had been untruthful in their testimony before the court.

In Britain, Murdoch’s publications have lied, cheated, bribed police and engaged in an extensive range of criminal misconduct. A British Parliamentary Inquiry in 2012 found that Rupert Murdoch was ‘not a fit person’ to run a company in Britain.

As a result of police investigations into Britain’s phone-hacking scandal, a large number of News Corp personnel were arrested and convicted of criminal offences.

Political bias and the ABC

News Corp outlets spruik the commercial interests of the owners, which almost inevitably means supporting right-wing political parties. Normally this is not a great problem. Political biases are fine, provided they are balanced by other political biases. The issue with News Corp is much more insidious than just bias, as shown above.

Ruthless and remorseless

Among Australia’s most profound wrongdoings in recent times have been The Australian’s malicious condemnations of men and women who have served the nation well.

Professor Robert Manne of La Trobe University wrote this of the recent campaign against the Australian Human Rights Commission and its former president:

The attack launched by The Australian on Gillian Triggs and the Human Rights Commission has been obsessive, petty, relentless, remorseless and ruthless. In ‘Bad News‘ I documented similar campaigns – against Larissa Behrendt and Julie Posetti. But neither reached either the level of malevolence or the cultural significance of the current anti-Triggs campaign … What is happening to Gillian Triggs – a fine lawyer, a fine Australian, a fine human being – must be resisted with all the moral and rhetorical muscle liberal Australians can muster.

Other prominent people The Australian has sought to tear down with its frenzied campaigns of hate, include Carmen LawrenceJoan KirnerWendy BaconNatasha Stott Despoja, Margaret SimonsChristine NixonRoz Ward, Clover Moore, Margo KingstonAnna Bligh, Kristina KeneallyJulian DisneyEmma HusarYassmin Abdel-MagiedJulia Gillard and Jacinda Ardern. ………  https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/4-top-story-of-2020-whats-happening-with-abc-insiders,14657

January 4, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, politics, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

New Year, new Australian media

January 2, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Law and Disorder: The case of Julian Assange

In the case of Julian Assange, what is on trial is nothing less than our right to know what is done by governments in our name, and our capacity to hold power to account.

Law and Disorder: The case of Julian Assange, DiEM25, By Pam Stavropoulos | 10/12/2020, 

What kind of law allows pursuit of charges under the 1917 United States Espionage Act — for which there is no public interest defence — against a journalist who is a foreign national?

The closing argument of the defence in the extradition hearing of WikiLeaks founder and publisher Julian Assange has been filed. For this and other reasons it is apposite to consider the authority invested in the law before which, in democratic societies, we are ostensibly all equal.

In fact, notwithstanding the familiar claims of objectivity (and as `everybody knows’ in Leonard Cohen’s famous lyric) the reality is somewhat different. Jokes about the law attest to this:

‘One law for the rich…’

‘Everyone has the right to their day in court — if they can pay for it’

‘What’s the difference between a good lawyer and a great one? A good lawyer knows the law. A great lawyer knows the judge’

The term ‘legal fiction’ calls into question the relationship between law, objectivity, and truth. On the one hand, law is the essential pillar of a functioning society. On the other, it is replete with anomalies both in conception and execution. To what extent can these perspectives be reconciled? High stakes are attached to this question.

Questioning claims of objectivity in the context of law.

Despite its routinely invoked status of objectivity, there are many grounds on which the law cannot be objective in any overarching sense. Judicial findings can be overturned on appeal (i.e. including in the absence of new evidence). This immediately indicates that the law, in common with other domains and disciplines, is subject to interpretation. ………
Conflicts of interest also pose challenges to the notion of objectivity in the context of law. In the case of Julian Assange, as DiEM25 and others have highlighted, conflict of interest would clearly seem to be operative. This is because financial links to the British military — including institutions and individuals exposed by WikiLeaks — by the husband of the Westminster chief magistrate who initially presided over the extradition case have been revealed. This chief magistrate refused to recuse herself and retained a supervisory role of oversight even in the face of this manifest conflict of interest. ……..
In the case of Julian Assange, the refrain that the law and its processes are ‘objective’ ensures that mounting critique of both the fact of his prosecution and the way in which the proceedings are conducted is not engaged with. It also serves to deflect attention from the fact that there is no precedent — i.e. in a profession which claims to respect it — for prosecution of Assange in the first place. ……..
In addition to the myth of the objectivity of law, it is important to engage with another entrenched myth — i.e. that the law is necessarily ‘apolitical’. In the case of Julian Assange, the political stakes are enormous. Continue reading

December 15, 2020 Posted by | civil liberties, legal, media, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Malcolm Turnbull signs Kevin Rudd’s petition challenging News Corpse media dominance

Malcolm Turnbull signs Kevin Rudd’s petition challenging News Corp media dominance
Former prime ministers urge others to join push for royal commission into lack of media diversity in Australia,
Guardian,   Calla Wahlquist,  30 Oct 20, Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has signed Kevin Rudd’s petition calling for a royal commission into News Corp’s dominance of the Australian media.Rudd, also a former Australian prime minister, launched the petition to the Australian parliament earlier this month, saying the media company employed tactics that “chill free speech and undermine public debate,” and calling for a royal commission to ensure a strong and diverse news media in the face of “new business models that encourage deliberately polarising and politically manipulated news”.

Both Rudd and Turnbull faced negative campaigns from News Corp during their time in office.

On Sunday, Turnbull shared that he had signed the petition.

“Kevin has done well to get this petition going,” he said on Twitter. “I doubt it will result in a Royal Commission and Murdoch’s print monopoly (since 1987) is only part of the problem. But I have signed it and encourage others to do so.”

Rudd said it was “good to have you on board”.

In Australia, there is no requirement for the parliament to respond to a petition once it reaches a certain number of signatures. Rudd told Guardian Australia that he knew it was unlikely the current federal government would respond.

“Obviously, the beneficiaries of the Murdoch protection racket, the Liberal National party, will not do that [act],” he said. “It will take some time to convince the Labor party that it’s in their interest as well. That will be influenced directly by the volume of public support.”………. Rudd said News Corp’s owner, Rupert Murdoch, was a “virtual monopoly player” in Australia. In his home state of Queensland, which is currently in a state election campaign, every newspaper is owned by NewsCorp.

“This is a one-newspaper state, not just a one-newspaper town,” he said “And anyone who thinks that’s fair in terms of every side of politics having a fair go has got rocks in their head.”…….https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/oct/25/malcolm-turnbull-signs-kevin-rudds-petition-challenging-news-corp-media-dominance?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

October 30, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

The Guardian was grossly unfair to Julian Assange. They could still make up for this.

The Guardian’s Silence Let UK Trample on Assange’s Rights in Effective Darkness  https://consortiumnews.com/2020/10/21/the-guardians-silence-let-uk-trample-on-assanges-rights-in-effective-darkness/?fbclid=IwAR16w5kNgLGJ3jyFI6QvKZmxJ5tn_LjZcD90a7FOG-ZQ8jaGzUYKlhnRT8M

October 21, 2020  On the eve of a demonstration outside the paper’s office in London, Jonathan Cook issues a statement about The Guardian’s abandonment of its former media partner.  By Jonathan Cook

Jonathan-Cook.net   WISE Up, a solidarity group for Julian Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning, is due to stage a demonstration outside The Guardian offices on Oct. 22 to protest the paper’s failure to support Assange as the U.S. seeks his extradition in an unprecedented assault on press freedom.

The date chosen for the protest marks the 10th anniversary of The Guardian’s publication of the Iraq war logs, leaked by Manning to Assange and which lie at the heart of the U.S. case to reclassify journalism exposing crimes against humanity as “espionage.”

Here is my full statement, part of which is due to be read out, in support of Assange and castigating The Guardian for its craven failure to speak up in solidarity with its former media partner:  

Julian Assange has been hounded out of public life and public view by the U.K.  and U.S.  governments for the best part of a decade.

Now he languishes in a small, airless cell in Belmarsh high-security prison in London — a victim of arbitrary detention, according to a UN working group, and a victim of psychological torture, according to Nils Melzer, the UN’s expert on torture.

If Judge Vanessa Baraitser, presiding in the Central Criminal Court in London, agrees to extradition, as she gives every appearance of preparing to do, Assange will be the first journalist to face a terrifying new ordeal — a form of extraordinary rendition to the United States for “espionage” — for having the courage to publish documents that exposed U.S.  war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Guardian worked with Assange and WikiLeaks on vitally important documents – now at the heart of the U.S.  case against Assange – known as the Afghanistan and Iraq war logs. The latter were published exactly a decade ago today. They were a journalistic coup of global significance, and the paper ought to be profoundly proud of its role in bringing them to public attention.

During Assange’s extradition hearing, however, The Guardian treated the logs and its past association with Assange and WikiLeaks more like a dirty secret it hoped to keep out of sight. Those scoops furnished by Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning enriched the paper financially, and bolstered its standing internationally. They also helped to pave its path into the lucrative U.S.  market.

Unlike Assange and Manning, The Guardian has suffered no consequences for publishing the logs. Unlike Assange and Manning, the paper has faced no retribution. While it profited, Assange continues to be made an example of — to deter other journalists from contemplating following in his footsteps.

The Guardian owes Assange.

  • It owes him a huge debt for allowing it to share in the journalistic glory of WikiLeaks’ revelations.
  • It owes him a duty of care as its partner in publishing the logs.
  • It owes him its voice loudly denouncing the abuse of a fellow journalist for doing the essence of journalism — holding the powerful to account.
  • It owes him and its own staff, and the young journalists who will one day take their place, its muscle in vigorously defending the principle of a strong and free press.
  • It owes him, and the rest of us, a clear profession of its outrage as the U.S. conducts an unprecedented assault on free speech, the foundation of a democratic society.

And yet The Guardian has barely raised its voice above a whisper as the noose has tightened around Assange’s — and by extension, our — neck. It has barely bothered to cover the dramatic and deeply disturbing developments of last month’s extradition hearing, or the blatant abuses of legal process overseen by Baraitser.

The Guardian has failed to raise its editorial voice in condemnation either of the patently dishonest U.S.  case for extradition or of the undisguised mistreatment of Assange by Britain’s legal and judicial authorities.

The paper’s many columnists ignored the proceedings too, except for those who contributed yet more snide and personal attacks of the kind that have typified The Guardian’s coverage of Assange for many years.

It is not too late for the paper to act in defence of Assange and journalism.

Assange’s rights are being trampled under foot close by The Guardian’s offices in London because the British establishment knows that these abuses are taking place effectively in darkness. It has nothing to fear as long as the media abdicates its responsibility to scrutinize what amounts to the biggest attack on journalism in living memory.

Were The Guardian to shine a light on Assange’s case — as it is morally obligated to do — the pressure would build on other media organizations, not least the BBC, to do their job properly too. The British establishment would finally face a countervailing pressure to the one being exerted so forcefully by the U.S.

The Guardian should have stood up for Assange long ago, when the threats he and investigative journalism faced became unmistakable. It missed that opportunity. But the threats to Assange — and the causes of transparency and accountability he champions — have not gone away. They have only intensified. Assange needs the Guardian’s support more urgently, more desperately than ever before.

Jonathan Cook is a former Guardian journalist (1994-2001) and winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. He is a freelance journalist based in Nazareth. If you appreciate his articles, please consider offering your financial support.

This article is from his blog Jonathan Cook.net. 

October 22, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

New government Bill could target journalists, environmental and human rights groups

October 20, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, media | Leave a comment

Persecuting Assange Is a Real Blow to Reporting and Human Rights Advocacy’

Persecuting Assange Is a Real Blow to Reporting and Human Rights Advocacy’
CounterSpin interview with Chip Gibbons on Assange extradition Fair, 15 Oct 20

JANINE JACKSON Janine Jackson interviewed Defending Rights & Dissent’s Chip Gibbons about Julian Assange’s extradition hearing for the October 9, 2020, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript.
CounterSpin Chip Gibbons Interview
Janine Jackson: If it were not for a tiny handful of journalists—ShadowProof’s Kevin Gosztola preeminent among them—Americans might be utterly unaware that a London magistrate, for the last month, has been considering nothing less than whether journalists have a right to publish information the US government doesn’t want them to. Not whether outlets can leak classified information, but whether they can publish that information on, as in the case  US war crimes and torture and assorted malfeasance to do with, for instance, the war on Afghanistan, which just entered its 19th year, with zero US corporateUS war crimes and torture and assorted malfeasance to do with, for instance, the war on Afghanistan, which just entered its 19th year, with zero US corporate media interest.

Assange’s case, the unprecedented use of the Espionage Act to go after a journalist, has dire implications for all reporters. But this country’s elite press corps have evidently decided they can simply whistle past it, perhaps hoping that if and when the state comes after them, they’ll make a more sympathetic victim.

Joining us now to discuss the case is Chip Gibbons. He’s policy director at Defending Rights & Dissent. He joins us now by phone from Washington, DC………..

CG: Sure. So the US has indicted Julian Assange with 17 counts under the Espionage Act, as well as a count under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Assange is not a US person; he’s an Australian national. He was inside the Ecuadorian embassy for a number of years, as Ecuador had granted him asylum, and the UK had refused to basically recognize that and let him leave the country, so he was de facto imprisoned inside the embassy. And after the indictment the US issued, the new government of Ecuador—which is much less sympathetic to Assange than the previous Correa government—let the US come in the embassy and seize him.

And the US is seeking Assange’s extradition to the US from the UK. I guess it’s, probably, technically a hearing, but Kevin’s point was that it’s more like what we would think of as a trial, in that there’s different witnesses, there’s expert testimony, there’s different legal arguments at stake.

The defense, the witness portion of it, has closed; it ended last week. And there’s going to be closing arguments submitted in writing, and then the judge will render a decision, and that decision will be appealable by either side. So regardless of the outcome, we can expect appeals. So it does very closely mirror what we would think of more like a trial than a hearing in the US court context.

It’s important to really understand what’s at stake with Assange’s extradition. He is the first person ever indicted by the US government under the Espionage Act for publishing truthful information.

The US government has considered indicting journalists before: They considered indicting Seymour Hersh, a very famous investigative reporter. They considered indicting James Bamford, because he had the audacity to try to write a book on the National Security Agency. But they’ve never done that.

And Obama’s administration looked at the idea of indicting Assange and said, “No, this would violate the First Amendment, and it would open the door to all kinds of other bad things.” But the Trump administration clearly doesn’t have those qualms……..

 It is very interesting to see how this plays out in a US court in the current environment. If whoever—Trump or  Biden, whoever is president, when this finally comes to the US—actually pursues this, and they actually are allowing the persecution of journalists, that’s going to be a really dark, dark assault on free expression rights. 

And it’s worth remembering—and Julian Assange is clearly very reviled in the corporate media and the political establishment right now—but the information he leaked came from Chelsea Manning, it dealt with US war crimes; and he worked with the New York Times, the GuardianDer Spiegel, Le MondeAl Jazeera, to publish this information. So if he can go to jail for publishing this, why can’t the New York Times? And is that a door anyone wants to open? There is a big press freedom angle here.

I also want to talk about the facts, though: What did Julian Assange publish, and why did it matter? ………..

Julian Assange is accused of publishing information about war crimes, about human rights abuses and about abuses of power, that have been tremendously important, not just for the public’s right to know, but also have made a real difference in advocacy around those issues. People were able to go and get justice for victims of rendition, or able to go and get court rulings in other countries about US drone strikes, because of this information being in the public domain. So attacking Assange, persecuting Assange, disappearing him into a supermax prison, this is a real blow to reporting and human rights advocacy. ………

JJ: Right. And, finally, the journalists who are holding their nose right now on covering it aren’t offering to give back the awards that they won based on reporting relying on WikiLeaks revelations. And James Risen had an op-ed in the New York Times a while back, in which he was talking about Glenn Greenwald, but also about Julian Assange, and he said that he thought that governments—he was talking about Bolsonaro in Brazil, as well as Donald Trump—that they’re trying out these anti-press measures and, he said, they “seem to have decided to experiment with such draconian anti- press tactics by trying them out first on aggressive and disagreeable figures.”………. https://fair.org/home/persecuting-assange-is-a-real-blow-to-reporting-and-human-rights-advocacy/

October 17, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, media, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Assange extradition case could esrablish a dangerous legal precedent

Crumbling Case Against Assange Shows Weakness of “Hacking” Charges Related to Whistleblowing

The charge against Assange is about establishing legal precedent to charge publishers with conspiring with their sources, something that so far the U.S. government has failed to do because of the First Amendment.

October 10, 2020 Micah Lee  THE INTERCEPT, By 2013, the Obama administration had concluded that it could not charge WikiLeaks or Julian Assange with crimes related to publishing classified documents — documents that showed, among other things, evidence of U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan — without criminalizing investigative journalism itself. President Barack Obama’s Justice Department called this the “New York Times problem,” because if WikiLeaks and Assange were criminals for publishing classified information, the New York Times would be just as guilty.

Five years later, in 2018, the Trump Administration indicted Assange anyway. But, rather than charging him with espionage for publishing classified information, they charged him with a computer crime, later adding 17 counts of espionage in a superseding May 2019 indictment.

The computer charges claimed that, in 2010, Assange conspired with his source, Chelsea Manning, to crack an account on a Windows computer in her military base, and that the “primary purpose of the conspiracy was to facilitate Manning’s acquisition and transmission of classified information.” The account enabled internet file transfers using a protocol known as FTP.

New testimony from the third week of Assange’s extradition trial makes it increasingly clear that this hacking charge is incredibly flimsy. The alleged hacking not only didn’t happen, according to expert testimony at Manning’s court martial hearing in 2013 and again at Assange’s extradition trial last week, but it also couldn’t have happened.

The new testimony, reported earlier this week by investigative news site Shadowproof, also shows that Manning already had authorized access to, and the ability to exfiltrate, all of the documents that she was accused of leaking — without receiving any technical help from WikiLeaks. …….

the charge is not actually about hacking — it’s about establishing legal precedent to charge publishers with conspiring with their sources, something that so far the U.S. government has failed to do because of the First Amendment………

Whether or not you believe Assange is a journalist is beside the point. The New York Times just published groundbreaking revelations from two decades of Donald Trump’s taxes showing obscene tax avoidance, massive fraud, and hundreds of millions of dollars of debt.

Trump would like nothing more than to charge the New York Times itself, and individual journalists that reported that story, with felonies for conspiring with their source. This is why the precedent in Assange’s case is so important: If Assange loses, the Justice Department will have established new legal tactics with which to go after publishers for conspiring with their sources. https://portside.org/2020-10-10/crumbling-case-against-assange-shows-weakness-hacking-charges-related-whistleblowing

October 12, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, media, politics international | Leave a comment