Doctor and activist


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Category: Accountability

How the US does Spying

29 March 2020

Some years ago, I had lunch with an acquaintance of mine who was a reasonably successful manager, with a slightly less successful relationship history with men.  She was keen that I meet her latest beau, so we had a small group lunch.

The man in question was a fit-looking American in his early 50s who was keen to talk about himself, so we let him.  He was an ex-US Navy Seal. He would not quite admit that he was down on his luck, but he had a lot of training that the US needed to use, but they would not hire him in the Navy, though he could get ‘contract work’.  He would not be quite specific about this, and he assured us that if the missions went well, no one noticed anything.  That was the ideal outcome.  His life was at risk and he was well paid for each mission, but there was no ongoing commitment or pension if he was injured or had other misadventure.   As the dinner went on he said that he had recently been on a mission in Asia where he had done something and been caught at it.  He was chased by an angry mob up to the first storey of a building.  He was trapped and jumped out a window onto the canvas roof of a fruit truck. He had gone straight through the roof of the truck and landed amongst the fruit, spraining his ankle, but nothing further.  He was very lucky because just as he landed the truck drove away from the angry crowd while he lay low in the fruit.  When he got to the destination not far away, a number of people lined up and formed a human chain to unload the truck and he, being disguised and made up joined the line passing the fruit boxes and got a few coins for his efforts when the unloading finished, before slipping away into the crowd.  All very James Bond stuff.

Asked how he knew who the goodies and baddies were in all this and he said that this was defined in his brief.  In short, he was an agent acting for the US government but they were in a position to disown him if he got into trouble.  He was a pleasant enough fellow, and more interesting than many dinner companions, but I have not seen him again.

So I was interested to read the article below about how ‘an ex-FBI agent had died in Iranian custody’, having ‘disappeared in murky circumstances in March 2007’, ‘during an unauthorised trip for the CIA to gather intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program’.  Iran had ‘kidnapped a foreign citizen and denied him any basic human rights’.   He was ‘a gentleman’ and ‘outstanding’ said President Trump.  Perhaps.  And I like to think of myself as a champion of human rights.  But people do not go on spying missions for personal curiosity and this is a deadly game, ruthlessly played.  The story in the SMH is sourced from Reuters and the Washington Post but does not quite make this clear.

www.smh.com.au/world/north-america/former-fbi-agent-s-family-believes-he-died-in-iran-custody-20200326-p54e4o.html

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A Coup in Bolivia- How it was Reported in Oz

21 November 2019

There was a coup in Bolivia which has had minimal coverage in Oz, but I have 3 worries:

  1. Australian media coverage is very distorted in the interests of US foreign policy
  2. Facebook bans sites that do not suit US interests and
  3. The pattern of the US waging economic war on South American countries that do not allow their multinationals to plunder the resources, and arranging coups seems almost standard.

The SMH coverage was from Bloomberg and seemed unable to figure out why there were two governments in Bolivia:

For all reasonable observers Morals won the election with 47% of the vote and with more than 10% lead over his nearest rival, should not have needed a run-off election.  Irregularities were alleged, (but then again they always are when foreign interests are threatened).  Morales offered a re-run, but was not allowed to stand by the guy who came second and the Army!!  So Morales fled, which is very odd thing for a President to do if it were not a coup.

But the SMH article is written as if the Bolivian coup is very hard to understand.

www.smh.com.au/world/south-america/bolivian-crisis-there-are-two-groups-of-people-claiming-to-be-the-government-20191115-p53b01.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_feed

Consider the following:
The article has two journalists, Matthew Bristow and John Quigley but is attributed to Bloomberg, a US media company. Bloomberg  owned by Michael Bloomberg, who is publicly contemplating standing as a Democrat presidential candidate, but is considered too right wing.
It talks about the ‘interim ‘President’ Jeanine Anez, who was an ‘Opposition Senator’. How did she get to be ‘interim President’ when the government has a majority in both houses? How is she ‘appointing her Cabinet’- with what legitimacy?
Why is the information sourced from the ‘Andean Information Network’, a ‘Think tank’? Who pays for ‘think tanks’? Are there no journalists in Bolivia?
Why were their riots just after the election, when the economy was doing quite well?
Why are the leaders of the government in power all resigning?
Why is Morales not allowed to stand for the run-off election?
Why is the army not supporting the existing elected government? Who trained them?
Why did the President Evo Morales, who just won the presidential election by more than 10% ahead of his nearest rival flee to Mexico? For no reason? He was standing for a 4th term. which had been challenged in the High Court but he had won there. Presumably the Army was against him and in favour of the opposition.

President Evo Morales had nationalised a big oil company, and wanted his people to get a larger share of the country’s big lithium deposits. He claimed that this was why he was deposed.

https://external.fsyd3-1.fna.fbcdn.net/safe_image.php?d=AQDRtvCEvRlzzso7&w=540&h=282&url=https%3A%2F%2Fi.ytimg.com%2Fvi%2FxMXmkbTRNw4%2Fhqdefault.jpg&cfs=1&upscale=1&fallback=news_d_placeholder_publisher&_nc_hash=AQDaylo2tk_5eS_X

A Venezualan perspective is given at

https://orinocotribune.com/the-coup-in-bolivia-five-lessons

I tried to post this on my Facebook page and it was denied as offending ‘Community Standards’!  I just put the name of the paper, Orinoco Tribune, not the url and it was still denied with the same- ‘Community Standards’.

So what with the major media giving very one-sided coverage and Facebook censoring material, presumably for being anti-US, how do the Australian public ever get to know what is going on. 

I will attach what I attempted to post separately..

I did manage to post some material critical of the SMH article and the RT article and they have remained there.

(A more radical view is at:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/52534.htm)

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Mental Health. Small wins, more needed.

20 October 2019 When I was in Parliament, 4 things happened in quite rapid succession.  I was part of an inquiry into prisons and a Dept of Corrections psychiatrist who attended court to question accused people told the committee that it was much easier to get into Prison than the mental health system and that […]

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Drug Research Crisis

3 October 2019 Governments say that they want to fund research, but think that they are very clever if they can do it ‘in cooperation with the private sector’.  They think that they will save money and get some inside running to a share of profits.  Mostly they are played for mugs.  The private sector […]

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The Rise of Ignorance

20 September 2019 I grew up convinced that as knowledge spread humanity would advance. Society would become more secular and decisions would be evidence-based. I studied medicine, which tries to be a science and the people I worked with mostly had a regard for truth and willingness to listen to sensible arguments. Then I found […]

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A Law is Coming to Get Ready for Negative Interest Rates 2/8/19

Recession Alert!  A Law is Coming to Get Ready for Negative Interest Rates, but it being sold as just another move against the ‘black economy.  The bill is the ‘Currency (Restriction Use of Cash) Bill 2019’.

Cash is used in the black economy to avoid tax. But when the GST came in, the obvious time to restrict cash transactions, this was not done. Now it is coming in the above bill, banning cash transactions over $10,000 apart from a few exemptions which can be turned off by regulation, (i.e. without going back to Parliament). This bill was announced last Friday afternoon 26 July, and not picked up by the mainstream media.  The consultation period is very short- 26/7/19 to 12/8/19.

It begs the question; ‘Why restrictions on cash now?’

It seems that the answer is that when the economy will not grow, interest rates are lowered. They are at 1% now, so cannot go much lower till they get to zero. How do you stimulate the economy when the interest rates are zero?

One way is to tax people who are not using their money and give it to the banks, who presumably will give people money to take the stored cash and use it.

Some countries already have restrictions on cash. The 500 Euro note was withdrawn by the European Central Bank. France has banned transactions over 500 Euros, Italy 3000, Spain 2,500. Some long-term interest rates are already negative.

From the public’s point of view,  if you are going to lose money by putting it in the bank, it would be better to keep it in cash and put it under the mattress or in a home safe.  Even bullion has a storage cost.  How retirees will manage is hard to say.  They will be losing cash just by holding it and they simply have to spend their capital to survive. Naturally it means that all the cash in the world will be available to stimulate industry as the owners of cash will have immense financial pressure to put it into investments.

There is an IMF paper ‘‘Enabling Deep Negative (Interest) Rates to Fight Recession- A Guide’ IMF Working Paper April 2019 by Ruchir Agrawal and Miles Kimball’ which is a ‘how to’ guide for governments to use negative interest rates. At a political level the advantage pointed out is that people will blame the private banks rather than the government. The paper also suggests that a short sharp shock with ‘deeply negative’ rates might get a better response than a longer period of mildly negative rates. This gives an idea of the thinking- it is all about countering recessions. The IMF paper even canvasses the possibility of the abolition of paper money transactions!

The convenience of cards has been lessening cash use, but this new bill looks as though it is following the IMF guide and getting ready for the possibility of negative interest rates. It is not really about stopping the black economy.

The government put out a call for a discussion of this bill on the Treasury website last Friday afternoon, the crowded news day, presumably in the hope that it would not be noticed. They seem to have succeeded- There has been nothing in the mainstream media, apart from old articles referring to controlling the black economy. The Treasury seems to want people to believe that this is all part of counteracting the ‘black economy’ the email address for submissions is blackeconomy@treasury.gov.au. But it would seem that this is simply dishonest. The IMF is worried about a long-term global recession. Presumably our government is also, so they are getting their legislation in place on the IMF recipe. They just thought that you had better not know. It says a lot about how we are governed.

This information was given to me by a ‘freedom group’ called, ‘In the Interests of the People’. At youtube.com paste ‘/watch?v=770M2s6ZD8Y’ to see the video. I do not want to be the vector for conspiracy theories, but the implications of this really need to be understood and discussed. It really is not just about stopping the black economy.

The Treasury website that gives the bill has no discussion- merely explanations of the Bill, and even this is quite incomplete as the Part 2 which has the penalties is missing.

The IMF paper that seems to be the origin of the bill is fairly dry reading also but is at:
www.imf.org/en/Publications/WP/Issues/2019/04/29/Enabling-Deep-Negative-Rates-A-Guide-46598

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Religious Freedom in Perspective

31 May 2019 Roosevelt in 1941 spoke of the 4 Freedoms, freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. This was before the UN Declaration of Human Rights. I spent 10 years in boarding schools from the age of 8 where religion was most definitely in charge.  Many of the […]

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Lest We Remember

4 November 2018

My grandfather was wounded at Passchendaele.  My grandmother was the Army nurse who  looked after him in hospital.  He was one a five brothers all of whom went to the war. Three came back, one a respiratory invalid from chlorine gas.  He did not speak much about the war and rarely went to any of the commemorations.  He had a lot of medals in the drawer when he died.  I pressed him once on what it was like and he said cryptically, ‘You had to shoot them or they would shoot you’.  He did not elaborate.  Perhaps he knew that the stories about the glories were to hide the realities but he could not say so.

Much is written about what it was like in the trenches, but ‘All Quiet on the Western Front[1]’ documents it well, a German description, translated by an Australian.  He describes the misery in the trenches, killing a man with his bare hands and the mental stress that would never go.

The British were ill-led at Gallipoli, landing on the wrong beach.  The ANZACs managed to occupy a hill that they then were ordered off and never managed to take in the next 10 months.  They were ill-led in France, with an anti-Semitic prejudice and personal jealousies hindering the emergence of a more innovative Australian General, John Monash.  The Battle of Passchendaele was hurried up despite the fact that neither the men nor the tanks could move in the muddy conditions because Kitchener, the British general, was in danger of being sacked and needed a battle, at whatever cost, to retain his position.  Prime Minster Billy Hughes was happy for the Australian forces to be used as shock troops as it increased Australia’s prestige, ignoring the excessive casualty rate.

It was not the war to end all wars and as Germany’s industrialisation continued to increase their strength.  A dictator capitalized on the injustice of the peace to start again.

After the blitzkrieg of Poland, Britain declared war on Germany to start the Second World War and our Prime Minister Menzies announced that ‘as a result, Australia is also at war[2]’, following the Brits without question.  Our troops went over to North Africa and when the Japanese landed in Papua the few soldiers on the Kokoda Track with uniforms coloured for the desert fought with minimal resources as the American Commander, General Douglas Macarthur, who had moved from Melbourne to Brisbane to be closer to the action did not think them very important.

Vietnam  showed on our TV screens what war was really like and this was blamed for the loss, but no invader who has come and gone has ever won against the people who live there.  Lives were wasted; the lack of thanks and respect for the Vietnam veterans has caused immense suffering ever since.  ‘If any question why we died, tell them because our fathers lied’ written in WW1[3] was ever true.

The largest protest march since the Vietnam war with 74% of Australians opposing our entry into the Iraq war was not enough.  John Howard followed the US into the war anyway, then on to Afghanistan and the deaths and refugees in their millions continue to this day.  Post-traumatic stress is rife in the Australian army but hushed up.  Foolish wars with people dying for nothing.  John Cantwell, the Australian commander retired with post-traumatic stress and explained this in his moving book, ‘Exit Wounds’.

An ex-US Marine from Iraq lectures on how he tried to keep his men alive but could not get the armoured vehicles he needed to protect them from the roadside bombs.  He believed the US government did not actually care about the troops.  It was ever thus.

Last week I drove back from Western Sydney.  There was a big billboard recruiting for the Army and a much smaller one in the supermarket asking for donations for discharged veterans with post-traumatic stress.  There was a lot of excitement over the Invictus Games as maimed soldiers tried to overcome their injuries.  No one asked why they were injured and the Games were generously sponsored by the arms manufacturers who are on steroids of late as Trump demands countries spend 2% of their GDP on weapons to help the US balance of payments and Australia decides it will become an arms exporter, starting with a big order to our friends the Saudis who are famous for beheading journalists not to mention millions of Yemenis.

This week will have massive speeches and commemorations of our heroic soldiers.  The War Memorial will be upgraded to bigger than any cathedral as our new shrine, generously sponsored by the arms manufacturers again.  And the politicians will make fine speeches and improve their electoral prospects. 

It is the glorification of folly.

Lest We Remember.

Biography

Arthur Chesterfield-Evans is a medical doctor who started as a surgeon but saw that preventive health was more important and went into the anti-tobacco campaign, including time with the activist group, BUGA UP (Billboard Utilising Graffitists Against Unhealthy Promotions).  He spend some time  in NSW Parliament and was for time CEO of the Sydney Peace Foundation.

Summary

Lest We Remember traces the history of how Australia was drawn into wars by the British and the Americans, and looks at how poorly the strategies had been thought out and how poorly the troops themselves have been treated.  The hype and hoopla of the centenary of the end of the First World War will be used by the arms manufacturers and the politicians to cover the folly and indeed to perpetuate it.


[1] Remarque, Erich Maria, Translated by Wheen, Arthur Wesley 1928

[2] https://aso.gov.au/titles/radio/menzies-speech-declaration-war/clip1/

[3] Kipling Rudyard, Epitaphs of War 1914-18.  He had encouraged his son to join up and his son was killed just after his 18th birthday.

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Swiss Democracy. 9/9/18

I visited Switzerland to see the Swiss Parliament and to try to get a feel for how their direct Democracy works. Their basic system is more like Australia’s than might be imagined.  They have two houses of Parliament. The lower one has members elected by a first post the post from individual electorates, and the […]

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My Health. Should you opt out?

25 July 2017 It is good to have a health record available for a complicated case. It saves doctors a lot of time.  When Records started to be computerised in the early 1980s the people at North Shore Hospital where I worked had a working party. I offered to help, but they said that they […]

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