March 12th 2005

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: The media elites versus the public

CANBERRA OBSERVED: American-style workplace relations for Australia?

SCHOOLS: Teacher training at the mercy of politics

HUMAN CLONING: UN victory's implications for Australia

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: Gallop Labor Government returned to power

EDITORIAL: Debt tsunami moves closer

AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY: The economy that will confront the next generation

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Reserve Bank governor defends his record

ENERGY: Ethanol - Australia being left behind

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Visas for sale / Kyoto hot air convention / Europe, China and the US-Japan alliance / Edge of the abyss

ASIA: Japan, India and China - new strategic alliance?

VIETNAM: Hanoi's abysmal human rights record

A response to Babette Francis (letter)

Turkish massacre of the Armenians (letter)

Putin - can a leopard change his spots? (letter)

Abortion's hidden wounds (letter)

BOOKS: MICHAEL MOORE is a Big Fat Stupid White Man

BOOKS: SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: Putting Every Household at Risk

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Visas for sale / Kyoto hot air convention / Europe, China and the US-Japan alliance / Edge of the abyss

by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, March 12, 2005
Visas for sale

Germany, and the Green wing of Gerhard Schroeder's coalition, are being wracked by a severe political crisis - one which has gone lovingly unreported, or under-reported, by our media. The people in charge of issuing passports, visas, and having a major influence on German immigration affairs, and shaping its philosophy, have been caught out issuing hundreds of thousands of visas, since 1999, to virtually anyone who applied. Few questions asked, apparently. Thus, in 2001 alone, the German Embassy in Kiev approved 400,000 visas.

All this official activity comes under the Foreign Ministry, headed by Joschka Fischer, who has been called upon to resign. Despite many previous warnings from other EU countries, of people-smuggling, and of women being forced into prostitution, of money-launderers swanning around Europe with German visas, many being members of the "Russian Mob" ... the German Government did nothing.

Fischer said he only heard of this business fairly recently, which seems unlikely. He takes full responsibility, and stands by his staff. But, that doesn't mean he's even thinking about resigning. His Green Party says it stands behind him, and so do Schroeder and the Social Democrats.

The Opposition is enraged, and says it "will go over the charges 'piece by piece', in the parliamentary investigation." Fischer is going to have to appear before a Bundestag committee and explain himself.

The two ex-Soviet states from which so many of these illegals have come - for the holders ignore their visa termination dates with complete aplomb - are Ukraine and Belarus. These are two of the most corrupt and criminally dominated societies of the former Soviet Union. The recent presidential elections in Ukraine, and the near-murder of the opposition's leader, show how high the stakes were for the incumbents. Other German visa-holders are coming from Russia and Moldova: both sources of jobless girls for prostitution, and pimps and drug-dealers to keep them company.

One German paper, Die Welt, asks whether this collusive cover-up by the German Greens doesn't really reflect the philosophy of the Green Party itself. When officials at the Federal Office of Criminal Investigation speak of "criminal networks that have been running smuggling businesses" of people, contraband, you name it, the Greens are talking of "small-time crooks, whom no fuss should be made over." How many second bank accounts do they have?

And the feminist movement - why its silence about this gruesome prostitution industry, often operated by deception, then by force, and creating a species of slavery? Not a word. Keeping its parties-cum-patronage systems in power is its most important role. Morally bankrupt.

But, what's new with this movement? After saying he was taking responsibility for everything, Fischer watched his deputy, Ludger Vollmer, resign. Vollmer is doubtless the ritual sacrifice: after which time, the whole matter should be closed. It won't be - for the conservatives, and much of the media, intend to get to the bottom of this disaster.

It is a disaster, for the whole world of law enforcement and the defence of public morality in Germany, and the rest of Europe. And then, there are the terrorists, hitmen, and mercenaries running around with German visas. Supporters of the EU push further east - or of mass migration - have received a severe setback.

I don't have to speak of the free kicks that the German ultra-Right will be enjoying. The German Greens, and Western Greens generally, have sold out in record time, for it has taken social democracy almost a century to reach such a nadir of cynicism and social nihilism.

The hot air convention: Kyoto

The latest ceremony of signing the Kyoto Protocol at the UN, and the taking of yet another opportunity to attack the US (and Australia) for not signing it too, was a pretty limp affair. Some of the UN officials, such as Kofi Annan and the High Commissioner for Refugees, seem to have had more important personal matters on their minds.

The missing chairs at the ceremony included those of the developing nations, some of whom are rapidly joining the league of major polluters; but who are exempt from Kyoto. China, just getting into her stride as a leading world manufacturing power, already equals Europe as a polluter. But there is not a word of reproof.

For one thing, she would be no more likely to accept checks on her behaviour here than in any other of her activities, and would resist - successfully - any proposals for inspection, or enforcement. Yet the China lobby in the West isn't going to speak out and risk some financial penalty from Beijing, while our Greens are being similarly circumspect.

India, without any fanfare, is expanding at a remarkable rate. I have just seen a plan to mass-produce cars in India for $6,000 a car, then later, for $2,500 a car - which should prepare us for some really hard-core pollution.

But Kyoto wasn't supposed to be about seriously tackling pollution worldwide. It was about attacking the United States, while the Left could attack capitalism. Not industrialism, or the car industry, or urbanisation - for these vital parts of the problem are off-limits, just as are the breakneck industrialisation and transport plans of China, India, and possibly Brazil.

It is tragic that such momentous issues should be politicised and truncated in this way. The Greens - both opportunistic and pusillanimous - have failed the test of showing the way, or even of explaining the issues. Not that the case for global warming has been established.

As Andrew Bolt concluded (Melbourne Herald Sun, February 25), having gone through the arguments and considerations put forward in favour of there being an unmistakable, open-ended and world-wide process of global warming in train: that case has not been made out.

Those of us with open minds are being assailed by people with vested interests in the rightness of their case.

This was not an uncommon feature of major intellectual and scientific disputes in the past, but what is new is the extent to which the controversy has been hijacked by the press, by pseudo-fanatics preaching doom - and, I suspect, on the other side, by hard-ball business types who say everything is "apples", whether it is or not.

So Kyoto finished as a cat's-paw for all this rancour and hyperbole.

Europe, China and the US-Japanese alliance

Some very interesting developments are starting to emerge from the European tours of Condoleeza Rice and George W. Bush. Europe, following upon the successful Iraqi elections, is coming to heel.

While covering them with chocolate, Bush made it clear what he expects from Europe. It has to help America and its allies to sustain the Iraqi state; to deal with Syria; to move, step by step, as Bush did on Saddam, but to make Iran abandon her nuclear ambitions, or else ...; to help Palestine to create a new independent state; to join in expressing America's concerns at the retreat from democracy by Putin; and, most intriguingly of all, to join in meeting the challenge of China. The interesting thing is that no one dissented.

Parallel with this, Japan and the US are expressing concern about China's military build-up: that is, a 10 per cent increase each year for the last 10 years. For what, or for whom, is China doing this? Who threatens her?

The two allies said, in a joint statement, that China needed to "improve transparency in its military affairs". The Japanese Defence Minister added: "We should keep a watch on China, but fundamentally, we should maintain friendly ties." Phew! This is really serving a kind of notice on China.

The emergence of Japan as a major actor and born-again close ally of Bush and his allies could be a momentous development. Perhaps someone should tell Kim Beazley and the ALP. By opposing sending more troops to Iraq - that is, to protect Japanese engineers restoring that country, as well as us helping to defend the new Iraq - Labor has walked into yet another ambush.

Predictably, Bob Brown has been brought out of the broom-cupboard to croak about broken promises, and - who knows? - to bring back the troops by Anzac Day. Poor Kim - they've done him again.

The edge of the abyss

Australian cities are starting to experience some of the problems of developing countries - street kids and beggars. This was once a familiar, even an acceptable, feature of English and European towns. One just has to recall Dickensian London, or, quite late in Victoria's reign, Regent Street being lined with girl prostitutes, and people like Gladstone and the Salvation Army struggling to end these sordid scenes.

The solution - like prostitution - was to drive it off the streets. The kids went to corrective institutions: Dr Barnardo's Homes; if lucky, foster-parenting; and so on. Vice went underground, as did destitution and misery.

Anyone with doubts about the number of homeless men and destitute people in London when Edward VII came to the throne should read Jack London's The Edge of the Abyss, and then try Orwell for the 1920s and 1930s.

Beggars and street kids were swept off the streets in Europe when there were important foreign potentates visiting, or during the tourist season, then allowed back. South American cities have, in some cases, acquired enormous numbers of homeless people, beggars, and street kids. The solution in places like Rio and São Paulo has been to kill them off.

Victoria - that is, Melbourne - is now taxed with what to do about homeless people; what to do about homeless street children. Our government appears to be taking two apparently conflicting lines. Ease restrictions and penalties on beggars; but start getting tough with street kids and publicly delinquent young people. It has now decided to do nothing about beggars, but intends to get on top of the problem of street kids and the aggressively homeless, who are using the streets as their stage as well as their abode.

The Salvation Army is already expressing alarm at tactics which are concerned with appearances, and not with realities - for this preference can lead to callousness and hypocrisy.

Many of the problems of the countries I have mentioned seemed to stem, at least in part, from economic causes. Ours, I think, are from the collapse of families and of community, and from the triumph of Darwinian laissez-faire - at every level.

Even the wilful and short-sighted deinstitutionalisation of many disturbed and vulnerable people into the community has really been an exercise in cost-cutting, and selling off valuable properties, masquerading as empowering people who are quite unable to enjoy that power.

We are just at the beginning of the problem - but for the Salvation Army, it must be with the feeling: "we've been here before. When will they ever learn? Greed is not good, and selfishness is not OK."

  • Max Teichmann

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