Terrorism, Climate Change, Royal Commission

Greg Sheridan provides below a very worrying perspective – probably understated –of Pakistan’s inability to prevent the attack (now a second one) on the international airport at Karachi by extremist Islamists; of the potential for more such activity to increase with the US withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan; and of the extent of nuclear proliferation which has already been sourced from Pakistan – and which could go further.

There are no reports of any contact about the airport attacks and related issues between Obama and Sharif. Neither Obama’s “rescue” with an apparent “swap” of a deserted US soldier for 5 Taliban at Gitmo nor Hillary Clinton’s astonishing dismissal of the attack on the Benghazi consulate as “minor” when she was Secretary of State (see below) reduce existing serious concerns about US preparedness to actively involve itself in anti-terrorist activities. To the contrary.

Separately, talks between the US and Iran on the nuclear issue seem to be getting nowhere and there seem to be increasing reports of threats emanating in one form or another from believers in an Islamic life. Just today, an Australian involved in jihadist activity in Syria is reported as advocating the kidnapping of Western VIPs, the UK Minister for Education has accused Muslim school leaders of an “organised campaign” in Birmingham to impose faith-based ideology on their pupils, and major extremist activities have re-emerged in Iraq (reportedly our Defence Minister has said Australia is prepared to help the Iraq government). The outburst in Iraq will doubtless be seen by some as confirmation that Western intervention there was a mistake. An alternative view might be that it confirms the need for a continued military and political response in the Middle East (and elsewhere) to the most serious threat faced by the West.

Despite Abbott’s apparent success overseas in conveying sensible and useful messages at his meetings and functions (and his success in “securing” appointments with top officials in the US), his supposed problems with climate change policies continue to be run by both the Fairfax press and the ABC, although the latter announced in the evening news that Palmer has indicated his Senators will agree to the repeal of the carbon tax. There continues, however, to be no media acknowledgement of the obvious “weaknesses” of Obama’s latest initiative (as outlined in yesterday’s message). And in an Age article the journalist author even argued that the gulf between Abbott and Obama on climate change is “growing more apparent by the day” and The Age used a whole editorial accusing Abbott of having his “head in the clouds” (a letter I sent to The Age correcting some of its mistakes has not been published).

Meantime, the Heydon Royal Commission’s inquiry counsel is reported in this morning’s press as claiming that Gillard’s boyfriend (Wilson) and sidekick Blewitt have committed fraud and conspiracy offences that could result in 10 years jail and The Australian’s chief reporter (Hedley Thomas) covering the inquiry suggests that evidence of corruption is “everywhere”. The ABC’s morning radio news did not report anything on yesterday’s RC, possibly because one its leading radio commentators, Jon Faine, has hitherto defended his failure to run the story because he judges there is nothing in it. He still seems to be taking that view and is seemingly supporting Wilson’s claim that an attempt was made to bribe him (Wilson) into accusing Gillard of corruption. This evening’s PM and ABC TV news reported that further evidence was given today suggesting benefits to Gillard but, interestingly, the PM radio commentator quickly added that Gillard’s lawyer had reject this. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten also got a brief mention about his role at the AWU, with one witness saying he had been advised not to pursue the issue of what had happened to some of the slush fund money and that, when he did try to pursue it, he was bashed.

The failure of the Fairfax press and the ABC to give any serious attention to the activities of the AWU and other unions, and the connections between them and political activities, should in due course see some heads role at those two organisations – and possibly elsewhere too.