Episode 273 – Unfair tax cuts and a cowardly Labor opposition

Australians don’t want lower taxes for the wealthy but the Thatcher loving neo-liberal Josh Frydenberg insists and the cowardly Labor opposition refuses to fight.

The Budget

From Crikey

… Million, billion, trillion, gazillion! Do any of these figures have any meaning beyond their use for journalists as a heuristic of newsworthiness?

Probably not. Once figures reach a certain level, they go beyond our ability to understand exactly what they mean. After all, lots of us have had a spare $100 — maybe $1000 — over our lives. But a billion? What does it even look like?

We’re also better at judging figures comparatively (that makes sense) and contextually (how many apprentices are there in Australia anyway?)

This is why The New York Times went low, not high, when exposing Trump’s tax returns last week (yes, it was only last week). It found the one figure in the one context that everyone could compare to their own experience: Trump’s $750 income tax payment.

50b for 12 submarines

Re Morrison’s tactics

… In this case, it shows how the Morrison approach flips normal policy setting on its head. Good governance identifies need which leads to policy, producing numbers which are then reported. Instead, in this government creation runs the other way: from media through to number through to policy, with actual needs almost an afterthought …

The Hypocrisy of the Liberals

From John Lord in the AIM Network

Before I move on allow me to quote the Finance Minister on debt and deficit. When at their joint press conference Senator Cormann was asked a question on the subject, he answered:

“What is the alternative? Are you suggesting that we should not have provided the support we did to boost our health system, to protect jobs, to protect livelihoods? I mean, in the circumstances what was the alternative.”

Greg Jericho, writing for The Guardian pointed out the hypocracy:

“It is an excellent point, and one dripping with as much hypocrisy as any statement that has ever been uttered by a finance minister in our history.

It is exactly the same reasoning that was behind the stimulus undertaken by the Labor government during the GFC.

What was Senator Cormann saying then?

In February 2009, he told the senate: “We have got this $42bn cash splash. What is this going to do? It is going to end up with us having $111bn worth of debt for starters, and even up to $200bn of debt, with a $9,500 debt for every Australian. This is absolute panic stuff.”

The problem with Cormann’s question of “what is the alternative” is not that is it wrong now, but that it was never wrong.

On Thursday, the Treasurer – with Cormann at his side – trumpeted that:

“Without the government’s economic support, unemployment would have been five percentage points higher.”

Back in 2009 Cormann told the Senate that:

“… governments cannot inject new money into the economy. All that governments can do is take money from taxpayers – either today’s taxpayers or, after borrowing money, tomorrow’s taxpayers.”

(I just needed to get that off my chest because just like that debt and deficit no longer really matter. Their hypocrisy is unforgivable.)

To get us out of this problem the government needs to adopt a Keynesian philosophy and borrow heaps of dollars, but in doing so have also to admit that their criticism of Labor for doing the same thing during the GFC (an approach that kept Australia out of recession) was all political bullshit and they were wrong.

Essential Report

 

Frydenberg and lending laws

By David Crowe in the SMH

Customers will be promised faster access to loans under simpler rules that aim to free up credit and lift the economy by ending confusion over lending obligations for banks and finance companies.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will overhaul the laws governing mortgages, personal loans, credit cards and payday lending to streamline decisions on whether customers can afford the loans they seek.

The changes respond to growing concerns over court disputes and the duplication of regulators in home and personal lending, sparking fears that restrictive rules on credit would curb economic growth.

With the government preparing to unveil tax cuts and spending measures in the October 6 budget, the lending reforms are intended to improve access to credit from March next year if Parliament approves changes to the Credit Act.

Stunning claim cardinal ‘paid’ witnesses to convict George Pell using Vatican funds

A senior Italian cardinal has been accused of siphoning $1.14m of Vatican funds to pay witnesses in George Pell’s sex abuse trial to secure a conviction against his bitter rival.

Italian media are reporting allegedly corrupt Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu is suspected of wiring the cash to people testifying in Cardinal Pell’s trial to ensure their hostile testimony.

This allegedly occurred during the 2019 trial of Cardinal Pell who was accused of molesting choir boys in Melbourne in the 1990s, convicted, sentenced, imprisoned and later cleared.

In a scandal gripping the Vatican, it was alleged this was a ploy to derail Cardinal Pell’s exposure of Cardinal Becciu, between whom it was reported there existed a “huge enmity”.

The 72-year-old Italian is allegedly suspected of funnelling Vatican cash to charities and businesses run by his three brothers.

Cardinal Pell, who returned to Rome on September 30, was freed after 18 months in jail when the High Court of Australia quashed his conviction in April.

Italian newspapershave reported that Cardinal Pell previously clashed with Cardinal Becciu when the Australian, as the Pope’s finance minister, sought to expose alleged misappropriation of Vatican coffers.

La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera have quoted leaked documents that Vatican investigators suspected Cardinal Becciu of funnelling the money to Melbourne Supreme Court witnesses.

Investigators alleged Cardinal Becciu hoped the money would thwart Cardinal Pell’s transparency program which would have exposed Cardinal Becciu’s allegedly corrupt management of Vatican cash.

Victorian Gender Laws

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-09/victorian-government-introduces-new-gender-target-laws/12037116

Key points:

  • New laws in Victoria mean public service organisations will be required to set gender targets
  • Organisations could face the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal if they fail to hit their targets
  • The latest Global Gender Gap Report found that over the past 14 years, Australia fell from 15th in the world to 44th

Queensland strikes royalties deal with Adani coalmine, allowing it to defer payment

From The Guardian

The Queensland government has struck a royalties agreement with miner Adani, which would allow it to defer payments due at the Carmichael coalmine – a move conservationists have slammed a “disgrace”.

Negotiations for the deal have been fraught and taken several years. The deal, announced by the state treasurer, was signed this week just days before the government is due to enter caretaker mode ahead of the state election.

State treasurer Cameron Dick told reporters in Mackay on Thursday that the deal would mean Adani will ultimately pay interest on any deferred payments,

One of the terms of the government’s framework requires any project granted a deferral to offer some security for payment. Guardian Australia understands this has been the significant stumbling block during the process – Adani’s main Australian asset, the Abbot Point coal terminal, is heavily leveraged and facing difficulties refinancing its $1.5bn debts.

It is not clear how the longstanding issue of Adani providing security to allow the royalties agreement to proceed has been overcome, and Dick told reporters the details were commercial in confidence.

Adani ran a bruising anti-Labor campaign prior to the federal election, and afterwards the Palaszczuk government fast-tracked approvals processes, including the royalties deal, that had otherwise stalled.

It is understood Labor wanted the matter settled, and was concerned that Adani might seek to make the royalties agreement an election issue in working class and coalmining areas.

 

Facebook and the Atlantic Council

From Alan McLeod at Mintpress News

Craig Murray, the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan and longtime confidant of Julian Assange, has been fastidiously reporting on the Australian publisher’s extradition hearing to the United States. Yet few people have been reading it. This, according to Murray, is because of a deliberate decision by online media giants to downplay or suppress discussion of the case. On his blog, Murray wrote that he usually receives around 50 percent of his readers from Twitter and 40 percent from Facebook links, but that has dropped to 3 percent and 9 percent, respectively during the hearing. While the February hearings sent around 200,000 readers to his site daily, now that figure is only 3,000.

To be plain that is very much less than my normal daily traffic from them just in ordinary times. It is the insidious nature of this censorship that is especially sinister – people believe they have successfully shared my articles on Twitter and Facebook, while those corporations hide from them that in fact it went into nobody’s timeline,” he added.

Asked about the situation by former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges, Murray explained that

Anybody who is at all radical or takes any view of anything that is outwith the official establishment view gets used to occasional shadow banning, but I have never seen anything on this scale before.”

“90% of my traffic has just been cut off by what seems to be a general algorithm command of some kind to downplay Assange,” he added. “I think it is as simple as that.”

There has been considerable public interest in the court proceedings, but very little mainstream attention given to them. To be fair, British authorities have made it inordinately difficult to cover the case, allowing only a small handful of journalists into the Old Bailey court system, where they can watch a live television link up but cannot bring in recording devices. An online stream can only be watched if one registers and signs in between exactly 9:30 and 9:40 a.m., and if they suffer even a momentary lapse in wifi connection, they are shut out of the session. The court system has also blocked human rights groups, including Amnesty International, from monitoring proceedings.

Still, considering the implications for the future of journalism, the lack of coverage might surprise some. The New York Times, the flagship outlet of American print media (and a Wikileaks partner) printed only two articles on the subject and has not mentioned Assange in over two weeks. Its broadcast journalism equivalent CNN, meanwhile, has not touched the issue at all.

Online media creators have, for many years, lived with the threat of algorithmic suppression or demonetization of content on sensitive or controversial issues. YouTube regularly cuts all advertising on videos on the Syrian Civil War, fracking, or other topics on which advertisers might not wish to promote scrutiny. Even airsoft and paintball enthusiasts have learned not to use words like “shoot” and “gun” in their titles, lest the platform demonetizes their content.

Perhaps more alarmingly, however, Silicon Valley tech giants are becoming increasingly closely intertwined with the state department, to the point where it is often difficult to tell where one ends, and another begins. “What Lockheed Martin was to the twentieth century…technology and cyber-security companies [like Google] will be to the twenty-first,” wrote Google executives Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen in their book, “The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business.” For example, Facebook is now in a close partnership with the Atlantic Council, who essentially decides for them what content to promote in people’s news feeds and what content is discarded as fake news, misinformation, or low quality. The problem is that the Atlantic Council is a NATO cutout, and a government-funded organization whose board of directors is a who’s who of deep state officials, including virtually every living ex-C.I.A. director, Bush-era cabinet members like Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, and military generals like Wesley Clark and David Petraeus. Thus, an organization like this deciding what the world sees on their screens is barely one step removed from total government control of the flow of information.

The U.S. government also frequently directly interferes with content appearing on prominent social media. Earlier this year, Facebook announced that it would remove all comments or posts in praise of recently-slain Iranian General Qassem Soleimani from all its platforms. This was done to comply with the Trump administration’s designation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (which Soleimani led) as a terrorist organization. The problem is that Soleimani was Iran’s most popular political figure, with an over 80 percent approval rating, and that Instagram is used by around one-third of the entire Iranian population. Thus, Iranians speaking in their local language were barred from sharing a majority opinion with their country folk because of a decision by Donald Trump.

The Middle East is a particularly contentious area of the world. Yet when news broke that the British Army’s online psychological operations brigade had managed to become a senior Twitter executive, responsible for Middle Eastern content, media largely ignored it, raising even more questions. Algorithm changes have also hammered independent alternative media outlets — often precisely the ones most likely to cover the Assange case — drastically reducing their search engine traffic flow.

Former C.I.A. chief Leon Panetta (an honorary director of the Atlantic Council) recently admitted that Assange is being prosecuted as a warning to journalists. “All you can do is hope that you can ultimately take action against those that were involved in revealing that information so you can send a message to others not to do the same thing,” he told a German documentary crew. While the message is being heard loud and clear by journalists, the public is far less aware that anything is going on, thanks, in part, to online suppression of news about the case. Judge Vanessa Baraitser is scheduled to pronounce judgment on the media “trial of the century” on January 4, after the U.S. presidential election. Murray will doubtless be there. But will anyone read what he has to say?

 

Landon Hardbottom

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… Keep up the good work. I love disagreeing with the 12th man every week. I like the way he makes me have to think and look at the otherside of an argument. Good to have Scott back too. I missed him. His influence on the podcast is understated but vital.

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Hello Fist. I listen to podcasts every day and have done so for about 8 years. There are upwards of 70 podcasts in my library.
This is the first time I have contributed to a podcast.
It’s obvious how much time and effort must go into each episode.
PS I stole 14 episodes off you and I don’t intend to give them back!

AOC told to eat babies

Have AOC supporters gone bonkers?

Play clip “eat babies”

 

This woman trolled AOC saying her next campaign slogan should be ‘We’ve got to start eating babies.’ — Now a pro-Trump group says it staged the whole thing

It turned out the woman in question was neither an Ocasio-Cortez supporter nor a person having a mental-health emergency but apparently acting at the behest of a group called Lyndon LaRouche PAC. The stunt was meant to troll Ocasio-Cortez.

Historian Matthew Sweet described the group as a “bizarre political cult” in an interview with The Washington Post about the incident. Sweet, who has studied the group’s history, told the Post that the woman’s stunt fell in line with their standard operating procedures. “The tactic,” Sweet told the Post, “is you go to a political meeting and you create a disturbance that disrupts the meeting, and more importantly, that creates a kind of chaos.”

 

Jessica Krug: white professor who pretended to be Black resigns from university post

From The Guardian

Jessica Krug, the white George Washington University professor who made headlines around the world after confessing she had long claimed to be Black, has resigned, according to the university.

 “Dr Krug has resigned her position, effective immediately. Her classes for this semester will be taught by other faculty members, and students in those courses will receive additional information this week,” noted the university in a statement issued Wednesday.

In a case that drew parallels to Rachel Dolezal, Krug published a Medium post last week in which she admitted to pretending to be Black for years, while in fact she is a white woman from Kansas City.

Krug said she claimed identities “that I had no right to claim: first North African Blackness, then US rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness”.

Last week, the university announced it had cancelled classes taught by Krug. Her colleagues in the history department had called on her to step down from her post, saying they were “shocked and appalled by Dr Jessica Krug’s admission on September 3, 2020, that she has lied about her identity for her entire career”.

Krug’s biography on the university’s website lists imperialism and colonialism and African American history among her areas of expertise. Her writings center on issues of African culture and diaspora.

Krug alluded in her Medium post to a mental health issues but said she did not believe that excused her behavior.

“Mental health issues can never, will never, neither explain nor justify, neither condone nor excuse, that, in spite of knowing and regularly critiquing any and every non-Black person who appropriates from Black people, my false identity was crafted entirely from the fabric of Black lives,” she wrote.

Krug has not commented publicly on the backlash beyond her initial post.

We’ve been podcasting so long that we are now repeating ourselves on stories of black activists who turn out to be white.

Parallels with

Rachel Dolezal see episode 97

Caitlin Jenner who appropriated a gender

People who reacted on social media compared Krug to Rachel Dolezal, a White civil rights activist and Howard University graduate who claimed to be Black. Dolezal was president of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Wash., in 2015 when her family exposed the truth about her identity.

Labor gets painted with this brush but for the most part they aren’t interested. The Greens on the other hand …

I think because Labor isn’t left anymore

Besides bedroom issues, the two parties are the same.

Remember the quote from Chris Hedges? Well, of course, there’s a difference. It’s how you want corporate fascism delivered to you. Do you want it delivered by a Princeton educated, Goldman Sachs criminal or do you want it delivered by racist, nativist, Christian fascist?

If only the Labor Party had Princeton educated Goldman Sachs criminals! The Liberals offer us the racist, nativist, Christian fascist but the Labor Party offers mere Labor Party hacks. Call me elitist, but when I ‘m screwed over, I like to be screwed over in style.

 

 

Trump

It’s hard to keep track

On September 3, two months out from the US election, The Atlantic published a story alleging the President had repeatedly mocked America’s war dead and injured troops.

On September 10 Tapes of Trump admitting to downplaying coronavirus were released

On the evening of September 18, US Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at the age of 87 due to complications from pancreatic cancer.

One of the most sought after pieces of information about Trump made it’s way into public view on September 27. The New York Times published a trove of Donald Trump’s tax information covering more than 20 years. The story alleged Trump paid no federal income taxes in 10 of the past 15 years, and only $US750 ($1,064) each year in 2016 and 2017.

29 September – Presidential Debate

The great debate seems months ago.

Chris Wallace the moderator said: “I never dreamt that it would go off the tracks the way it did,”

Some commentators called it a train wreck. CNN’s Jake Tapper said it was even worse than that. He called it “a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck”.

No country for old men


Wendell 
It’s a mess, ain’t it, sheriff?

Ed Tom Bell If it ain’t, it’ll do till the mess gets here.

 

“Stand back and stand by”

 

1 October

Contracts Covid-19

“Don’t be afraid of COVID,” he said in the tweet.

“Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”

Sky News

How dare the left rejoice in his illness.

Americans

Keeping vigil outside the hospital

 

Australia Agrees To Send Troops To Support America’s Invasion Of America

The Shovel, again

Citing the two nations’ close historic friendship, and Australia’s long history of supporting American military interventions, Scott Morrison has told Donald Trump that Australia will provide immediate support for America in its war against arch-enemy America.

“I didn’t even let him finish his sentence,” Mr Morrison told journalists today. “Donald said he was planning to go to war, and I said, ‘You don’t even need to tell me who it’s with, we’re there with you. Just tell us what you need and it’s yours.

“That’s what mates do. We were there shoulder-to-shoulder in Bagdad, we were there shoulder-to-shoulder in Kabul, and we’ll be there in – sorry just checking my notes here – we’ll be there in Washington DC too”.

Critics were quick to denounce the announcement, saying it was yet another example of Australia signing up to a war it couldn’t win. “Once again, we’re off to help the US government invade a poor, dysfunctional nation without any plan for rebuilding it later,” one foreign analyst said.

Australia will send 500 troops who will be stationed in a small shopping mall in New Hampshire.


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