4th (edited 16th) December 2005
CAPITAL CRIMES IN SOUTH ASIA -
In Singapore, an Australian (Van Nguyen) was hung on 1st December 2005
for possession of about 500 grams of
Heroin. In Vietnam, rock star Gary Glitter is being investigated
for consensual sex with a twelve year old, which is a capital
offense. In Bali, a Moslem Cleric who was involved in the death
of 200 in Bali had a 2 year sentence reduced. Again in Bali,
Michelle Leslie, an Australian model who was apparently a convert to
Islam (allegedly after being taken into custody) & had been
partying with the son of Indonesia's finance minister was released
after three months for possession of two ecstasy tablets. Also in
Bali, despite protestations of innocence, Australian Schapelle Corby
was given a fifteen year sentence after being found guilty of having
nine pounds of marijuana in her luggage. Nine other Australians
face execution for attempting to carry Heroin out of Jakarta (Courtesy
of information provided by the Australian Federal Police).
In South Asia there are dark stories that bribery is rife. Where
there are such severe sentences, the incentive for corruption is
extreme, and conceivably extends to the planting of evidence with
to solicit a bribe.
It is reported of the Singapore governing clique that it profits from
trade with Burmese drug lords. Only primitive peoples put
material profit above life. Justification with lies about the
harm that a quantity of Heroin would do is the sign of a guilty mind
dares not face objective assessment. Statesmen know how to
gracefully concede to public opinion.
I do not think that Australian Diarist will
be doing travelogues in those parts of South Asia.
CHINA, US, EU & TRADE -
When I was educated, I was told that the Chinese civilization built the
"Great Wall" to keep the barbarians out. Three other walls spring
to mind, "Hadrian's Wall, built to keep the Scots out of England, The
Berlin Wall, to keep East Germans in East Germany, and the Israeli
wall, a work in progress, which has the more limited objective of
None of those walls was an unqualified success, so why do the Chinese
the electronic wall designed to keep liberty memes out of Chinese minds
will work? No matter what they do, there will be leakage.
And such leakage is cumulative, and causes exponential damage, and
On the other side of the Pacific, the USA has responded to the stealing
by the Chinese of military
secrets by making moves that might result in the barring of foreign
researchers. That would be a major mistake. Not only will
it deprive the USA of up to 50% of it's intellectual industry, but it
will provide ammunition to terrorist critics. One of the greatest
China is it's massive population of educated and intelligent
people. China will consume a considerable fraction of those
resources to police it's new "Great Wall".
The USA is holding it's position in the world because it trades with
China. Economics theorists have long established that trade
most that nation that erects the
barrier. Wal-Mart has benefited the people of the USA more than
most US corporations. GM & FORD are headed for the scrapheap
because trade unions have stifled the intranational trade in
labour. Wal-Mart has made the essentials of life cheaper, which
has most benefited the poor. The Auto corporations have made
transport more expensive. Europe is degenerating at a frightening
rate, which is because it maintains high trade barrier and a massive
The USA and Europe should abandon industrial & agricultural
That would curtail the huge subsidies that prop up inefficient
and create enormous and expensive agricultural surpluses. The
money saved could be used to either lower taxes or provide greater and
more equitable social
security. Those subsidies are not trivial. A cow in
Australia sells for about $AU500 which is about $US400. In Japan
that cow would be worth around $US3000, in Europe about $US2000, and in
USA about $US1200. Do I need to add that our cattle contain a
very low proportion of pesticides, herbicides and other
pollutants? Just about all foods are similarly subsidized to
the detriment of Japanese, US and EU & Japanese citizens.
Another independent elected in Brogden's vacated seat in NSW. Now
there are seven independent representatives in the NSW Legislative
assembly of 93 members. Even though it was the opposition that
lost the seat, it must be a worry to all party politicians in
Australia. Is this a sign that the sheep are beginning to revolt
against their wolf shepherds?
RIGHT TO PRIVACY? -
fad among US liberals seems to be a new right, the "right to
privacy". Diarists view is that so much privacy exists as an
individual asserts by his actions. If a person appears in public,
then they have implicitly given permission to be observed, spoken to or
whether electronically or in person. Anybody who surreptitiously
invades another's privacy by trespass and/or placing eavesdropping
devices on private property should be subject to criminal prosecution
& exemplary damages.
new boss is failing to convey his message to the Australian people.
is as follows. Prime Minister Howard (quite properly, to my mind)
decided to release Telstra from government ownership &
assets at the time consisted of the "Local Loop" otherwise known as the
last mile of copper, a few long distance connections, and the Telephone
that PM Howard should have looked at how the asset came into
Telstra's capital to build the local loop was derived from the
connection fees that it charged it's customers. As such, the
local loop should have been given (like the NRMA shares) to those who
paid for it. My own suggestion would have been to give the local
loop to local government.
Such was not
our Federal government's plan. Their little pig eyes lit up with
they sold the first
25% of Telstra on the stock market. Management was handed to an
MBA called Ziggy. Ziggy might have been brilliant at managing
generic businesses, but had no appreciation whatsoever of the
potentials of the Telecommunications business. Ziggy milked the
copper for all it was worth, and paid excessive dividends instead of
upgrading the network (except as a blocking strategy against
Optus). Consequently, when PM Howard sold the next 25% of Telstra
he got about twice as much as he got for the first 25%.
the problems with Ziggy's approach have become obvious, and the price
has fallen drastically.
manager was found. Sol Trujillo had some experience with
and brought his own expert management team. He realized that the
was his major asset, and that after years of neglect it needed
repairing & upgrading. Enter the ACCC, which is the
anti-monopoly arm of our Federal government. The ACCC (quite
correctly) insisted that the local loop was a near monopoly, and that
Telstra must rent it out at cost to any bidder. Once again, I
agree with ACCC, especially since I paid for that local loop, and
believe that it should be operated to my benefit, not the benefit of
Telstra shareholders. Issues such as the differential price of
rural and remote local
loops can be solved by appropriate government subsidies.
In passing, Sol noted that the ACCC was being a bit one sided in it's
actions. The standard cost of a connect from the local loop to a
mobile is set at a very high rate, which (apparently) most benefits
Telstra suggested that this cost be reduced immediately, (which would
benefit Telstra) instead of waiting for another year or more of
copper to mobile & vv calls. The other mobile companies
(Optus etc) objected. They do
no like that deregulation initiative.
loop is monopoly infrastructure. One possibility is that Telstra
spin it off, and let the new MD subcontract it's maintenance
and upgrading to appropriate commercial banks, and charge an
appropriate rental fee to any users (including the rest of
Telstra). That procedure should also make the ACCC happy.
about all those shareholders who bought Telstra while Ziggy was paying
fat dividends by running down the existing local loop? The market
is pricing Telstra (still too highly in my opinion at $4 - About $2.50
is closer to the true value based on future earnings with continued
ACCC intervention) much below the second tranche. Unless John
Howard finds a way to raise the value to T2, then his name when T3 is
marketed will be mud.
My bet is
that such a sale wouldn't juxtapose with an election.