Monthly Archives: July 2014

More On That New Work-For-The-Dole Plan

“Dealing With Centrelink IS A Full-Time Job”

So sayeth a graffiti down in Victoria somewhere where everybody driving can see. It’s most likely true. The dole being what it is – money for not working- the government sort of has to have scary gate-keepers to make the experience miserable enough so more people don’t want to be come dole recipients. The Centrelink experience is the big stick, to the tiny carrot of disincentive to work that is the unemployment benefit payment. Gone are the days of the “non-specific arts grant”.

What’s even scarier is that under the ALP government, the ranks of people who had some kind of Centrelink payments swelled to 6million, which is roughly a quarter of the population. You can see why the Coalition government wants to do something about Centrelink payments to people except it also means kicking a lot of dust into a lot of faces. It’s not going to win them votes. It’s all very nutty and you wonder exactly how the numbers are stacked. Fortunately Guy Rundle over at Crikey has done some maths (thanks to Pleiades for the heads up):

Australia currently has around 830,000 people currently receiving unemployment benefit, which would suggest a raw figure of 33.2 million job applications being made per month under the new scheme.
However, a yet-to-be specified number of people will be exempt from this requirement because they are undergoing training and there will be a certain amount of non-fulfilment — so let’s bang this down to a mere 25 million applications. Let’s now assume that people send these far and wide — full letter and CV applications as required by the new conditions — to all employers.

There are around 2 million registered businesses in Australia, but many of these are sole proprietors billing as companies or multiple shell companies around a single real business. Let’s assume 1 million employment entities. By this absurdly abstract raw count, every business would receive 25 extra applications per month.
If we assume that every application will be taken seriously — and that is surely part of the social contract the government is proposing — then every application will take, say, 20 minutes to process, or 8.3 hours a month, a full working day. Assuming these are being handled by an HR staffer on $50,000, that would be $200/month, or $50/week in extra business costs.

But of course, these things won’t fall equally. Many of these applications from minimally qualified applicants with little work experience will go to the entry-level service sector, dominated by small (under 19 employees) and micro (under four employees) businesses.

Let’s look at Tasmania, with the highest unemployment rate. The state has 18,500 unemployed looking for full-time work, who would generate 740,000 applications per month. It has around 25,000 businesses in the service sector — but assuming sole traders and shells, we can bust that down to 15,000 companies. Since small businesses employ 45% of the overall workforce, let’s say they’ll receive 300,000 of these applications (in reality, it will likely be more).
Thus by this reckoning, every operating small business in Tasmania — whether it has advertised or not — will receive an average of 20 job applications per month, generating, by the implied social contract, 400 minutes, or 6.67 hours of extra work per month. That is less than the nationwide business average, but we’re talking about companies with one or two employees. Even if they don’t spend a great deal of time on these applications — and many, being decent people, will give them a read — the actual task of processing them will chew up time in a business day.

But the position gets terrifying when you limit this process to companies that are actually advertising vacancies. currently has 78 vacancies in various service and unskilled sectors for the whole of Tasmania. Let’s multiply that by three for other sources — local papers, word of mouth, milk bar windows — and assume that those 234 vacancies receive two-thirds, 67%, of the applications. That is half a million applications per month for 234 jobs, or 2136 applications per job.

That’s pretty scary. Being somebody who has to read job applications, I am just dreading seeing a load of job applications where I can’t tell if they are keen or not at all. Just as night follows day, if the Coalition get their way on this idiotic idea, I will be reading a lot more resumes than I need to or want to – and that’s just my own selfish take.

The somewhat bigger picture is this: If you are in a small industry, there won’t be more than 40 companies in your sector of work. Once you’re applied to all of them, you’re done. It’s one thing to imagine an infinitely interchangeable unemployed person going into a workforce with unlimited flexibility in how it handles skilled positions in the workplace but the reality is nothing like this.  Certainly if it was a small sector with only 40 or so companies, you would be sending in a resume every month to the same companies knowing full well they won’t even read them because they know you’re only doing it to get unemployment benefits.

As policies go it’s pretty crappy because it cynically assumes that people won’t get jobs, but they have to keep trying. And if everybody did do as assumed by the government says, the numbers say it can’t work. The scheme also floods the HR departments of various companies with garbage data they didn’t ask for, but must be processed anyway – which is costly as well as time-consuming and aggravating. And it also ignores how jobs are distributed across the country. I’m actually scared of how this one is going to turn out.

We Need To Reconsider Education, Work, And Pay

This isn’t a popular notion but it bears mentioning anyway. Our society runs a kind of Darwinian race for our kids as they grow up. The rules don’t stay the same and fads come and go, but in general, the 12 years of junior school and high school is to pick out the best students and send them to university. It also selects the group who are not as good academically, but kids with aptitude towards various trades. It really isn’t interested in kids who are neither academically brilliant or have little sensate skill they can parlay into a trade. Unsurprisingly the dregs of this process end up as adults without a future of any kind. And it’s this population that ends up on the long-term unemployed list, or ends up in a life of crime.

You know those kids. You know those people. You know they exist.

The point is, schooling spends a good deal of time picking winners and losers, and some of the losers lose big, and lose early.  Some of them get a second chance and find some kind of career, but more often than not, the pure abject losers end up as the long term unemployed. It’s a brave employer that gives those people a chance by hiring them. Living at home with one’s parents into one’s forties is not a dignified way to be; living like a homeless person or actually becoming a homeless person is even worse. Doing it on welfare payments likely isn’t exactly the lap of luxury.

Having created winners, the winners go into medicine and law, and some even become politicians and make laws; and this is where it gets really unfair. The people who never lost in their lives get to tell the losers who lost early and lost big that somehow their own fault for not having the right dedication when likely it has a great deal to do with circumstance and environment. Arguably, the winners get to corner the market for high-paying work and the benefits that accrue from such work over the less successful, and then press home the advantage at every turn.

Thus inequality in our society necessarily starts with our concept of education, work and payment. Inequality can only be addressed by governments that are willing to admit that part of its job is wealth re-distribution from the overly successful to those in need – that is to say, the successful lawyer or doctor or banker can afford to pay a little extra to help the people they left behind. To turn around and scorn the losers and cut the benefits seems like an incredibly ungracious thing to do. It’s really not that difficult to understand. Hence a Coalition government that seeks to cut the welfare payments and cut taxes is a government that seeks to increase inequality in our society. There’s really no two ways about it, and it’s pretty deplorable.


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View From The Couch – 29/Jul/2014

Who Asked You, Peter Reith?

It’s interesting Peter Reith has taken this moment to tell us he thinks the future Liberal Party leader has to be Julie Bishop. Peter Reith, an awful character at the best of times, did have a big mouth so it’s not surprising he’s chosen to speak out of turn; and yet he’s basically sending up a weather balloon to see what happens when he nominates Julie Bishop. It’s weird because it’s hard to think of an equivalent happening right now where maybe a retired former minster like say Lindsay Tanner randomly nominating Tanya Plibersek to be the next Labor leader. Its hard to get my head around. basically, he’s answering a question that hasn’t been asked with an answer that probably isn’t wanted by anybody. It might be true that Joe Hockey isn’t the next best candidate after Tony Abbott – but why are we even talking about this now, when Tony is making his best impression as an international statesman?

I am not saying there is likely to be any leadership change in Tony Abbott’s first term or even his second term. Gillard’s knifing of Rudd with the support of Bill Shorten and others is not about to be replicated by the Coalition. However, of Australia’s 28 prime ministers, only seven have been in office for more than four years so it’s not unreasonable to suggest that after Abbott has had the job for at least four years or more, anything could happen.

Really now, Mr. Reith? Do tell!

We’re Not Talking About The Band Severed Heads Here

The headline reads: Sydney man pictured with severed heads. It sounds like the guy is having a whale of a time.

However, a friend of the pair told Fairfax Media they have no intention of ever returning.
“They say they’ve never lived a better life than what they’re living now and ‘you don’t know what youse are missing out on, especially with the turn of events happening now [with the establishment of a caliphate in Iraq],” said the friend, who didn’t want to be identified.

“People say they’re worried these guys will come back but they understand that if they leave the country to go to Syria or Iraq they’re not coming back. They’re after two things – victory for Islam or martyrdom.”

But the Attorney-General emphasised that home-grown terrorism remains a significant domestic threat.

He will seek to introduce legislation to parliament to make it an offence to encourage terrorism.

“One thing no one should think is that this is a problem on the other side of the world,” said Brandis. “This is a problem that exists and germinates within our suburbs.”

Argh. It’s hard to tell who has the lower IQ – the guy who uses the plural of you as ‘youse’, or the Attorney General of this land – “Champion of Bigots” George Brandis – who thinks he can write a law to prohibit encouraging terrorism; especially when you consider the reason he wants to champion bigots is in the name of free speech and freedom of expression. The contradiction of his position had me in stitches of laughter until I realised he’s going to try it anyway and waste everybody’s time and money.

It’s not good that there’s some angry Arab-Australian running around chopping heads in Syria, but it seems the horse has bolted. The guy doesn’t want to come back anyway. Meanwhile the rest of ISIS/ISIL is busy getting medieval on people’s asses. They’re placing decapitated heads on spikes. I mean, that’s Vlad-Tepes-Krazy.

Work For The Dole Is A Kind Of Employment, No?

I don’t get the conservative mental fixation about the imagined dole-bludgers. It’s like they don’t understand that at a certain point some people are not employable. That could be a point in time, or a point in the person’s life, but being employable in the broadest sense, narrows so much that people cannot make the grade. They might be too old to do what is necessary; they might just be too inexperienced; or dare I say too stupid to do anything of value; and then there are some who are a combination of all sort of elements that make a person unemployable.

And at a certain point, society is better off just paying these people off in some way so they don’t turn to a life of petty crime or become destitute and turn to a life of violent crime. It’s not a difficult concept to understand but you keep meeting people who say, “but it’s our tax money being wasted” as if how that money was spent was their decision to make (it’s not, it’s the government’s) and ignores the fact that the money spent staves off enough desperation it probably is doing a lot of social good. This is why our society came up with a safety net in the first place. it really isn’t a whole lot of money, and anybody living on it, isn’t having a wonderful life unless of course they live at home with wealthy parents.  And yes, such people exist – I know a couple myself – but you still wouldn’t want to be them. It seems stupidly ungenerous to want to begrudge them the pittance and punish the long-term unemployed or the young unemployed with “work for the dole schemes”.

A burning question that ought to be raised is “do they work?” According to people who have made a study, they don’t.

But Professor Jeff Borland from the University of Melbourne – who conducted the only empirical study of the Howard government’s work for the dole scheme – says years of research show such schemes are unlikely to help people find jobs.

”The international evidence is overwhelming,” he said. ”It’s hard to believe that the government couldn’t understand that this isn’t the best way to improve people’s employability.

”I guess you have to conclude that there are other reasons for wanting to expand the program, and the title of the scheme [work for the dole] suggests it’s being done for political reasons.”

Labor has warned businesses will face a deluge of fake job applications under the government’s measures.

Employment Minister Eric Abetz said that could be a fair criticism.

”We as a government do not want box-ticking to take place,” he told ABC TV. ”We don’t want red tape and inconvenience to employers, but what we do want is a genuine attempt by the job seeker to obtain employment.”

No box ticking! It’s going to be hell from next year when all these companies are going to get their inboxes of their emails stuffed with resumes from people who don’t really want a job but are forced to put on a very good show of pretending to want a job. You wouldn’t want to employ any of them, and they don’t really want to be employed. The charade is going to be unbearable. And what good does the government think it’s going to achieve? Especially when we know it doesn’t do anything tangibly beneficial.

It’s just bullying by the government. If this business of having to apply for 40jobs per month for 6 months before they get the dole comes into play, it’s going to be unwanted-resume-hell for every company out there. It totally ignores the reality of the marketplace.

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News That’s Fit To Punt – 27/Jul/2014

An Interesting Take On Putin’s Russia

To my thinking Russia under Putin has been a shit sandwich wrapped in a Crony-Capitalist Kleptocracy wrapped in an Oligarchy of former KGB people with connections. But that’s just me. Others may tell me of their beautiful literature or cinema or poetry or whatever, but in most part Russia since Putin has been a contemporary art project of how awful petty nationalism can be in the 21st century. It’s like a country taken over by a man with an inferiority complex who wants to boast of his secret inner greatness. As such the country displays strange impulses in all its affairs, from its handling of the Chechens in Georgia to the land grab of Crimea to funding extremist nutjobs in Ukraine just to stop Ukraine joining the West to hosting bad looking Olympics and wining unlikely World Cup bids.

So, here’s an interesting article explaining how these impulses play out inside Russia.

Some Western pundits, including foreign policy realists and anti-interventionists who see US support for Ukraine’s pro-Maidan leadership as a textbook example of meddling and dubious alliance-making, contend that the Russian point of view in the Ukraine crisis has been insufficiently considered and unfairly maligned. Russia has legitimate reasons, they say, in not having hostile neighbours, not being surrounded by NATO members, and for feeling general resentment at being kicked around by the West after the end of the Cold War.

There is certainly much to debate about various US and NATO actions in Eastern Europe after 1991, and the extent to which the United States should be involved today in counteracting Russia’s coercion toward its neighbours. That said, it is hard to see by what moral or geopolitical principle an authoritarian crony capitalist regime in Moscow is entitled to bite off chunks of a non-consenting Ukraine.

A few years ago, retired Russian general and former arms negotiator Vladimir Dvorkin wrote in a column for that the real cause of the Kremlin’s anxiety about NATO expansion was not fear of invasion – an absurd idea given Russia’s nuclear arsenal – but fear of ‘‘encirclement’’ by more liberal and modernised societies, which would then exert pressure on Russia to follow the same path.

I guess I would be one of those people saying the West ought not to be meddling in Ukraine. But as you know I base that observation of never being able to win the Eastern Front in computer games as Napoleon, Kaiser Wilhelm II or Hitler. I just don’t see much meat on the bone that makes it worthwhile, although I will say that resources in Ukraine are underdeveloped. It’s entirely another debate whether more petrochemical resources development – i.e. mining for gas and oil – is a good way forward for what was once the breadbasket of Eastern Europe. I would contend it wasn’t.

Was Nuts Yesterday, Is Nuts-er Today

It’s an interesting thing that the world leader on a collision course with Vladimir Putin is Tony Abbott, who while he may not have the military might to scare Russia for a moment, has the ample opportunity to dis-invite Putin from the G-20 meeting in Brisbane later this year. Of course, Tony Abbott is jumping at the opportunity to be any kind of international statesman because his own domestic politics aren’t working out well. One would imagine it is similar in nature to Vladimir Putin’s desire to go invading neighbouring states that were once part of the USSR, just not as violent.

The advice he got yesterday from the international community about sending troops to Ukraine to help ‘secure the site’ of the MH17, was that it was nuts. This sentiment has been echoed by the ADF itself, through unofficial channels otherwise known as “figures who” do “not wish to be named”.

The senior defence figure, who did not wish to be named, said it was a poor idea for Australia.
”They can’t secure the site,” he said. ”It’s kilometres long and wide. They could escort Australian officials and provide close protection, but this is a civil task rather than a military task and it’s a terribly volatile area.

”We don’t have the language skills or knowledge of the area.

”For any military deployment, you have to look at a status of forces agreement with the government and, given the area the aircraft is in, I don’t think there is anyone to make that agreement with. What I’ve heard is the rebels don’t want more than 30 investigators there.”

What’s particularly interesting about this is that while Tony Abbot was in opposition, banging on about how he will send the Navy to “stop the boats”, similar leaks came out of the ADF saying the Navy wasn’t exactly equipped to be doing this kind of thing. This was Advice which was promptly ignored – and so we can reasonably expect this bit of advice would be ignored as well.

More interestingly what we’re seeing from Tony Abbott is a pattern where if he can’t solve it through sloganeering, he’s totally happy to send in the men and women in uniform to just sort it out, out of sight with the benefit of official secrets to make the whole thing un-transparent and utterly opaque. One can therefore imagine that should unfortunate things be found in Ukraine, they’ll jump to an immediate “can’t comment, our troops are in operations” mode of communication.

Age of Entitlement Ending? More like Age of Ultron-Perks

I offer this to you without comment.

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Nice To Be Vindicated

“They Must Be Nuts”

I’ve been writing here for some months that the last thing we – as in non-specific people of the West – should do is send any troops to Ukraine. The MH17 incident and the 39 Australians on that downed plane have forced the issue of Ukraine’s situation a lot closer to our shores in Australia. Sometime in the recent days of statesman-like posturing, Tony Abbott has been making noises about putting our boots on the ground in eastern Ukraine to ‘secure the site’ (whatever the hell that means, many days after there’s been looting).

As readers know, I’ve been dead against sending anybody out there for good reason. If the separatists are dumb and ill-informed enough to down a jet liner from a neutral nation outside of he conflict, what’s stop them shooting at our people just for being there? Today we find that some people with professional insight think this is a bad idea too.

“They must be nuts,” Joerg Forbrig, a senior program officer for central and eastern Europe at the Berlin bureau of the German Marshall Fund of the US think tank, said. “It’s a very dangerous proposal and will be seen as a provocation by the separatists and the Russians.”

Ukrainians’ desire for closer links with Europe, the US and their allies has long been a source of tension with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who intervened in Ukraine after the pro-Kremlin President Viktor Yanukovych stepped down in February fueling the five-month long insurgency.

The US says a surface-to-air missile fired from territory held by the rebels shot down the plane, while stopping short of alleging direct Russian involvement. Putin’s artillery is firing on Ukrainian military positions from inside Russia, a US State Department spokeswoman said this week.
A spokesman for the UK Foreign Office said Britain would “offer logistical support and is keeping in close contact with the Australians and Dutch over how it can assist, though it won’t be putting be sending police or technicians to Ukraine”.

“We believe a UK. armed presence in eastern Ukraine would not be appropriate,” the Foreign Office said in a statement. “The UK stands ready to provide constructive support to the mission.”

This isn’t some trip into a place where there’s not much civil authority – it’s a place where Russia is using subterfuge to make it look like there’s not much civil authority so they can wrest some more territory off Ukraine. The polite realpolitik thing to do has been to ignore the subterfuge and instead place mild sanction on Vladimir Putin and his crony-capitalists but sending troops has been and always will be one of those things we would much rather not do. The reality is that it would be sending people with an immensely blinkered perspective right into a war zone – and if seen with a colder objective view, would rightly be a provocation to the Russians.

In other words, “baby don’t you do it“.

I was watching The Drum this week and there was commentary to the effect that Tony Abbott’s been getting some kudos for being the only Western leader to stand up to Vladimir Putin. This might be true, but this is only because Russia isn’t a vital trade partner for us and we’re really far away from Moscow’s considerations. Sending in troops to Ukraine would change that greatly. The outcome of that shift will probably mean more dead Australians. And how the hell will Tony Abbott explain that when it inevitably happens?

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Unfinished Business In The ALP

Gillard Wanted To Handball The PM Chair To Combet

I like Greg Combet. He’s the only politician I know of who has admitted to being a fan of Frank Zappa. He’s done now, but while he was around, I had hopes for the man. Perhaps these hopes were misplaced, given that the sort of man who likes Frank Zappa might look at Australian Politics and choose to walk away. I have to respect that as a voter, but it’s still sad. Maybe it got too hard to work in Parliament all week and go home and put on a Frank Zappa record and there is Frank singing “Keep it greasy so it goes down easy“. I’d imagine the cognitive dissonance might become unbearable. And so it is that he left Parliament at the end of his term at the 2013 election.

The news today – more like a non-news really – is that Julia Gillard offered to hand him the Prime Minster’s chair, just to fend off Kevin Rudd. This is pretty bleak material.

An embattled Julia Gillard secretly offered to stand down as Prime Minister in June 2013 and secure the leadership for then Climate Change and Industry minister Greg Combet in order to fend off Kevin Rudd, Mr Combet has revealed.

But dogged by months of ill-health, and unsure that a switch to a third leadership contender so close to an election would improve Labor’s position, Mr Combet declined the chance to be prime minister.

‘‘I was struggling a good deal personally by the time June [2013] came around’’ Mr Combet told Fairfax Media in an interview this week. ‘‘I was in constant pain with the problems that I was having, and the thought of taking on additional responsibility and not being 100 per cent fit to do it, in that febrile environment, it didn’t look easy.’’

This ALP factional infighting is pretty awful stuff. It partly goes with the terrain of the Westminster system, and over the years we’ve been made to be inured to its odd outcomes. The ins and outs of these machinations are way beyond the purview of the electorate, and are subject to influences from such things as the Unions and lobby groups. It’s just difficult to understand how they could have cocked up so many decisions along the way.

He says he remains convinced that former Opposition Leader Kim Beazley would have won the 2007 federal election and become a highly successful Labor Prime Minister if Mr Rudd had not dislodged him.

ACTU polling as part of the Your Rights At Work Campaign in the run up to the 2007 election left him ‘‘completely convinced Beazley would have won’’, which would have resulted in a ‘‘vastly more experienced, mature person as Prime Minister presiding over, for want of a better description, a really grown up government, avoiding all the mistakes’’.

‘‘Neither Julia nor Kevin had had a lot of experience in leadership roles and I think that impacted on their capacity to do the job’’ Mr Combet told Fairfax Media.

So at least we were right all along in 2007, that the Rudd-Gillard leadership was a balls-up waiting to happen. It’s a shame I can’t point to neither Kevin Rudd nor Julia Gillard as the same kinds of leaders as Paul Keating, Bob Hawke and Gough Whitlam before them. The tumultuous six years in government exposed all the problems of the ALP that went unsolved since Keating lost in 1996. The problem is compounded by the fact that neither Kim Beazley nor Simon Crean were able to restructure the party in the way it needed to be restructured, and Mark Latham’s turn was certainly hobbled by the same influences that replaced Beazley twice, that put in Rudd, removed Rudd, removed Gillard and essentially burnt the metaphorical house down.

Oh, and Ms. Gillard, I will never forget the slight you made when you said you were not a social democrat.

Here’s Mark Latham being particularly frank about it.

Faulkner’s reform plan, to be put to State Conference this weekend, is to allow ALP branch members to select the party’s upper house tickets. Having given rank-and-file members a say in the selection of Labor’s federal and state leaders, why shouldn’t they be empowered to preselect upper house candidates? Why doesn’t Clements trust the True Believers who staff the polling booths, who keep their local branches alive, who fight so passionately for the cause of Labor?

Far from restricting rank-and-file union involvement, democratisation encourages it. It says to union members: don’t allow union secretaries doubling up as factional bosses to make all the big decisions. Join your local ALP branch and have a direct say in how the party is run: in picking federal and state leaders, in selecting Labor’s lower and upper house candidates.

This is what Faulkner is trying to achieve: Labor as a membership-based party, rather than a narrow factional-based clique.

Mark Latham’s been made out to be a crazy person by the media which must be galling because he commentates in the media; and once upon a decade ago, he was the guy trying to put together a way back to office, when the party machine had run through both Beazley and Crean and found them wanting. It’s hard to forget those terrible years either, together with the terrible campaign and defeat that followed. And all that time, the likes of Mark Arbib and Paul Howes were fucking shit up from behind the scenes.

It’s really hard to forgive the ALP. Especially if you don’t want to vote for the right.

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Good Grief

‘Partners In Grief’

“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks in to mine,” says Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine in ‘Casablanca’. The phrase popped into my head because of all the spots in all the troubled places in all the world, MH17 has to get shot down in Ukraine. And this has led, domino-like and contemptuous of our petty (lack of) interest, to a series of events where Tony Abbott is now talking about sending troops to secure the site.

One minute, the who situation in Ukraine was half a world away and somebody else’s problem. When we send our troops in with other aggrieved nations to ‘secure the area’, you can bet your bottom dollar and your mortgage that the so-called separatists will be hostile and may even start a shooting war. Not only was the MH17 thing a game changer, it has thrust Australia into point to lead the way into the retro-medieval hellhole that is East Ukraine. You couldn’t have scripted it worse.

It’s a charming job where our troops would secure the site so people can collect the scattered remains of the bodies as yet unaccounted for. The last place on earth you’d want to send troops is Ukraine; and the only thing worse than sending troops in to shoot is to send troops in to not shoot. Good grief, what a rotten turn of events.

Why Would You Want To Own A Phone That Belonged To A Dead Person On MH17?

This business of looting the corpses is pretty awful.

Grieving relatives of the MH17 crash victims have had chilling confirmation that their loved ones’ possessions have been looted from the crash site.

Relatives of victims in the Netherlands dialled the mobile phone numbers of crash victims and said the phones were answered by people with ‘eastern European-sounding voices’, the Netherlands’ De Telegraaf reported.
The relatives were shocked when they heard the voices, the paper said.

Telephone companies agreed to waive the usual requirement for a death certificate and agreed to cancel the phone subscriptions, so those who took the phones could not continue to use them.

That would be really depressing. Not only have your loved ones been killed in the most senseless manner, you have concrete proof that their possessions have been looted by crass people without any class.

I Can’t Begin To Fathom Their Pain

This just breaks me. This couple lost all three of their kids in the MH17 incident.

“We live in a hell beyond hell. Our babies are not here with us – we need to live with this act of horror, every day and every moment for the rest of our lives,” the statement reads.

“No one deserves what we are going through. Not even the people who shot our whole family out of the sky.

“No hate in the world is as strong as the love we have for our children, for Mo, for Evie, for Otis. No hate in the world is as strong as the love we have for Grandad Nick. No hate in the world is as strong as the love we have for each other. This is a revelation that gives us some comfort.”

I don’t know how they’ll deal with this. I can’t imagine there’s a way of really living through the aftermath of such a traumatic thing. I really fear for these people. My heart goes out to them.

I have nothing to offer for them to fall back upon. Fairness and deserving has absolutely nothing to do with something like this. It’s just irredeemable stupidity on the part of the idiots who fired the missile; the idiots who gave those idiots missiles; the idiots who authorised those idiots to give the missiles to the idiots who fired it. The veritable chain of idiocy goes all the way to the top – Vladimir Putin – and the man had the gall to blame Kiev. And knowing this and spelling it out does absolutely nothing for these people.

It would destroy me. I know that much. But my response would be to demand nuking Donetsk.

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Double Standards

It’s That Kind Of Day

The reports in the news sites say that Australia really swung behind getting a meaningful resolution out of the UN, in the aftermath of the MH17 event.  The SMH is really giving our diplomats a pat on the back – seems to me they’re just finally earning their keep after years of cushy livin’ in New York on the public purse! Besides, suddenly beset with Julie Bishop’s death stare, how could the unsuspecting people of the world say no?

Of course jokes about Julie Bishop’s death stare aside, the dynamic diplomatic deal-making does stand in stark contrast to the way this government minces words and tries to parse interpretations that do not exist (let alone be supported) from our commitment to the UN Charter on Human Rights and how we treat refugees. On that score, we’re one of the worst violators but we keep on coming up with legal fictions as to why it’s okay to run concentration camps on Manus Island and Nauru. Millions have been displaced by civil wars in places like Syria, and our government is buys telling them they can’t come. 37 Australians die in a plane hit by a Russian missile an we’re all over it at the UN. No mater how you look at it, it’s a kind of double standard.

In the mean time, PUP senator Jacqui Lambie has made international press on the back of an interview where she claimed her ideal man would be rich and well hung.

Later, when a prospective suitor called up the show, Lambie enquired (sic) if 22 year-old Jamie was “well-hung”.
This induced great mirth from Kim and Dave (ratings gold!), but just imagine if a male politician had offered a similar opinion, about say, a woman needing to be “really rich and have massive boobs”.

It would be a career-ending, resigning offence. Facebook groups would spring up in protest. People would make t-shirts and take to the streets in outrage.

In recent months, Tony Abbott has weathered howling storms for suggesting a Liberal candidate had sex appeal. And for winking when a talk back caller revealed she worked on a sex line.
Clive Palmer has also raised the eyebrow of disapproval for calling female journalists “madam” and “my dear”.
And yet, Lambie is sure to stroll away from her Heart appearance and into her next set of public comments with nary a scratch.
Yes, they are lighting up the internet – but only for their “omigawd” value. Not because they might be construed as demeaning and well, sexist.

The thing is, it probably is some kind of double standard that lets Lambie off the hook when if she were a member of another party and a male, she might not have gotten off so lightly. I’m not saying she should be condemned or that this bit of double standard is particularly noteworthy – merely that double standards seems to be the notion of the day.

Obviously there’s a fine line between the double standard thing and the deliberate hypocrisy inherent in the double think we are asked to endure with all its cognitive dissonance, but this is a country made up of inherently contradictory ideals. It stands to reason that there’s a different rule or standard applied to everything, based on the values of nothing-in-particular.

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