Thecuriousmail’s Weblog

Protesting athletes, history, and unaccountable police.

Posted in Uncategorized by thecuriousmail on October 7, 2017

black power salute

protesting footballers

The claim that politics and sport don’t mix, so the demonstration by black American athletes (and increasingly supported by white athletes)  against racist police violence is somehow illegitimate, is both disingenuous and condescending.

What the critics are saying is: the black athlete should just be quiet and play the game, and accept that outside the arena they are subject to racist police violence! A preposterous notion that contradicts both reason and history.

Remember the black power salute at the 1968 Mexico Olympics? Smith and Carlos both said it was a ‘human rights salute’ (and the Australian on the podium also wore a human rights badge). It was clearly deliberate by them, yet a protest they are entitled to make anywhere, and without the permission or approval of any other person or ‘authority’.

The immediate aftermath was  widespread condemnation and sanctions against the two. But nearly 50 years later, what does history now say?

What does history now say about Ali throwing his Olympic gold medal in the river after experiencing racism in his home town?

The truth is they are now vindicated, and history shows their protests were important in an ongoing struggle for racial equality. Indeed history will long remember their actions positively, while the detractors at the time  are now ridiculed.

And so it will be with the current American athlete protests.

Police violence has been in the news elsewhere this week. Why is it that police around the world seem to demonstrate the same prejudices and propensity to  unjustified violence? The only constant in the widely varying circumstances is that the perpetrators of the unjustified violence are police officers. What is it that can cross language, culture, systems of government etc amongst police forces?

I maintain that the fact  police violence crosses the world is indicative of

  1. The role police have in societies now. They are the storm-troopers of the State, whether that be a dictatorship or democracy, the police clearly see their role as defenders of the status quo and the enemy of  (however peaceful) dissension and protest, and much less to do with preventing and solving crime and the peaceful order of a free community. No police service is truly accountable to the community; it answers only to the State, and clearly serves only the interests of the State, even when in obvious conflict with the interests of a free community, even when obviously inconsistent with natural rights and freedoms.
  2. The State senses that a real change in and amongst societies is distinctly possible, which of course perturbs the ruling elites, so makes permissible and justifiable an excessively violent response. The State will routinely not now publicly censure excessive police violence, and indeed will actively attempt to protect culpable police, as police are left to investigate police.
  3. Around the world and in whatever country, people with certain negative personality traits are attracted to employment as police officers. These people attracted to police service are typically bullies, typically obsequious to orders, even orders contrary to reason or common-sense, typically in the lower range of intelligence. As a community, are these qualities desirable in a police officer? As a State, are these qualities desirable in a police officer?

Of particular import are the black police officers who use excessive and unjustifiable violence (including murder) against black suspects. The reason why this is possible is that the black police officer is first and foremost a police officer, with all the characteristic negative personality traits, and ethnicity etc is of lesser relevance (if relevant at all to them, so no empathy possible there). The black police officer can without justification harass or assault or murder a black suspect, even alongside a clearly racist white police officer, because of the personality traits of that black officer, and a police culture that is an agglomeration of these negative traits and attitudes.

Police forces around the world are rapidly becoming enemies of the people, prejudiced police taking unjustified action and not held accountable,  and as a tool of the State for control,  used to limit dissension and peaceful protest.

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A Message to the Catalan people, Un missatge per als catalans

Posted in Uncategorized by thecuriousmail on October 2, 2017

500px-Catalonia-regions-map

Henry David Thoreau:

The State is only an expedient — a means of attaining an end. It exists because the people have chosen it to execute their will. It exists for the sole purpose of ensuring individual freedom and promoting the will of the people.

Only action — what you do about your objection or decision — matters. Wrong will be redressed only by the individual, not through the mechanism of an aberrant government. The individual must not support the structure of an illegitimate government, must act with principle, must break the law if necessary.

If by free vote the people of Catalonia have made the decision to separate from the rest of Spain, no approval or agreeance is necessary or indeed due from an any other party, person or institution.

If the Spanish State opposes that decision, it abrogates its legitimacy by rejecting the will of the people; if it uses force to attempt to maintain its control, then the Catalonian people are justified in responding with like force.

Arm and organize yourselves, and fight for your independence!

 

Henry David Thoreau:

L’Estat només és un expedient, un mitjà per aconseguir un final. Existeix perquè la gent l’ha triat per executar la seva voluntat. Existeix amb l’únic propòsit de garantir la llibertat individual i promoure la voluntat de les persones.

Només l’acció: el que fa sobre la vostra objecció o decisió. L’equivocació serà compensada únicament per l’individu, no a través del mecanisme d’un govern aberrant. L’individu no ha de suportar l’estructura d’un govern il·legítim, ha d’actuar amb principi, ha d’infringir la llei si és necessari.

Si per votació lliure la població de Catalunya ha pres la decisió de separar-se de la resta d’Espanya, cap aprovació o acord és necessari o de debò degut a una altra part, persona o institució.

Si l’Estat espanyol s’oposa a aquesta decisió, suprimeix la seva legitimitat rebutjant la voluntat de les persones; si usa força per intentar mantenir el seu control, llavors els ciutadans de Catalunya es justifiquen a respondre amb la força.

Armateu-vos i organitzeu-vos i lluiteu per la vostra independència

The Big Lie is no longer believed: most people now do not trust politicians, or have faith in the political process.

Posted in Uncategorized by thecuriousmail on September 12, 2017

john howard

Trust in politicians and faith in the political process in western-style democracies is at historic lows,  and still trending downward.

I am concerned here with the circumstances of Australia’s involvement in the Iraq war. Certain dates and facts are indisputable: what Howard was told, and when he was told it; when and what Howard said publicly to the Australian people.
If these facts were presented in a trial in a court of law, I am certain the judge would think Howard was either delusional,  or a perjurer, such is the contradiction between what actually occurred, and what Howard said occurred.
What then for trust in politicians and faith in the political process,  when the prime minister of Australia can so clearly mislead the Australian people? And Howard has escaped punishment, has never been held fully accountable for his lies, and will continue to be rewarded with generous taxpayer-funded benefits and privileges.
Hundreds of thousands of Australians marched against the war, but they were ignored, and he continued to lie. Tho the deception was not by Howard alone; senior members of the government parroted the lies (despite knowing the truth), and the Opposition too supported Howard without reservation. As trust and faith continue to decline from already low levels, a point will be reached where the people will decisively act in favour of change. The lies, secrecy and incompetence of politicians,   the inability of the political process to reflect the people’s will, no expeditious mechanism for the citizen to challenge political  lies, distortion and over-reach, and a judiciary acquiescent to the demands of the elite and the maintenance of the status quo, these things will result in a change unresistable.
Below is a reprint from The Independent Australia.

John Howard’s continued lies about the reasons for invading Iraq in the face of the scathing Chilcot Report remind us of his deep dishonesty and poor judgement, writes editor Sandi Keane.

BACK IN 2004, the “who can you trust” slogan was effective. It won Howard the election. Such was George W. Bush’s admiration, he stole the line for his own campaign.

But Howard and trust parted company when we found out Australia had invaded Iraq in 2003 on the basis of a lie. He had exaggerated the threat of Sadam Hussein. There were no weapons of mass destruction. This information was known to the U.S., Britain and Australia almost two years before the Coalition of the Willing’s invasion of Iraq (see below).

After the release of the Chilcot Report, Britain is now confronting its ties to the United States as one of the Coalition of the Only Too Willing that cost British lives. A contrite Tony Blair responded by saying:

“I express more sorrow, regret and apology that you can ever know or believe”

whilst maintaining he’d made the right decision

But unlike even Tony Blair, Howard says he has no regrets about Iraq. Australians are unlikely to ever see him apologise. It isn’t within his “little man” character to ever apologise for his dishonesty and poor judgement. His failure to repent is a character flaw. Jumping on the Bush bandwagon and “shirt-fronting” Saddam Hussein from the safety of his Canberra bunker would have given Howard the chance to shake off his little man image and become the people’s hero. As I will later demonstate in this article, by way of evidence, his memoir ‘Lazarus Rising’ is full of boastful flights of fancy (like claiming to be East Timor’s “liberating hero”) and is, as such, a litany of lies.

On the 10th anniversary of the Iraq Invasion in April 2013, Howard gave an Iraq retrospective lecture for the the Lowy Institute. He seized the moral high ground in true Pecksniffian style, labelling claims about flawed intelligence as “notorious” meriting the most “emphatic rejection”.

Following the Chilcot Inquiry showing that the intelligence was, indeed, “flawed” and the invasion a “strategic blunder”, Howard remains unrepentant. How unsurprising for a man of his weak character.

The anniversary turned the spotlight back on the allies and this shameful chapter in our history. Peter Hartcher’s ‘Blind allies of mass destruction’ in the Sydney Morning Herald accused Howard, Bush and Blair of collaborating in a war built on a lie that cost the lives of more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians.

Lazarus Rising — Howard’s truth-dodging memoir, best described as “Lazarus Lying

Political memoirs offer a chance to “fess up” and clear the slate as a salute to historical accuracy, not to mention accountability — a last chance to make good. But, sadly, this was not the case in John Howard’s, self-serving, truth-dodging memoir, Lazarus Rising.

The prime minister was in Washington at the time of 9/11. He knew President Bush was looking to fit Saddam Hussein up when he instructed his intelligence aids to come back with a link in spite of U.S. intelligence having dismissed Saddam’s possession of WMDs years before.

In Lazarus Rising (p 427), Howard tries to justify that it was

‘…right to act on a reasonably entertained belief that Iraq did possess WMDs (p 425) by claiming that concern about WMDs was “soundly based in fact.’

Untrue. Fully two years before the invasion of Iraq, U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell, declaredin Cairo of Saddam Hussein:

“He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction.”

Furthermore, five months after Powell’s speech, the National Security Adviser, Condaleeza Rice, in an interview on national U.S. television put the lie to the US government’s own propaganda when she declared:

“Saddam has been disarmed and his military forces have not been rebuilt.”

Unlike John Howard, Colin Powell has publicly confessed his shame at having supported the lie about WMDs.

As revealed by The Age back in 2004, Australia’s primary military agency, the Defence Intelligence Organisation,also rejected claims that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction”.

Our military and diplomatic elders call for truth on the invasion of Iraq

On 8 August, 2004, a statement by a concerned group of former service chiefs and Australian diplomats was published in The Sydney Morning Herald calling for “honest, considered and balanced foreign and security policies”.

Following exposure of the lie about Saddam’s “weapons of mass destruction”, former diplomat, Richard Woolcott, helped co-ordinate the group of 43 former service chiefs and diplomats who called for more honesty in government.

Woolcott told Independent Australia in an interview for my article ‘John Howard: Lazarus Lying’ that central to the group’s concerns was the lack of honesty in Howard’s statement in March 2003 that his policy was ‘the disarmament of Iraq, not the removal of Saddam Hussein’, and that ‘if Saddam got rid of his weapons of mass destruction he could remain in power.’

The U.S., Britain and Denmark have all conducted inquiries into the Iraq invasion, but not Australia.  Will John Howard be man enough to hang his head in shame? Don’t hold your breath!

The curious case of Bernard Gaynor: the High Court refuses to hear freedom of speech appeal. Too much law, too little reason.

Posted in Uncategorized by thecuriousmail on September 11, 2017

1984

This is not the high court of the Mabo decision, where, while obvious to nearly all australians, finally in law the arrant nonsense of terius nullius was finally laid to rest.

This is a carefully hand-picked and nurtured  politically conservative high court, where protecting the rights and freedoms of the australian people is not just a low priority, it has no standing at all.

Last month, the high court refused to hear an appeal brought by conservative activist Bernard Gaynor. The reservist had his commission with the army terminated in 2013 for provocative public comments, and has since been engaged in a legal battle with the Australian Defence Force. Gaynor won in the Federal Court, lost in the Full Federal Court, and with the High Court declining special leave to appeal, the one-time Senate candidate’s litigious crusade is now over.

I find Gaynor’s political views  deeply offensive. He is homophobic, and Islamphobic, to name just two, and I would argue against his opinions at every opportunity. But, he has an inalienable right to hold and express those views.

In March, the full court of the Federal Court delivered its judgment in Chief of the Defence Force v Gaynor. In late 2015, Gaynor successfully argued before the Federal Court that his termination infringed the freedom of political communication implied in the constitution. Last month, though, justices Nye Perram, Debbie Mortimer and Jacqueline Gleeson accepted an appeal by the Australian Defence Force and upheld the validity of Gaynor’s termination.

The full court’s decision predominantly rested on two related grounds. First, the bench found that primary judge Robert Buchanan had erred in conceptualising the constitutional protection as a “right” afforded to Gaynor. They said: “The proposition that the implied freedom does not involve, nor does it recognise or confer, any personal rights on individuals in the same way the first amendment to the US constitution does, is an observation which has been made repeatedly in almost every case dealing [with] the freedom of political communication.” While Buchanan had initially acknowledged this in the judgment, his subsequent application of the law suffered from a “rights-based analysis” defect.  (The judge had erred in interpreting the ‘freedom of political communication’ as an individual ‘right’, rather than a constraint on the exercise of legislative power.  Seriously??! ) 

Second, the full court disagreed with the subject of Buchanan’s analysis. The first instance decision had assessed the constitutional validity of the decision to terminate Gaynor’s commission, a discretionary power granted under federal regulations. According to Perram, Mortimer and Gleeson, the correct approach was instead to consider whether the authorising regulation itself was invalid for disproportionately burdening the implied freedom. While they accepted that the regulation “was capable of making an officer pay a price for [their] communications”, it was nevertheless “suitable, necessary, and adequate in balance with respect to any burden it imposes” on the freedom of political communication. Gaynor’s termination was therefore valid. (The Court of Appeal found that in some circumstances the restriction of the freedom of political communication is justified and held that the ’…circumstances of Gaynor’s comments’ and his refusal to accept and adhere to orders made by the ADF, were extreme. Therefore, any harm to his freedom of political communication was outweighed by the need to reserve the power of the ADF to terminate individuals whose conduct and behaviour placed them in a category where their continued presence in the ADF was regarded as sufficiently serious. Seriously?? At no time did he purport to represent the ADF. He was speaking as a private citizen. But what then for the racist and homophobic police officer, speaking as a private citizen?)

Gaynor perhaps represents an unfortunate test case for the ventilation of important free speech issues. Many would no doubt strongly disagree with the views he stridently espoused. His “antipathy to overt tolerance or support of homosexuality” and “statements critical of adherents of Islam”, as Buchanan described, could be labelled homophobic and Islamophobic. Some might even go so far as to say the implied constitutional protection for political communication simply does not, or should not, extend to such comments. Yet the high court has previously stated: “History … teaches that abuse and invective are an inevitable part of political discourse.”

Gaynor’s views were expressed in his own time, in his capacity as a private citizen and not while he was on duty or in uniform. While his comments did draw a connection with the ADF, he was not purporting to speak on its behalf. There is something deeply unsettling about the government seeking to regulate an individual’s views, whether public servant, army reservist or ordinary citizen.

It is on this point that the final substantive paragraph of Buchanan’s initial judgment resonates: “the applicant’s commission was terminated because of the publication of his private views about political matters. The fact that those publications were at variance with [ADF] or government policy, or were in terms of which some may strongly disapprove, or were critical of [ADF] policies or instructions, does not appear to me to be sufficiently connected with any legitimate legislative aim to displace the freedom of political communication implied in the constitution.”

To some, this reasoning is compelling and the end result just. Indeed, the court’s disapproval of Gaynor’s comments was thinly veiled. But if he had instead criticised the government’s defence policy, would the outcome have been different? How do we rationally distinguish between political statements that deserve constitutional protection and those that do not?

The High Court’s refusal to even consider an appeal from Gaynor should be deeply troubling, regardless of your political persuasion. The Full Federal Court finding that the ADF did not impermissibly encroach on Gaynor’s constitutionally protected free speech has broader ramifications, for public servants, for those in receipt of a government pension or benefit, or a business with contracts with the government, and indeed for the ordinary citizen. They may be well-worn to the point of cliché, but the words of English writer Evelyn Beatrice Hall are apt. “I disapprove of what you say,” she mused in 1906, “but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Her and I might, but our courts will not.

A question ignored is not a question answered, and by not hearing the appeal, the high court is abrogating its responsibilities.  Do australian citizens have certain freedoms, and if so, under what circumstances can those freedoms be over-ridden, if at all?? A question ignored is not a question answered.

High Court decision on SSM postal vote: another failure of fortitude and reason.

Posted in Uncategorized by thecuriousmail on September 9, 2017

high court

In yet another example of the inherent bias and cowardice of  the judicial system in favour of politicians and the bureaucracy,  the high court recently rejected an appeal against the funding of the government’s SSM poll.

Did parliament give the government permission to withdraw $122 million?

The first of the substantive challenges against the postal survey was that the government did not have a valid “appropriation” to withdraw the $A122 million for it from the Treasury.

Before the government withdraws money, it first needs permission from the parliament, known as an appropriation. This process of parliamentary approval for government withdrawal of funds is required by Section 83 of the Constitution, which states:

No money shall be drawn from the Treasury of the Commonwealth except under appropriation made by law.

It was common ground that parliament has not passed any new appropriation to authorise the withdrawal of the $122 million. So, the government drew ona pre-authorised $295 million bucket of money that had been established by the parliament as a contingency fund. This is known as the Advance to the Finance Minister.

In order for the finance minister to draw upon that money, two conditions need to be met:

  • the finance minister needs to be “satisfied that there is an urgent need for expenditure”; and
  • the expenditure needs to be “unforeseen” at the time the act was passed (which was in May, 2017).

One argument was that this type of appropriation is constitutionally invalid – that it gives the government, in effect, a blank cheque to spend up to $295 million, which is in breach of the fundamental purpose of Section 83.

However, the Commonwealth argued that this type of pre-approval has a history that dates to early English and colonial practice.  (An appeal to ‘customary’ is fallacious and self-perpetuating, ‘we have always done it this way, and so keep doing it’,  and as an argument contains no separate reasoning or facts. It is as meaningful as saying it was God’s will.) Parliament has approved the withdrawal, but chosen to do so by giving the government a wide discretion, limited by the specified amount of money. (Q. Specifically, what is this ‘wide discretion’? What might be allowed/disallowed in the exercise of this discretion, and what are the reasons or guidelines for any such allowance/disallowance? A. Whatever the government says!)

The plaintiffs also argued that the expenditure was neither urgent nor unforeseen. They argued that something could only be “urgent” if it needed to be dealt with so quickly that it would not be possible to go to parliament to seek a special appropriation. They said that the only cause of “urgency” was of the government’s own making: it had chosen to require the survey results to be available by November 15, 2017.

In response, the government argued that it was for the minister, and not parliament or the court, to be satisfied that the expenditures were urgent (No, the constitution says it needs to be urgent, and the high court is saying a government can define the meaning of any word! Self-justification anyone?), and that urgency could be created by changes in policy that result in an urgent need for expenditure within timeframes determined by the government . (So a government can not only define the meaning of words, it can also establish a time-frame by its own actions, for convenient partisan-political reasons,  but in the absence of any substantive, separate, or over-riding justification,  and call that time-frame urgent!)

The plaintiffs then said a postal survey was not only unforeseen, but in fact was specifically contemplated by the government, even if the exact details had not been determined by May.

The policy of a plebiscite on same-sex marriage was part of the government’s platform at the 2016 election. After the plebiscite was first defeated by the Senate in November 2016, the idea of conducting it via a postal survey was contemplated by at least some government ministers. It had been contemplated so seriously that the Department of Finance had received advice from the attorney-general’s department on the option of conducting a postal plebiscite in March 2017.

The government argued in response that the expenditure was unforeseen because, while the policy of conducting a plebiscite was longstanding, the expenditure on a postal survey by the ABS was not endorsed by cabinet, and thus becoming official government policy, until after the budget in May. This was enough to make the expenditure unforeseen. (So the government is saying long-standing discussion of a postal survey at no time did or should have included a component of how to finance it, how to pay for it? Really?? It would seem to be at least an admission of incompetence on their part, but does meet the requirement of being unforeseen.)

The plaintiffs raised an additional argument that the expenditure was not for what is referred to as the government’s “ordinary annual services”. Under the Constitution, the Senate’s powers over expenditure on such services is limited. Under Section 53 of the Constitution, it can’t introduce or amend such expenditures, although it can reject them outright.

The Advance to the Finance Minister the government was relying on is found in what is known as Appropriation Act No 1, which contains expenditures for the government’s ordinary annual services. The Senate’s powers over this bill are therefore limited. The plaintiffs argued it was wrong for the government to draw on the Advance to the Finance Minister contained in such a bill for the postal survey, which was a new, unique and extreme set of circumstances.

The difficulty with each of the arguments that challenged the $122 million is that the court is generally reluctant to interfere with how the parliament has decided to authorise government withdrawal of funds. (The high court is deferring to parliament, but it is not parliament authorizing this. It is the government, and they have deliberately bypassed parliament. Is the decision of a government the same as a vote endorsed by parliament? Can a government act contrary to common-sense and the constitution, without any endorsement of that action from parliament, and not be held accountable? This is the question.)

The High Court has previously indicated that the question is, essentially, a matter to be resolved by the parliament. (It is the responsibility of the high court to ensure that a government acts legally, in accordance with the constitution, and with the interests and freedoms of the people of australia in mind. The high court is abrogating this prime responsibility.)  

The High Court will later be writing its reasons to explain why it allowed this course of events to continue. I, and many other Australians, will be reading and discussing it.

Politicians and parliamentary democracy: a new direction

Posted in Uncategorized by thecuriousmail on July 15, 2017

 

Uluru

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.   Albert Einstein.
Parliamentary democracy has reached a point of irreversible irrelevance and irredeemable corruption. A lack of accountability and an absence of transparency,  fundamentally characterizes western style parliamentary democracies.  It is not an temporary aberration. It was inevitable due to the structure, and it is in the continuing interests of the political parties to neither reform themselves nor the process. The obvious question then is how does reform occur? Indeed, how can real reform possibly occur? The privileged control the political process, and while token concessions may be made, the privileged will always work to insist on their relevance, and will never willingly relinquish their pre-eminent position.

As history shows, there is actually only one answer.

What do I see as the future in Australia?  It’s a thought experiment on my part. It is a conversation all Australians should have, with the goal of arriving at a consensus. This is not intended to be exhaustive.

My preference is for direct democracy, and technology exists for that to be possible. As there needs to be no priest between you and god  (or that role is informal and shared), there needs to be no political class in governing ourselves. Citizens are always the ones held accountable for the decisions of politicians, without having agreed to a particular decision, or even opposed a particular decision: a politician may leave office with generous benefits, but the country is bankrupt, a politician may make decisions on an overseas armed intervention, but it is the citizen who suffers retaliatory terrorist attacks etc. That being the case, that the citizen is always held finally accountable, then let that  be on what they truly decide. But it might be a step too far at the moment.

Party politics needs to be abandoned.  Decisions in that scenario are made to be consistent with an ideology and agenda (often a secret agenda), not the best decision on available evidence, and decisions are prone to corrupt influence, and an often absurd short-sightedness. Transparency is the key to accountability, therefore no secret decisions by government or bureaucracy, and such things as the secret commercial-in-confidence arrangements entered into by governments must be banned.

Nationally,  12 people are elected. Term is 10 years, and 1 term only. Their mandate is to be independent,  make laws for the long-term interest of Australian citizens, and current and 7th generation (to pick a number) interests are of equal import. Laws are to encourage in all aspects equality, and fairness, and the process to encourage openness, participation, and accountability. Lobbying must be banned. Arguably there must be some kind of forum where citizens are able to argue for a particular position or cause, but lobbying, as it is practised and has been practiced, is an insidious undermining of democratic values and an invitation to corruption and otherwise compromised decisions.

Each of the 12 must provide a written explanation openly available for their decision, the reasoning for their vote. Secret decisions (cabinet, bureaucracy), and decisions without justification or explanation and not consistent with reason and common-sense, are commonplace today. In these situations a corrupt or compromised or just plain ‘bad’ decision is almost inevitable. There must be no party affiliations,  no collusion or contrivance as to voting intension, either formal or informal, as what is required is a vote based on reason, evidence and insight, not the ‘party line’ (adherence to benefits the party of course,  not the citizen).

Then randomly the vote of only 9 is counted, and a simple majority rules. The random count element is important as it is designed to minimize the potential of vote manipulation. (As i said, all of the 12 must provide openly available written explanations of their vote before the count).

Those that govern, and the governed, is an antiquated distinction. Twice a year citizen sponsored referendum may be proposed. 50% + 1 of the citizen vote means the proposal is to go to referendum,  and two-thirds + 1 means the referendum is passed and is law. Ultimate authority does not reside in the state, or institutions, or courts, it resides , always has and always will, in the people.

In direct response to a decision of the 12, to cancel or nullify a particular law a referendum can be held any time, provided the 50% + 1 level is met. If successful the particular law is over-ruled and null and void.

In all walks of life, there are people in Australia who display our best characteristics,  through their intelligence, honesty, empathy, insightfulness, and commitment to a shared future, they are suitable for election as one of the 12. No current ‘politician’, and very few past ones,  would qualify.

The bureaucracy,  the judicial system, and the police service, would need simultaneous reform, and, as it is currently experienced, the capitalist economic system is incompatible with this future.

Stephen Hawking calls for human colonization of space.

Posted in Uncategorized by thecuriousmail on June 25, 2017

 

hawking

Speaking on Tuesday at the  Starmus Festival, Stephen Hawking has called for a concerted international effort on space exploration.

During his speech, titled “The future of humanity,” the 75-year-old black hole expert said that “Earth is under threat from so many areas that it is difficult for me to be positive.”

There are extraterrestrial apocalypses, such as asteroid impacts “guaranteed by the laws of physics and probability.” On Earth, Hawking cited melting polar ice caps and climate change, unforeseen consequences from genetic engineering, loss of animal life and dwindling physical resources, among other ill portents.

Hawking says we have a mere few hundred years to successfully move from the Earth before events overtake us.

“Spreading out may be the only thing that saves us from ourselves,” he said.

A most unscientific sentiment Mr Hawking, that the upright ape can thru their behaviour so seriously jeopardize their existence on this planet, but just by moving planets the upright ape will be born anew, but better.  As meaningless as something happened/did not happen, because it was God’s will.  All threats cited by him, except one, are a consequence of human action. And in moving planets we will suddenly behave differently?? This is contrary to evidence.

When the white European spread out into Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, how did they behave? History records the enslavement, the exploitation, and the atrocities, and is witness to the desolation of indigenous cultures.

Hawking admits there are risks to the kind of audacious space exploration he’s calling for. We don’t know what or whom we’ll find when we venture further afield.

He said on Tuesday, with just a twinge of envy, “If there are beings on Alpha Centauri, they remain blissfully unaware of the rise of Donald Trump.”

Professor Hawking, if and when the upright ape moves off this planet to others, it will do again what it did here. Evidence says so. The upright ape has not grown up, perhaps cannot mature. And if there are beings on Alpha Centauri, they would understand that the human race is a spreading cancer.

A Triffid In A Field Of Sunflowers

Posted in Uncategorized by thecuriousmail on June 25, 2017

triffid

When is the last time you heard discussion of how the political process in Western democracies might be improved, might evolve? Less corrupt, more representative, more equitable, more accountable, more transparent? I say there is more discussion on whether there was sport in a possible ancient Martian civilization, than on such democratic issues.

Why is that? Have we reached some kind of democratic perfection that I am unaware of? Alas, no. It is possible that I am a triffid in a field of sunflowers, and such perfection has  passed me by? Again, alas, no (and yes).

Even Catholicism, that bastion of ignorance, tradition and conservatism, has changed more over the same period than the actual process of democracy.

Why is this so? Why even no general discussion? I maintain the privileged control society, including the parliamentary democratic process, and would see any change to the democratic process as a threat to their position. So no discussion from the politicians and the political parties they control, and no discussion in the mass media that they control.

There is an illusion  of choice, but in reality a fundamental sameness to the political parties –and politicians in a political party vote as the party directs– because the privileged set the parameters of the political parties, tho normally in secret and thru their influence, and lobbyists walk across the bones of Cleisthenes. It is a secure position for the privileged, as the masses think they have control, and no slave is as happy, and less of a threat,  as a willing slave.

Who nominates judges? Who promotes and dismisses the bureaucrats? Who makes laws? Control the politicians and the political process and you control society. An election every-so-often is of no consequence to the privileged.

However, a change has occurred that seems to indicate the privileged have gone beyond just a manipulation for their own interests. They seem to be deliberately attacking the poor and the powerless. So-called democracies around the world, thru the politicians and the political process they control, who in turn control the police and the courts,  are specifically targeting the poor and powerless.

Concomitant with the attacks by the privilege has been an increase in a semantic deception. In a dark Orwellian or Stalinesque manner, words are misused to disguise real motives and the intended effects. So ‘reform’, improvement’, ‘fairness’, ‘committed’, ‘solution’, ‘transparency’, and such like, have an import not consistent with the meaning of the words, but consistent with their intended deception.

 Re the 2017 Turnbull government welfare “reform” (vis-a-vis 48 of the richest Australians pay no income tax):

This is not about addressing fraud. It about terrorising poor people, the unemployed, the sick and students, to name a few. Much as it has done with the hyper-terrorism threat, the government is promoting fear for political and ideological purposes. The fearmongering is working. People are becoming suicidal.

In light of the rise of One Nation, the government hopes that attacking “dole bludgers” will bring back some lost supporters to the fold.

Why concentrate on screwing poor people and those just above them in the income stakes but do nothing about the 679 big businesses which paid no income tax on gross revenue of $462 billion in 2014/15? The answer is simple. It is the same reason they do nothing about their own entitlement rorts or superannuation scheme. They are part of the 1% and share the culture of entitlement many capitalists have.

–(From Independent Australia).

Police: Will the corruption and abuse of power ever end?

Posted in Uncategorized by thecuriousmail on June 23, 2017

qps

There is  a personality type drawn to employment in a police force, there is routinely an anti-social culture inculcated in the organization, and there are all-too-regular instances of police corruption and abuse of power. The police are a unique organization, and the community expects and insists on a higher standard of behaviour, performance, and accountability.

The larger the organization, the more difficult it is to address issues. Easier to turn around a row boat than an ocean liner, so it makes sense to put a limit on the size of a police organization.

Where hiring/dismissal, disciplinary action, and promotion are solely the province of police themselves, it must change so community members have an involvement, and in fact, have a veto on any decision (community members, not politicians, with a time-limited term).  All reasoning and decisions must be made public. Part of the reasoning for this is similar to as to why jury trials are important to a democratic society.  And the community must set the remuneration. A community that has a respected police service will suitably reward them.

Inculcation begins in a police academy. If such a central training academy is retained, there must be routine and widespread community involvement in the training of new police, and the training itself needs to include education in the mind (ethics, philosophy, reasoning, history etc).

Technology exists, with body cameras and GPS tracking, where the police can be monitored/recorded during their work/non work activities. It must be utilized. GPS tracking and body cameras must be activated and recording at all times while on duty, in the case of the camera, except for toilet breaks. GPS can always show where they were located. There must be penalties, including dismissal, for not having activated, or attempting to disable or circumvent, the camera or GPS. Extensive research shows that when people think they are being watched, they are demonstrably more inclined to do the right thing.  The police are a unique organization, and the community expects and insists on a higher standard of behaviour, performance, and accountability.

The issue of recruitment is problematic, as particular negative personality types are drawn to such employment, and there is a desperate need for diversity.

There have been many articles written about the political personality types of the police. One of the most influential is the 1972 work, The Police Personality: Fact or Fiction by Robert Balch. He explores several questions in an effort to crystallize the various arguments in the research on police psychology: are authoritarian personality types more likely to choose police work as a profession? Are police more or less likely to have authoritarian personality types than the general public? Does being a police officer exacerbate authoritarian impulses?

On the topic of authoritarianism and police, Balch summarized some characteristics:

  1. Conventionalism: rigid adherence to conventional, middle-class values.
  2. Authoritarian Submission: submissive, uncritical attitude toward idealized moral authorities of the ingroup.
  3. Authoritarian Aggression: tendency to be on the lookout for, and to condemn, reject, and punish people who violate conventional values.
  4. Anti-intraception: opposition to the subjective, the imaginative, the tender-minded.
  5. Superstition and Stereotypy: the belief in mystical determinants of the individual’s fate; the disposition to think in rigid categories.
  6. Power and “toughness”: preoccupation with the dominance-submission, strong-weak, leader-follower dimension; identification with power figures; overemphasis upon the conventionalized attributes of the ego; exaggerated assertion of strength and toughness.
  7. Destructiveness and Cynicism: generalized hostility, vilification of the human.
  8. Projectivity: The disposition to believe that wild and dangerous things go on in the world; the projection outwards of unconscious emotional impulses.
  9. Sex: Exaggerated concern with sexual “goings on.”

If such personality types are attracted to police work, then there must be great efforts made to address police culture and accountability

 

 I went to university  in Brisbane in the eighties. Queensland then was the closest I think Australia came to a “parliamentary/police dictatorship”. 

Joh Bjelke-Petersen of the National Party was the Premier. Later, when the dust settled, 2 ministers and the police commissioner were jailed. Joh was tried for perjury, but one, one only, jury member voted for his innocence. So hung jury. That jury member was a member of the National Party! The new ALP premier (and a crook himself) decided not to re-try Joh. An Australian state premier should have gone to jail.

There was a cosy corrupt relationship between the government and the police, where the police were allowed to do what they wanted, provided they supported the government.

There was widespread evidence of police involvement in illegal gambling, drug supply and dealing, extortion, stand-over tactics and assaults, prostitution, various corruptions, perjury, and verballing and planting of evidence on suspects.

It has been said that if you think qld police didn’t kill people thru their criminal activities you are naive. And there was some political and media discussion at the time, when the ALP came into government, but it was quickly and quietly dropped, because, it was said, it would have led to a public crises of confidence in the police. Yes, it sure would have!

Qld police (indeed all police services)  have a long history of corruption, criminal and violent behaviour, and there should be independent ongoing monitoring. In the time of Joh, any good cops were mostly forced out by bent cops, both co-workers and superiors. It wasn’t a good organization with a few bad apples. It was a criminal organization with a few good cops. People who lived thru Joh’s time wonder just how much Qld police culture has changed. Indeed, concerningly, if at all.

Successive governments have stripped away powers from the crime and corruption commission, the body that investigates political and police corruption, so much so, that soon the only official watchdog will actually have no power to investigate. Brave New/Old World.

So police and politicians went to jail,  but interestingly no judges. I would have sacked them all for gross incompetence and cowardice. You know, 45kg 19yo female uni student in a street march charged with assaulting 2 90+ kg policeman. Only they’re uninjured and she has a broken nose and black eye, and there’s credible defence witnesses saying she assaulted no cop.

COP: “Yes your honour, the defendant’s face assaulted my fist.”

JUDGE: “What a lovely man you are officer.  Yes, absolutely clear to me. GUILTY! “.

Crazy times.

it might be hard to fully  appreciate now, there’s been nothing comparable since (well as widespread, maybe, hopefully, err no, that’s incorrect), but at that time Qld was a laughingstock nationally and internationally, with a police culture of corruption, abuse of power, and cover-up.

“With firmness but courtesy”? What is this nonsense (substitute local police motto)? Sounds like “it’ll hurt me more than it’ll hurt you’ (which is rarely the case). Better it were ‘we serve with honesty and without favor’, or some such thing. A police force does not serve the police department,  or the government,  or the state; it serves the community. It is the community’s wish that people not murder, rape etc, and the community tasks the police (and pays for them ) to maintain that peace. And the police are accountable to that community. Police services the world over maintain a hostility, implicit and sometimes explicit,  to the community, or parts of the community, an ‘us and them’, and a fantasy that only they as good and right can control a community evil and wrong.

This police culture must change. It can only lead to police corruption and abuse of power. Police are members of the community,  charged with maintaining peace in the whole community, always with honesty and fairness and in a prescribed manner, and answerable to the whole community. If they either cannot understand their role, or they do not accept this role, their participation as police officers is immediately at  an end.

What can be said of all police forces? A substantial number of police –more than a few or some, maybe most or nearly all– are little different from the criminals they arrest.

Research is possible by googling something  like: how many police are convicted of a criminal offence. The percentage of serving police officers with criminal convictions is about 2.5% (I have seen much higher, but never lower).  The percentage of the general population with a criminal conviction is significantly lower than this. How is it that the police, tasked with upholding the law, demonstrate a higher rate of criminality than the wider community, and how is it that a person with a criminal conviction is hired into, or maintains their position in, the police force?

In Queensland in the last 12 months, serving police officers, on duty or off duty,  have been convicted of offences including murder, extortion, rape, underage sex, assault, and drug dealing. As it is, it is right and proper for the community to demand better, and to insist on a greater control of the police force.

Lightly scratch the surface of every police force and you will find widespread corruption and abuses of power.  I believe this is due to the personality type attracted to the police force, the laughably low entry requirements, and a lack of real accountability by the police to the general community.

The fiction of the ‘Rule of Law’, and why you must break the law

Posted in Uncategorized by thecuriousmail on June 21, 2017

lady justice

A law has  been defined as an ordinance of reason, for the common good, made for the care of the community, and promulgated.

I say a law must be consistent with reason and common sense,  must be equitable, the reasoning made public, and must be for the overall good of the community. For a free agent, this is a precondition for acceptance and compliance. A law is not valid if it doesn’t meet these conditions, and as such may be broken.

If a law is not reasonable, equitable and such, it is not just permissible to protest and break the law, (and if desired, to take necessary steps to avoid detection), it is the duty of all free agents to oppose, disobey, and break that law. To acquiesce (as distinct to active opposition) to an unreasonable and inequitable law is to perpetuate it, gives tacit approval to the corrupt, compromised and inept lawmakers, and is contrary to the long-term interests of society.

Such laws must be opposed, must be broken, must be defied,  that is the responsibility of all free agents.

The ‘rule of law’ is an intent to rationalize and validate control, and it is often used merely as a weapon to support the privileged and to attack the powerless. It is a mechanism of such control.

The lawmaker’s half-plead, half-threat,  of “you may disagree with a law, but you can’t disobey it”, is a totally meaningless distinction, but more, it is an implicit acknowledgment by the lawmaker of the baselessness of their claim to the legitimacy of the law.

Your understanding of,  and personal consent to, the law, is not required, and reason and fairness and openness may be entirely absent, but (because the law  is an exercise of their power and control, and an expression  of their agenda,) you are simply required to obey without reason or explanation. You are permitted an internal non-effectual objection, and it must remain internal, and it must be without force or import,  but you must still and always obey regardless.

Yet if a law is consistent with reason and common sense,  is  equitable, the reasoning open, and in the overall interest of the community, ‘disagree but obey’ is simply nonsensical. But the rule of law cannot even limit its own absurdity: disagree with good reason, but you must obey the unreasonable, the discriminatory, the inequitable and unfair, the concocted and deceitful, and even the absurd.  See with new eyes, open.

The legal system is concerned with the legal system,  they are as vultures picking over a rancid carcass. It has been oft said,  but is worthwhile repeating: the legal system is concerned only with the law, and  not justice, not reason, not equity. If the government made ketchup ( tomato sauce) illegal,  the police — subject to regular corruption and abuse of power issues– would arrest anybody with ketchup, and the courts would contest interpretation and argue particulars, usually at considerable financial cost to the accused (and in this paradigm more costly legal representation usually equates to a better result for the defence, so all subject to the law, all being nominally equal, but more leniency if you are privileged).

To the police and the courts a strict intellectual obedience and subservience applies –the door to rationality and reason is slammed shut, and the door to absurdity flung open– and no law is ever too unjust or unreasonable or fanciful to disobey At best one might hear them muttering the mantra, ‘disagree but obey’. But never,  ‘on good reason I disagree, and therefore I do not obey’.

If a law is  unjust, if a law is nonsensical, how is redress possible?

It must be, it can only be,  the individual, the  free agent, taking action. You.

If a law isn’t consistent with reason and common sense,  isn’t equitable, the reasoning isn’t made public, and isn’t for the overall good of the community, it is the duty of all free agents to oppose, disobey, and break that law.

In these circumstances,  if the state uses force against you, or threatens to use force, it is your duty to respond in kind.

The single and sole purpose of the state is to provide the framework for the interactions
of free agents. It has no purpose,  no meaning, no justification , no legitimacy, beyond
this, and it is only with the approval , initial and ongoing, of  free agents that the state
has any reason for existence.  The modern state has come to act as if the only reason for
free agency is to support the state, and that the state exists as some separate and beyond
entity to free agency. This argument is the modern equivalent of the divine right of
kings,

 

See with new eyes, open

Victorian supreme court judge, Michael Croucher, in sentencing Sevdet Ramadan Besim, 19, for planning to kill a police officer: “It was also evil because, among other things, the planned behaviour was calculated to undermine the authority of the institutions of government.”

Any claim to authority by the institutions of government was long ago extinguished by their lies, deception, and manipulation.

Who does history applaud? Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Irena Sendler, for example (only two examples among many throughout history) who broke the law and moved Jews to safety,  or the german police officer who helped round up Jews, likely knowing their destination in a concentration camp, and their fate.

So who of the two does history applaud?
Bonhoeffer and Sendler.
But they were breaking German law.
So there must be times when the law is over-ruled by something else. Bonhoeffer and Sendler understood that at the time, and history honors people like them.
What might be a justification for action like his, a justification available in the moment,  that might successfully predict a future history’s positive conclusion?
I say,  a law must be consistent with reason and common sense,  must be equitable, the reasoning made public, and must be for the overall good of the community. And it is not sufficient to simply disagree; one must act. YOU must ACT.