Tag Archives: David Hicks

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Electioneering

I was reading through April’s edition of The Monthly magazine (see how dropping that in an early sentence makes me seem heaps more intelligent and cultured – well only if you are an intelligent and cultured person – whose opinion will now have been tainted by the fact that I tried to generate cheap pops by name dropping such an austere publication – everyone’s a critic these days). As I said, I was reading through the aptly named The Monthly (on closer review there are only 11 editions per year – so it’s a misnomer) magazine where an op ed (opinion editorial) piece suggested this year’s (or early next year’s) Australian election is likely to be fought out on the issues of Climate Change, Industrial Relations, Iraq and the Australian Government’s treatment of David Hicks. Now I’m no disillusioned lefty – I’m not overly worried about any of those issues – sure we should probably not have entered Iraq, but getting out now creates a number of major problems. I’m not a worker who has been disadvantaged by people’s greedy exploitation of the IR reforms – nor am I a small business owner with increased freedom under those laws, I’m an educated professional (haha) worker with a better than average chance of competency based career advances, the Howard Government has a track record of creating jobs and stimulating the economy that can’t be argued with. David Hicks is another issue – the question of the civil rights of Australian citizens and how far the protection of those rights extends when the person in question is essentially fighting against the ideals their citizenship represents is a murky one. Global warming is one of those issues that really should not be a political football – if humanity is too blame for a change in climate – then it’s a corporate and individual responsibility to deal with it. The government has enough issues on its plate without having to save the planet.
K-Rudd is yet to score any points on his economic scorecard – and what really matters to Australian voters is the hip pocket – we can rant and rave about the environment all we like – but when it comes to the crunch people aren’t going to make a conscience vote on an issue that is likely to cost them money or jobs. I can’t even begin to comprehend why these issues have taken precedence over traditional government staples like education, health and roads.
The issue of immigration has taken a back seat in recent times – but the Department of Immigration and Citizenship struck an early blow (that’s a pun which you’ll pick up shortly) preventing US Gansta rapper Snoop Dogg entering the country due to a checkered past dotted with drugs and guns. Snoop Dogg was scheduled to host the MTV music awards but was not granted a VISA – I predict a four point bump in the polls for the government on the back of this decision alone. What do you think the election issues in the next elections should be?

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An Inconvenient Truth

K-Rudd has been caught with his proverbial pants down on Burkegate. This is an event clearly worthy of “gate” status. More details about MPs from both sides of the fence meeting with the shady former WA premier (and convicted felon) turned lobbyist will probably come to light this week and I’m tipping more casualties following the resignation of Ian Campbell. John Howard wants to make distinctions between ministers and MPs, and leaders and followers – which is fair enough to an extent, but there’s really no need to be meeting with someone like Burke. Lobbying is an interesting kettle of fish. It’s where politicians get their lurks and perks. Doctors get their fancy meals from pharmaceutical companies eager to secure future business – politicians get theirs from representatives of industries, interest groups and professional power brokers who are likewise eager to secure something for nothing (or for a meal – politicians are expected to sing for their supper). Benny reckons lobbying is an essential part of the democratic process –

“I love lobbying. i think its how things should work. lobbying and interest
groups should demonstrate the facts, views and opinions. the members of
parliament should act as mediators and decision makers. the MPs should take in
all the information to make rational and logical decisions. lobbying is part of
this process.”

I agree to an extent but I think professional lobbying probably circumvents the political process and ties up access to politicians from the run of the mill members of their electorate – the fact that my employers work as a lobby group backed by the collective might of our members from the North Queensland business community doesn’t bother me – but when you’ve got a disproportionate amount of funding (lobbying) poured into the exercise by an unpopular lobby group (say advocates for nuclear power) might have a disproportionate impact on the political process.

The political machinations behind Burkegate are fascinating – Ian Campbell’s decision to resign – or the decision for him to resign – was a masterful manoeuvre from Howard. Finding the moral high ground in the murky realm of politics will be an important step in the upcoming elections. If it’s going to be a “morals” debate the Coalition need to have their position on issues like AWB, the Iraq conflict and Hicks firmly entrenched on the “right” side (as opposed to wrong, rather than left) – Rudd probably has the advantage in terms of positioning because it’s much easier to criticise government than to govern. This scandal could go a long way towards undermining his integrity – but it could also burn the government if it comes out that more coalition MPs have met with Burke in the past.

It’s an interesting time in politics with the battle of who cares raging in New South Wales and Debnam resorting to physical comparisons with James Bond. The US race for preselection (it’s not even the real thing yet) is heating up with candidates from both major parties vying to outdo their own colleagues (with the amount of muck they spend throwing around within the parties it’s a wonder that any new stuff comes up in the actual campaign) – my early favourite Barack Obama is polling well and catching up to the “impossible to like even though she stood by her husband in America’s largest sex scandal” Hillary Clinton. The Democrats have the opportunity to make history with their leading candidates a female and an African American male – Joe says the Republicans should kill two birds with one stone by endorsing Condoleezza Rice.

In other news – I tried the spectacular “cat poo” coffee last week, I’m not sure I’d pay $50 a cup, but it’s an amazing brew, so smooth and sweet – without the standard bitter bite of a regular cuppa.

LarkNews – a good source for “Christian News” has been updated – my favourite story for this edition is the debate on whether the word “sucks” is appropriate for church – for those of you who have trouble differentiating between fact and fiction, please note that this is parody.

Just Cause

Activism is a funny thing. There are plenty of worthy causes out there to choose from – and I suspect they’re something people hold to with vehement passion. One such activist once told me that the dying pandas were of more inherent value than the child I sponsor – it takes a particular type of person to be that misdirected. I met a guy in the Queen Street Mall in Brisbane who argued passionately that the Australian dollar should be valued based on our gold stocks (this system), I signed his petition so I could read the “free” newspaper he was handing out describing the system – and he rang me about a year later seeking my support – a request I duly turned down. Joe has many causes he believes are worth fighting for – mostly the legacy of George W Bush.

In the last few weeks “pirate” anti-whaling ships have been hassling a sanctioned whale (cuisine) research vessel. I’m not anti-whaling – I think if you can manage to bring in a massive fish you deserve to be able to eat it as is your right in the food chain. During the initial stages of the piracy the Sea Shepherd organisation’s leader President Paul Watson said he’d be prepared to “die for these whales if need be.” And he tried – his pirate ships repeatedly rammed the first Japanese whaling tanker – the Kaiko Maru causing the ship to put out a distress signal and cutting short its valuable “scientific” mission. What made Mr Watson wake up one day and decide to save the whales? Did he read Moby Dick at a particularly influential time in his life? Did he have a bad experience giving a past flame some perfume? What is it that makes people take on a cause with such do or die enthusiasm. Maybe he saw this video…

There is something refreshing about the idealism of these sometimes misguided activists. But really there are just so many causes out there to fight for – the whales, a trial for Australian terrorist David Hicks (ala Dick Smith), climate change, the future of the Liberal Party… there are things that need saving on every corner. How do you split such worthy causes? Is it just a matter of finding a subject that makes your blood boil? Or makes your heart sing? Some time ago Phil and myself offered our services as mercenary protesters (I actually suspect the term “freelance” writing is derived from such a concept). I’m looking to go one better – suggest a topic and I’ll get active for an appropriately proportional amount of my time.

There are some people out there who have chosen to take on the cause of scamming the Nigerian scammers – a story in today’s SMH caught my attention – you can read about it here, or just watch the video below…

I’m not at work today – Robyn had a nasty fall on the indoor soccer field last night and I’m helping her with the first part of the rehabilitation process having sat through a few hours with my intoxicated indigenous friends in the casualty ward of the local hospital. That’s the last time I let her play soccer – she’s thrilled that her swollen ankle now looks just like one of my cankles.

Further letters from Edward

Climate Change
Peter Garrett and Malcolm Turnbull, the two great hopes of the major political parties, had a debate on climate change yesterday. I fear the election campaign will be dominated by an issue that is really not Australia’s battle to be fighting. Climate change will probably continue occuring despite our efforts given the meagre contribution we make to global emissions. While our output is high per capita the US, China and India – and even the sheep in New Zealand – have more to answer to than we do. I’m sick of the issue and I don’t see why we should harm our economy by stopping our industries when global climate change will still cause the drought/flood conditions we’re facing anyway. Sure, we have a responsibility to look after the environment – but the government has a responsibility to look after its people. It’s not butterflies and hurricanes people – closing down our coal industry will not have any significant global impact while other countries continue to run theirs.

David Hicks
Issue two on the political agenda is the plight of unconvicted terrorist David Hicks, why he’s any more worthy of public support than any other Australian citizen incarcerated on foreign shores is beyond me. The guy’s an Al Queda insider and will eventually be tried, and quite frankly he deserves to be there. What about the Bali 9? what about Schappelle? I saw a group of protestors standing on a corner today calling for his release. Talk about a wasted effort – what does a protest in Townsville have to do with the plight of an Australian war criminal/terrorist under US control – again, not butterflies and hurricanes… If people want to make a difference why not take a meal to a refugee in one of the Australian facilities – their only crime is wanting the freedoms and protections afforded Australian citizens (slightly ironic) they don’t necessarily want to blow anyone up. That’s a worthy cause and I’m sick of stupid activists who think their voice will make a difference. Actions make a difference – and according to the cliche, they speak louder than words anyway. If you’re that worried about Hicks go launch a rescue mission, I’m sure Osama wants his general back. Hicks is an embarassment to Australia – not because of the government’s inaction but because of his actions, he chose to side with the bad guys.

Speaking of bad guys… my pen pal Edward wrote back to me after I revealed I’m a venture capitalist… for those who missed it, Edward generously agreed to raise my commission to the exact level he’d already offered. I suggested I’d be able to find suitable investment arrangments in Australia for his share of the profits:

Tobias,
Thanks for your comprehensive response.
Meanwhile,i thought you would have send the informations i requested from you such as 1.Your full name 2.Your private telephone and fax number3.Your address4.Your present occupation
Though you said that your email was slow but please remember to
include them in the reply to this mail to enable give you more necessary
information regard to this transaction.
I will be very happy if you will really find a good business where where this fund will be invest in your country.
I will be waiting for your urgent response.
Best Regards,
Edward Nkanga


I replied to his email with the following:

Edward,

I’m sorry I haven’t responded until now. I’ve been very confused. I’m not sure exactly why you need these sorts of details to complete the transaction. I think If I am to give out such personal information I need some assurances that the money is real and that I will receive my percentage. I don’t want to appear greedy but I’m worried by the risks involved and don’t want to be hurt in this deal. My uncle Geronimo, a descendant of a Native American tribe, always said that I should never trust a man named after a prince of England so I am understandably wary. This does seem to be a fantastic opportunity to do business and I’m not completely adverse to taking risks in business ventures. My work as a business venture
capitalist and stock broker means I’m often involved with risky deals. My cousin’s brother’s cousin is an investment adviser and he says the internet is the next big thing when it comes to finding new investment opportunities. I guess that means I should trust you when it comes to doing deals like this. I only hope that you are worthy of this faith that I will put into you. Or I will hunt you down with the vengeance of 1000000 bumble bees. It is in the best interest of both parties concerned that you respond to me as quickly as possible so that we can continue making this deal. But like I say, I need real assurances that you still intend to go ahead with this transaction and would suggest that due to the risks involved in the procedure my percentage should be say 40% of the profits plus a return on future
investments in my country. Changing my name has severely confused a number of my clients and my close family who think I’m stupid to take these measures so early in the process. I believe it is better to act first and deal with consequences later – I tell you this so you know the lengths I am going to to help you out with your business deal.

Tobias

Also – If my request for a larger share of the profits offended you I would be willing to negotiate like all reasonable business men. As far as I can see we are equal partners in terms of the risk but it is you who created the opportunity so I
would be happy with a 60-40 % split.


He didn’t respond to that email, perhaps realising that I am not who I seem to be. I did not want to lose out on this opportunity so initiated further contact.

I’m worried that I have not heard from you since my last reply? I apologise if my lack of immediate trust offended you – but I really must be cautious these days because while the internet brings opportunities like this for respectable people to do business there are those who would use it for less honest means.

Please contact me as soon as possible.
My details are:
Tobias Walther Schranner
I do not have a fax machine and my telephone is currently out of
service – however you should be able to leave a message with my secretary
on +61 132 221
My PO box number is 42
I am a banker/venture capitalist/stock broker for my own private firm.

For those worried that I have provided a career criminal with my personal details, please not that this phone number is the number for the Commonwealth Banks telephone banking service… Edward was no doubt a little confused:


Dear Tobias,

Thank you very much for your response.I have gone through all your email with all seriousness and i very well appreciate the effort you have made in respect to this transaction.

I want you to understand the real essence of this transaction and at the same time give you further details regarding this transaction.With the details you provided i will go ahead and procure the required legal documents that will fully present you as the legitimate next of kin to the deceased.

I have tried calling you on the number which you provided but i kept getting a computer recorded message.I will very much love to speak to you so please i will like you to provide me a direct telephone number where i can reach you.

Meanwhile i will begin the process of procuring the legal documents.

I expect to hear from you soonest.

Remain blessed,
Edward Nkanga


Not wishing to disappoint Edward with his request to hear from me soonest I responded immediately.

Edward, I do apologise – that’s the best number to get me on through my current work with the bank I am unable to provide a further number at this time, hopefully my new office landline will be connected shortly. Would a mobile
number be suitable? Email is probably my preferred method of communication as I am often too busy to answer my phone.

I am preparing some contracts for further investment of your funds in the country and have some opportunities I would like to discuss with you in the future. Please could I also have your full name, address and date of birth for my records.

Tobias


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Will a fright fix this Hicks up?

This post is the result of two recent observations. 1 – Hiccups (or hiccoughs or hic ups) are incredibly hard to dislodge, remove, cure etc. 2 – David Hicks is fast becoming the novelty crusade of choice for the uneducated latte left who run the “intelligent” media in this country. The Sydney Morning Herald put his continued detention at Guacamole* Bay at number 1 in their list of Australia’s crimes against civil liberties. I was watching ABC news last night and they showed a nice friendly pick of Hicks outside his family home. I’m sick of the media rewriting painting Hicks as a confused good guy in this situation.

Let’s face it, Hicks is no angel. He was busted fighting with our enemies (admittedly in the “War on an abstract noun”). Where I come from terrorists aren’t considered to be friends of the Australian cause. I come from Australia. Anyone fighting against Australian soldiers probably deserves to be punished. Despite what the bleeding hearts out there would suggest, I don’t think Hicks would have thought twice before firing one of those rocket launchers at an Australian soldier in the name of Jihad. Hicks, as a result of ideological brainwashing, or by his own choice, was in the Middle East waging a religious Jihad. He’d left Australia following a marriage break up and discovered solace in extremist Islam.

I’m fairly sure most intelligent people see it that way as well – the argument for his release, or at the very least his trial comes from a desire to see the western system of law upheld. In this instance it may be a case of upholding the law at the expense of justice. At this point Hicks hasn’t really broken any laws. He can’t be tried under the Geneva Convention because he wasn’t fighting for an official military organisation. He can’t be tried under Australian or American law because no relevant law exists (or exists covering the time of his capture). Why would the Australian or American governments want to release him back into the general public?
He’s a man who’s letters home say he’s fighting to ensure “the Western-Jewish domination is finished, so we live under Muslim law again”.

There’s a compelling case for him to be tried and properly jailed (rather than tortured in no man’s land) on the base of basic human rights and international standards – but the argument that he’s being hard done by and putting him up as a cause for Australian’s to be fighting for is kind of missing the point. He’s a bad guy. Not a good guy who made mistakes. There hasn’t really been any suggestion of remorse from Hicks for his actions and it doesn’t seem likely that that will occur – if he’s not backing down in the face of the terrible treatment he’s receiving at Guantanamo then he’s not going to back down. If he’s not going to back down it puts the Australian government between a rock and a hard place. This is a guy who’s physically fighting against “our” “western” ideology. Why should the governments in question seek to release him?

There’s a long standing debate between proponents of the left and right wings over whether the penal system is designed to punish or rehabilitate. At this point Hicks shows no apparent signs of rehabilitation (granted access to Hicks and his mental state is not something we have readily available) and the question of whether he’s been appropriately punished depends on his exact actions in his “jihad.”

There are too many issues simmering in the Guantanamo Bay crock pot for this to be a cut and dried case. The legality of Guantanamo Bay is balanced against the necessity of having somewhere to store these unlawful combatants (in the old days they would have just been shot). The holding of someone obviously needing holding against their rights to a trial process… It’s a situation that’s too hard for anyone to get completely right. The one thing I’m sure of is that those calling for the canonisation of a man fighting for Osama Bin Laden have it wrong.

* (sic) – the Herald didn’t get it wrong, I just thought it was slightly funny** at the time.
** I’ve changed my mind now but can’t be bothered changing the joke.