In the last days, big corporations have their hand out for pay-outs and into our schools to teach kids how to become consumers of their products, while in France lefties are trying to grab some of it back; the US puppet in Egypt had its strings cut; Julian Assange seems to have made a complete dill of himself in his new TV “show”; Julia Gillard went back to kindie to talk economics and Kim Jong-un won Best Haircut of the Year in more ways than one.
Leaders of big corporations sometimes forget there is a real world out there. Maybe its the corporate get-up – suits, ties, pencil dresses, tight blouses, which I think restrict the body and therefore the thinking range of the wearers. I can’t really think of another explanation other than utter insanity for the attempt by a) a major tobacco company asking to be compensated for being obliged to let people know it is selling a deadly product and b) major gambling operators pitching to be allowed to teach school kids about “responsible gambling.”
Japan Tobacco Inc., owner of the Camel and B&H brands among others, has sent up a smoke signal for the High Court to decipher in the shape of a submission which seeks to peel back the federal government’s avant-garde packaging laws for cancer sticks. This is apparently a test case as other Big Tobaccos are peering in through the shatter proof glass of the High Court to see what will happen. Other governments too, looking favourably on Australia’s laws, are there too.
Really it’s just an ambit claim, as there is little chance of them ultimately winning: even a nod in the court will not bolster basement-low reputation in the real court of public opinion. These guys are, like many of their consumers, on life support. It’s also perhaps a sign that decades of assault are taking their toll on these behemoths. New markets in the developing world are dropping off perhaps.
I sent my daughter off to school today and never for a moment did I consider that it might be a good idea for her to learn more about line betting on the footy or what a Quinella is. However, registered clubs – presumably sports clubs, RSLs etc, – have dropped a bomb into a parliamentary committee looking into problem gambling with a submission which argues that pokies should be part of the curriculum.
Of course, Senator Nick Xenephon’s eyes started spinning like pokie fruit, and the thumping sound heard across the country was that of educators passing out. Another ambit claim of course. Corporates have lots of patience. They’ll chip away and by the time my daughter’s kids are at school, well, Gambling 101, but maybe Controlling your Binge Drinking, Safe Smoking or Responsible Porno Viewing might be scrawled in the subject column of their exercise books.
French elections, unlike those in Australia where the best we can do is some cardigan tugging by Messrs Katter and Green, often morph into full-on stoushes of ideals. There’s the usual cameo Peronesque appearance of Marie Le Pen and the National Front dickheads, for one. The communist leader Jean Luc Melenchon has suggested, with typical Gallic provocativeness, he will increase the minimum wage, drop the retirement age and generally reverse the post-GFC austerity gripping Europe. Best of all, he aims to tax incomes over 350,000 euros (about $AUD 450,000) are taxed at, wait for it, 100%.
Lot’s of ambit claims about this week. Menechon knew he wouldn’t win but he may well have cleared the ground for Socialist leader Francois Hollande in the first round held on the weekend, to depose the incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy. This may in turn revitalise the European left, still bristling after the 2008 global debacle and ignite n even bigger backlash against economic cuts than we’ve already seen. Check out this rally in Toulouse (bad name pun…) where Melenchon was the star. Says something I think.
Ensconced in his south English home prison, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has debuted his new TV interview program on, on all places, Russian state TV. Reviews have been, not surprisingly, scathing, especially from the trad media in the US and the UK. What’s taken everyone on the back foot, including me, is that he has chosen to go to air on a station which is openly a Putin-initiated vehicle designed to raise Russia’s and Putin’s own international standing. He says its because no-one would have him, but he appears to have helped those who seek to discredit his character and his purpose, which is effectively how the powers that be have taken him on since the mass of Wikileaks files broke in 2011.
In the broadcast, Assange is no anchorman, maybe just an anchor. He exudes not much more than a reptilian coldness and a clunky, wooden delivery. No apparent ad-libbing and basically just a talking head. Unimpressive in the delivery, but some “get” in scoring face time with Nasrallah. And despite JA’s ordinary technique, it was interesting to hear from Nasrallah, someone who doesn’t get a lot of air time in my media channels at least. Assange certainly has a network – wonder how many LinkedIn contacts he has?….Nice touch at the end with a blanked out credits scroll, very dramatic.
Assange may be an unwitting Russian stooge, but if he is, it’s no isolated case. The US is not averse to propping up their puppets too. One of them just had his strings cut. Omar Suleiman was gunning – some say a little too literally taking in his previous job – for the vacant chair warmed by Hosni Mubarak’s ample arse. The former Mubarak secret service chief, he has plenty of blood on his hands, but he was considered a bulwark against the apparent rampant Islamism that is over-taking Egypt post-Tahrir. But, the Egyptian election commission ruled him down, along with a few other vested interest stooges, including one from the Muslim Brotherhood, an organisation which the West thinks has devil’s horns. Looks like another victory for the Tahrirites.
Finally, this week threw up two very bad looks. The first had Julia Gillard looking stern and responsible talking economics and interest rates…in front of a wall full of kids drawings and a sign saying “Kindy Program” . Memo to Gillard’s minders…er, never mind.
Second bad look was Kim Jong-un the DPRK’s version of Russell from the movie Up. Clearly he took the fact that he took a haircut when his missile, er, satellite went as flaccid as his, er, anyway…a little too literally and hastily.
Such was the news as it appears in these, the last days.