A bad day for Donald Trump at the United Nations as the world laughs at his self-congratulatory claims

The President of the United States addressed United Nations yesterday, claiming that his administration “has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.”

There was audible laughter through the General Assembly. He was surprised by the response

“Didn’t expect that reaction,” Mr. Trump said, “but that’s O.K.”

What did he expect?  Is he now so isolated from the outside world that he has no idea what the leaders of other nations think of him?

The General Assembly of the United Nations is a far cry from the hand-picked crowds that he normally addresses at his rallies so you would have expected him to have changed the script. But he didn’t and he paid the price.

Many Americans must be ashamed that their President is making such a fool of himself on the international stage.

And Trump will be furious. He doesn’t like being mocked or ridiculed and this was  mockery and ridicule of the highest order.

Michelle Guthrie’s sacking shows political interference in the ABC of the highest and worst order.

As details of Michelle Guthrie’s sacking become clearer, two things become obvious. Firstly, that she was probably a very bad appointment and not very good at her job when she was there.

Secondly, her sacking was clearly at the behest of the then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and relayed to ABC chairman Justin Milne.

Turnbull’s intervention appears to be motivated by a article that Alberici wrote that was critical of the government’s industry and technology policy.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of Guthrie’s appointment and sacking, Turnbull’s intervention demonstrates a complete contempt for the independence of the ABC not only on his part but on the part of the government. It also shows a government that is not prepared to tolerate critical analysis of its policies  by journalists employed by the national broadcaster.

Many people would see this as an attempt to intimidate journalists particularly those employed at  the ABC and certainly an attempt to stifle criticism of the ruling party.

Turnbull has been a journalist himself and he should know better.

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How far this man has fallen from grace!

He came to the party leadership supported by many Australians who believed that his attitudes on a wide range of social and economic issues would lead to more tolerant government than that run by his predecessor, Tony Abbott.

He departed his position deposed by the very right wing forces for whom he had become a mouthpiece.

And now

Justin Milne faces mounting pressure to resign after it was revealed he told former managing director Michelle Guthrie to “get rid of” a reporter.

 

 

World Anti-Doping Agency doesn’t understand the entrenched nature of drug cheating in Russian athletics.

We will never know the true extent of Russian drug doping in athletics there is no doubt that many clean competitors lost out to drug cheats. The sad thing is that given the involvement of Russian government in doping athletes, many of these may not have had a choice.

Mariya Savinova-Farnosova (right) and bronze medalist Ekaterina Poistogova, Olga Kaniskina, Anna Chicherova, Nadzeya Ostapchuk, Tatyana Chernova,, Alexander Krushelnitsky, Nadezhda Sergeeva (right) and Anastasia Kocherzhova, Sergey Kirdyapkin and Alexander Krushelnitksy to name but a few

The Age reports:: The World Anti-Doping Agency’s credibility lay in tatters on Thursday night as its decision to remove drug-cheat sanctions against Russia was branded the “greatest treachery against clean athletes in Olympic history”.

Nine of 12 WADA executives voted Moscow back into the sporting fold after ignoring a tidal wave of global criticism that the nation has yet to atone for its state-sponsored drugs scandal.

Apparently, the Russians have been readmitted on the basis that they will make their lab test results available to WADA.

The entrenched connection between RUSADA (the Russian drug testing agency) and Russian security forces and the government has been made clear.

Rusada was deemed non-compliant in November 2015. Richard McLaren, a Canadian law professor, published a report revealing that Russian anti-doping officials helped athletes take performance-enhancing drugs over several years and that government and security officials assisted in the cover-up of failed tests. (The AGE)

Does WADA seriously believe that the results they will be allowed to see will be genuine ones?

If they do the organisation and WADA’s president, Sir Craig Reedie, are exceptionally naïve.

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WADA president Craig Reedie is under fire. Photo: AP

 The solution is actually quite simple.

If the Russians want to come back to international athletics, then they must let some independent body do the drug testing of Russian athletes.

 

Post Script WADA’s anti-doping fight has been sacrificed on the altar of politics

Senator David Leyonhjelm”s flimsy defence of his defamation of Sarah Hanson-Young deserves to be dismissed.

The Age reports: Lawyers acting for Liberal Democratic Party senator David Leyonhjelm say his “stop shagging men” comment was “much more likely” to benefit Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young’s re-election prospects than to damage her reputation, as he fights a defamation case filed against him in the Federal Court.

Leyonhjelm”s comment was made in the belief that Hanson-Young had said that all men were rapists, in which case, apparently, Leyonhjelm”s view was that was that she should stop shagging them.

Hanson-Young was clearly not impressed. Nor were ex-PM Malcolm Turnbull and Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten both of whom condemned Leyonhjelm”s comments and called on him to apologise and withdraw them.

Leyonhjelm’s defence of his behaviour appears to be that “bad publicity is better than no publicit”. More subtly, that the incident has given Hanson-Young the opportunity to  portrayed himself as as a defender of a women’s right to avoid being slandered by misogynistic and sexist men.

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It’s hard to understand why Leyonhjelm did this.

Like him or loathe him, he is a smart  political operator. He realises that he was elected to the Senate by mistake (most voters thinking, erroneously, that he was standing for the Liberal party) and must now  maintain his political profile if he to have any chance of re-election.

As a Libertarian, he has been remarkably consistent: introducing private members bill to support same-sex marriage and opposing restrictions on the sale of cigarettes and firearms. He also attracted criticism after he suggested women’s sport was not “interesting enough” to receive government funding (Wikipedia).

His political stance is not without its ironies. “Leyonhjelm supports the removal of the words “offend” and “insult” from Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, arguing that “offence is always taken, not given”. Upon being described as an “angry white male” for seeking to amend Section 18C, Leyonhjelm lodged a complaint with the Human Rights Commission, arguing that this is a breach of 18C.” (Wikipedia).

Notwithstanding this, he is probably the kind of thorn that every government needs to have  in its side.

20160222001231562504-original-960x540.jpgSource The New Daily

 

Smart move by Shorten on women’s superannuation

The Age reports: Labor will pledge a financial boost for more than 160,000 women in a new policy that aims to narrow the gap between women’s and men’s superannuation savings for retirement. 

Labor leader Bill Shorten with female members of his frontbench. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

The Labor scheme would deliver a top-up payment for thousands of super accounts every year for those on parental leave, addressing one of the factors that leaves women with about 60 per cent of the retirement savings of men.

 The policy announcement addresses an injustice has existed in superannuation scheme  forever, so it scores highly on Labor’s credentials in addressing social and economic inequities.

It’s very smart politics because it comes at a time when the Coalition is bogged down in scandal and recrimination in relation to its treatment of women. He is a Labor Party with an initiative which shows them taking practical steps to address inequalities in the workplace.

It’s also very smart politics because it will be very difficult for the Coalition to argue against it without looking as if it has a tin year when it comes to addressing problems of women in the workforce.

And as the picture shows, there’s Bill surrounded by all the happy women on his frontbench.  Just to rub  a bit of salt in the wound.

When will Morrison understand the damage that the Dutton au pair scandal is doing

It’s getting worse.

The Age reports Dutton wanted au pair visa within an hour, Senate inquiry told

The office of then-immigration minister Peter Dutton demanded an au pair detained at Brisbane Airport be given “urgent” consideration for a visa – preferably within an hour.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Emails provided to a Senate inquiry on Wednesday show Mr Dutton’s then-office asked the department to prepare a ministerial intervention briefing for the woman, Italian au pair Michela Marchisio.

“This is urgent. The minister requires this submission tonight (preferably in the next hour as he has an appointment at 7.30pm),” the email from Mr Dutton’s departmental liaison officer said.

Morrison seems to have misjudged the situation just as Tony Abbott did with Bronwyn Bishop.

And Malcolm Turnbull did with Barnaby Joyce.

Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet.

China’s high tech “Social Credit” system makes Orwell’s “1984” a reality

In George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, the citizens are constantly reminded that ” Big Brother is watching you.” Big Brother heads a state where the “Thought Police”  persecute individualism and independent thinking.

Eric Arthur Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell

The citizen are under constant video surveillance. Winston Smith, the protagonist of 1984, is doing his compulsory morning exercises in front of the TV. He stops exercising for a rest  and the two way video camera in his TV picks this up and the instructor urges Smith to keep up, humiliating him in front of the other exercising citizens.

Much of 1984, which was published in 1949 has proved apocryphal.

Such a system is becoming a reality in China.

The ABC reports

Social credit is like a personal scorecard for each of China’s 1.4 billion citizens.

In one pilot program already in place, each citizen has been assigned a score out of 800. In other programs it’s 900.

Those, like Dandan Fan who is very much the modern Chinese woman

and a marketing professional, she’s diligent and prosperous — in many ways she’s a model Chinese citizen., with top “citizen scores” get VIP treatment at hotels and airports, cheap loans and a fast track to the best universities and jobs.

Those at the bottom can be locked out of society and banned from travel, or barred from getting credit or government jobs.

The system will be enforced by the latest in high-tech surveillance systems as China pushes to become the world leader in artificial intelligence. Surveillance cameras will be equipped with facial recognition, body scanning and geo-tracking to cast a constant gaze over every citizen. Within years, an official Party outline claims, it will “allow the trustworthy to roam freely under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step”

Dandan doesn’t object to the prospect of life under the state’s all-seeing surveillance network.

The 36-year-old knows social credit is not a perfect system but believes it’s the best way to manage a complex country with the world’s biggest population.

“I think people in every country want a stable and safe society,” she says.

“If, as our government says, every corner of public space is installed with cameras, I’ll feel safe.”

She’s also likely to benefit from the system as will her children.

The system has three categories. For anyone who falls into the bottom category of Untrustworthy,  there are flight bans and bands in high-speed train travel, exclusion from the mortgage market, exclusion from private schools, slow internet connection, exclusion from high prestige work, exclusion from hotel, and registration on a public blacklist.  Ultimately, so if people denied any of the social and economic benefits of Chinese society

The activities of your friends and families can also affect your Social Credit rating.

There is no appeal against your rating.

Within a decade, China will has become a digital dictatorship.

 

 

Liberal MPs between a rock and a hard place over Peter Dutton.

It would appear that not all of the Liberal members of Parliament are hundred percent  behind Peter Dutton and his claims that he was validly elected and should not be referred to the High Court over a conflict of interest under Section 44 (v) of the constitution.

The Age reports: Asked whether Mr Dutton should refer himself to the court, Ms Bishop said this was up to the Home Affairs Minister. “We all have personal responsibility to ensure we are eligible to sit in the Parliament,’’ she said. ‘‘We’ve seen in recent times steps taken by members of Parliament to clarify their status.

In a contrast with the government’s strong defence of Mr Dutton, Ms Bishop said if a vote was called on his fate, “I will make up my mind at that time”.

She has little to lose and crossing the floor. The same applies to Victorian MP Julia Banks announced she was quitting politics.

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The reason for Banks’ departure is that is that she found bullying and intimidation leading up to the challenge to Malcolm Turnbull the last straw. It is highly likely she does not look kindly on Peter Dutton or his supporters.

 The real problem for Morrison is that in the August 23 vote, Labor gained support from crossbenchers Adam Bandt, Cathy McGowan, Rebekha Sharkie and Andrew Wilkie to refer Mr Dutton to the court. This suggests Labor could succeed on a second attempt if two Liberals crossed the floor or abstained.

There are no doubt a lot of people are keen to exact some form of revenge on Dutton, firstly his abortive coup and secondly for misleading them on the support of his numbers, leading some to make damaging public statements of loyalty Dutton.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Jobs and Innovation Minister Michaelia Cash and Communications Minister Mitch Fifield withdraw their support for Malcolm Turnbull.

Dutton’s  ham-fisted attempt at a leadership challenge made them look politically inept, disloyal and opportunistic. They won’t be very happy  with Peter Dutton despite being included in the cabinet by the new PM.

The easy way out of this would be for Dutton to refer himself to the High Court, thus avoiding the prospect of the government being defeated on the floor of the House.

But Dutton has steadfastly maintained he has no conflict of interest over his wife’s ownership of the day care centre and to do so would be a tremendous loss of face for a man whose political credibility is already lying in tatters.

So the dilemma for the Parliamentary Liberal party is:

Do we cross the floor and refer Dutton to the High Court in the hope that only good and finding and an unsuccessful attempt to hold his seat of Dickson  will rid the party of a man who was becoming, and will continue to be, a huge political reliability?

Or do we follow the party line, support Dutton and PM for the sake of party loyalty and unity and suffer what may be a significant backlash in the electorate?

Couldn’t happen to nicer people!

Congratulations Alex Ellinghausen – Press Gallery Journalist of the Year

Fairfax Media’s Alex Ellinghausen has been named Press Gallery Journalist of the Year – the first time a photographer has won Australia’s most prestigious award for political journalism.

“His work goes to the psychology and mood of the people in his images – both those who tread the political stage and others beyond the nation’s capital.” said the judges.

Here is today’s photograph from The Age of ex-Foreign minister, Julie Bishop.

A picture is worth a thousand words:  the exit, the empty chair, the designer clothes,  the enigmatic gaze. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

One part of Ellinghausen’s work that was particularly impressive was the way he captured the relationship between Peta Credlin and Tony Abbott.

As well as the rather often more fractious relationship between Krugman and Abbott’s ministers.

He has also captured many memorable moments in the Parliament.

As well as some of its endearing and less than endearing characters.

 

What is it about Canberra that turns politicians into arrant hypocrites?

We have had a number of incidents of unbelievable hypocrisy in Canberra recently.

The first involves serial offender Tony Abbott  who, inflamed with righteous indignation, anger and later a thirst for revenge, railed against the party replacing an elected Prime Minister, namely him. There was no such righteous indignation and anger when he voted to replace an elected Prime Minister, having worked assiduously for his downfall during the lead up to the leadership spill.

You can call it poetic justice, what goes around comes around, whatever if you like. But if it’s a principle that you hold dearly, then you should hold to it.

The second involves the ex-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.  While Prime Minister, Turnbull voted against referring one of his ministers, Peter Dutton, to the High Court over whether Mr Dutton has a conflict of interest under Section 44 (v) of the constitution.

Now, no longer the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull is lobbying members of the Parliamentary Liberal party and new prime minister to refer Dutton to the High Court.

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Why this sudden change of heart?

If Dutton were to be disqualified and lose his seat, the government would lose its one seat majority in the House.  Dutton holds his seat of Dickson by a slender 1.6% majority Given that the government is trailing labour by 8% in the polls, there is a strong likelihood that Dutton would not be returned.

If  this scenario were to prove true, and Liberals lose Wentworth which is a distinct possibility, then the Morrison government would lose its majority on the floor of the house.

Poetic justice, what goes around comes around.

The third reported in the SMH  involves Sussan Ley and Sarah Henderson and their support for a ban on live sheep exports.

“They threatened to cross the floor to stop the trade they felt was so heinous. But when it came to a vote on Monday, Liberal MPs Sussan Ley and Sarah Henderson staged a change of heart and used their deciding votes to prevent a debate on a ban on the live animal export trade.”

The vote was lost 70 – 72 meaning that if Ley and Henderson had stood by their principles live sheep exports would have been banned.

Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories Sussan Ley, with ministers Kelly O’Dwyer and Melissa Price during a division on the live export bill on Monday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

It was clearly an example of the pressure to conform to the party line that made them change their mind. Who knows what threats were made if they crossed the floor and voted with Labor and the Greens?

As one correspondent to the SMH wrote “Ley and Henderson are disgrace to woman and sheep all over the world.”

What these three sorry incidents demonstrate is the difference between private  conscience and party loyalty. It also demonstrates that party loyalty would appear to win   in almost all cases.  To paraphrase an old saying, “In the race of politics, put your money on party loyalty ahead of individual conscience every time.”

Is it because the stakes are so high? That the government will lose power if there is the slightest deviation or defection from the party line?  Undoubtedly, this is the case.

It would appear that the days when people were elected to parliament because, as individuals, they were a reflection of the views values and beliefs of their communities, are now long gone.  Such people were elected on the assumption that they would hold to the principles.