LIVE FROM THE PANOPTICON
Now here’s an insight into the mindset of allegedly democratic governments. You’d think a spy stealing your most important secrets and handing it to your enemies was the worst thing that could happen to a government. If you did, you’re wrong. Turns out, whistleblowers are much worse. Trump’s Justice Department (which, on such things, is indistinguishable from Obama’s) recently told a US court that whistleblowers do far more damage to security than spies because they tell things governments want kept hidden to more people (and in case you don’t think the Australian government shares that view, it is now censoring whistleblowers and whistleblowing experts).
Plus, another reason to hate LinkedIn: like every online space, it is being colonised by sexually aggressive men. And I thought our nanny state was bad: the UK’s chief medical officer wants to ban consuming anything other than water on public transport — without a skerrick of evidence it will achieve anything.
A HARD RAIN’S A-GONNA FALL
This week from the science lab:
- Where did water come from? Not from round here, mate.
- Do octopi dream? Maybe. Or maybe not (surely the more crucial question is do they dream with their eyes open like my dog).
- You believe in string theory but sneer at intelligent design? Jim Baggott wants to have words with you.
- Breast cancer screening rates in American women are declining — what can be done? (In Australia, they haven’t increased significantly since the 1990s).
- And we need to get ready for imminent arrival of AI, right? Actually no, it’s still a very long way off and people should stop hyping it.
THE FOREIGN DESK
The trade war against China isn’t just Trump, and it won’t end anytime soon; it’s a long-term US project that is only just starting.
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National Review isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but this is an excellent assessment of the reaction to the NBA’s disgusting obeisance to the Chinese dictatorship. Moreover, China’s attempts to assimilate Hong Kong into its tyranny is driving hate crime and xenophobia toward mainlanders.
Meantime at Foggy Bottom: State Department officials are wondering when they are going to have to lawyer up as the Trump’s impeachment crisis grows. There’s just one slight problem for Trump when he slaps sanctions on Turkey for doing what he said it could: the US military has a lot of nuclear bombs in that country. And the US Council for Foreign Relations’ decision to accept money from a “shady billionaire” with ties to Kremlim oligarchs has caused a storm. Follow the money with Bellingcat.
How evil is Amazon? Well, it’s complicated, as this long read explains. And how much in fines has Facebook had to pay this year? Hint, it’s a B not an M (and will the last company to leave Facebook’s Libra please turn out the lights?).
And for the “medical care in the US is horrific” files: pharmaceutical companies are luring Mexicans across the border to donate blood, tissue companies are so eager to harvest human bodies they’re impeding criminal investigations, while a hospital a keeps brain-dead patient alive to boost its statistics. Nine years on, the site of BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster is still a biological hellscape.
What happens when the hard left shares a core policy goal — ending US military interventionism — with the hard right? Well, abuse starts flying, for one thing. You probably gleaned this from the treatment of Pauline Hanson and bigots in politics, but the Australian mainstream media refuses to identify racism.
In other news, the Iranian regime has some surprisingly good cards to play in its strategy to defeat Trump’s deadly sanctions. And Toyota thinks hydrogen, not stored electricity, could be the motoring fuel of the future.
Great hatchet jobs of our time: I read this a few weeks back while I was away but have to share it –Ferdinand Mount provides a long and ferocious analysis of Enoch Powell’s legacy and his extraordinary inconsistency over the decades, demonstrating yet again that it is the “at least you know where they stand” type of politicians who change their minds the most.
An acclaimed new biography of Simone De Beauvoir grapples with a complex life and legacy. James Mattis’ memoir disappoints, especially about Trump. And a history of Jesus in Asia demonstrates the great Christian tradition of adaptation to local culture — but what will happen as China tries to Sinicise Christianity?
Australia’s only world billiards champion other than Walter Lindrum speaks!
Oh and did anyone else religiously watch Pot Black on the ABC on a Friday night in the 70s (before Dave Allen, of course)?