Episode 217 – From NSW Abortion Law to Ho Chi Minh

In this episode, we discuss NSW Abortion Law, Pell, Fascist laws, Iranian oil tankers , the US Empire and Ho Chi Minh. Our live stream worked perfectly and we were able to talk to Caitlin about NSW abortion law and Cam Reilly about Ho Chi Minh.

Berejiklian delays abortion vote to calm furious conservative MPs

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has given in to her conservative MPs and told them she wants the abortion vote in the upper house delayed for several more weeks.

Abortion Law in NSW

A split has emerged within the churches over a bill to decriminalise abortion in NSW, with the Uniting Church the first mainstream denomination to support the proposed new laws.

… Doctors say the bill’s provision for abortion after 22 weeks with the consent of two doctors takes into account the timing of the routine ultrasound at 18 to 20 weeks that can be the earliest point to detect severe genetic conditions.

George Pell

The witness was something special.

It’s not over yet.

According to RWT, the sharpest mind and the best criminal lawyer disagreed and this Victorian Court of Appeal has a bad track record.

Can you feel the creeping fascism?

Andrew Wilkie – “I feel we’re living in very dangerous times here in Australia… One day we’ll wake up and wonder how on earth we got here.”

Just a reminder

Fascist Vs Nazi

Fascism is a form of radical authoritarian ultranationalism characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy, which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.

Nazism is a form of fascism and showed that ideology’s disdain for liberal democracy and the parliamentary system, but also incorporated fervent antisemitism, scientific racism, and eugenics into its creed.

We have to allow disclosure that is of public interest. Labor must stop consenting to every extra police power granted in the name of national security.

Australia Exhibit A

We have had 75 new security laws since September 2001. In June we had police raids of News Corp journalist and the ABC headquarters. Dan Oakes and his producer Sam Clark were responsible for a series of stories aired in 2017 that the ABC called The Afghan Files. They were based on leaked documents from a stalled defence force investigation into allegations that Australia’s special forces in Afghanistan had committed war crimes. Long before the AFP arrived at the ABC, the source of those documents had outed himself. Military lawyer David McBride has now been committed for trial in the ACT Supreme Court. He admits to leaking defence force documents, but will plead not guilty, on the grounds that he was acting in the public interest… Even more alarmingly, the search warrant that the AFP coppers brought with them to the ABC said that they suspected ABC reporter Dan Oakes, as well as McBride, of committing crimes: among them “dishonestly receiving stolen property” from McBride…. In other words, in the AFP’s view, Oakes is not a journalist. He’s a fence.

They used an obscure law so they don’t have to get permission from the Attorney General.

Australia Exhibit B

The Timor Leste affair

You must watch 4 Corners.

In December 2013, ASIO and the AFP raided the homes of Witness K and Mr Collaery. But it wasn’t until May 2018 that the pair learned they were facing potential jail terms for allegedly breaching the Intelligence Services Act and the Criminal Code.

The pair are accused of disclosing secret information. That information related to an operation conducted by Australia’s foreign intelligence agency, ASIS, to bug the office of Timor-Leste’s prime minister during oil and gas treaty negotiations in 2004.

Because of the nature of the allegations, the attorney-general had to give consent to the prosecution before it could go ahead.

Former attorney-general George Brandis was first asked by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) for consent in September 2015.

Over the next two years and three months, Mr Brandis received advice on the matter from two different DPPs and the Solicitor-General. By the time he stood down to become High Commissioner in London in 2017, he had still not given his approval.

His successor, Christian Porter, gave consent to prosecute within six months of taking office.

Clearly this disclosure was in the public interest.

USA Exhibit A

Trump telling American companies not to deal with China. Trump using presidential powers to impose tariffs on Chinese goods.

USA Exhibit B

Workers at a massive new Shell plant in Pennsylvania had to attend a speech by President Donald Trump there earlier this week to be paid — and were ordered not to protest, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Attendance was not mandatory for thousands of union workers at Royal Dutch Shell’s petrochemical plant north of Pittsburgh, but they had to forfeit pay for the day if they skipped, according to attendance and comportment information obtained by the newspaper.

“Your attendance is not mandatory,” one manager told workers, summarizing a memo that Shell sent to union leaders, the Post-Gazette reported, but only those who showed up at 7 a.m., scanned their ID cards and prepared to stand for hours through lunch would be paid.

“No scan, no pay,” workers were warned.

Greenland is not for sale

Trump wrote: “Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time.”

He added: “The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!”


Frederiksen called the idea of the sale of Greenland “absurd” over the weekend after news broke of Trump’s interest – a characterisation that apparently offended him.

“I thought it was not a nice statement, the way she blew me off,” Trump said at the White House on Wednesday, local time. “She shouldn’t treat the United States that way … She said ‘absurd.’ That’s n Jensen said Danish lawmakers felt misled and “appalled” by the President, who “lacks even basic diplomatic skills,” he said. “There was no word [ahead of time] about: ‘I want to buy Greenland and that’s why I’m coming.'”

On Twitter, Denmark’s former business minister, Rasmus Jarlov, wrote: “For no reason Trump assumes that (an autonomous) part of our country is for sale. Then insultingly cancels visit that everybody was preparing for.”

“Please show more respect,” he added.

Australia offers to sell New Zealand

From The Shovel

Describing it as a ‘terrific real estate opportunity not to be missed’ Australia has contacted US President Donald Trump, offering him the chance to purchase New Zealand for a bargain basement price.

With the sale of Greenland now looking increasingly unlikely, Australia said it was happy to help the president out, noting that it had no use for New Zealand.

“We know Mr Trump is looking to buy a cold, remote, largely-uninhabited island. Here’s a chance to snap up two,” a spokesperson for the deal said.

And we are now following Trump into a Gulf conflict.

Australia to send 200 troops to the Middle East to protect oil supplies

This time it really is about oil.

The Prime Minister slammed Iran’s harassment of commercial oil tankers as”destabilising behaviour” and a threat to Australia’s national interests.

No mention by Morrison of UK harassment of Iranian ships.

The SMH makes no mention of Britain’s illegal seizure.

Global commodity trading has been rocked in recent months after a series of Iranian attacks on international merchant vessels and the seizure of a British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway in the Gulf of Persia through which almost a fifth of the world’s oil passes.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo formally requested Australia join the effort to combat Iran’s “unprovoked attacks” during bilateral talks in Sydney earlier this month.

The escalation between Washington and Tehran follows a decision by US President Donald Trump  just over a year ago to pull out of the nuclear deal with Iran that had been struck by his predecessor, Barack Obama, along with Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany.

Fuck Labor

Labor’s defence spokesman Richard Marles quickly offered the Morrison government bipartisan support.

“Labor supports this decision. We do so on the basis of this being a mission that is tightly framed around freedom of navigation for commercial shipping,” Mr Marles said.

Greg Sheridan

Thousands of words an no mention of the initial piracy by the UK and the release of the tanker by Gibralter

At least the ABC told some of the back story

Three Cheers for the Greens

Greens leader Senator Richard Di Natale says it was a “grave mistake” for Australian troops to be deployed to the Strait of Hormuz, saying it shows nothing was learned from the “catastrophe that was the invasion of Iraq”.

British imperial rule died “when colonial rulers had run out of indigenous collaborators.” Plus more on the US dollar

The Europeans are refusing to get involved in the Strait of Hormuz and refusing to follow US instructions to isolate Iran over the nuclear disarmament deal.

The American empire, as McCoy points out, was always a hybrid of past empires. It developed, he writes, “a distinctive form of global governance that incorporated aspects of antecedent empires, ancient and modern. This unique U.S. imperium was Athenian in its ability to forge coalitions among allies; Roman in its reliance on legions that occupied military bases across most of the known world; and British in its aspiration to merge culture, commerce, and alliances into a comprehensive system that covered the globe.”

When George W. Bush unilaterally invaded Iraq, defying with his doctrine of preemptive war international law and dismissing protests from traditional allies, he began the rupture. But Trump has deepened the fissures. The Trump administration’s withdrawal from the 2015 Iranian nuclear agreement, although Iran had abided by the agreement, and demand that European nations also withdraw or endure U.S. sanctions saw European nations defect and establish an alternative monetary exchange system that excludes the United States. Iran no longer accepts the dollar for oil on international markets and has replaced it with the euro, not a small factor in Washington’s deep animus to Teheran. Turkey is also abandoning the dollar. The U.S. demand that Germany and other European states halt the importation of Russian gas likewise saw the Europeans ignore Washington. China and Russia, traditionally antagonistic, are now working in tandem to free themselves from the dollar. Moscow has transferred $100 billion of its reserves into Chinese yuan, Japanese yen and euros. And, as ominously, foreign governments since 2014 are no longer storing their gold reserves in the United States or, as with Germany, removing them from the Federal Reserve. Germany has repatriated its 300 tons of gold ingots. The Netherlands repatriated its 100 tons.

It is only a question of when not if the dollar will be sidelined. That it was Trump, along with his fellow ideologues of the extreme right, who destroyed the international structures put in place by global capitalists, rather than socialists these capitalists invested tremendous resources to crush, is grimly ironic.

The historian Ronald Robinson argued that British imperial rule died “when colonial rulers had run out of indigenous collaborators.” The result, he noted, was that the “inversion of collaboration into noncooperation largely determined the timing of the decolonization.” This process of alienating traditional U.S. allies and collaborators will have the same effect. As McCoy points out, “all modern empires have relied on dependable surrogates to translate their global power into local control—and for most of them, the moment when those elites began to stir, talk back, and assert their own agendas was also the moment when you knew that imperial collapse was in the cards.”

It is impossible to predict when this flight from the dollar will take place. By the second half of the 19th century, the U.S. economy had overtaken Britain, but it was not until the middle of the 20th century that the dollar replaced the pound sterling to become the dominant currency in international trade. The pound sterling’s share of currency reserves among international central banks fell from around 60 percent in the early 1950s to less than 5 percent by the 1970s. Its value declined from more than 4 dollars per pound at the end of WWII to near-parity with the dollar.  The British economy went into a tailspin. And that economic jolt marked for the British, as it will for us, the end of an empire.

The most likely reason Australia would need to confront an aggressive foe is our strong alliance with the United States.

John Menadue Blog

Deeply ingrained into Australia’s collective psyche is the naïve conviction that the United States is the country’s most important, entirely reliable, and utterly benevolent ally. 

In his Pearls and Irritations post on 17 June, Niall McLaren laid bare the true facts about the ANZUS alliance. ANZUS reflects everything that is bad about an alliance between a big power bully (the USA) and a small dependent state (Australia). To clarify that fact, some basic International Relations theory can help.

A defining feature of big powers is their focus – above all else – on their own economic and security concerns. If (or when) the big power decides that its interests are best served by limiting the alliance’s sphere of activity – or by backing away from it altogether – there is little the junior partner can do about it. Meanwhile, the junior partner may be pressured by the big power into allowing the establishment of military bases on the junior partner’s territory, with the junior partner having limited (or no) control over the use of those facilities.

As Niall McLaren’s piece made clear, Australians are dreamers when it comes to the ANZUS alliance. They are sleepily oblivious to the huge economic and human costs the alliance imposes on the country. Consider the fact that Australia has been to every war that the United States has waged since the 1940s. This is a clear-cut case of fools rushing in where angels fear to tread. Wiser allies of America are far more cautious about leaping to America’s side whenever it goes to war. Where was Canada, for example, or Britain for that matter, during the Vietnam War? Unlike foolish Australia, Canada and Britain stayed well out of that conflict that ended in a bitter defeat. Where were Germany and France when President Bush went to war against Iraq. They too stayed out of that particularly ill-advised, crazy conflict ­– but good old Australia went in, boots and all.

The cost in human lives – troops killed, physically wounded, mentally devastated – by so enthusiastically and cravenly joining the USA’s wars has been horrendous for Australia. Simultaneously, the cost to the Australian economy extends into billions of dollars. Moreover, as former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, argued in his book, Dangerous Allies (2014: 257-8)the alliance has actually become a threat to Australia. He explained:

We have significantly diminished our capacity to act as a separate sovereign nation by the way we have committed ourselves to American purposes […] the most likely reason Australia would need to confront an aggressive foe is our strong alliance with the United States. We need America for defence from an attacker who is likely to attack us because we use America for defence. It’s not a sustainable policy.


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