In Indonesian immigration detention centres there are families living in spaces smaller than half of Malcolm Turnbull’s swimming pool

 

On the ABC news last night there was coverage of the condition in Indonesian immigration detention centres were whole families live behind a curtain,  living and sleeping on the floor in a single space.

There is no furniture, there is little space for children to play and there are no toys for the children play with.

There is also little hope that  these families will ever get out of this situation.

You wonder if Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten can find some space in their black hearts, some small ounce of compassion to initiate legislation that would allow these poor souls to come to Australia.

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They won’t take up much space.

 

Here’s a way to balance the Australian Federal budget.

The editorial in The Age Australia is being gouged by gas industry today states: “In the past decade, the worth of Australia’s gas exports has grown from about $5 billion to $60 billion, putting the nation on track to eclipse Qatar as the world’s leading liquefied natural gas exporter by 2020. Australia will collect $800 million in revenue and taxes, as against the almost $27 billion Qatar collects.”

The Treasurer, Scott Morrison has ordered a review of the current situation but it would seem pretty obvious that, given the high price of gas in Australia that the Australian taxpayer is being screwed over twice: first by paying higher prices than people overseas  Who use export of Australian gas and secondly by receiving approximately 4% of the revenue that the next biggest global exporter of gas receives.

A windfall $27 billion between now and 2020 would go a long towards balancing the Federal budget and is probably a better option than the Tony Abbott/Joe Hockey alternative of giving old age pensioners and the unemployed a good whacking. It is such an obviously good idea you have to wonder why successful governments since Paul Keating, when the current tax regime was first introduced, haven’t done something about it.

Why we should cut Ivanka Trump a bit of slack. No, just listen.

Ivanka Trump’s faults are manifest and widely publicised. There has been a lot of criticism of her role as an advisor to the US President. Not the least of which is that she is out of her league. But that’s often the problem with nepotism.

Ivanka watches on as Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde discusses economics with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

She copped a fair bit of flak for taking his seat at the conference table when he nicked off, ostensibly, to meet the President of Indonesia. But she’s probably been used to filling in for him when he disappears without warning for years. It was probably just a reflex response.

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But enough of this carping criticism.

Ivanka has a number of strikes against her, none of which are her fault.

  1. Her father is Donald Trump.
  2. Her father is President of the US.
  3. Her father is primary contender for the title of Greatest (insert whichever derogatory term you wish) in Recorded History.

Add to this that her stepmother, ex-lengirie model and reluctant First Lady, Melania, is not always in attendance, particularly at the White House. So it has fallen to a Ivanka to step up to the plate as First Daughter.  Not to say that this attention-seeking socialite hasn’t been keen to jump into the limelight.  It’s just that she has the wrong skill set.

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But the G20 Conference presented some disconcerting images and they are symbolic of diplomatic and political isolation of America and its President and in part the situation that Ivanka Trump is trying to deal with.

The world saw the forlorn figure US president wandering along looking for his seat at the conference table,

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stepping away from the speaking podium and not knowing where to go and then wandering back and forth lost and seemingly disorientated

and finally sitting isolated in the conference room while the delegates swirled around him with no one wanting to speak to a President of the United States.

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I have this image of the President of the United States as always followed around by this team of hotshot advisers. But obviously only on television. Pity the American public didn’t just get a TV character to run the country.

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The G20 has been symbolic in showing the political and diplomatic isolation of America. It is no longer centre stage but on the edge of the picture. The Western world is getting used to getting by without American leadership. China and Russia are rejoicing. All will

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This kind of set up is not an accident, it’s a full-scale diplomatic snub.

But to come back to a Ivanka’s predicament.

She probably knows that the old boy hasn’t been up to it for some time and has been covering for him like this for years. In the closed world of the Trump business empire, they could muddle through. But on the international stage, the spotlight is harsher and less forgiving, the stakes are higher and you can’t bluff and bully your way through.

So now, the President of the United States who has failed to fill many of the important senior State Department positions and who surround himself with family members and incompetent sycophants finds himself without the necessary intellectual, diplomatic and bureaucratic support that a president requires and those that he has appointed appear to have abandoned him.

If the images that have emerged from Europe over the past fortnight are an indication, it would appear that the bureaucratic machinery that normally supports the president has given up and he’s been left with only the family to support him. And most of them are probably skiing in Aspen.

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In fairness, Ivanka and Melania actually turned up to the G 20. But they are hopelessly out of their depth.  Bigly.

The tragedy for the American people is that Russia and China are only too willing to fill the vacuum created by Donald Trump’s abdication of American global leadership and his resignation of his key diplomatic advisory roles to a lingerie model and a handbag designer.

Letter to my Grandson XXXX

Dear Winton

Storytelling has changed somewhat in the Haslett household. I should’ve seen the change is coming when the old traditional story changed to “Winton Jack and the Beanstalk.” You’ve lost interest in most stories now unless you are the hero and you are  usually interested in being the hero alongside Fireman Sam.  And there is an increasing emphasis on action and participation.
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We have quite a lot of stories where you rescue various animal friends from dire predicaments: trapped at the bottom of the cliff (behind the sofa in the study),  trapped in a cave (on one of the chairs under the table),  caught in an avalanche (in my wastepaper basket under a large cushion), trapped at the top of the mountain (on the top shelf of my wardrobe).

Many of these rescues involve my towing you on a blanket which serves as a rescue helicopter or fire engine depending on the situation.  Sometimes you come in the fire engine that you and Nana built from a cardboard box and some paper plates.

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You also come equipped with the necessary gear, axe, crowbar, fire extinguisher, hose,  breathing apparatus, face mask as well as a fleet of fire engines. You also have all the gear including a four different fire helmets.

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Last week after you had your bath and dinner, I asked you if you would like me to tell you a story. You agreed.

“Would you like the story of Fireman Winton and the fire at the fish and chip shop?” I asked. That would be fine.

It’s not so much storytelling any longer. It’s more a full-scale dramatic production.

The story begins  one morning in the Pontypandy fire station when the fire alarm goes off and Stationmaster Steel says “There is a fire in the fish and chip shop. Fireman Winton you had better take  Jupiter.”  Jupiter is the big fire engine at the fire station. You have three different versions of now all ready for action along with the Paw Patrol.

You leap up, grab your fire hat and  Jupiter. “Come, Papa.  It’s an emergency.” We charge off down to the bathroom.

It is at this point that you need to go to the toilet.  Suddenly you have to stop being a fireman and focus on more immediate matters. This is quite a protracted performance and involves a lot of running around, chocolate rewards and general congratulations. It takes about 10 minutes. Your instructor told me, “Winton’s problem is that he can’t concentrate.”

When you’ve finished all this, you come over to me and say, “Keep going with the story, Papa.”  You slip back into your role as Fireman Winton and we head off to the bathroom/fish and chip shop again.

“Who do you think is in here,” I asked.

“I think it must be Dilys.” The appropriately named Dilys is one of the characters from the Fireman Sam series. She is Norman Price’s mother prone to setting things on fire.

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“I think you better go in and rescue her and tell her to keep down low.”

“Roger that,” you reply.  You go into the bathroom and search around for a while.

When you return you say, “She’s not here I can’t find her. I think she must be upstairs. I have to get the ladder.”

I think to myself, “Who’s telling this story?”

It’s getting late and I don’t fancy bringing the stepladder in from outside and you’re quite happy to pretend that the stairs constitute a ladder to climb up them to try and rescue Dilys from the burning bedroom upstairs.

When we get up there is quite dark and I suggest we probably need a torch.

You head off downstairs to find a torch. This proved more difficult than we expected as quite the right kind of torch is not available. After about 10 minutes, an appropriate one is found. You come back upstairs to begin searching around the darkened rooms.

While you have been away, I have put a teddy bear on the bed in the spare bedroom. As you are searching, you find the teddy bear.

“Do you think this is Dilys?” I ask.

“Yes!” you reply.

I find it amazing the extent to which you are prepared to enter into the imaginative element of these stories and accept, without a moment’s hesitation, that your teddy bear has suddenly become Dilys Price.  You sling Dilys over your shoulder, in the fireman’s carry. Then, you  go into your own bedroom and start rummaging around amongst your animal friends. You grab the baby leopard.

“Who’s that? I ask.

You look at me pittingly, “It’s Norman.”

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Of course it’s Norman. Norman is Dilys’ son. Like his mother he is a bit of a dill and in frequent need of being rescued.  Of course he will be upstairs in the fire and of course Fireman Winton would remember to rescue him even if Papa has forgotten.

Our  work here is over. The story is complete.

 

Trump’s problem with North Korea is that problem may be beyond his comprehension

Paul Waldman wrote in The Age “Ready or not, Trump may be about to face his first full-blown international crisis”
Waldman  has little confidence in Trump’s ability to handle what may be a significant international crisis.

Here are some excerpts from his article

“A few weeks before taking office, he tweeted, “North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the US. It won’t happen!”

In April, Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and apparently believed that once he presented Xi with a truly spectacular piece of chocolate cake, then the premier would put a prompt end to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

Then when the launch happened, the President responded with typical thoughtfulness:

“North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”

Waldman also points out that the option of military action against North Korea is not viable as it will trigger a massive loss of life on the Peninsula.

Diplomatic intervention will be difficult as the capability of the State Department has been badly run down during the Trump administration and Trump has failed to appoint an ambassador South Korea.

Trump has also strained relationships with the US allies he would rely on to pressure North Korea and has severely weakened the US position in NATO and United Nations.

North Korea is what C. West Churchman called a wicked problem that is ” a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize.” Wikipedia

What can you do with wicked problems like North Korea?

In Wholesome Design for Wicked Problems, Professor Robert Knapp says “Instead of seeking the answer that totally eliminates a problem, one should recognize that actions occur in an ongoing process, and further actions will always be needed.” 

In other words, you just have to keep working on it.

So the solution to problems like North Korea would appear to be that there really is no solution, you just have to keep working to contain the problem as best you can, by a range of means: negotiation, diplomacy, sanctions, embargoes et cetera.

Clearly a large degree of international cooperation, particularly on the part of China is going to be a great help but this will require subtle diplomacy and a significantly coordinated effort amongst US allies, most of whom Donald Trump has managed to offend since coming into office.

The other major problem is that the current president doesn’t appear to have the concentration span, patience or intellect necessary to deal with a complex and wicked problem.

Does the AFL need a red card system?

The scandal  that has erupted around AFL executive Ali Fahour’s on-field punch that resulted in him being banned from football for life has sharpened the focus on the AFL’s attitude to on field violence.

Ali Fahour leaves the Northern Football League headquarters in Melbourne after the verdict. Picture: AAP

Most contact sports have some form of “send off system” for on-field misdemeanours.  Usually it’s a yellow or red card, awarded by the referee. That means that the player is sent off and the team plays one man down.

Just last weekend super star Sonny Bill Williams became only the third ever All Black to be sent off during a test match when he was given was a red card for a shoulder charge. Most commentators agree that this was one of the factors in the All Blacks’ defeat allowing the British Lions to draw level 1-1  in the test series.

William has received a four week suspension will miss the third test and may well be looking at the end of his test career.

So the red card system is serious business.

It is surprising that the VFL and now the AFL has never had such a system. There is no immediate punishment for serious acts of brutality on the field. Not until the Tribunal  meets in the week after the match.

In a game like Aussie Rules, playing one man down would be a massive disadvantage and a huge incentive for coaches and players alike to stamp out on field violence.

It will be interesting to see what arguments are raised for not having  a send-off rule.

Infectious lunacy spreads through the Federal Liberal Parliamentary Party

 

After winning the federal election, Prime Minister Tony lost 30 opinion polls in a row. Malcolm Turnbull and party saw that as a reason to replace him. Turnbull was able to  reverse the trend to scrape back into power but then he has lost 14 in a row. Yet he is confidently predicting he is going to be Prime Minister for some time into the future.

Tony Abbott is running around the countryside working up small gatherings of the party faithful into a frenzy over the prospect of him becoming Prime Minister again.

 Abbott and Turnbull: Neither really thank you

 The truth of the matter is that Abbott is a fantastic leader of the opposition either officially or unofficially. He is a great wrecker and he is currently using those talents to destroy his own party.  Unfortunately, Turnbull sitting on a one seat majority in the lower house can’t move against Abbott and the Right still wields significant power  and can constrain him.

Unfortunately again,  neither Abbott nor his backers  realise how unpopular he is in the electorate. His return to the leadership of the Liberal party would be a total electoral disaster. Perhaps the hatred of Turnbull runs so deep that the Right and the Abbott supporters don’t mind losing power for four or maybe eight years to a Shorten led Labor government.

Speaking of lunacy getting hold of everybody.

This as a bit like the program on days after the death of Princess Diana shown on the ABC last night.

 

The House of Windsor was mired in the deep crisis is popular opinion swung against it and mass hysteria  group to the British Isles with the death of the “People’s Princess.”  Having finally decided to provide her with a state funeral, the people charged with organising it  were gridlocked in an argument about who should walk behind the coffin: her ex-husband who hadn’t been speaking to her since the divorce or her brother who  hadn’t been speaking to her since he had refused to allow her to live in a cottage on his extensive states in the country.

In a nice little touch and in an effort to calm the hysteria of the donor’s death, the BBC was playing  Gods of the Queen every 10 minutes to soothe the nerves of the British public. Marvellous.