Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Abe vows to rewrite constitution, instill 'patriotism' in schools

from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday vowed he would try to persuade a skeptical public of the need to revise Japan's pacifist constitution, the day after scoring a thumping election victory. Abe, who was re-elected by a landslide in Sunday's polls, pledged to pursue his nationalist agenda while promising to follow through on much-needed economic reforms. "Revising the constitution… has always been an objective since the Liberal Democratic Party was launched," Abe told reporters. "I will work hard to deepen people's understanding and receive wider support from the public." 

Abe's desire to water down Japan's constitution, imposed by the U.S. after the end of World War II, has proved divisive at home and strained already tense relations with China. 

His attempt earlier this year was abandoned, with the bar of a two-thirds parliamentary majority and victory in a referendum thought too high. 

The conservative leader has also said he wants reforms to education that would instill patriotism in schoolchildren and urges a more sympathetic retelling of Japan's wartime misdeeds. 

His ruling LDP and its junior partner Komeito swept the ballot on Sunday with a two-thirds majority in the lower house of parliament. 

The coalition won a combined 326 of the 475 seats, crushing the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan. Their slightly-improved tally of 73 did not include leader Banri Kaieda, who fell on his sword on Monday.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Problem – Reaction – Solution & the Sydney Terrorist Incident Connection

from There’s one thing governments, government agencies or particular groups or members within adhere to. Never let a good crisis go to waste

Recently Australian government intelligence agencies such as ASIO & ASIS have been pushing for greater powers when comes to spying, intelligence gathering and yes, even torture. Attorney General George Brandis has been seeking approval via a Bill Amendment to protect those involved in covert ops from litigation. 

See this via TOTTnews
In explaining the proposed changes to the law, Senator Brandis told parliament on July 16, “Covert operations may expose intelligence personnel or sources to legal liability in the course of their work. For this reason, some significant covert operations do not commence or are ceased. To address this issue, the Bill implements the recommendation to create a limited immunity for participants in authorised, covert operations…The limited immunity is subject to rigorous safeguards.”
The law is silent about an array of punitive measures, including inflicting permanent psychological damage, in the name of security interrogation. You don’t even need to have been charged with a crime. The National Security Legislation Amendment Bill is designed to “establish a framework for the conduct of covert intelligence operations”. I suspect that framework will now be revisited by the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security.
Our governments are always looking for more excuses to remove more of our freedoms and liberties. This smells like the perfect crisis they look for.

Why would 2 men choose that particular cafe in Martin Place, Sydney? If they wanted to make a statement why wouldn’t they just detonate an explosive device and claim responsibility? Why go to the trouble of taking a few hostages and hold a Jihadist flag at the window? From a terrorist perspective they’re not exactly going about this the right way to create the desired amount of fear that, by definition, an act of terrorism is supposed to create. 

My guess is this will end without any shots fired or bombs going off (Which is ideal), the public will be made to feel outraged that this was allowed to happen courtesy of the main stream media, the government will then seize this opportunity to call for and increase its surveillance capabilities of the public. Problem – Reaction – Solution.

Please read this excellent piece by our affiliate to gain a better perspective of how it’s done.
In the following feature piece, Ethan Nash takes an in-depth look at all three stages of anti-terror legislation, and analyses how media and government authorities have manipulated public perception and capitalised on pre-conceived fears to pass Draconian-type laws, erode our personal freedoms in unprecedented fashion, and set the catalyst for an Orwellian society to subtlety expand within our very backyard.

Continue reading here

China and the US: Frenemies with Benefits

By James Corbett | This article originally appeared in The Corbett Report Subscriber newsletter on December 13, 2014. To subscribe to the newsletter and become a member of The Corbett Report website, please sign up for a monthly or annual membership here.

Depending on which columnist you follow or which headline writer you trust, this month is either the month that the Chinese economy officially overtook the US to become the world’s largest, or it isn’t. The quibbling comes after the latest data dump from the IMF tallying the GDP of the world’s economy. According to the data, China’s economy just leapfrogged the US with an estimated 2014 output of $17.6 trillion to America’s $17.4 trillion, representing 16.5% of the global economy vs. 16.3%.

The catch? These GDP figures are based on purchasing power parity (PPP), an economic measure that compares output in real terms, ignoring exchange rate fluctuations. Traditionally, global GDP figures have been calculated in US dollar terms to paint a more accurate picture of how much a country’s economy is “worth” on the global market. When measured in these terms, not much has changed. The US is still the world’s largest economy, with 22% of global GDP, the Eurozone as a whole is second with 17%, and China comes in third at a respectable (but still lagging) 11%.

Regardless of these numbers or the trends that underlie them (no one denies that the emerging economies of Asia are growing in importance on the global stage or that China is on pace to overtake the US economy given current growth rates), perhaps the real story is the way it was reported in the first place. Breathless headlines boldly proclaiming that “The American Century [has] come to an end” (quick! someone tell PNAC!) or purporting to explain “what’s really scary” about this development seem to bolster a narrative that we’ve been hearing for a long time now (and all the more of late): China is the US’ main rival, and the competition may not be so friendly.

This is, of course, the New Cold War narrative, and although a lot of the attention has been shifted onto Russia this year, China has for years been painted as the new Red menace for the 21st century. At the surface level all the pieces seem to be in place: an unfamiliar language and culture; a population that in sheer numbers dwarfs that of the US; a totalitarian one-party government; a growing military capacity; cheap labor; and a seemingly unstoppable drive to take America’s place as the world’s economic superpower. And so the pieces of the “New Cold War” narrative have been carefully put into place over the past decade: China is taking over Africa; China’s Navy and Air Force represent a threat to American allies and interests in the Pacific; China is hacking into American businesses, and even the US government itself; and China is creating an alternative economic and financial infrastructure to unseat the US as the world’s undisputed economic superpower and world reserve currency issuer. Meet the new boogeyman (same as every boogeyman before it).

Voter turnout was terrible, but Abe still claims mandate with LDP-Komeito victory

from Yesterday I made the haphazard forecast that voter turnout wouldn’t be as bad as everyone was predicting. I was wrong. Voter turnout was the lowest in post-war history. It was so horrendous that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe even addressed it on TV, thanking the voters who made it to the polls.

Despite the low turnout, Abe’s coalition is set to win a commanding number of seats. And Abe is already using the positive election results as validation for his policies. “I believe the results show that we have received a public mandate for the Abe administration’s achievement over the past two years,” said Abe in a TBS interview.

The ruling coalition is expected to secure around 325 seats, maintaining super majority status in the Lower House. The coalition had 324 seats going into the election. Early reports indicate that the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), the opposition party, will gain a little over 10 seats.

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will probably end up with 290 seats, down a few from the pre-election 293. But considering all of the circumstances surrounding the snap election, this is a pretty solid outcome for Abe. And it looks like many of the undecided swing voters (which represented roughly a third of those surveyed in newspaper polls) picked the LDP.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

John Pilger: War by media and the triumph of propaganda

form Why has so much journalism succumbed to propaganda? Why are censorship and distortion standard practice? Why is the BBC so often a mouthpiece of rapacious power? Why do the New York Times and the Washington Post deceive their readers?

Why are young journalists not taught to understand media agendas and to challenge the high claims and low purpose of fake objectivity? And why are they not taught that the essence of so much of what's called the mainstream media is not information, but power?

These are urgent questions. The world is facing the prospect of major war, perhaps nuclear war - with the United States clearly determined to isolate and provoke Russia and eventually China. This truth is being turned upside down and inside out by journalists, including those who promoted the lies that led to the bloodbath in Iraq in 2003.

The times we live in are so dangerous and so distorted in public perception that propaganda is no longer, as Edward Bernays called it, an "invisible government". It is the government. It rules directly without fear of contradiction and its principal aim is the conquest of us: our sense of the world, our ability to separate truth from lies.

The information age is actually a media age. We have war by media; censorship by media; demonology by media; retribution by media; diversion by media - a surreal assembly line of obedient clichés and false assumptions.

This power to create a new "reality" has building for a long time. Forty-five years ago, a book entitled The Greening of America caused a sensation. On the cover were these words: "There is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual."

I was a correspondent in the United States at the time and recall the overnight elevation to guru status of the author, a young Yale academic, Charles Reich. His message was that truth-telling and political action had failed and only "culture" and introspection could change the world.

Within a few years, driven by the forces of profit, the cult of "me-ism" had all but overwhelmed our sense of acting together, our sense of social justice and internationalism. Class, gender and race were separated. The personal was the political, and the media was the message.

Japan's Controversial Secrecy Law Comes Into Effect

from Japan's largely unpopular and highly controversial Special Secrecy Law came into effect Wednesday granting the government wider powers to declare and designate state secrets and impose harsher penalties on those charged with leaking them.

Under the new law, which cleared parliament in December 2013, information designated as state secrets, pertaining to diplomacy, defense, counterterrorism and counterespionage, can be classified for up to 60 years, with those found guilty of leaking them, including journalists, facing prison terms of up to 10 years.

The Cabinet previously approved the guidelines which decree that state secrets can only be designated by the head of 19 government bodies, including key ministries such as the foreign and defense ministries, with the minimum amount of information being withheld as "secrets for the shortest period of time."

The unpopular legislation comes at a time when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been shoring up the nation's military clout, with a reinterpretation of a key clause to the nation's war-renouncing Constitution by his Cabinet, now meaning Japanese forces have a broader scope to engage with adversaries and defend allies both at home and abroad.

Abe has previously said that the new secrecy law will now allow Japan to swiftly exchange information deemed sensitive with other countries as the National Security Council (NSC) will serve to expedite such communication with his "National Security Strategy".

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Serco Seals Australian Immigration Services Deal

from SERCO has signed a 1 billion pound contract to continue running Australia's onshore immigration detention services, the company said on Wednesday.

Though less lucrative than in previous years, the work is a welcome boost to Serco, the share price of which has been in freefall after a string of contract failures and profit warnings.

The contract, the value of which is dependent on the number of people in Serco's care, had been the the company's biggest in 2013, accounting for a tenth of its revenue. Its value, however, has plunged more recently as Australia pushes ahead with tough policies to deter refugees arriving by boat.

In mid-2013 the number of immigrants under Serco's watch had reached 10,000 but now stands at about 3,000, it said.

Serco said the new five-year deal for services including accommodation and education at immigration detention centres was valued by the Australian government at 1 billion pounds but that its own valuation is lower, based on the number of people in its care.

SERCO: The Biggest Company You've Never Heard Of

RELATED: Serco is failing, but is kept afloat thanks to Australia's refugee policy

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Queensland Slowly Fighting Back Against Fluoridation | Australian Roundtable Podcast #08 (excerpt)

from In the following audio snippet from Episode #08 of the Australian Roundtable, Ethan, Johnno and Lindsay give a basic background of water fluoridation in Queensland, an update on yet another council removing mass medication from water supplies, and a general discussion on their thoughts/experiences with the toxin.


Australian Trade Minister: TPP taking shape behind closed doors

from The trade minister, Andrew Robb, says the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement is starting to take shape and should be concluded by year’s end.

The deal would send a signal about the importance of the Asia-Pacific region, especially during a time of economic and geopolitical instability, Robb told ministers from 12 nations involved in negotiating the pact in Sydney on Saturday.

The deal is set to cover 40% of the global economy.

“We are trying to make as many final decisions as we can and bring this thing to conclusion,” Robb told counterparts including those from the US, Malaysia, Canada, Japan and New Zealand.

Critics worry the deal will mean the cost of medicine skyrockets and put freedom of speech at risk through onerous copyright laws.

A small group of protesters gathered outside the TPP meeting at Sydney’s Sheraton on the Park, rejecting assurances from the government that the deal would be positive and transformative for the region.

Protester Vivien Nguyen said leaks had made her fearful the negotiations were not in the interest of Australians.

“This deal would give all the power to corporations and reduce government’s ability to legislate in our public interest,” she said. “The text we’ve seen through leaks hasn’t been reflected through assurances.”

The trade deal has been negotiated largely in secret since talks started in 2008.

RELATED VIDEO: The Dark Side of Investment Agreements