The Manus Island/Nauru deal with the US may be a mixed blessing

The Australian Government has signed up with the outgoing Obama administration to swap the remaining refugees on Manus and Nauru for an undesignated group of refugees/prisoners held in the USA. It looks as if the Trump administration will honour the deal.


The advantage of this is that it gives the poor souls who have been left to rot in these hell holes because of the inhumane policies of successive Australian governments will have some hope of a civilised existence.

One down side is that the Australian public does not know exactly what it is getting in return. It may be that we are getting a group of prisoners who have been fighting for ISIS in the Middle East and who been held in US military prisons. Such a group of people, well-trained soldiers, devoted Islamic militants, embittered by years of imprisonment in US detention are exactly the kinds of people we are trying to keep out of the country.  They will bring all their hatred of Western civilisation to Australia.


That would seem to be a very bad swap for a small group of people who were only seeking to escape persecution in their own countries and were unlucky enough to have wound up being caught on a leaky boat and who probably would have been good Australian citizens.

Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton should be upfront with the Australian people about what the Manu/Nauru deal with US government entails and remember the old adage “he who sups with the devil should eat with a very long spoon.”

The other downside is that we will have to put up was a huge amount of gloating about “keeping our borders safe” which may not actually be the case.


People of the free world rejoice, peace is at hand.

It has become clear from numerous posts and media reports that the President of the US has made it quite clear that the distinction between threats to world peace (terrorist nations) and non-terrorist nations are those that have Trump Towers and Trump golf courses.


So we should be greatly reassured by the fact that his sons who are now running the character Trump Empire and who are also White House advisors plan  a vast and rapid expansion of the Trump Empire.


So, instead of carpet-bombing we will have carpet golf coursing and Trump Towers springing up like malignant mushrooms all over the Middle East bringing with them everlasting peace.


I’m surprised I didn’t see this earlier.

Whose job is to stand up for Pouya Ghadirian, Malcolm?

Malcolm Turnbull has said he will not criticise Trump’s selective travel bans on Muslim Nationals.


Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has refused to join other world leaders in criticising Donald Trump’s harsh new immigration measures, saying he would not “run a commentary on the domestic policies of other countries”.


 Donald Trump reportedly on the phone to Malcolm Turnbull


Pouya Ghadirian is an Australian-born, Australian passport holder Melbourne High School student denied a travel visa to the US for a school science trip because Donald Trump thinks he is a terrorist.

Asked why he had not spoken up for Australian citizens facing discriminatory treatment by the US, Turnbull insisted “it is not my job”.

 When it comes to the pub test, “Weak prick,” is hardly commendation, Malcolm.


It is time to reconsider travel to the US?

A Melbourne schoolboy claims to be the first Australian denied a US visa following President Donald Trump’s controversial entry bans. Pouya Ghadirian, 15, was born in Australia but holds dual Iranian-Australian citizenship by descent. Mr Trump has issued an executive order banning the US from taking in people from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.

This is the human face of the bans on travel to the US.  My son went to this school. Many of his classmates would have been in the same position as Pouya Ghadirian.

We are considering a trip up the coast of Norway later this year then on to New York and San Francisco. This would include a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of New York that great icon of American civilisation and culture.


Probably not now. America is now entering a world of US and Them and, along with a lot of the rest of the world, we seem to be in with the Thems.

The world, and particularly America, is entering a time of darkness, the scars which may last for decades. How the American people will deal with this is unclear but they must do it without help from the outside world and it may be best that we leave them to deal with it on their own.

It will be a time of great division  for those in America and great sadness and those outside.

Australia’s Prime Minister takes courageous stance in supporting Donald Trump.

In contrast to the leaders of Britain, Germany, France and Canada, Mr Turnbull declined to condemn or express disagreement with the new US executive order, which imposes a range restrictions – some temporary and some indefinite – on refugee intakes and other immigration to the US. This includes a three-month ban on virtually all citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries entering the US.

images-4Leaders of the Free World

So bad it is almost unspeakable: Donald Trump’s Muslim ban excludes countries in which he has business ties

The Age reports: In the 40 years to 2015, not a single American was killed on US soil by citizens from any of the seven countries targeted – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen – according to research by the conservative-leaning Cato Institute.

But the same research shows that in the same period nearly 3000 Americans were killed by citizens of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Turkey — most victims of the September 11 attacks.

Trump has multimillion-dollar business operations in all those countries.

In 2015, he registered eight hotel-related companies in Saudi Arabia, according to The Washington Post; in Turkey, two luxury towers in Istanbul are licensed to use his name; in Egypt, he has two companies; and in the UAE, he has naming and management deals for two golf courses.

And then Amid mounting chaos a US federal judge issued an emergency stay that temporarily blocked the government from sending people out of the country after they have landed at a US airport with valid visas.

And despite this Malcolm Turnbull confident about US refugee deal despite Trump order. Which must get the “If pigs had wings” award of the week.


Donald Trump, border taxes and international manufacturing

It’s becoming increasingly clear that Donald PG Trump is a man of pretty limited understanding.  Like the Donald, many people may not understand how large-scale international motorcar manufacturing actually works.


The big companies such as VW, Ford, Toyota, Honda, General Motors, Mitsubishi et get don’t just build motorcars in a great big factory any longer. They manufacture components in different parts of the world and move them around to various points where they assembled them. It’s a complicated process that involves trade-offs between tariff barriers and various forms of debt and tax liability transfer. One of the advantages of production in Mexico is that Mexico has free trade agreements with a large number of countries, so exporting from Mexico is advantageous.


It’s also advantageous to assemble motorcars in countries that have no tariff barriers. The problem in imposing a 30% tariff barrier on Mexican goods coming into the US is that Mexico will impose a 30% tariff on US goods (such as car components) coming into Mexico in retaliation. This means that Ford components coming into Mexico for assembly will attracted 30% tax and once assembled and exported back into US will attract another 30% tax. That’s a total of 60% added to the price of the Ford motorcar.

What Donald doesn’t seem to understand is who pays the 60%. It’s the person who buys the motorcar. The American consumer.

He also doesn’t seem to understand that if those motorcars are exporting to Europe, they will be 30% more expensive as a result of the tariffs imposed as they cross the Mexican border. That makes US exports to Europe more expensive and less competitive. That’s the whole point of free trade. But the Donald thinks tariff barriers protect US jobs and make US products more competitive.

 The Germans will love Trump’s trade wars with Mexico

 Australians would be pretty happy about a trade war between China and America as well


Building a wall of avocado and other economic and engineering idiocies

Okay, it’s not that simple but when it comes to idiocy it helps to keep it simple.


As a general principle it’s best that governments don’t interfere in the marketplace. Markets tend to find their own balance when left to their own devices. More or less. So the avocado market in the US is probably in some kind of balance between the locally produced  fruit and imported fruit from Mexico. Say around $1 for argument’s sake.


The Donald puts a 30% tax on the Mexican fruit.

Two things can happen.

Next day, American avocados are $1 on the supermarket shelves and the Mexican ones are $1.30. All the American ones sell out and the American consumers buy some of the Mexican ones, albeit pretty unhappily, at a $1.30.

Pretty soon most of the Mexican producers stop sending their avocados to the US supermarkets and they go out of business. The price of American avocados rises to a $1.20. The American producers are very happy.

The Mexican producers, who can afford the $0.30 of the Donald’s tax, are paying $0.10  and American consumers are paying the other $0.20.

The American consumers are not happy with the Donald.

The other thing that can happen is that the very efficient Mexican producers can absorb the 30% tax and keep selling their avocados at $1. This will produce a shortage of avocados and force the price up. Probably to $1.20 and the effect be the same as scenario one.

There is an interesting counterintuitive effect.

With the rising price of avocados and the exit from the market of Mexican producers, some American producers may be tempted to expand their production.This will require a supply of cheap Mexican labour. However, they will not have access to cheap Mexican labour because the Donald will have built a wall that will have stopped the flow of cheap Mexican labour.


This is what happens when an economic illiterate is elected to the presidency of America.

When should we celebrate Australia Day?

Currently it’s today, the 26th of January when the First Fleet of 11 convict ships arrived from Great Britain. Single events tend to have symbolic significance and history tends to be written by the victors.


So Australia Day is 26th of January.

Now maybe it’s time to consider whether a different view of history may include something more than that of the victors and that celebration of Australian Day may be more than just a celebration of the beginning of white settlement.

So there are suggestions that moving Australia Day from 26 January, which Indigenous Australians regard as Invasion Day, may be useful step towards reconciliation.

Naturally enough, therewill be heated debate on this issue. More heat than light.

The former industry, resources and science minister Ian Macfarlane suggested that the national day should move “to remove a potential roadblock to reconciliation and a greater Australiathat the day was inherently divisive because it commemorated what many Indigenous Australians regard as an invasion .. and that as a conservative, Anglo-Celtic Australian, I want to play a part in the push to changing the date of Australia Day. I believe it is an important way to prevent a potential schism in Australia’s society and to remove a potential roadblock to reconciliation and a greater Australia.”


He said Australians could not be united around the national day because, to some, it represents “terrible wrongdoings”.

The other side of the argument was put with the rapier -like logic and clarity so frequently associated with his public pronouncements by the Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the National Country Party, Barnaby Joyce.


Mr Joyce told Sydney radio station 2GB he gets “sick of these people who every time, every time there’s something on, they just want to make you feel guilty”.

“They don’t like Christmas, they don’t like Australia Day, they’re just miserable gutted people and I wish they would crawl under a rock and hide for a little bit,” the Nationals leader said, calling on people to stop “weeping and gnashing your teeth about me about the terrible evils we have done”.

“This is Australia Day and if you don’t like it, I don’t know mate, go to work, do something else.”

Well said, Barnaby.

Richard II and the nature of kingship (ii)

The case against Richard

In the first half of Richard II, Richard has demonstrated quite clearly that he is not a good king. In abrogating the property rights of the banished Bolingbroke, he has left his own claim to the Crown open to challenge.

There have been some good bad King Richards


 Ian Mckellen

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 Jeremy Irons

 Both beautiful, effete, delicate and doomed.

No sooner has he seized Bolingbroke’s lands, that Richard’s troubles begin.  With typical dramatic economy Shakespeare has Northumberland outlining the case against Richard as soon as he has left the stage.

No good at all that I can do for him;
Unless you call it good to pity him,
Bereft and gelded of his patrimony.

Northumberland: Now, afore God, ’tis shame such wrongs are borne
In him, a royal prince, and many moe
Of noble blood in this declining land.
The king is not himself, but basely led
By flatterers; and what they will inform,
Merely in hate, ‘gainst any of us all,
That will the king severely prosecute
‘Gainst us, our lives, our children, and our heirs.

And daily new exactions are devised

The Earl of Wiltshire hath the realm in farm

The king’s grown bankrupt, like a broken man

The nature of the usurper

No one is safe from Richard’s depredations and Bolingbroke will provide a lightning rod.  Richard’s problems are compounded by the fact that Bolingbroke possesses all the qualities that Richard lacks.


Once Bolingbroke returns to England, there is an inexorable shift of power away from Richard and we witness a personal tragedy of a man who would be king but who has none of the qualities that would make him king.

In Act II Sc iii we see Bolingbroke,  who is a marked contrast to the overweening king of the opening scenes of the play. It is no wonder that the nobles are flocking to him. Young Percy comes to meet his father who is travel telling with Bolingbroke.

Have you forgot the Duke of Hereford, boy?

Percy: No, my good lord, for that is not forgot
Which ne’er I did remember: to my knowledge,
I never in my life did look on him.

Then learn to know him now; this is the duke.

Percy: My gracious lord, I tender you my service,
Such as it is, being tender, raw and young:
Which elder days shall ripen and confirm
To more approved service and desert.

Bolingbroke: I thank thee, gentle Percy; and be sure
I count myself in nothing else so happy
As in a soul remembering my good friends;
And, as my fortune ripens with thy love,
It shall be still thy true love’s recompense:
My heart this covenant makes, my hand thus seals it.

The insurgency and York’s dilemma

Hard on Percy’s heels comes the Regent, the Duke of York, Bolingbroke’s uncle. He is in a difficult position. It is his duty, as Regent to defend Richard’s crown against Bolingbroke who is essentially a rebel having been banished.  But he is not happy with what Richard has done in seizing Gaunt’s land and dispossessing Bolingbroke.


And has told Richard so

Take Hereford’s rights away, and take from Time
His charters and his customary rights;
Let not to-morrow then ensue to-day;
Be not thyself; for how art thou a king
But by fair sequence and succession?
Now, afore God–God forbid I say true!–
If you do wrongfully seize Hereford’s rights,
Call in the letters patent that he hath
By his attorneys-general to sue
His livery, and deny his offer’d homage,
You pluck a thousand dangers on your head,
You lose a thousand well-disposed hearts
And prick my tender patience, to those thoughts
Which honour and allegiance cannot think.

but when Bolingbrook kneels before him York says with dark humour

Tut, tut!
Grace me no grace, nor uncle me no uncle:
I am no traitor’s uncle; and that word ‘grace.’
In an ungracious mouth is but profane.
Why have those banish’d and forbidden legs
Dared once to touch a dust of England’s ground?
But then more ‘why?’ why have they dared to march
So many miles upon her peaceful bosom,
Frighting her pale-faced villages with war
And ostentation of despised arms?
Comest thou because the anointed king is hence?
Why, foolish boy, the king is left behind,
And in my loyal bosom lies his power.

Bolingbroke puts his case succinctly

As I was banish’d, I was banish’d Hereford;
But as I come, I come for Lancaster.

If that my cousin king be King of England,
It must be granted I am Duke of Lancaster.

And therefore, personally I lay my claim
To my inheritance of free descent.

York has neither military power nor the will to resist

Things past redress are now with me past care.

When the Welsh desert Richard, he has no military power with which to resist Bolingbroke.  If there is one thing that Richard II makes clear, it is that  military might makes a king. There are other qualities and Bolingbroke possesses almost all of them but first and foremost is military power.