The Guardian • Issue #2008


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2008

The US Department of Defence recently went through the formality of asking Congress to give it the go-ahead to fund facilities in Australia to process rare earth minerals critical to the making of high-tech weapons of war. Australia’s role as a US base for the launching of conflict is now officially sponsored by the Pentagon.

And speaking of sponsorship, a dirty deal slipped quietly by last October involving taxpayers’ money used by the Morrison government for regional dominance in telecommunications. The act was perpetrated when the government handed $2.1 billion to Telstra to buy telecommunications assets in the Pacific. The money/loot is for the acquisition of Digicel Pacific, owned by billionaire Denis O’Brien. Part of the dirty deal will see Telstra cough up $200 million from its coffers with the government adding $1.5 billion by giving taxpayers’ money to the home-grown corporation to add to its monopoly status. The reason for the deal is to beat out Chinese communication companies. Last month things hit a small brick wall when Digicel executives hi-tailed it out of Papua New Guinea to avoid jail time for failing to pay a $130 million tax bill.

On Ukraine, the stream of reportage has included that Russia faces “a tsunami of sanctions,” presumably to cause its economy to collapse. So, which countries won’t impose sanctions? Among these are the BRICS countries: Brazil, India, China and South Africa. They account for forty-three per cent of the planet’s population. China is the world’s number one economy in terms of GDP, India is in third place. In fact the whole of Asia does not want to take the side of the USA. The only exceptions are South Korea, Japan and Australia, whose governments accommodate US bases and US forces of occupation on their territories. The leading Middle East countries – Pakistan, Iran and Turkey – are not enthusiastic about the boycott which the US is trying to force on everyone. The Middle East Arab countries, including those which have close relations with the US, have declared their neutrality. Latin America, which has suffered more than anyone at the hands of US imperialism, does not support sanctions. This applies not only to Socialist Cuba and progressive Venezuela and Nicaragua – but to the largest and most influential countries: Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. Many former socialist countries in Europe have also shown understanding of the situation that has taken shape. The leadership of seemingly unfriendly Georgia has decided against sanctions. In Europe, too, there is no unanimity. For Europe is a net loser. The winner is only the US which is hitting not only Russia, but its long-time economic rival, the European Union.

PARASITE OF THE WEEK: Qantas is going to the High Court to appeal against a ruling that its outsourcing of the jobs of 2000 baggage handlers is illegal. A Qantas statement said the outsourcing “was based on lawful commercial reasons”: it would save $100 million a year in staffing costs and remove the need to spend $80 million to upgrade in-house equipment.

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