When will 9/11 mastermind get his day in court?

Twenty years after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the mastermind of the attack, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, has still not been put on trial despite having been arrested in March 2003.

KSM, as he is known, was picked up by the Pakistani authorities in Rawalpindi. Just prior to his arrest, the other main actor in the planning of the attacks, Ramzi Binalshibh, was picked up, again in Pakistan, this time in Karachi.

A report says KSM, Ramzi and three others appeared in court on Tuesday, 7 September. KSM was reported to be confident, talking to his lawyers and defying the judge’s instruction to wear a mask.

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War on terror has nothing to do with the rise of Trump

As the US marks the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Centre, a theory, that can only be classified as unadulterated BS, has been advanced: the event led to the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq which in turn led to the emergence of Donald Trump.

Such a narrative sits nicely with Democrats: the election of the worst US president, a Republican, was caused by the actions of another Republican president, George W. Bush.

Part of this logic — if you can call it that — is that Trump’s opposition to the wars launched by Bush put paid to the chances of his brother, Jeb, gaining the Republican nomination.

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Killing people remotely: the fallout of the US war on terror

National Bird is a disturbing documentary. It isn’t new, having been made in 2016, but it outlines in stark detail the issues that are part and parcel of the drone program which the US has used to kill hundreds, if not thousands, of people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and a number of other countries.

The use of remote killing was even seen recently after a bomb went off at Kabul Airport following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. There were boasts that two people responsible for the blast had been killed by a drone – only for the truth to emerge later.

And that was that the people killed were in no way connected to the blast. Using faulty intelligence and an over-quick finger, America had pulled the trigger again and killed innocents.

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Australia is a vassal state of the US. That will never change

The craven manner in which Australia continues to bow before the US is borne of a deep-seated fear that Washington will again choose to interfere in Australian politics as it did in 1975.

That year, the late Gough Whitlam, who was prime minister, hinted that he might have second thoughts about renewing a lease for Pine Gap, a base in Australia’s northern parts which the Americans use for spying on other countries.

Whitlam was sacked by the governor-general John Kerr shortly thereafter. A full account of the affair is here; the CIA’s involvement has never been in doubt.

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The world has become the domain of liars

There’s a common element to much, if not most, of the news that flits across the TV screens: lies.

People attempt to add a touch of sophistry to lying, by trying to create classes of lies, but in the end it all adds up to the same thing: saying one thing when knowing that the opposite was correct.

One well-known example: the current president of the United States, Joe Biden, came to office promising a US$15 minimum wage for the country. He also promised to provide medical services for all and forgive at least a part of the billions in student debt.

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AFR’s Aaron Patrick shows us what gutter journalism is all about

Australian journalists often criticise each other, with those on the right tending to go for those on the left and vice versa. But, generally, in these stoushes, details of people’s private lives are not revealed.

But there are exceptions, and one of those was witnessed on March 31, when Aaron Patrick, the senior correspondent with the Australian Financial Review, took a swing at Samantha Maiden, a reporter with news.com.au, a free site operated by News Corporation, over coverage of numerous issues around women. (News Corporation’s other sites are all paywalled.)

In February, Maiden exposed the story of a young Liberal staffer, Brittany Higgins, who had been allegedly raped by a colleague in Parliament House some two years ago.

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Why Australia is the developed world’s COVID vaccine laggard

A timeline of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine saga courtesy of Justin Stevens, executive producer of the ABC’s 7.30 program

19/8/20 PM media release: “Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, if it proves successful, through an agreement between the Australian Government &… AstraZeneca.”

7/9/20 Govt announces $1.7 billion Uni of Oxford/AstraZeneca & the Uni of QLD/CSL Manufacturing agreements. PM says “a home-grown sovereign plan for vaccines is the hope I bring to Australians today.”

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Something fishy about Trump’s taxes? Did nobody suspect it all along?

Recently, the New York Times ran an article about Donald Trump having paid no federal income taxes for 10 of the last 15 years; many claimed it was a blockbuster story and that it would have far-reaching effects on the forthcoming presidential election.

If this was the first time Trump’s tax evasion was being mentioned, then, sure, it would have been a big deal.

But right from the time he first refused to make his tax returns public — before he was elected — this question has been hanging over Trump’s head.
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Managing a relationship is hard work

For many years, Australia has been trading with China, apparently in the belief that one can do business with a country for yonks without expecting the development of some sense of obligation. The attitude has been that China needs Australian resources and the relationship needs to go no further than the transfer of sand dug out of Australia and sent to China.

Those in Beijing, obviously, haven’t seen the exchange this way. There has been an expectation that there would be some obligation for the relationship to go further than just the impersonal exchange of goods for money. Australia, in true colonial fashion, has expected China to know its place and keep its distance.

This is similar to the attitude the Americans took when they pushed for China’s admission to the World Trade Organisation: all they wanted was a means of getting rid of their manufacturing so their industries could grow richer and an understanding that China would agree to go along with the American diktat to change as needed to keep the US on top of the trading world.
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In Australia-China spats, the media only gives one side of the picture

Australia has been imposing hefty duties on Chinese steel, aluminium and chemical imports for more than six years, despite a letter from the Chinese side in 2014 saying that holding talks with Canberra on this would be of no use.

Recently, China said it would impose tariffs on Australian barley and also block beef imports from four Australian abattoirs. This latter story has become a big stamping ground for patriotic Australian journalists, a crowd who accuse Chinese scribes of being one-eyed, but act exactly the same way.

But the fact that Australia has been imposing huge tariffs? Only one journalist to date, Angus Grigg of the Australian Financial Review, has written about it.

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