Spring in the Algarve

March 26, 2015

Spring is in the air.  There are two signs;  number one, the swifts are back again and, number two, the dwarf irises are blooming in their thousands.  I first noticed these last year, on the clifftop at Carvoeiro.  They are wild flowers and sprout out of insignificant little spidery plants that litter the clifftop, often set in sparse, sandy areas and then there were so few of them that you needed to look for them.  They bloom for a day or so, and only in the afternoon, then they are gone.  This year, there are literally thousands of them; wonderful to see.

I’ve also included pix of Sophie and Wookie, who has just had his first haircut.  He looks very butch these days!

DSC00616 DSC00617 DSC00618 DSC00619 DSC00620 DSC00621 DSC00622 DSC00623 DSC00624 DSC00625

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#Ukraine’s Poison Pill for Peace Talks

March 23, 2015

For a better idea of what’s happening fight now in Ukraine, have a look at this piece from Robert Parry of Consortiumnews.com: https://consortiumnews.com/2015/03/19/ukraines-poison-pill-for-peace-talks/

And I always thought I knew who the goodies and baddies were…..the baddies wear black hats, don’t they?


On Walter Lippmann #walterlippmann #democracy

March 21, 2015

 

Walter Lippmann was a journalist whose views crystallise my current thinking about the way democracy is working and the role of we, The People, in contrast to the guys who are actually calling the shots.  He was the most influential American publicist of  19th Century British Liberalism and defined this classed society in a modern framework for an American audience.

Society should, Lippmann argued, be divided into the great vulgar masses of a largely ignorant ‘public’ that is then steered by an elite or ‘special’ class, which Lippmann referred to as ‘the responsible men’ who would decide the terms of what he called ‘the national interest’.  This elite would become the dedicated bureaucracy, to serve the interests of private power and wealth, but the truth of their responsibiity to the power of private wealth should never be revealed to the broader ignorant public.  ‘They wouldn’t understand’.  The general public must have the illusion that it is exerting democratic power and this illusion must be shaped by ‘the responsible men’ in what Lippmann referred to as ‘the manufacture of consent’.

He was writing well before the information revolution and social media and I present the entries from Wikipedia to see how relevant you think they are in this day and age when we should know everything yet are powerless to bring about change:

On Journalism

Lippmann saw the purpose of journalism as “intelligence work“. Within this role, journalists are a link between policymakers and the public. A journalist seeks facts from policymakers which he then transmits to citizens who form a public opinion. In this model, the information may be used to hold policymakers accountable to citizens. This theory was spawned by the industrial era and some critics argue the model needs rethinking in post-industrial societies.

Though a journalist himself, he did not assume that news and truth are synonymous. For Lippmann, the “function of news is to signalize an event, the function of truth is to bring to light the hidden facts, to set them in relation with each other, and make a picture of reality on which men can act.” A journalist’s version of the truth is subjective and limited to how he constructs his reality. The news, therefore, is “imperfectly recorded” and too fragile to bear the charge as “an organ of direct democracy.”

To his mind, democratic ideals had deteriorated, voters were largely ignorant about issues and policies, they lacked the competence to participate in public life and cared little for participating in the political process. In Public Opinion (1922), Lippmann noted that the stability the government achieved during the patronage era of the 19th century was threatened by modern realities. He wrote that a “governing class” must rise to face the new challenges.

The basic problem of democracy, he wrote, was the accuracy of news and protection of sources. He argued that distorted information was inherent in the human mind. People make up their minds before they define the facts, while the ideal would be to gather and analyze the facts before reaching conclusions. By seeing first, he argued, it is possible to sanitize polluted information. Lippmann argued that seeing through stereotypes (which he coined in this specific meaning) subjected us to partial truths. Lippmann called the notion of a public competent to direct public affairs a “false ideal.” He compared the political savvy of an average man to a theater-goer walking into a play in the middle of the third act and leaving before the last curtain.

On mass culture

Lippmann was an early and influential commentator on mass culture, notable for not criticizing or rejecting mass culture entirely, but discussing how it could be worked with to keep democracy functioning. In his first book on the subject, Public Opinion (1922), Lippmann said mass man functioned as a “bewildered herd” who must be governed by “a specialized class whose interests reach beyond the locality.” The elite class of intellectuals and experts were to be a machinery of knowledge to circumvent the primary defect of democracy, the impossible ideal of the “omnicompetent citizen”. This attitude was in line with contemporary socialist thinking.

Later, in The Phantom Public (1925), Lippmann recognized that the class of experts were also, in most respects, outsiders to any particular problem, and hence, not capable of effective action. Philosopher John Dewey (1859–1952) agreed with Lippmann’s assertions that the modern world was becoming too complex for every citizen to grasp all its aspects, but Dewey, unlike Lippmann, believed that the public (a composite of many “publics” within society) could form a “Great Community” that could become educated about issues, come to judgments and arrive at solutions to societal problems.

From the 1930s to the 1950s, Lippman became even more skeptical of the “guiding” class. In The Public Philosophy (1955), which took almost twenty years to complete, he presented a sophisticated argument that intellectual elites were undermining the framework of democracy. This book was very poorly received in liberal society.

Legacy: Almond–Lippmann consensus

A meeting of liberal intellectuals mainly from France and Germany organized in Paris in August 1938 by French philosopher Louis Rougier to discuss the ideas put forward by Lippmann in his work The Good Society (1937), Colloque Walter Lippmann was named after Walter Lippmann. Walter Lippmann House at Harvard University, which houses the Nieman Foundation for Journalism, is named after him too. Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman used one of Lippmann’s catch phrases—the “Manufacture of Consent”— for the title of their book, Manufacturing Consent, contains sections critical of Lippmann’s views about the media.

Similarities between the views of Lippmann and Gabriel Almond produced what became known as the Almond–Lippmann consensus, which is based on three assumptions:

  1. Public opinion is volatile, shifting erratically in response to the most recent developments. Mass beliefs early in the 20th century were “too pacifist in peace and too bellicose in war, too neutralist or appeasing in negotiations or too intransigent”
  2. Public opinion is incoherent, lacking an organized or a consistent structure to such an extent that the views of U.S. citizens could best be described as “nonattitudes”
  3. Public opinion is irrelevant to the policy-making process. Political leaders ignore public opinion because most Americans can neither “understand nor influence the very events upon which their lives and happiness are known to depend.”

War in an age of democracy. #Ukraine. An opinion.

March 13, 2015

The history of mankind is the history of warfare. In the age of feudal monarchies, kings could wage war on other kings and count on the support of their liege-lords and their vassals. It was then a matter of numbers and money to pay for it all. Simple, really. A king did not need the approval of his people because he was an absolute monarch and had absolute power. As long as warfare led to conquest and plunder, then his subjects got richer and everyone was happy…except those who died, of course. In an age of democracy, how different things are; governments need the consent of the people to wage war, so how is this done?

First let’s make one thing perfectly clear. We, The People, are stupid. Very stupid. We have always been stupid, since Roman times and before. Then, when we, The People, got uppity, the patricians would declare a holiday and order The Games; three days of drunken revelry and entertainment. These days we have football to take our minds off things. As I said, we, The People, are stupid. And ignorant.

Ignorance is not knowing. We know what we are told and what we can discover, if we have inquiring minds. In Roman times, there was a good excuse for ignorance but, in this information age, there is no excuse. These days ignorance may be bliss but, more realistically, ignorance = laziness. I have to admit that, when Tony Blair told us all about WMDs in Iraq, I believed him. Didn’t you? Well, it was a lie. He knew it was a lie as well. Believe me, the US and UK military intelligence network is so good that there is no possibility that he or Bush actually believed what they were saying because they were lying to justify the invasion of Iraq. We, The People, let them get away with it. Because we are stupid. Because we are ignorant. We are also fearful.

Fear is a wonderful weapon that can be used skilfully by politicians. The Nazis used it in the 1930s and blamed the Jews for Germany’s ills. They, it was claimed, were the international conspiracy that brought about the defeat of WWI, rampant inflation, starvation, Versailles, etc. It was a lie, of course but it worked a treat. Fear of communism was perfect from 1945 until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and it was used to justify the Korean and Vietnam wars. In reality, the spread of Communism in democracies was never likely but the very fear of it was justification enough to go to the war with we, The People, cheering on. Except that the cheering stopped. And so did the Vietnam War. This shows that we are not quite so stupid. This shows that we can discover what is really happening out there if we want to. This shows that we can put an end to politicians doing stupid things. If we want to.

Whenever a crime is committed the detectives look for a motive. Who gains from the crime? Well, who profits from war? The winners do sometimes but WWII bankrupted the UK and led directly to the end of empire. It destroyed the economies of pretty well every European country. But not the American. All of the combatants needed to finance the war and it was American banks that provided the money. It was American industry that provided the ships, tanks, planes, guns and bullets.  The Rockefeller banks also lent money to the Nazis until that was made a bit more difficult under the ‘Trading with the Enemy Act’.  It was America that emerged dominant at the end of WWII. WWII ended the Great Depression and resuscitated US industry. The US coffers were full, everyone owed them money. The dollar became the world reserve currency. Good ol’ Uncle Sam. If Pearl Harbour hadn’t happened, the US would have had to invent it. (As an aside, if Pearl Harbour was the Japs, why did the US immediately declare war on Germany? Just a thought).

The dollar reigned supreme until 1971 when it ceased to be backed by gold. That’s right, folks, the dollar in your pocket (and pretty well every other currency) is just a piece of paper. To support the dollar as the world’s reserve currency and to drag funds into the US’s by now obsolete manufacturing sector, the price of oil was quadrupled in 1973. Oil is priced in dollars. Everyone needed more dollars to buy their fuel and the US Federal Reserve printed them. As another aside, the US Federal Reserve is, like the Bank of England, a privately-owned organisation, not a governmental body. It has nothing to do with the government. It is owned by banks and rich individuals, of whom the Rockefeller and Rothschild families are prominent. The increase in the price of oil was the idea of, and put into action by, one Henry Kissinger who informed the Arabs and Iranians that if they didn’t play ball, then Uncle Sam would start to play hard ball. Fact. Don’t blame the Arabs. Don’t blame the Yom Kippur war, it only provided the justification for the oil price rise. A further aside: most third world debt stems from the massive deficits in budgets caused by this oil price hike. Most of the debt is owned by the US banks and the IMF and World Bank, both of which are also US institution. Wall Street keeps the world on its knees. And I always wondered why the Iranians called the US ‘The Great Satan’. I think I know now.

As long as we, The People, were frightened by the idea of the great Commie invasion, the Cold War, and the industrial machine that sustained it, could continue.

Then came 1991. Disaster #1.

The dirty Commies decided that Communism was a bad idea after all and that capitalism was a much better idea. End of Cold War? Beginning of disarmament? Wall Street faced ruin. Well, maybe not. They could increase interest rates to 20% (which they did) to add to the debt burden of the Third World and reinforce the dollar as the only currency in the world. They could always deregulate and lend money to people who could never repay their debt. Which they did, with all of the dollars that had flowed into the Fed. We now call it sub-prime lending. Some call it criminal irresponsibility.

Next, how to deal with the necessary disarmament. After, all the enemy had just rolled over and surrendered. Oh, that one was easy. Expand NATO. Include all of those countries that were once in the USSR. That should irritate the Russkis, shouldn’t it? Western fascists right in their back yard. Just think of all those F16s, those laser-guided bombs. Think of the industry. Think of the cash. Think of the profit. Disaster averted.

Then came 2002. Disaster #2.

The EU decided to have a common currency. Catastrophe! The EU is the largest trading block in the world with an economic power greater than the US and Russia combined. It’s backed by Germany, for God’s sake. Who’d want dirty valueless dollars when they could have a fine upstanding Deutschmark?…er…sorry…Euro. Well, Wall Street had seen that one coming. George Soros, in his run on the Pound in 1992, made sure that the UK left the Exchange Rate Mechanism, which ensured that UK would never be part of the common currency, thereby weakening it substantially. Second Goldman-Sachs advisers to the Greek government showed them how to fiddle the books to be accepted into the Euro, thereby setting in place a time-bomb that has only recently gone off. Disaster averted.

Disaster #3.

“Omigod! Mr President! Look what’s happened in China! 1000 million people. Pingpong has turned in to the yellow peril manufacturing all the things we used to make! Africa is becoming Chinese! They’re lending money with no-strings attached! Aaarrggh! Look at all those Korean cars and TVs. Look at India! 1000 million people! It has a middle class! They’ve bought Land Rover! I now drive an Indian car! What shall we do?”

“Well, Mr President, they need energy to do all that…we can always make their supply of oil and gas less…how shall I put it…certain…?”

Overheard in a CIA Boardroom, a meeting of the National Endowment for Democracy:

“Well, now where do we go? We still need to feed the US defense industry. No one’s buying our cars these days. We still need an enemy. We’d better make one. Didn’t we train those Taliban guys in Afghanistan way back when the Russkis had invaded? Why not encourage them? There’s that guy Bin Laden…family’s in bed with the President…try him. Uncertainty…instability…the world needs a saviour. The world needs… Batman.”
“Good move, Sir. I hear the UK is happy to play Robin.”
“Great twin towers, Batman!”
“We can call it The War on Terror, then we don’t need to declare war, don’t need to define an enemy and don’t need to declare victory. It can go on for ever!”
“I’ll tell the president…”
“Makes you proud to be American.”
Ah, disaster created. Good news.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch:

‘Omigod, Mr President.  The Arabs have flown two planes into the Twin Towers…”

“Please don’t disturb me.  I’m reading to some schoolchildren…”

Later that day:

“Who were those masked men?”

“Bin Laden’s men, Sir.  Saudis…based in Afghanistan.”

“Saudis?  Afghanistan you say?  I think it’s time we invaded Iraq, don’t you?”

If the Twin Towers hadn’t happened, they would have had to invent it.  Perhaps they did.

Ukraine

If we’ve believed everything we’ve been told, then Russia is the threat and the West is the defender of peace and liberty. In reality, the entire crisis has been created, by America and its client states, by the US banks via various neo-conservative NGOs such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) who have been funding, instigating and organising the colour revolutions and have been doing so for some decades, following its own guidelines of warfare by non-violent means. If it had not been for the suggestion of Ukraine joining NATO, then this situation would never have happened. Of course Russia feels threatened. NATO bases surround its western borders. US bases are in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US has 1000 bases world-wide and spends 48% of the world’s total defence expenditure. It has a record of fomenting revolution and overthrowing democratically-elected governments that are not friendly to the US. It overthrew Mossadeq in Iran and installed the Shah. There was Guatemala and Grenada. And Egypt. There was Ukraine. Let’s not forget that last year’s revolution in the Maidan overthrew a democratically-elected but pro-Russian government. OK, the deposed Yanukovych was probably incompetent and corrupt but they, The People, elected him.  If we deposed every corrupt and incompetent leader in the world, there’d be no one left.

If I were Russian, I’d feel threatened. I’d feel threatened by the possibly of the world’s greatest and only superpower camping out on my doorstep. I’d feel threatened by the power of its armed forces and the power of its currency. I’d feel threatened by the country that purports to encourage democracy when, in reality, it does the opposite if it is in its financial interest to do so. I’d be threatened by the power of Wall Street and its wealthy families because I’d have seen what a few individuals there can to the world with paper money but complete control over it…a world of a new Imperium…an Empire created for the benefit of the rich and powerful…a world where the masters could not even point out where my country is on a map. I’d feel threatened by a country who cannot respect the human rights of all of its citizen, black and white, where children don’t have the human right to go to school without being shot, where there is no individual right to health care.

Yes, I’d feel very threatened.

To summarise. The history of mankind is the history of warfare. In the age of feudal monarchies, kings could wage war on other kings and count on the support of their liege-lords and their vassals. It was then a matter of numbers and money to pay for it all. Simple, really. A king did not need the approval of his people because he was an absolute monarch and had absolute power.  But, in this wonderful age of democracy, how different things are.

Or are they?


#MH17 Why the secrecy on the MH17 Investigation?

March 1, 2015
This intelligent article by Australian Human Rights lawyer JAMES O’NEILL, on http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/19/why-the-secrecy-on-the-mh17-investigation/
I have added some comments of my own in brackets and italics:

On 17 July 2014 Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over the Eastern Ukraine.

Although the precise circumstances were at that point unknown the western media were quick to blame Ukrainian rebels.  The means by which MH17 was destroyed, the media alleged, was a surface to air BUK missile supplied to the rebels by Russia.  For a host of reasons it was almost certainly not a BUK missile that caused the crash*.  The stage was set however, for a demonization of Russia in general as the alleged supplier of the missile, and President Vladimir Putin in particular.  The relentless propaganda enforcing this view has continued unabated to this day, although the evidential foundation for the allegations remains at best remote.

(* The BUK missile has a launch thrust of 50 tonnes and makes the ground shake so it’s pretty obvious when one is launched.  The BUK also leaves a very visible smoke trail which lingers but has never been reported by any witness.  No remains of a BUK missile were found at the crash site although they could have been removed, of course.  Both sides tampered with the site for three days after the crash and then visits to the crash site were infrequent.  Although the crash occurred on 17 July, the wreckage recovery by the Dutch did not take place until 16 November, a delay of 4 months).

The Russians produced an initial denial of involvement.  Four days after the tragedy however, as anti-Russian hysteria was escalating to extreme levels, the Russian military held a press presentation.  The fact of this presentation was barely reported in the western media.  The content, more importantly, was either ignored or misrepresented.

The Russians disclosed, inter alia, their radar and satellite data.  These data showed that MH17 had been diverted from its scheduled route so that it flew directly over the war zone in eastern Ukraine.  They asked for an explanation but one has never been forthcoming.  These data also showed that MH17 had been shadowed during its last minutes by two SU25 fighter jets, a model flown by the Ukrainian air force.  Again the Russians asked why this had happened.

The main response was a claim that the SU25 could not fly above 10,000 metres.  Not only is this untrue, as an examination of military resources readily demonstrates, but the Wikipedia entry on the SU25 had been altered days before the shoot down to claim that the SU25’s operating ceiling was only 7000 metres*.  Again the western media ignored this obvious alarm bell.

(*I checked the Wikipedia entry and this is true – 7000m!  However, I also checked Sukhoi’s website and they also state 7000m.  However, http://www.military-today.com/aircraft/sukhoi_su25_frogfoot.htm states 10000m which would be appropriate for an aircraft with low span loading (high aspect ratio wing) low wing loading and a thrust-to-weight ratio of around 0.5.  Normally, this is a ground attack aircraft so the service ceiling would be academic, but the Ukrainian aircraft are fitted with R-60 Aphid infra-red air-to-air missiles.  The R-60 uses a small, 3 kg (6.6 lb) tungsten expanding-rod ‘ring-of-steel’ surrounding a high explosive fragmentation warhead and there should be evidence of this on the wreckage if that’s what brought MH17 down.  This could cut through the pressure hull of an airliner and cause explosive decompression which is what appears to have happened.  I would not expect to see multiple shrapnel hits from such a missile hit. Looking at photos of the wreckage, damage seems to have been confined to the cockpit area (yes, like shrapnel hits) and some reporters suggest bullet holes – the Su25 is fitted with guns as well.  I have seen no mention of this from the crash investigators….who still have not issued the report… Why?  Read on…)

The Russians further disclosed that at the precise time of the shoot down an American spy satellite was directly overhead the scene and would have recorded the sequence of events.  The Russians invited the Americans to share these data with the official investigation that had been launched, but to date the Americans have failed to do so.  Again, the western media are singularly incurious as to the reason for this lack of cooperation.

Under IATA Rules, the parties responsible for the investigation would be the Malaysians, as owners of the plane and home country of the airline, and the Ukrainians over whose territory the atrocity occurred.  It was the Dutch however, who took the lead role, citing two facts:  the plane had departed from Amsterdam; and they had suffered the largest number of their nationals as victims.  The Malaysians were initially excluded from the inquiry for reasons that have never been satisfactorily explained*.  They were finally invited to join the Joint Inquiry on 2 December 2014.

(*In fact it is true that under ICAO rules the state of registry should undertake the investigation.  However, Malaysia has no expertise in this field and under these circumstances it is normal, and ‘acceptable’, to invite one of the more competent Air Accident Investigation authorities to take a lead – NTSB in the USA, AAIB in UK, etc.  The Netherlands has a competent organisation as does Australia.  Here’s what the Dutch have to say: http://www.onderzoeksraad.nl/en/onderzoek/2049/investigation-crash-mh17-17-july-2014)

Instead, the initial inquiry group consisted of Ukraine, the Netherlands, Australia and Belgium.  The Australians suffered the third largest loss of life but had no standing to be one of the investigatory nations, and certainly less of a claim than the Malaysians.  The Australian Prime Minister and some other politicians had been at the forefront of making extreme allegations against Russia and President Putin.  Why Belgium was included remains a mystery.

On 8 August 2014 these four investigating nations signed an agreement that the results of the investigation would not be published unless all four countries agreed*.  This gave one of the prime suspects in the atrocity, Ukraine, an effective veto over any investigations result that attributed blame to them.  This is an astonishing situation and probably without precedent in modern air crash investigations.

(*The results have not yet been published but the Dutch Safety Board stated that it would take a year – so, July 2015)

More significantly however, is that the existence of this secret agreement was not announced by the Australian government, nor to the best of my knowledge has any report about the existence of the agreement or its extraordinary terms, been published in any mainstream publication.

The Dutch magazine Elsevier, under Dutch Freedom of Information laws, sought a copy of the agreement.  On 19 November they announced that the request had been refused on the grounds that it “could endanger the relations with other countries involved.”

An Australian citizen (name redacted) wrote to the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development (Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss) seeking a copy of the agreement.  By letter dated 15 October 2014 the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) replied on behalf of the Minister, refusing the requester a copy of the agreement as its contents were “classified.”

The present writer wrote to DFAT on 21 August 2014 seeking a copy of the agreement of 8 August 2014 under the Freedom of Information Act.  The department declaimed responsibility and said that they had passed my request on to the Attorney-General’s Department.  This was odd, but even odder was advice from the Attorney General that my request had been passed in turn to the Australian Federal Police who were the responsible body.

This must be the first time in Australian history since 1901 that negotiations and agreements between sovereign nations had been conducted on Australia’s behalf by the Federal Police.

On 2 December 2014 the Australian Federal Police finally gave their decision on the FOI request.  It was declined on the basis that disclosure of the document (which they acknowledged existed) under section 33 would, or could reasonably be expected to, cause damage to:

(i)            the security of the Commonwealth; or

(ii)          the defence of the Commonwealth; or

(iii)         the international relations of the Commonwealth.

The refusal also relied upon section 37(1)(a) of the Act which exempts a document if it could reasonably be said to prejudice the conduct of an investigation.

Thirdly, the Federal Police relied upon section 37(1) (c) where disclosure could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of a person.

The fourth ground of refusal was under section 37(2)(b) which exempts disclosure where it might reasonably be expected to prejudice an investigation by disclosing methods of investigation or detection of unlawful activity.

In the circumstances of this case it is very difficult to see how any of those provisions would apply.  The agreement, it should be remembered, is to give any one of the four investigating countries a veto over publication of the results.  A final report would be entitled to withhold details of the investigation that would truly prejudice matters of national security.

An investigation of a crash of an aeroplane is however, carried out under IATA Rules and its procedures are well established and well documented.  Whose life or safety might be endangered by releasing the agreement is unspecified.

One is left with the conclusion that 33 (iii) is the real ground and the “international relations” referred to are the difficulty Australia and other nations have got themselves into by prematurely blaming Russia when all of the emerging evidence points squarely at Ukraine.

Given the existence of this agreement it is difficult to see how anyone can have any confidence in whatever final report is published by the Dutch.  The preliminary report was careful not to apportion blame or even state the cause of the crash other than to say that the plane was hit a by a large number of “high velocity objects” which were undefined.

Another major question is why have the mainstream media kept up a barrage of misinformation up to and including the recent G20 debacle, when they know, or ought to know that the investigation is a sham?

It is also difficult to see how the continued demonization of Russia and Mr Putin for manifestly geo-political reasons (and the probable reasons for the shoot down in the first place) represents any form of justice for the families of the 298 victims and in particular the 37 who were Australian citizens or residents.

It is clear that the Government’s professed support for Security Council Resolution 2116 (2014) for a “full, thorough, and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines” is no more than window dressing for a much wider geopolitical agenda.

(James O’Neill is a former academic who has practiced as a barrister for the past 30 years.  He has a special interest in international human rights issues.  He may be contacted at j.oneill@bigpond.net.au)