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Razer-sharp wit

Crikey readers (and writers) talk Helen Razer on Channel Seven, Iraq and government spying.

Razer’s scalpel

Mark Llewellyn, executive producer of Sunday Night, writesRe. “Razer’s Class Warfare: Muir won, but we’ve all lost” (yesterday). Like reading a  porno with a flashlight under the doona it’s always a secret pleasure indulging in Helen Razer’s carefully crafted nastiness. Her prose never fails to arouse with its purpleness and portentousness. And so it was when Razer took her scalpel to Mike Willesee yesterday, slicing and dicing like a sous chef in a budget hotel. It reminded me very much of Lizzie Borden, albeit without the humour.

Or the wit.

Helen Razer responds: Let’s do a whip ‘round and buy the man a tablet. He can have his pornography backlit and digital with no need of a torch.

While we’re at it, let’s buy him a clue. I did no hatchet job on Willesee and despite the author’s use for me as a nastiness fetish item, I actually avoid singling people out for attack, as I think that’s mean and politically useless. To call Willesee “average” is hardly the work of a psychotic murderer.

And that’s the worst I did. This was a piece which had so little to do with Willesee and everything to do with his profession.  When I say that he looked like the dead body of modernity, I think it is kind of obvious that I am talking about the death of an age and not the appearance of a man doomed to carry out its last gasps.

Anyhow. I am always quite shocked to be called personally vindictive when I am, quite plainly, generally vindictive. Please pass on to Mr Llewellyn that it is the late capitalist era and not its players on a barely watched news program that is of my primary interest.

Finally, I was not aware that Borden’s famous murder was broadly regarded as humorous. Was this because she was largely held in public view to be having her periods at the time of the crime?

Iraq and a hard place

Roger Bayliss writes: Re. “Rundle: Advance of militants in Iraq means the end of the West as we know it” (yesterday). Excellent stuff. The creation of Iraq and Gertrude Bell’s exploits should be more widely known.

Think there is a mistake in labelling Baghdad as Shia and Basra as Sunni though. Mix-up.

Guy Rundle responds: Your correspondent had a Dubya moment yesterday and switched the polarities on the old Ottoman provinces of Basra and Baghdad. Basra is Shia, Baghdad is Sunni. Apologies to all concerned, since 1914.

Evidence aplenty for spying for profit

Peter Burnett writes: Re. “An easy run for white terrorists is old news” (yesterday). Matthew Robertson asks for evidence of US firms benefiting from signals intelligence surveillance by the National Security Agency (NSA) and partners like the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).

Robertson’s query about whether individual US firms have benefited is a good one — so far there’s no smoking gun in documents released from the Snowden cache. It’s clear, however, that in spite of the stated focus on “terrorism”, American and allied agencies have monitored corporations like France’s Total and Thales and Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as well as trade and climate summits, UN meetings and the G20.

Leaked NSA documents show that US agencies intercepted communications before and during the 2009 Copenhagen climate negotiations, monitoring EU, G77, and AOSIS positions. One document noted: “Signals intelligence will undoubtedly play a significant role in keeping our negotiators as well informed as possible throughout the two-week event.”

Another document released by Edward Snowden revealed ASD monitoring of communications between Indonesian government officials and a US law firm involved in Indonesian trade disputes with Australia and the United States. According to The New York Times, the Australian agency “has been able to continue to cover the talks, providing highly useful intelligence for interested US customers”.

The newspaper reports that: “The NSA trade document — headlined ‘SUSLOC (Special US Liaison Office Canberra) Facilitates Sensitive DSD Reporting on Trade Talks’ — does not say which ‘interested US customers’ besides the NSA might have received intelligence on the trade dispute.”

So the next question is, why have the Australian media failed to investigate the range of possible state or private “customers” for the “product” that the ASD and other Australian agencies are stealing?

“Australia, open for business” indeed!

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  • 1
    Ken Lambert
    Posted Friday, 13 June 2014 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Razer is a female equal of Rundle…half right half the time…

    That means she is wrong 75% of the time instead of cutting both ways…

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