Archive for February, 2012

Australia’s media war- the miners and bankers are taking over
February 13, 2012

At the moment there’s alot of discussion about Gina Rinehart (Australia’s richest person) and her newly purchased 14% stake in the Fairfax Media company, which owns among others influential titles such as The Age and the Financial Review. ‘The Age’ is seen by many as being the Australian equivalent of the Guardian, while the Financial Review concentrates on economic issues, as its title implies. Fairfax has been making large losses for the past number of years (…ig-losses.aspx), prompting many to ask what interest Rinehart has in investing in this seemingly hostile group with little prospect of turning a profit.

The answer is actually quite simple. Rinehart has made her fortune as heiress to the Hancock mining fortune, and has extensive interests in coal mining, iron-ore quarrying and other mineral exploitation more generally. In recent years a number of unhappy new taxes such as Kevin Rudd’s Mining Resource Rent Tax and the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, have damaged her economic interests. She is, surprisingly, a prominent climate change sceptic, and has paid for the climate denier Citizen (otherwise known as ‘Lord’) Monckton to come to Australia and the foundation of a denialist ‘think-tank’, ANDEV, Australians for Northern Development & Economic Vision.

It is surely self evident that Rinehart is buying shares to give herself a voice in the mainstream media (handy for both business and family affairs, given she’s in a huge legal battle with her children over trusteeship of the inheritance trust fund), but this saga of events has thrown spotlight on corporate ownership of the Australian media- despite its reputation as a leftist liberal media company, Fairfax is heavily controlled by corporate interests. This chart shows a list of some of the institutional shareholders:

232,512,219 (9.90%) Marinya Media Pty Ltd
119,329,292 (5.10%) Orbis Investment Management (Australia) Pty Ltd
166,269,107 (7.10%) AXA Group
186,221,004 (7.90%) Commonwealth Bank of Australia
146,780,715 (6.20%) National Australia Bank Limited Group
136,691,699 (5.80%) Maple Brown Abbott Limited…IMITED-FXJ.asp

Banks, investment funds and insurance companies are already heavily involved in Fairfax, and now the mining industry is sticking its oar in. This is an extremely worrying thing at a time when the fracking industry is gearing up to increase mass production in Queensland and south-Western Australia, and the mining industry is attempting to roll back the recent carbon tax and state guidelines which place stringent environmental controls.…203-1qxv4.html

Antiestablishmentarian 13/02/12

Greece – The Death of A Nation
February 6, 2012

I had to go to Athens last week, which is something I don’t like doing anymore.    This once vibrant city, oozing with life, hope, and excitement has the scent of death coming from its very soul.    As if I needed a reminder, I went past the Olympic Park. Back in 2004 it became the symbol of everything Greece aspired to be.    God, we even got load of medals in those games, we had arrived!    Greece stood proud amongst the other nations, looking into a bright future, equal and shoulder to shoulder with its partners in the EU.    The symbol of our prosperity paints a sad picture today.    Totally unused because of the high operational costs involved, the Olympic stadium, once home to cheering crowds and heroic deeds, is now a mass of flaking paint, rotting wood, padlocks, security fences and barbed wire.    And, perfectly on cue to accentuate my thoughts, a homeless family shuffles past, on their way to nowhere.    What happened?

As is proven throughout history, the rot once again started from within. Incompetence, corruption, bribery and greed took hold of the political elite, was fed by the business elite, and the perfect recipe for disaster was being served up.    But that is nothing different from elsewhere in Europe.    Banks collapsed, bailouts are arranged, foreign leaders started interfering in internal affairs for self-serving reasons, but again, that is nothing different from elsewhere in Europe.   Why is it that Greece, throughout its history, has to excel in the drama and catch the eye of the world?   And then I realized, it’s because it is Greece.   Cradle of democracy, home of the greatest thinkers, physicians and scientists of antiquity, fiercely independent, feared fighters when they have to, gentle and soft whenever they can, and so much more.    Greece is being made an example of, to stop it from becoming the example.

The people of Greece have an inborn, healthy disrespect for anything and everybody that tries to control them, including their own government.    In conjunction with the “leading lights” of Europe, a barbaric and inhumane program of austerity is now being imposed on the people of this country, designed not to solve their problems, but to kill their spirit.    The program of austerity makes absolutely no economic or social sense, but is nevertheless imposed and viciously pursued by our own puppet government, on behalf of their masters in Europe.

The only reason this brutally insane program of austerity is being pursued with such unrelenting vigour is to make an example of the Greek people, so that others wouldn’t find the courage to stand up and say enough.    And the price being paid by the people of Greece is enormous.    People are literally dying in the streets of our cities.    Charity workers say that the most cited reason for people seeking their help is “hunger”.    Charities in Athens, previously engaged in dealing with alcoholism, drug abuse, domestic violence etc, are now almost exclusively engaged in looking after abandoned children.    The social fabric, once the glue that held this country together against all odds, is being ripped apart by hunger and poverty.    Hundreds of homeless people wander through the streets of Athens.    Mothers abandon their children in the hope that somebody will have the means to look after them, suicide is rampant, and social injustice the norm of the day.   “Greece needs to get it’s house in order” European leaders shout at us.    How do you get a house in order when the occupants of the house are being kicked about?

What you are looking at is not the result of an economic downturn or even a recession.    What you are seeing is the calculated result of a highly organized program to bring a people to its knees.   What you are not seeing is the human cost of this exercise.    TV news does show the fat cats around the table in Davos, discussing “the situation”. No fear of bumping into a homeless, hungry human being there, is there?    They broadcast interviews with Merkel and her puppy Sarkozy, gallantly stating that Greece will not be let go, while behind closed doors they insist on the most brutal program of austerity being made even more inhumane.    TV happily shows the “self appointed anarchists”, “hooligans” and “agitators” demonstrating in Athens.    It’s on TV, it has to be true.

They will however not show you the desperate people roaming the streets for food, or the farmers in Northern Greece handing out free food in the cities.    Did you see the two children who arrived on our island a few days ago after 8 days on the road, alone, with only a few stale sandwiches to keep them going (the last food their mother had for them before she walked out of their lives)?    Did they show you the 76 year old man who froze to death last night, in the back of an abandoned car?    The people say he had worked all his life to help build a better Greece for his children and grandchildren.    The foreign, Swiss they say, owner of the house he lived in put him out last month, because he couldn’t pay the rent anymore….

The human cost of a dying political and financial system is being counted in front of the world’s eyes.    And the question is not “how much?”. The real question is “who’s next?”

Ephilant  6.2. 2012

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