Where many commentators and more than a few of my academic colleagues dismissed reality TV as dumbed-down trash pandering to the baser instincts of the mob, I preferred to regard it as a prime location for the untold, self-revelatory, often intimate stories of ordinary people.
Shows like Sylvania Waters, Driving School and Airline showed non-celebrities – “real people” – going about their business, revealing their emotional and psychological quirks, overcoming the obstacles of everyday, previously unexamined lives.
The Apprentice exemplified a particular sub-genre of reality TV, giving us a glimpse of what it was like to build a business and struggle for success in corporate life, the dynamics of team-building and peer rivalry, the hubris that brought down the blowhards and the self-regarding.
“You’re fired!” was the catchphrase of Donald Trump (and Sir Alan Sugar in the UK version). It was informative and also entertaining. Trump was good at it, bringing his tough, no-nonsense management style into our living rooms.
And if that’s where his “tell it like it is” approach had remained, we would probably be looking forward to four, maybe eight years of President Hillary Clinton. Instead, we face the ascendancy to the most powerful office on Earth of a man formerly known to most of his voters as a reality TV star.
It’s as if Kim Kardashian, or, god save us, Kanye West was suddenly running the country (Yeezus for POTUS in 2020, anyone?) – surreally shocking in a way that the elections of former film stars Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger to the presidency and the governorship of California respectively never were.
Trump presents himself as an outsider, though his reality TV celebrity means that he comes from the heart of mainstream popular culture, as well as being a fully paid-up member of the rich capitalist elite he affects to despise – one who proudly pays no taxes, has been near bankruptcy several times, and convicted for racial discrimination in his real-estate operations among other alleged ethics violations such as the Trump University scam (settled out of court in December).
The white working- and middle-class stiffs who voted for him in such numbers appear to have forgotten the latter, or to not care, while rewarding him for his readiness to say the refreshingly (for them) transgressive things he thinks they want to hear.
From the beginning of his campaign Trump deliberately transgressed the conventions and codes of political communication in America. He already had the “Birther” slander on his political CV, the mark of a racist who simply couldn’t bear the idea of a black man in the White House.
At the outset of his campaign he proposed his wall on the Mexican border, and insulted that nation with crude stereotypes. He expressed racist views about a judge who was handling one of the many legal actions against him because the man had Mexican roots.
He promised to ban all Muslims from entering the US until “we’ve figured out what’s going on” with Islamic State – a pledge now downsized to include only those Muslims who come from countries with a history of terrorism. Will that include France and Belgium, one wonders? Or Australia? Or the UK? All of those countries have produced homegrown Islamists who have fought and killed for IS.
None of that put off the people who would eventually vote for him. He famously mocked a disabled reporter in front of a huge rally of baying supporters. It only made them love him more.
As did the release of the recording in which he observes that when you’re famous – and you got the sense listening to that tape that he was talking from experience – you could “grope” women’s “pussies” with impunity. The man actually boasted about how easy it was for people like him to commit what most people would regard as sexual assault.
He ran beauty pageants, and it seems reasonable to speculate that he would have enjoyed groping a few of the competitors along the way, when he was not insulting them for their body shape or attitude. Miss Piggy and Miss Housekeeping were his names for Alicia Machado, Miss Universe in 1996 when Trump took over the franchise. Apparently she ate too much.
In one televised debate he obliquely referred to a female journalist’s menstrual cycle, and routine misogyny has been a key element of Trump’s transgressive pitch. He “loves” women, he insists. You can imagine him joshing to his alpha male mates – why else would he marry and grope so many of them?
He invited the Russians to hack Clinton’s emails (and they did), and praised the sound management skills of dictators such as Vladimir Putin, Saddam Hussein and Rodrigo Duterte.
In the past, the merest hint of a candidate’s admiration for the Russian Bear or Saddam would have killed a campaign stone dead. Not Trump’s.
Having spent a century denouncing the USSR and Russia as the existential enemy par excellence, the American political system and public were now embracing a man who actively favoured Putin over his own president – the same Barack Obama who Trump regarded as an imposter in the White House.
Not one of these transgressions made the slightest dent in his image, or slowed his rise. On the contrary, his supporters recognised a kindred spirit. Hell yes! Pussy groping, disability-mocking, casual racism and sexism, joking about getting away with shooting people in the street because you’re so popular – that was the American way, and after eight years of a black man running the show and spoiling their fun it was time to remind the world who’s boss.
Trump’s transgressions were not gaffes of the type that sunk Gary Hart in 1988 or Gerald Ford in 1974, but delivered with a skillful eye for the attention they would attract in the news media. He succeeded in setting the 2016 news agenda way beyond his wildest dreams.
It’s reliably reported that neither he, nor his campaign team, seriously thought they could win the presidency when the race started, but so hopeless were his 16 competitors in the GOP camp that he was able to take the nomination and go on to challenge Clinton – one of the “nasty women” he despised so much.
Clinton had her vulnerabilities too, and Trump skilfully exploited them, which is what we expect in a political campaign. But he transgressed by calling on the Russians to assist, and by – it is alleged, and currently under investigation by the US intelligence agencies – actually conspiring with Putin’s security services to damage the Clinton campaign.
Which brings us to the Buzzfeed dossier, of which the most exotic if not politically significant feature is the assertion that Trump was videoed while in Russia engaging in “perverted” sex acts with prostitutes.
Let’s tell it like it is, in the spirit of The Donald. He is alleged by a Russian source in correspondence with a senior former MI6 operative, regarded by the CIA as credible enough for the dossier to have been passed to Obama, to have employed prostitutes to piss on a hotel bed previously slept in by Barack and Michelle Obama.
It is further alleged in the unverified dossier that, as a result of this and other sexual transgressions recorded on videotape, Trump is vulnerable to blackmail in his dealings with Russia.
This may or may not be true, and we may never know now that Trump himself is in charge of the US security apparatus, but the mere fact that we regard it as even possible in the context of a US president is, when you think about it, the most transgressive thing of all. Bill Clinton was Slick Willie, but at least the Monica Lewinsky affair happened in the security of the White House, and he came close to impeachment for lying about “not having sex with that woman”.
Trump’s alleged transgression was only exposed after the election, and despite the implications for US and global security – if the allegations of conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the FSB to distort the US political process are true, Trump would be guilty of treason – it does not seem to have seriously disrupted the transition.
Neither his voters, nor the great of majority of Republicans in Congress, seem the slightest bit worried that their man in the Oval Office could be a Russian stooge with a taste for golden showers. So deep is their hatred of the “liberal elite”, political correctness and all the other bogeymen of their nightmares that they seem able to let the scandal and the sleaziness wash over them.
And that means, alas, that those who think Trump will settle into a more conventional presidency, constrained by wiser heads like Rex Tillerson or Mad Dog Mattis – Mad Dog being the voice of moderate reason in this administration – are deluding themselves.
There is no precedent for the Trump presidency in modern times, and no limit to where he can go from here. He has transgressed and broken taboos all the way to the White House, and been rewarded.
He will continue to smash political conventions built over decades and centuries, using Twitter to goad and mobilise his supporters as required, attacking the free and independent media as well as dissenters in general, embracing murderous dictators and corrupt capitalists all over the world where he has business interests.
He will start a dynasty, and use the venerable office he now occupies to boost family members and businesses, friends and cronies. No-one seriously doubts that, and no-one in the GOP except for John McCain and a few sidelined others can be relied upon to stand against it.
For Trump, transgression has worked as a campaign strategy, and he can be expected to pursue a similar approach to governance, as in his recent comments about the EU and Germany. Until he fails, and fails so badly that no amount of scapegoating muslims or liberals can cover it up, America is his to do with what he will.
His transgressions will shift the culture and may even become mainstream, so that the kinds of racist and sexist discourse we have spent decades erasing from public view will again be respectable. The new culture of unapologetic bigotry and bullying will spread. Political success in a volatile ideological market place drives imitation.
In Australia Pauline Hanson’s One Nation will have a go at emulating Trump. In the UK, Nigel Farage is hovering menacingly. In France, Marine Le Pen could easily become president of the republic, and so on.
All over the world, hitherto marginal figures who share Trump’s contempt for fact-based rationality and informed policy making, good manners and basic civility will be jumping on the populist bandwagon.
Some media organisations will strive to maintain critical scrutiny over the Trump administration, others will become cheerleaders and propagandists such as Sean Hannity on Fox News. No-one can assume that in this atmosphere what we still call “liberal” democracy will survive.
If the democracy we have built in so many places around the world since 1945 is to outlast one or perhaps two Trump terms, all who reject the political philosophy of the strongman and the bully must prepare to counter it, in their private lives and public utterances.
They should do so in the knowledge that Trump is a minority president, defeated in the popular vote, the perverse product of a dysfunctional political and media system which for too long treated him as an absurd novelty and then, having given him the opening, had no means of preventing his rise.
He won by the rules, though if the dirty dossier is even a bit accurate, he did not play fair. We must remember that when his supporters start demanding “respect” for the office, and for Trump himself.
For a president who has transgressed so many of the conventions which make our democracies civilised and decent, respect is not an entitlement. It must be earned.
So come on Donald, prove yourself fit to be president, and prove us sceptics wrong.
If in four years time the American and global economy are just as strong or stronger than Obama helped make them; if the Chinese and the Russians have been dissuaded from their expansionist and illegal activities in the South China Sea and eastern Europe; if the progressive sexual politics and multiculturalism of the past decades have not been reversed; and if Islamic jihad has indeed been defeated as you assert only you can do – then you’ll have my respect.
I’ll even eat my Make America Great Again hat.
By Brian McNair, Professor of Journalism, Media and Communication, Queensland University of Technology
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
TOP IMAGE: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst]]>
Brighton is Britain’s bohemian seaside resort. Postcards evoke a pebbly beach and a famous pier but it’s Brighton’s cheery, colourful charm that brings the visitors in. With the UK’s biggest gay scene and home to two universities and an art college, Brighton can be summed up in one word: fun. Only an hour outside of London, you really have no excuse.
A walk along the famous chalk White Cliffs of Dover is an absolute must for any trip around the South of England. The town may be quiet but there is plenty on offer in terms of nature and scenery.
Showcasing all the tranquility of the English countryside, the New Forest is a great trip away from the cities. With accommodation to suit every budget, from camping to hotels and even farmhouses, and many proudly-owned local cafes and restaurants, you would be sorted for everything.
Home to one of the oldest and most famous universities, Oxford is filled with awesome old pubs, cafes and university buildings that cover the city centre to make it a lovely place for a wander. So much history and culture surrounds the city’s streets and buildings!
Known for its attractive Gregorian architecture and historic Roman baths, Bath is a British spa and market town just waiting to be discovered by you. With some cosy pubs, charming architecture and friendly atmosphere, Bath is the perfect place for that quintessential British experience.
Often regarded as the forgotten counterpart to Oxford and Cambridge, Durham is a town intertwined with its university. The magnificent Romanesque cathedral, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, provides a stunning view if you are able to climb the 325 steps to the top. Now part of the university, Durham Castle is another memorable landmark and was also a filming location for the Harry Potter films.
Enjoy a day or weekend trip, soak in the English culture and feel just like one of the characters from Downton Abbey.
Image Credits: Pixabay / WolfBlur / diego_torres / wilhei / kaz / keem1201 / falco / KellyRudland
Feature also appears here]]>
A billboard advert for a government Australia Day event featuring the image of the hijab wearing young girls was removed from its Melbourne location earlier this week after the company responsible for it, QMS, was threatened.
In response, an online GoFundMe crowd campaign was launched for the sign’s return. The fundraising gathered over $100,000 within the first 12 hours, surpassing the stated goal of $50,000.
Now the sign is expected to be displayed again at the same spot within days, with more set to be put up in other Australian cities and maybe even be published as adverts newspapers.
Holy shit we did it. Australians are decent and tolerant and generous! pic.twitter.com/ZG7itobj5P
— Dee Madigan (@deemadigan) January 18, 2017
“I’m overwhelmed and just incredibly heartened I guess because it feels like sometimes the bastards are winning,” fundraising organiser Dee Madigan said, according to the ABC.
“Then when this happens you just think, ‘No they’re not, there’s a whole lot of really good people out there’.
“They put pressure on to take one down, we’ll put 20 back up.”
“The people who complain about Muslim Australians not assimilating were the ones who complained about two Muslim girls holding an Australian flag celebrating Australia Day,” she added.
However, the image has attracted further controversy from the other end of the political spectrum, with some critics citing the plight of Indigenous Australians and the fact that for many of them Australia Day on 26 January is a day of dispossession.
Anti-Islamophobia advocate Mariam Veiszadeh, who supported the campaign to return the sign, sought to acknowledge the other side of the debate, posting on Facebook that she had “not in any way, intended to ignore or ‘whitewash Australia’s dark past’ and the injustices committed against the first Australians.”
Immigration minister Peter Dutton told 3AW radio that he loved the image.
“I think it’s great that we’ve got young boys, young girls from whatever background who are embracing Australian values, flying the Australian flag, proud to be Australian, proud to be part of our society, want to be part of a peaceful future in this country,” he said.]]>
Bega revealed on Thursday they were buying a big piece of Mondelez International’s operations in Australia and New Zealand. Mondelez International are an American owned multinational food and confectionary company who own many well known brands in Australia such as Kraft, Cadbury and (not for long) Vegemite.
“The wonderful heritage and values that Vegemite represents and its importance to Australian culture makes its combination with Bega Cheese truly exciting,” Bega’s Executive Chairman Barry Irvin said in a statement announcing the deal.
“In addition to Vegemite and the other brands being undeniably iconic, the people we are taking on are very impressive and will play an important role in growing the merged business,” he added.
For their part, Mondelez waved a fond farewell to one of its best known products.
“We’re extremely proud of our history as the custodian of the Vegemite brand for over 90 years, transforming it from its local roots into a global icon that’s synonymous with Australia,” Mondelez International’s Vice President Amanda Banfield said, according to News.com.au.
“It’s been a privilege stewarding this brand, which is found in almost every Australian household and is part of the fabric of the nation.”
Indeed, Vegemite is a true icon of Australia but what many people were unaware of was that the rich yeast extract spread was actually American owned. In fact it had been American for most of its life – since it was first spread by Cyril Percy Callister in Melbourne in 1922 after he’d mixed onion extracts, celery and salt with used yeast dumped by the nearby Carlton United Brewery – as part of Kraft, much of which became Mondelez in 2012.
Bega’s shares surged some 15% on the deal. It will be funding the deal through debt.
This is in marked contrast with the international goodwill and euphoria of Barack Obama’s inauguration on January 20, 2009. Let’s revisit that halcyon time of promise and the fruition of audacity and hope …
THE DARK KNIGHT IS INAUGURATED, the Black Messiah is installed in The White House and not since the funeral of Princess Diana has the world come as close to beating with a single heartbeat.
All is far from right with the world or as it is in heaven, but in the many hells of our own making the audacity of hope today prevails over yesterday’s fog of despair.
Give us this day.
The word on the world street is Obama. He’s the man. The main man. Hope, change and optimism made flesh. Bring it on. Flick that switch. Leave the old world disorder behind. Game on.
What a love affair it is ― and how fine to be caught up in its warm embrace in a world that for so long has heard little but the rhetoric of war and the politics of hate from an Oval office free-basing on fear, malice and mismanagement.
Okay, so it was more an ordination than an inauguration; more a coronation than an invocation.
Barack Obama Presidential Inauguration — Prelude
His address to his nation and to our world was an exquisitely crafted soliloquy rather than sermon. He fell to earth in the nick of time; surely borne by the archangels of democracy’s foundling fathers, grounded control to Major Tom Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin, Adams. More Henry V than Hamlet. He said things we long to hear politicians say. He said things politicians should say. He talks our language.
Not polispeak. Not dumbing down. Not treading on dreams. He makes you feel all good things are possible if we help one another. As indeed they are.
He makes you ponder the calibre of our own politicians; many wanting in their collective ability to communicate, to galvinise, to inspire, to truly lead. Obama has upped the ante in our expectations. For too long we have genuflected to mediocrity.
We know we should free our governments from the strings of corporate puppeteers. And weak oppositions simply aid and abet politicians who promise us the world and then snatch it from us once elected. Real power lies in the separation of power ― and the separation of the powerful.
The economic contagion’s mutating virus seems to have paralysed our fiscal systems and our courage. Never again should behemoth monetary cartels manipulate the universe. We need to return to our villages.
To hear America’s president talk unequivocably about harnessing the mighty energy of sun and wind exposes the inadequacies, impotence and subservience to vested interests of our own political system, and those ministers who once pranced and championed the environment onstage, who now warble from a government songsheet drafted to accommodate big business at the expense of We, the Great Unwashed.
Other peoples in other countries are looking at their own leaders and thinking similar things. We now have a world leader with whom we can compare our own.
Already, the knives are out for Obama; scribblers deride his rhetoric when they did not deride his predecessor. Give the kid a go. Of course, he’s not the messiah and, of course, so many of us have placed a leaden burden on his lean shoulders. But we have grown used to standing on the shoulders of giants fattened through our own apathy and indifference.
We so often keep quiet when we should speak. We ignore screams and simply turn up the music. We turn away when we should stop to help. I love it that, without showing anything other than utter respect for the office of the presidency, Barack Obama did not shirk from telling George W. Bush and the world what he thought of all that had happened on Dubya’s watch. That’s Democracy, with a capitol Dubya!
Obama has surely earned his time in the sun ― and it may be that a harder rain’s gonna fall but, brothers and sisters, I hear echoes from the very past that Obama so often summons; a past younger than these strife-weary days. Though not quite the past of the Kennedys, or that more congenial spot, Camelot.
To me, Obama seems more Mandela than Doc Martin Luther King.
It is as if Dr King, the Timelord, was our blistering clarion to the future, awakening our colourless souls to the obscenity of treating black brethren as the least among equals, was to be a sort of John the Baptist to the handsome boy who grew up to be Barack Hussein Obama, President of the United States of America.
The Great Doc Martin helped pave the way for all humanity; to think he was merely 39 years old when he was killed by an assassin tells me too many of us are wasting time.
How sweet it is that Obama’s inauguration seemed enchanted, almost Merlinesque, if I can introduce Arthurian metaphor into an international KFC precinct. Global, after all. The stars toying with us; a tantalising hubris: the anniversary of Dr King’s birthday and then there is Obama’s Illinois compatriot Abe Lincoln, upon whose Holy Bible he will wwear the Oath of Presidential Office.
Helen Suzman on meeting Nelson Mandela
The late indomitable Helen Suzman, South Africa’s fearless anti-apartheid politician and campaigner, told me last year she saw much of Nelson Mandela in Obama, both a physical resemblance and in the shared humanity expressed in his lexicon and consciousness.
I understand Madiba has already written to Obama to congratulate him.
Something in the way Obama walks and talks reminds me of no other; something in the way he moves me — and millions like me. What’s that all about? He leads me to remember the long deflowered power of the “swinging sixties”, hippies, incense and the incensed; when we were brave and fearlessly marched together against injustice and unjust wars. IUDs not IEDs ― long before hummers and humvees hooned off the desert’s storming sands onto civvie street, and army camouflage became a fashion statement.
Peace, love, another dawning of the Age of Aquarius; dreams my generation sold out on the Dow and Nikkei; insiders trading jokes at the expense of the homeless, the voiceless, the jobless, the hungry, the poor, the uneducated, the voteless — clinging as they irritatingly do to the white cuffs of pinstriped history, their grasping fingerprints leaving smudges that only White Kings can remove.
Obama is all about the People. By and for and of the People. It will forever be writ large that the America that spawned and tolerated the likes of George W. Bush is the America that reclaimed its nation from the greedy clutches of an administration that defied and defiled the ethics and tenets on which the Union was built.
Recap of President Obama’s First Term
We cannot contemplate President Obama’s extraordinary personal journey without acknowledging the recent political and economic terrain of the nation that led him to walk up Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day.
He has, quite rightly, called upon America as individuals who make up the whole, to put their collective shoulder to the waterwheel, to not suckle entirely of the Government’s welfare teat ― surely a worldly message we all must heed.
Obama has life experiences of such cultural and geographical variation, and this emotional ringbarking means that he can identify with us and we with him.
What must Barack Hussein Obama have thought when he was taking The Oath of Office and looked out at the vast acreage of humanity sown before him, waving and shouting his name in a mantra of happiness, pride and joy?
The people of his book came by plane, on buses, bikes, and on foot from all around the country, to pay homage to and honour Obama and to welcome him as their new President.
Nor was this confined to The Americas ― all around the world, Barack Obama’s name was being extolled.
We have never seen anything like it. Welcome to Pollywood. No rockstar has been so feted. No sports event so attended.
The feisty Senator Diane Feinstein, chair of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, said it all when she spoke of the supremacy of the ballot over the bullet.
All through his political career, Obama has fused his achingly incisive intellect and word-power to build confidence, unafraid to thread emotion, poetry, history, rhetoric, hope and imagination with the brutal pragmatism that lines the soul of all true optimists.
He spoke of self evident truths that had corroded The American Dream into a nightmare and courageously did so before the very man who was the architect of such corrosion. Occasionally, the cameras would catch Dubya’s face and you could see the fear etched in the pained face of this ignoble leader who caused such injury to a mighty nation once held in high regard by so many.
Bush is already yesterday’s man. Even when he was the president he was YM, eclipsed by this black Caesar of America, now claimed by so many of her many lost tribes. Bush is now consigned to the marginalia of history ― not entirely the legacy he doodled for himself. Without doubt, he put the “con” in the Constitution.
True, Bush’s speech after 9/11 was his best. But after that his seed was spent. Rhetoric alone is never enough.
We need to seriously note what Obama has done thus far, with his sheer force of personality ― and this gift called rhetoric. What an orator. Cynics so often demean rhetoric. Rhetoric has different dialects and motives. Our shared histories confirm that so often rhetoric can both conspire and inspire human endeavour. Not always for the best.
We need to note that Obama has got this far – and taken America this far – and much of the world with him, without military posturing or threat. Check out other countries and their bullying leaders, who terrify their peoples and intimidate them into subservience and submission.
And for a moment we can all sip from the same sacred chalice of a common humanity, poisoned or no from the sleight hand of George W. Bush and his cronies, among them Rumsfeld and Cheney; those horsemen of the modern apocalypse who politically trashed and defecated on their own country, and the countries of others; on history and jistory.
They trashed the reputation of The Americas and did their best to trash the reputations of others. Theirs was bleedership not leadership. Stalking not talking.
Let them skulk into the barren intellectual wasteland from which they emerged ― but let not obscurity be their collective fate. Oh no. In due course, may they come to be charged with crimes and misdemeanours against humanity – even against inhumanity – and a pox on all who remained compliant and did not speak up loudly enough ― myself included.
Donald Rumsfeld’s “known unknowns”
The Coalition of the Willing turned into the coalition of the swilling. Check out what the likes of Halliburton and KBR, Blackwater and their brethen reaped from the public purse ― including our own. Now that certain boulders, legislation and wars will be upturned, we look forward to the tipping of the tables of moneymen in the temple of democracy. But look out for the servants of apologia who will wriggle out and insinuate themselves into the busy tasks of re-writing historical text and presidential records.
Hopefully, with Dubya gone, former acolytes might have the courage to now write the truth. Prepare for a series of kiss-offs and sell. A fat lot of good for the thousands of civilians killed and wounded, and the thousands of defence personnel killed and wounded in the past eight years.
Theirs were lives bartered for a pocketful of lies, known unknowns, enemies real and fabricated; the Bush Administration the incubator, providing investment funding and the world’s largest PR machine devoted solely to talking up and promoting “the terrorist”, and the ill-named ridiculous “War on Terror”, elevating cowards, criminals and murderers to the status of freedom fighters, taking its cue from Goebbels, and turning the facile and gutless bin Laden into a sex symbol for the pornography of violence ― so that every crim and thug who wages war in the name of gods of their own making, plants bombs, rapes, pillage, kidnaps and loots, claims the Laden mantle as his/her own.
Moderate Muslims found themselves both cornered and abandoned, and used for political propaganda. If they’re not with us, they’re against us.
But what if they’re not with us, but not with the terrorists either ?
Sorry, computer says no.
We bought it. And we have the fridge magnets to prove it. By the way, kids, how’s the terrorist hotline going? Had any calls from bearded cave-dwellers lately ?
As I’ve said, more than a single letter of the alphabet separates Osama from Obama.
President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address
Barack Hussein Obama said it plain and simple. We will not apologise for our way of life and it was good to hear. Osama bin Muhammad bin Awad bin Laden had an ally in George Walker Bush. They shared leverage, needing one another to promulgate their agenda. Feeding off each other, sharing the same oxygen mask. How now Osama?
In his speech, Obama referred to Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims and non-believers and told the Muslim world that America was seeking a new way forward based on mutual interest and respect. This will be anathema to bin Laden and his thugs — and their ecumenical fundamentalist counterparts, I might add.
To hear Bush mewling about his regrets in his departing press conferences was sickening. Save it, Dubya. You had your time. You left America the worse for your regime. You left the world worse for your regime. You left the Office of the President of the United States of America worse for your regime.
And too easily We of the Never Never, of the Coalition, slid up the political rectal passage of the Bush Administration as easily as a suppository lubricated with promissory notes of contracts and armaments, and the spoilers of war. Yes sir, no sir, eight body bags full, sir, at last sorry count, sir.
Whether warmongers wear Galibayahs, Brooks Brothers suits or Manolo stilettos, uniforms or civilian dress, it is surely an indictment on us all that we continue to resolve conflict by killing and injuring one another.
I feel that the world is a safer place now that President George W. Bush has left The White House building ― and the 44th President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, Michelle, their girls and Gran have moved in.
A very quick look at President Obama’s first term
I feel that, on this day, the United States of Obama is a safer place. Feeling this feeling is good. I like to dream and I was dreaming of an extension of the European Community into a global organisation called The United Nations of the World. Every country in the world would be a member. War is abolished. Illegal.
Instead of ministers of defence, we have ministers for peace. No country is allowed to abstain from voting on anything.
Like the European Community, leadership rotates, so that the leader of each country, no matter how large or how small, has a turn at being The President of the United Nations of the World.
That is what the audacity of hope can do. That is what change can do.
To live The Dream you first have to be free to dream it.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License
Courtesy of IndependentAustralia.net]]>
Tim Mullen, from Perth, told 9News he initially thought the gunshots were fireworks until they came closer and fellow clubbers began to run and scream. [see video above. WARNING some readers may find scenes to be distressing]
“You could hear the gunshots getting close and then they were, like, directly behind us maybe within five metres,” said Mullen.
“I know that I ran past four victims and there was at least two others behind me that I didn’t see, where or not they are all dead or not, I’m not sure.”
According to Mexico News Daily, five people were killed and 15 wounded when a gunman opened fire at the Blue Parrot nightclub which was celebrating the end of the BPM festival – a music and hospitality industry event that draws up to 70,000 people – in Playa Del Carman.
There are conflicting reports as to the motive of the alleged shooter; whether it was about paying cover charge or some other confrontation that led to the incident which occurred at about 2am on Monday morning (local time). Police are investigating.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has confirmed that no Australians have been reported as being injured in the incident.
Playa Del Carman is a popular spot on Mexico’s east coast, commonly visited by tourists.]]>
So, here we go:
If you know you’re in trouble, there isn’t much to do about it now. According to Fin24, hopefully you kept within your budget through the holidays, but if you did over-indulge, now is the time to do some damage control and assess the situation. Go through your bank statements and understand where you are financially at the moment.
This time of the year, things like school fees along with your usual payments are important. You don’t want to skip out on payments just because it’s January. Start off by taking charge and making notes of important upcoming payments. Don’t go and take out a loan and increase your debt. Adding on expenses will only do more damage. Save up for important payments and work around that budget.
The best time to plan your finances, are early on in the year. Make some real changes, be strict and actually get through the months with enough money for you to live comfortably.
Limit your spending habits — so as not to run up extra debt — and cut unnecessary expenses like eating at restaurants on the regular or going to the movies; and yes even travel, if only until your finances are balanced again.
Review your finances and financial pattern of 2016 and save up. If you don’t know where to begin, take a look at these awesome tips and tricks for you to try out.
Feature published courtesy of TSA]]>
There are some instances where firms look to defer their tax repayments unnecessarily, however, simply out of habit or because they wish to invest their capital elsewhere. This is a concern that has become prevalent in Australia in recent times, with smaller outlets within the recruitment sector and similar markets having developed a habit of leveraging the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) as an accessible source of credit.
A Look at the Issue and the Response of the ATO
According to Robert Gottleibsen from The Australian, the government’s midyear economic statement revealed that the ATO is currently owed a staggering $19 billion in overdue taxes. Nearly 70% of this total was accounted for by small businesses with an annual turnover in the region of $2 million, including a host of independent recruitment agencies. Not only does this highlight the fragility of the economy in the current climate, but it also suggests that firms are content to delay their tax repayments in order to cope with real-time business challenges.
This is an issue that the ATO and the Australian government has monitored for some time, prompting it to propose strong action by way of a deterrent. More specifically, the government has announce that will officially name business that owe the ATO money to credit agencies, effectively severing all sources of credit and threatening vulnerable SMEs with bankruptcy.
While some have derided this as being an excessive response, Gottleibsen argued that this was just the tonic that the economy and small business required in the existing climate. It is hard to disagree with this assertion either, as business-owners would be able to operate from a sound basis of knowledge and make clearly defined choices about how they manage their ventures. So, rather than pursuing the easier path of deferring tax repayments, small businesses would be far more likely to restructure or embrace a new business to underpin their future growth.
The Bottom Line: How Will This Impact on SMEs and Investors
Ultimately, this proposal may have a positive effect on the economy, as it forces businesses to face up to their financial challenges earlier and encourages them to seek out advice before they accumulate a large tax debt (or lose their status among potential creditors).
There will undoubtedly be some casualties in the short-term, however, while the landscape will also change for financial market traders and investors alike. The former will need to be increasingly vigilant when share trading or investing in managed stock portfolios, for example, as companies that are named to credit agencies will fail to offer a viable return.
Investors are also likely to become increasingly selective about the companies that they back, as they look to avoid committing to companies that are likely to have a poor credit rating in the near-term future.]]>
You can register on the electoral roll
As Commonwealth citizens resident in the UK, Australians can register to vote in local and national UK elections. Politics might not exactly be top of your list of priorities right now, but there’s a very good practical reason for getting registered to vote; namely, helping to build up a UK credit rating and proof of address.
In all sorts of areas, from opening a bank account through to applying for a phone contract, it’s common for credit agencies and various other organisations to use the electoral roll for identity verification purposes and to combat fraud. Electoral roll registration is quick and easy; so it’s certainly worth doing to help reduce delay and admin in all sorts of areas.
You can work while you study
For Australians coming to the UK on a student visa, it’s possible to work in most types of jobs for up to 20 hours a week during term – and full time during the holidays.
Just make sure you check that the establishment you intend to study at is listed on the directory of recognised bodies with degree-awarding authority and on the list of institutions authorised to support migrant students; the college must be on both lists for you to be able to work.
It’s generally an expat-friendly property market
To secure funding for any property purchase, you will of course need to meet the lending criteria of your UK mortgage provider. But for the time being, at least, there isn’t a UK-equivalent of Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board. This means that if you are considering buying a property in the UK – even on a short-term visa, there’s no formal government approval process to go through.
So depending on your circumstances, UK home ownership (as opposed to renting) could be a viable option.
Australians are now liable for the Immigration Health Surcharge
As from 6 April 2016, the Immigration Health Surcharge now applies to Australians and New Zealanders.
Bear in mind that it covers visa extensions too, so if you are already resident in the UK and are due to apply to extend your stay, you will be required to pay a £200 per annum surcharge as part of your application.
IPMI can make accessing healthcare a much smoother process
The reasoning behind the Health Surcharge is to generate a greater contribution from temporary residents towards the cost of the UK’s much-vaunted National Health Service.
So does the right to use the NHS mean that “everything’s covered” health-wise for you and your family? No healthcare system is perfect, and it’s fair to say that some of the negative aspects of British public healthcare – especially when it comes to waiting times for routine treatment – can take many Australians by surprise.
International Private Medical Insurance (IPMI) can help to make the whole process of accessing treatment for you and your family a lot smoother. The best policies are both flexible and portable; ideal for filling in gaps in existing private cover, and well-suited if you are living and working across national borders.
For a quote and to find out more about how UK-based Australians can benefit from IPMI, visit www.cignaglobal.com.
Transferring money overseas is something Aussie expats are very familiar with. The experience can often be slow, stressful and a bit of a money-sucker.
That’s why Australian Times has teamed up with OFX to provide our readers with a money-saving alternative to international bank transfers. OFX.com is great for comparing the Australian dollar with the British pound, Euro, US dollar and many other major international currencies worldwide.
Use the OFX Currency Converter here (on the right) to view live exchange rates.
Then get your international money transfers much cheaper and quicker using OFX
Register by clicking the button above and get the latest foreign exchange market commentary from OFX here.