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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Great Game continues

The Times online has a geopolitically interesting article “Latin America backs Argentina as Britain begins Falklands oil quest” by Hanna Strange
It’s always fascinating to see the Great Game continue. It makes for a change of pace that this time (yet?) the main player is not the mob North of Hugo Chavez.

Beneath the waving of flags, the shouting of accusations and the tear smudged hand over the heart lies one of the story's most pertinent quote:

"The British Geological Survey estimates that up to 60 billion barrels of oil could be beneath Falklands waters..."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Whistleblower on Writing Speeches For The Government

In this article from The Age Myles Peterson whistleblows on his time as speech writer in the Health Department. Spin, lies, deceit and waste - this well written article details it all. Probably best avoided if your blood vessels have thin walls.

This story took my level of disgust for government to new heights. Following are some choice quotes but the article is worth reading in it's entirety.

"Our section was under-budget by hundreds of thousands of dollars, necessitating we blow all the unspent money before the end of the financial year."

 (as a result they went on an almost meaningless conference junket)

"I was surprised to discover the minds behind these [Public Health] campaigns were not health professionals. They had backgrounds and degrees in marketing, communications and advertising, not medicine. Under their watch, the government became the No.1 spender on free-to-air television."

 (good for everyone ... except?)

"The ministers' staff were as fond of cancelling events as they were of commissioning them."

(no need to explain why you're wasting everyone else's time when you're the "important" person in the finery)

''The PM is going to make a health announcement and you have to organise it,'' we were told.
''When's it happening?''
''Monday.'' (It was Friday afternoon.)
''When did we first learn about it?''

(Oh my google they're good. I remember hearing this and not having the faintest idea that it was so hastily cobbled together).

As stated above it's my opinion that you must read the article.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Taxman given all clear to break into homes

Phew! I was beginning to think Australia was a bit of an also-ran when it came to unwarranted home/work invasions by government bodies.

Now we can hold our head high with the rest of the world governments.

This article by Peter Martin in the Sydney Morning Herald details how the Australian Taxation Office have been given the all clear to conduct searches in your home and business without a warrant.

"The visits, which involve locksmiths and do not need court-issued warrants, have received the all-clear from the Ombudsman after an investigation in which his staff accompanied 100 tax officers on a co-ordinated raid on homes, cars and workplaces in four states."

"An earlier Senate report found that the ATO conducted as many as 280,000 raids without warrants yearly."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Stephen Conroy attempts to slay the Google-monster

There is an article in The Melbourne Age Technology section by Asher Moses titled "Google balks at Conroy's call to censor YouTube"

From the article:

"Google says it will not "voluntarily" comply with the government's request that it censor YouTube videos in accordance with broad "refused classification" (RC) content rules.
Communications Minister Stephen Conroy referred to Google's censorship on behalf of the Chinese and Thai governments in making his case for the company to impose censorship locally.
Google warns this would lead to the removal of many politically controversial, but harmless, YouTube clips."

Goodonya Google!

Stephen Conroy and the Rudd government can stick their intrusive, ill-conceived, puritanical controls in a place with no sunlight ... sideways and painfully as far as I'm concerned.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Duck and Cover. Obama’s first Afghan assault

ABC News has published a Reuters based story titled “NATO warns villagers to ‘keep heads down’
Afghan villagers are being advised to keep their heads down during an upcoming planned assault. This almost absurd advice reminds me of the old “Duck and Cover” advice given all those decades ago as a way to avoid the effects of nuclear war.
Duck and Cover!
When that RPG comes screaming into your house - just duck and cover.
When those .50 cal rounds are tearing through your flimsy walls - simply duck and cover.
When combatants from either side are kicking your door down and spraying your room with bullet all you need do is duck and cover.
Keep your head down and everything will be okay!

"The assault, the first since US President Barack Obama ordered 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan in December, is the start of a campaign to impose government control on rebel-held areas."
Congratulations on your first assault Obama. My guess is there will be many more.

"We very much hope the military phase of this operation will go ahead swiftly and with as little incident as possible."
"This of course very much depends on the conduct of those people who are in Marjah at the moment, their choices about whether to resist or to lay down their weapons."

If it all goes horribly wrong then it's their fault not ours.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Geithner says U.S. will 'Never’ lose it’s AAA Debt Rating

US Treasury secretary Tim Geithner has assured the economic world that the US will never lose it’s AAA Debt Rating. When assurances of this strength are given it raises one question – When are they going to lose their rating?
The news story by Rebecca Christie appears here on Bloomberg.

Some choice quotes:

On whether a downgrade is a concern (after this comment by Moody’s Investor Service):
“That will never happen to this country.”
Government track records are not crash hot on “never”.

When will the predicted USD$1.6 trillion deficit be reigned in?
“The U.S. plans to rein in the deficit once the labor market recovers”
One day, definitely, maybe, providing that …

When will homeowners get promised reworked loans?
“Treasury chief responded that the administration is ‘absolutely committed’ to following through on its promises.”
A government promise? I’m not holding my breath.

Would tighter financial regulations put U.S. banks at a disadvantage?
“I’m very confident we can make sure that we are working very closely to raise global standards around the world so we have a level playing field”
Read – we’re going to use our economic muscle to make sure that everyone else has the same crippling, over-the-top controls on their financial institutions.

If (and it’s not a large if) the downgrade happens it will not happen straightaway as there are enormous forces at play. Unfortunately the red flag is raised for me when I hear politicians state categorically that nothing is going to happen.

(pre-modified photo from Bloomberg, in the same article)