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President's Speech - 17th Parliament

Members of the House of Representatives and Senators of the 17th Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, ladies, gentlemen, and those otherwise identified,
Recognition of the land our parliament stands upon, Ngunnawal land, shapes reflection upon the 40,000 history upon this continent, and the history and culture that so reflects and boldens who we are as a nation today. I wish to personally respect the Ngunnawal elders, both past, present, and emerging, and welcome all who have come across this land to be here at this time, as well as recognise those who have not been able to be with us at this time.
As we enter the 17th parliament, we shall take a moment to respect the duties and responsibilities that are handed to us as we are elected and sworn in as members of parliament or as Senators. To serve both chambers is a privilege, as is serving the people of Australia, and it is most important to have the best interests at heart in this chamber of serving the people of this country, and serving the nation of Australia with dignity and honour.
This incoming government will remain dedicated to fighting for the education of each and every Australian, and that starts with ensuring that our nation’s education remains affordable for everyone. By keeping tertiary education free, we can ensure that no Australian is disadvantaged by their financial situation in terms of their pursuit of education up to the highest levels.
My Government will also wish to reduce government funding to private schools by 30%, and put that money back into the public system, to also follow this goal of education no matter your personal finances. Beyond affordability, this incoming government will also help ensure education becomes more manageable for students, and teaches them more core skills in life. With our plans to reduce the yearly assessments by 25%, as well as reforming the Humanities curriculum from years 7-10 and making the overall curriculum assist students in gaining all-round development, we hope to ensure that students gain a better quality of education, while reducing the stress levels that come with constant assessments.
Finally, with my Government’s coming introduction of a targeted grad scheme for rural schools, we hope to ensure the students across this nation can receive the highest quality education from the highest quality teachers, regardless of their location. For this government, education is of the utmost importance, and you can expect to see that idea translate into legislation and government policy. Culture specific support for First Nations people to learn within the education system which takes into account their language and culture in curricula will be implemented, supporting aboriginal families and children to learn. My Government will also work to increase Australian history teaching opportunities in the field of Asian and Pacific migration, along with inclusion of aboriginal perspectives on colonial history within the education curriculum that discusses important and yet overlooked topics such as the Australian genocides as mandatory learning within the history subject at more mature levels.
This incoming government will strive to deliver the best possible outcomes for all Australians at home and abroad. This government will also work towards providing an accessible and modern path for Asylum Seekers and those seeking to move to Australia temporarily or permanently. This will involve the raising of the Refugee Quota, a streamlined process of Asylum Seeking and support to be provided to those with Work Visas who have been stranded in Australia and currently lack access to appropriate social services.
This government will also work towards establishing first a travel bubble between states which have currently contained the Coronavirus and New Zealand. This travel bubble may be extended to pacific nations as well and will serve to reinvigorate the tourism industry domestically and in our pacific allies. In the longer term, after the coronavirus crisis has been settled, this government intends to pursue an free movement union with New Zealand, and our Pacific neighbours such as Fiji, Niue, Samoa, Tonga and other Pacific States.
The government will also work towards a transparent security system for Australians. To do this, legislation will be implemented that will subject ASIO to Parliamentary Committees, ensuring that it is well regulated and achieving the best results for Australia and her security. Legislation will also be created that will restrict ASIO from spying or wiretapping Australian residents’ private devices without probable cause and legal warrant.
In line with the recent cyber attacks against Australian Government, Business and Individuals, a Cyber Defence Task Force will be created so as to defend Australian interests from malicious web based attacks. To this government, reform of immigration, increased integration with our pacific allies, increased accountability of security services to the public and a strong commitment to the continued prosperity of the Australian people is paramount. This government through legislation and government policy will implement these measures to the benefit of all Australians.
The coming government is committed to delivering the best outcomes on health and sport. Currently the incoming government is faced with a pandemic crisis that is causing a significant public health emergency. As a result, the #1 priority for the incoming government is the constraining and defeat of the pandemic. This involves coordination between state, territory and federal government and a commitment by the people of Australia to work their hardest to control the spread of the virus. This government will implement measures as appropriate to control the spread of the virus, including Lockdowns if necessary, to prevent the emergence of a second wave and to ensure the safety of Australians from this pandemic.
Outside of Coronavirus, this government is looking to upgrade hospitals across the nation in a Hospital Modernisation Scheme worth $500 million that will provide world class equipment to hospitals across all of Australia. The General Practitioner Accessibility Agency Bill that was passed last term will be further implemented and refined, improving access for regional Australians to a GP quickly and cost-effectively.
This government will also look to create and improve Telehealth for increased GP access, convenience and safety for the general populace, and for our medical professionals. This government will also look to increase funding for sports in regional Australia, such as Equestrian to drive tourism and reinvigorate these communities. The Formula E, electric car racing tournament will be sponsored to promote Electric Vehicles and to revitalise the economy through tourism and celebration.
Sports Integrity Australia will be created out of an amalgamation and strengthening of the existing multitude of Sport Integrity and Anti-Doping Agencies. This will ensure Australia is up to world standards in Sport Law and will furthermore provide an avenue for assistance for our Australian Athletes and Sports Workers to provide the best possible games to the Australian people. This government is clearly committed through investment and legislation to the combatting of the Coronavirus Pandemic, the promotion of regional Healthcare, to upgrading Australian Hospitals, providing Telehealth services to Australians and to the promotion of and the integrity of Sport across Australia.
This Government believes in the rights of LGBTQIA+ people, and as such it will immediately place a complete moratorium on unjust medical intervention in intersex people unless the intersex individual is of the age to give informed and independent consent to such operations (16 years old), or if such an intervention is deemed absolutely medically necessary for the physical health of the child by a doctor. Particular training on LGBTQIA+ issues will be given to all health professionals, and all government employees within prisons, police, courts, and the military for that after.
My Government will put together a specific Transgender Health division of the healthcare systme that will increase trans healthcare access for those who need it, and will streamline hte process of getting trans youth the psychiatric and medical support they need, along with increasing coverage of trans healthcare across Australia and increases to the funding of funding options for gender-affirming surgeries that are currently underfunded. In general, specific health programs will be set up to address the health needs of LGBTQIA+ people, with input from gender and sexuality diverse people and their communities.
As the COVID crisis develops, gaps in our mental health system have become exposed. A time of crisis is a time of mental strain, and this government will be committed to meeting the growing need for mental healthcare. This government will be providing teletherapy services so that those who cannot leave their homes are still able to get the treatment they need. In addition, it will work to reduce the cost of mental health care to ensure that it is easily accessible and end the days of mental health treatments being a luxury good.
In respect to the Treasury, it is a top priority for this government to correct the previous budget statement and it’s inaccuracies, and also institute a new budget for the financial year of 2021-2022, which gives infrastructure projects, suitable programs and reasonable response to the people of Australia in regards to the COVID-19 crisis. This government shall also aim to implement unitary taxation within Australia and to avoid double taxation, cooperate with governments in other countries to implement this policy and a financial transactions tax, so that multinational corporations will pay their share for the amount of profit they create in each country.
My government shall implement corporate tax brackets as well, in order to allow the government to separate small businesses from large businesses, and allow them to keep more of their profit proportionally. My government shall implement budget repair levies in order to repair the deficit that was caused by the COVID-19 crisis, to minimise the deficit and to be able to fund programs which are beneficial for the Australian people. On top of this they will look into putting together an Assets and Wealth tax that will ensure people with a net asset wealth over $1 million will pay a tax of 1% on that wealth, and people with a net asset wealth of $2 million will pay a tax of 2% on that wealth. This tax will feature exemptions for people who are asset poor and income wealthy, and people with major drags on their assets like mortgages and will be used to fund new benefit changes in the COVID-19 response. To encourage more top-down redistributive taxation, and bottom-up growth that can support our many spending initiatives, we will add two new tax brackets at $100k-149.999k earnings, and $150k up.
As economic effects of the COVID continues, my government shall look at the implementation of a Coronavirus Economic Support and Recovery Fund, which is to help provide economic support to industries hit by this pandemic. This Fund will look at providing support and economic relief to the arts and entertainment sector, the manufacturing sector and the renewable energy and electricity generation sector.
The entire economy has been hit hard by this crisis, but it is imperative that industries which have been unable to function, such as the Arts, are recognised and provided the help they need, and that Australian Manufacturing is finally given the opportunity it needs to become a dominant factor of our economic recovery. My government will therefore also put support into Australian Made, to get more money flowing into Australia’s locally made products and locally owned businesses, to support the economy from the grassroots and up during recovery.
As said, my Government will be spending a lot of money on supporting Australia’s residents through COVID-19 recovery, and for that it will undertake an unprecedented effort to close tax loopholes through a Parliamentary commission into loopholes, inefficiency, and evasion; and will work to monetise previously untaxed areas. For example, my government will look into introducing a tax on dynastic and inherited wealth at over $3,000,000 in net assets.
This tax will feature exemptions for people who are asset poor and income wealthy, and people with major drags on their assets like mortgages. Alongside this it will explore a progressive corporation tax that implements separate tax brackets to let small businesses keep more of what they earn whilst larger corporations contribute to Australia’s need for spending.
My Government overall will seek to focus the economy. COVID-19 has given Australia the perfect opportunity to start judging societal progress differently, not just based on GDP which is described by its own creator as inaccurate to judging success. My Government will rather use wellbeing factors such as wages, employment, and other socioeconomic factors that will place wellbeing as the main factor of economic growth, not just GDP.
My Government will work in the area of constitution and governance to correct major holes in our country’s systems and create a fairer Australia. This will start with a Presidential Commission into democratic reform, with the intention to implement a proportional representation electoral system that will consider the low representation of party’s general election votes in comparison to their seats won in the House of Representatives. In the spirit of democratic reform, my Government will also legislate the right of Australian citizens and permanent residents over the age of 16 to vote, and the right of incarcerated people to vote - as everybody deserves participation in our democracy. On top of this, it will legislate the right of public servants in their capacity as private citizens to engage in political advocacy and activism, participate in trade unions, and to represent or be elected to activist organisations - given the unique and often underrepresented view that our civil servants can often have.
To ensure fair elections, my Government will implement a complete ban on political donations from for-profit corporations, ensuring nobody who gets in bet with large corporations gets unfair advantages in campaigning. Alongside this, caps on individual public donations and donations from not-for-profits will be introduced. My Government will also look to introduce optional preferential voting for the senate, and to reduce the deposit required for a candidate to stand for election to Parliament, in the interest of removing financial barriers to democratic participation. Public funding of political parties and candidates for campaigns will be set at a level that increases democratic participation by voters, and reduces the influence that corporations have over the prominence of political parties further. My Government will legislate that all local councils use a form of ranked choice voting, if they do not already, to increase democratic representation in all levels of Government.
In a number of constitutional amendments, my Government will place sections in the constitution to recognise Australia as a constitutionally multicultural society, recognising the importance not only of aboriginal culture but of all non-white cultures in Australia. It will also replace the sections 44 and 45 of the constitution with more modernised and fair statute around corruption, treason, and serious criminal cases; rather than the outdated clause that was originally there. Political enfranchisement will be granted to offshore Australian territories such as Norfolk and the Christmas Islands, ensuring once again that all Australians are guaranteed participation in our democratic processes.
My Government will establish an Australian Bill of Rights that includes provisions in line with the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, that embodies international human, civil, and political rights, and includes factors such as race, sex, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, religion, gender Identity, gender expression, sex characteristics, etc, as classifications protected from discrimination.
After the previously government endeavoured to isolate Australia from the world, and stop Australia’s potential throughout the international community, my government will endeavour to take a new path to those prior. Instead of destroying alliances, or fear mongering trade partners, my government will work with the international community to promote trade, human rights, and unity through these troubling times that the world faces.
Within the new spirit of internationalism, my government will move to build upon the principles established under the First Youmaton Government and pursue an active foreign policy regarding the recognition of emerging nations and protection of human rights. My government recognises the incredible dangers nations such as Kosovo, Israel, Palestine and Sahrawi all face in their ongoing struggles to maintain recognition as other nations seek to gain from their dissolution, and within such my government will move to protect these nations alongside others through the creation of the protected recognition status. Nations with the protected recognition status will become recognised by Australia under law, removing the uncertainty that comes with a change in government revoking certain recognitions recognised by the prior.
The themes of peace and unity shall be recurrent within my government’s foreign agenda, promoting international cooperation and ensuring treaties signed by Australia are properly followed. My government is completely committed to the maintaining of the 1961 Antarctic Treaty, maintaining the incredible nature and wildlife of Antarctica, and ensuring scientific endeavours continue to happen across our portion of the continent. Pursuant to the commitment made by my government, additional funds will be allocated to the assistance of pacific island nations in their race to combat the coronavirus and climate change, alongside general measures to expand Australia’s cooperation with the Pacific region as the world recovers from the ongoing pandemic.
Protecting our Nation from external threats is one of our far most responsibilities as a Government. My Government shall ensure that our Australia is protected and there shall exist continued funding to enable our Armed Forces to purchase modern equipment which will enable them to protect Australia better. Protecting our borders is a duty that we are all bound to, and maritime borders are no exception, therefore my Government has decided on bringing in due legislation to ensure that no nuclear armed or powered forces should be deployed within Australia’s maritime borders.
In continuation with my Government’s desire to ensure that we have a peaceful world, the incoming Government has decided to issue due regulations to ensure that the use of the Australian Defence Forces must be only for defence or peace-keeping, not offensive or invasionary action, unless in the circumstances of averting a major violation of human rights in a foreign nation, or to counter the military invasion of a sovereign country, and this arrangement must take precedent ahead of international agreements.
My Government realizes that wars involve heavy blood shed, and huge losses to families, therefore, to prevent a future situation of war, my Government pledges to work towards a stop on the militarisation of space, supporting initiatives to clear space debris in cooperation with international space agencies and encouraging and participating in treaties that prioritise achieving arms control and global disarmament, my Government will also make it a policy that the use of violence against civilians or against elected governments, undertaken by the state, an organisation, or particular individuals, will be rejected and combated both diplomatically and militarily with all assistance provided to countries which need them.
My Government recognises that the “human” factor of the armed forces plays a very significant role in its operations, and to enable the safety and security of our women in the Armed Forces, my Government will create legislation to ensure that rape and sexual violence during armed conflict are to be tried as war crimes, under the protocols as described by the Geneva Convention. In order to promote an Armed Forces that is efficient and quick, my Government will conduct a Review into the current rank and structure of the Armed Forces and ensure we are having an efficient and workable Armed Forces and also create framework to remove all items with Royal titles and ensure that quality equipment and new generation defence equipment is given to our forces.
My Government understands and recognises the contributions made by our veterans in the Armed Forces throughout their tenure of service to Australia, and therefore, my Government pledges to create and fund a Housing Program using Defence Housing Australia for all Veterans to ensure that every veteran gets access to housing upon completion of tenure of service and also issue a formal Apology to all families whose members were or are involved in wars leading to poor mental health and significant injuries and develop and implement a Veterans Strategy to ensure that all of our veterans have a comfortable return after their tenure of service.
My Government recognises that in today’s world, International Cooperation is required, and at the same time, the limits for it must be drawn as well and therefore my Government pledges to strengthen global cooperation in Intelligence and look at expanding Intelligence sharing and Joint Military exercises with countries across the globe, excluding those who have committed Human Rights Violations, and primarily use arms that are banned as per International Conventions and kill indiscriminately such as landmines, cluster bombs, and depleted uranium; to ensure our military is prepared to fight in every terrain. My Government will immediately phase out joint exercises with all armed forces known to have committed human rights violations.
In continuation to our aims for peace and cooperation, my Government will work to ensure that the signals intelligence base outside Alice Springs designated ‘Pine Gap’ will be closed permanently in the next five years. Our Defence Industry is one to be proud of and at the same time be promoted and therefore my Government pledges to create incentives for investors and researchers in Australia to ensure that we are able to have cutting-edge technology and military sciences in Australia and also ensure that countries that commit Human Rights Violations and their country’s corporations are not included in such schemes. My Government believes that the global arms industry is a dangerous one, and that as long as Australia is mass exporting weapons to foreign countries we have no guarantees that those weapons won’t be used to commit human rights violations, kill innocent civilians, or wage unjust wars. As such, my Government will work to set a 10 year target on reducing the size of the Australian arms industry to be a locally sustained sector that supplied the Australian military and will, eventually, no longer be an export industry. This will begin with an end to the subsidisation of exports of weaponry, weapon components, and arms fairs.
In regards to Agriculture and Rural Affairs, my government shall look into eliminating the Goods and Service Tax on fertilisers and other essential farming goods that increase the yield of crops in order for farmers to gain more of a profit and have a more sustainable livelihood, and shall also look into subsidy programs for both of them. My government shall also aim to create a provincial agricultural scheme in order to increase the yield of agriculture and its efficiency in the long term, and so that farmers may benefit.
My government shall make sure that Australian Postal services and banking services are accessible in rural areas, as both are essential in daily life, and should be accessible wherever people are in Australia. It is important that we also make sure that we protect the ecological health of the Lake Byre Basin, so that farmers who use the resources may be able to do so in the best possible manner with the most effective outcome. My government shall also seek and invest in methods of water extractions so that farmers can gain the water they need to grow their crops, and to counter the effects of natural disasters such as drought.
Last month the people of Australia visited polling booths to decide the future of the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory within their statuses in this nation. Whilst my government expresses its regret in the Australian Capital Territory not being granted equal status to other areas of the nation, it expresses its incredible joy at the notion of the Northern Territory being approved to be a state by the population of Australia. My government holds incredible regard to the mandate given by the people, and unlike prior administrations will implement the results of this national vote in full, and as such the Northern Territory will become a state of Australia by the end of this term.
All aspects of the Australian economy have been hit hard by this crisis, and one of the hardest hit is Australian Manufacturing. Be it industrial hubs found in urban centers, or smaller towns in regional areas, workers and employers have been put under an undeniable stress which nobody should be forced to experience. As such, it is vital that we provide support to these hardest hit industries in our path to economic recovery. My government will follow the recommendations which have been made by the ACCC through various investigations and reports in previous periods across sectors which have been struggling, such as the dairy industry, to ensure that jobs and communities are able to stay afloat in an environment which benefits consumers, workers, and business owners. My Government will key and vital public infrastructure projects all across Australia, be they projects related to public transport, such as the supporting the Victorian Government's suburban rail loop, or projects related to water security which are found in Queensland. These projects help not only create a better environment for the community who will benefit from these projects, but provides essential work to the people who will be involved in the development of such programs.
For too long have the First Nations peoples right across our great continent.had to suffer several burning injustices through their entire life. Be it the average lower life expectancy Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders on average experience, the economic contributions they make which are often swept under the rug, or the systemic racism they experience on a daily basis. We simply cannot sweep injustice aside, ethically, morally, or practically.
My government will work towards implementing the fundamental principles of the Uluru Statement, and the recommendations of the Bringing Them Home inquiry, the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarie Report, the HREOC Social Justice Reports into suicide and income inequality, and the Evatt Review. My Government will be seeking to pen a proper Treaty with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to address the wrongs done to them since colonisation and grant them a proper voice in Australia. My government will work towards establishing indigenous recognition in the Constitution through a referendum, while recognising and acknowledging the values and contributions of Aborigional People - and furthermore will work to grant aboriginal people with a representative body that will exist in an advisory capacity with the Federal Government, elected from all first nations people in Australia.
My government will continue to support the Makarrata Commission and will work with local land groups to work towards establishing a Voice to parliament, just one of the components of the Statement from the Heart. Furthermore, My government will work with those in the Northern Territory on their way to statehood to ensure that Indigenous people are able to control their own destiny, and are involved through the entire State-building process.
One of the founding principles my government upholds strongly is that of environmental justice, and the ongoing battle against climate change. Climate change is a crucial issue to tackle, which is why my government shall be implementing schemes to transition workers out of non-renewable jobs, into jobs that will support a renewable economy. We shall encourage families to assist in the fight against carbon emissions by looking at a subsidy scheme for families that implement solar panels in their home, and make use of other methods to increase efficiency in the home.
My Government shall seek to create an independent Environment/Climate Change commission, to advise the governments on programs and measures to counter climate change and to protect the environment, for the benefit of the people of Australia and the environment we live in. It will ensure that the Minister responsible for Climate Change will work with the Independent Environmental Commission to create yearly carbon budgets every year through to 2050, supported by a well funded and integrated emissions reduction plan that sets appropriate targets and provides reporting on all economic sectors that produce emissions on their progress towards the net zero carbon goal. My Government shall seek to end tax concessions and subsidies to businesses that actively harm the environment we live in, as the government of Australia should not assist industries that harm our environment and our wildlife. This government shall also seek to make it more difficult for corporations to clear land to protect the wildlife of Australia, as Australia has some of the most remarkable creatures on the planet, which are becoming extinct due to corporate negligence and activity.
Climate change is one of the biggest existential threats facing Australia today, and as such my Government will put together specific legislation that outlines step by step goals for climate change action (phasing out of coal power, energy transition, then carbon zero) in specific legislation, and gives power to the Independent Environmental Commission to consult with and pressure the government on these actions. This legislation would include a loose target of net zero carbon by 2040, with a leeway of 10 years more if the transition experiences holdups.
My Government acknowledges the importance of our watercare, and as such will adopt strong nationwide freshwater quality standards, including for pathogens, dissolved oxygen, nutrients, periphyton a.k.a. slime, and macroinvertebrate health. Furthermore, it will take action to protect waterways, wetlands and estuaries from excessive sedimentation caused by erosion and land use practices (including “spray and pray”) that lead to soil loss. As part of their efforts to protect the environment, my Government will place a complete moratorium on new coal power plants, fracking, and new offshore seabed exploration and mining. This will allow these fossil fuel industries a safe and secure transition that will allow the current projects to close naturally, while support networks are set up to get new workers into green industries and retrain previous workers. My Government will also put an end to subsidies and tax concessions for environmentally harmful industries, instead putting subsidies and support into the development of green industries and retraining to support this effort, through a Green Jobs Fund.
My Government will ensure that major polluting sectors shall pay a Carbon Tax with exceptions in the field of small business and small-scale farming or agriculture. Emissions pricing should be transparently set and managed by the Independent Environmental Commission, and should incentivise emissions reduction . Further consideration will be taken to ensure business sustainability and job protection to ensure equitable outcomes. To support these efforts from the Government end, my Government will be bringing energy generation and distribution under public control in order to facilitate a swift transition to 100% of Australia’s energy being generated from renewable sources, through increases to the energy target as well as other actions such as public investment, regulations to support renewable energy generation and ensure high efficiency standards under Government care in generation, storage, and conservation.
My Government will support the creation of a renewable exports industry, promoting growth in sustainable sectors for the future such as renewably-generated liquid fuel, direct connections to neighbouring countries economically, and the support of developmental green technology and energy alternatives. It will also promote agricultural, forestry, and land use regimes in which absorption of carbon emissions exceeds carbon emissions. A Government fund will be set up to research into the effects of climate change and innovative ways of combating it, alongside increased funding for environmental legal aid. To support the efforts against Climate Change from the grassroots up, my Government will put together a subsidy for individuals, families, and rental owners who work to improve the insulation of their homes, and make their homes more efficient by installing solar power generation to them. This same standard for the subsidy will be applied to new social housing to ensure that the public sector makes the effort.
In respect of Social Services, my government shall aim to provide a COVID-19 Poverty Response plan in order to benefit those who are put in difficult financial situations due to the consequences of COVID-19 and subsequent policies. My government shall also aim to provide a family support payment in order to support those who are less fortunate, but have children to look after. It will consist of $178 dollars for each family for the first child, and then $112 per subsequent child to a cap of three children. This will put money in vulnerable families pockets to support their children, and get families through the hardships of the pandemic.
In these times of COVID-19 and for the future, my government shall also implement a Mental Health Fund that seeks to increase youth health coverage, lower the cost of therapists and psychiatrists, train new mental health workers, and properly support people with mental health issues. This is for an effort to extend mental health support across Australia, so that all Australians may have adequate access to mental health support for the recovery of COVID-19, and beyond. On top of this, my Government will ensure that all Centrelink staff are properly trained and supported to ensure that people can promptly access their full entitlements and provide individual tailored assistance to help people find work, including people with disabilities.
On top of this, my Government believes that our public media entities should be properly controlled by independent democratic boards elected from the people that work there, in order to be truly cooperative and fair businesses. Furthermore we believe that the ABC and SBS should be free from advertising, and should be funded properly to compensate for the funding they receive from advertising.
The money levied off of high net assets and wealth will be used to fund the COVID-19 Poverty Response Plan. This will constitute a massive social services overhaul that will replace *all* working age benefits with a single Guaranteed Minimum Income payment of $306 per week. Sole parents, people with disabilities, and/or people who cannot work will get an additional rate of $103 dollars, bringing their base payment up to $409. The Guaranteed Minimum Income payment will apply to all working age people who cannot earn the amount of money they’re entitled to under it from working, and will have no abatement rate so as to encourage people to work more if they want more money in the pocket. This will put more into the hands of Australia’s most vulnerable workers affected by the pandemic, and will simplify beneficiary administration to lower costs in the long run. This transformative policy will mirror the successful benefit changes seen in other like-minded countries, and will give Australia the grassroots-and-up boost it needs to get back on its feet economically as we push through the pandemic, and help create a better Australia than the one that went into the pandemic.
RunasSudo AK President
Hon. NGSpy MP Prime Minister
submitted by NGSpy to AustraliaSim [link] [comments]

Lost in the Sauce: Feb. 23 - 29

Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater. (the previous edition can be found here if you are super behind).
House-keeping:
  1. How to read: the headings will guide you through this piece. The Main Course covers the “big” stories and The Sides covers the “smaller” stories. IF YOU FOLLOW THE NEWS CLOSELY: you likely know about the stories in the Main Course section, so you will be best served by scrolling down to The Sides portion.
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Let’s dig in!

MAIN COURSE

Trump’s incompetence, authoritarian patterns continue with coronavirus response

In a standalone piece published yesterday, I go over Trump’s response to the coronavirus, how he made the spread inevitable, and the impact of Trump’s authoritarian impulses.

Nadler launches Barr investigation

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler sent Attorney General Bill Barr a letter last week requesting a slew of interviews and documents in preparation for Barr’s scheduled testimony at the end of March.
Most notably, Nadler requested interviews with the four career prosecutors who withdrew from Roger Stone’s case after Barr intervened to recommend a lower sentence (which Stone received): Aaron Zelinsky, Adam Jed, Michael Marando, and Jonathan Kravis. John Durham, who is leading Barr’s investigation of the origins of the Russia probe, is also on the list, as is Jessie Liu, who supervised not only Stone’s case, but also the attempted prosecution of Andrew McCabe.
“Although you serve at the president’s pleasure, you are also charged with the impartial administration of our laws. In turn, the House Judiciary Committee is charged with holding you to that responsibility.”
While it is likely that Barr won’t comply with many of these requests, Nadler may issue subpoenas directly to individuals of interest. As Democrats learned during the impeachment hearing, career officials are more likely to be forthright and honest about the Trump administration’s crimes and misdeeds.

Court rulings

McGahn’s testimony

A divided three-judge panel of the D.C. Appeals Court dismissed the House Judiciary Committee’s lawsuit against former White House Counsel Don McGahn, ruling that federal courts have no role to play in disputes between the Executive and Legislative branches. The two judges who ruled in favor of the Trump administration - Thomas Griffith and Karen Henderson - were appointed by George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, respectively. The pair write that Congress should use other tools to try to compel McGahn’s testimony:
“Congress (or one of its chambers) may hold officers in contempt, withhold appropriations, refuse to confirm the President’s nominees, harness public opinion, delay or derail the President’s legislative agenda, or impeach recalcitrant officers.”
It should be mentioned that the majority does not mention the fact that during the impeachment trial Trump’s lawyers argued that Congress should pursue its subpoenas to executive branch witnesses in court.
Judge Judith Rogers, a Bill Clinton appointee, wrote a lengthy dissent that is worth reading in full (starting on the 58th page of this document)
“The court removes any incentive for the Executive Branch to engage in the negotiation process seeking accommodation, all but assures future Presidential stonewalling of Congress, and further impairs the House’s ability to perform its constitutional duties… Future presidents may direct wide-scale noncompliance with lawful congressional inquiries, secure in the knowledge that Congress can do little to enforce a subpoena dramatically undermining its ability to fulfill its constitutional obligations now and going forward.”

Unfair competition suit

Trump also racked up a win in an “Emoluments-adjacent” lawsuit last week: a three-judge panel of the D.C. Appeals Court united to dismiss a wine bar’s claim that President Trump's D.C. hotel is unfairly undermining the business of other venues in the city. Judge Thomas Griffith, a George W. Bush appointee, and Reagan appointee Judge Stephen Williams joined Judge Merrick Garland in the ruling.
Though it is undisputed that the wine bar has experienced a downturn since Trump took office — his gilded hotel now attracting lobbyists, advocacy groups and diplomats who used to frequent the local business — the appeals court said no evidence suggests that the president or his hotel interfered in Cork’s business.
The lawsuit “boiled down to an assertion that businesses with famous proprietors cannot compete fairly — a proposition alien to unfair-competition law,” Griffith wrote summarizing the 2017 dismissal of the case by U.S. District Judge Richard Leon.

Purge confirmed

As I explained in last Sunday’s post, Trump is seeking to purge any disloyal officials from his administration. Newly-returned staffer John McEntee is leading the search for “Never Trumpers” with the assistance of a network of conservative activists including Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. On Monday, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley confirmed that the White House is identifying employees seen as disloyal to force out of their positions.
“It’s not a secret that we want people in positions that work with this president, not against him, and too often we have people in this government—I mean the federal government is massive, with millions of people—and there are a lot people out there taking action against this president and when we find them we will take appropriate action,” Gidley said.
“Time and time again we see in the media reports from people in the bowels of the federal government working against this president...The president's been pretty clear about the fact he wants people in this administration who want to forward his agenda. Donald Trump was the only one elected. He was the only one that the American people voted for. They didn't vote for someone at any of these other agencies, any of these other departments.” he said.

Unqualified loyalists

One of those purged from the administration, DNI Joseph Maguire, was fired for allowing his top aide to brief Congress on Russia’s intervention in the 2020 election to Trump’s benefit. Last week, Trump said he will nominate Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe to fill the position - again. Trump previously announced his intent to nominate Ratcliffe in July, but withdrew the nomination five days later after members of both parties questioned his qualifications.
The current acting-DNI, Ric Grenell, can only serve until March 11 unless a permanent replacement is formally submitted to the Senate for confirmation. The Federal Vacancies Reform Act allows Grenell to remain in position throughout the confirmation process and - should Ratcliffe fail - another 210 days after. If a second person is nominated, the clock “resets” again.

The effect of Trump’s grip on intel

The NSA, CIA, and Pentagon have been urged by the White House not to share information about Russia and Ukraine with lawmakers, while the “Gang of Eight” senior members of Congress were bypassed leading up to at least one major intelligence operation. And intelligence community leaders have backed out of the public portion of the annual worldwide threats hearing, fearing Trump’s wrath if their assessments don’t align with his.
“We have an enemy of the United States that is conducting information warfare against us and our executive leadership doesn’t want to hear it, doesn’t want the Congress to hear it, and doesn’t want the people to hear it,” said former acting DNI David Gompert, who said he was “aghast” at the hiring of Grenell. “We now have a situation where the principal objective, evidently, of this acting DNI is to ensure that information about Russian interference and Russian preference for this particular president does not get out.” (Politico)
Ukrainian officials have noticed Trump’s purge and worry that efforts to force out individuals “would in the short term leave a hollowed out U.S. office in Kyiv and space for Russia to ratchet up its aggressive political influence operations.”
“Russia is getting more ambitious. They are already taking an aggressive position. Putin knows what he wants and he does not need to seek approval for his actions inside Russia let alone outside of Russia,” Danylyuk said. “There are not enough people in the administration—in the U.S. administration—to focus on Ukraine and Russia issues. A lot of people left. It will not be easy to find several counterparts.

THE SIDES

March is SCOTUS month

This month, several highly-charged issues will be heard by the Supreme Court, setting up potentially-massive changes to the legal framework of our country.
This week, Trump’s conservative appointees get their first chance to consider new curbs on abortion rights as the court examines the legality of a Louisiana law that could force two of the state’s three clinics that perform the procedure to shut down.
The case, June Medical Services v. Russo, pertains to a law passed in 2014 that requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges to local hospitals. This requirement has proven to be unnecessary for clinics (an abortion rarely results in complications, and if one did, the patient would be admitted to a hospital regardless of the doctor’s privileges). And it’s so difficult to implement that when Texas passed a similar law, it shut down half the state’s clinics. (Buzzfeed News)
While it is overwhelmingly likely that five justices will vote to uphold Louisiana’s law, there is some uncertainty about how they will do so. It is possible that the Court will overrule Roe v. Wade outright. But it is at least as likely that the Court will leave Roe nominally in place while simultaneously watering down the abortion right to such a degree that it loses meaning in red states. The Court often prefers to create the impression that it will not allow the law to swing wildly according to the justices’ whims. (Vox)
Also this week, the court will hear arguments on whether Congress exceeded constitutional boundaries in 2010 when it created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Trump administration believes the independent structure of the CFPB is unconstitutional and wants the president to have more control over the agency. For instance, Trump wants to be able to fire the director at will.
A court ruling on the President's removal power could affect a multitude of independent agencies including the Federal Trade Commission, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Federal Reserve Board. For more than a century, Congress has been creating such agencies within the executive branch with directors who can only be removed only "for cause." (CNN)
Finally, on March 31, the high court will hear arguments in three cases involving House Democrats’ and New York state prosecutors’ attempts to obtain years of Trump’s financial records and tax returns.
Last week, Trump called for Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg to recuse themselves from these three cases. Ginsberg criticized Trump’s character during his 2016 campaign, though she later apologized. Trump did not explain his reasoning for calling for Sotomayor’s recusal, other than her authoring of a dissent critical of the conservative justices on the court.
“Perhaps most troublingly, the Court’s recent behavior on stay applications has benefited one litigant over all others. This Court often permits executions — where the risk of irreparable harm is the loss of life — to proceed, justifying many of those decisions on purported failures ‘to raise any potentially meritorious claims in a timely manner,’” she wrote. “Yet the Court’s concerns over quick decisions wither when prodded by the Government in far less compelling circumstances.”
What she really is saying is that the same justices who have no problem allowing condemned prisoners to be killed before legitimate questions about their cases can be resolved have no compunction in rushing to prematurely protect the Trump administration, and the president’s personal interests, from legitimate legal processes. In other words, Sotomayor is calling her conservative colleagues hypocrites who are willing to bend precedent in the pursuit of ideological goals. (Brennan Center)

Ukraine emails

The latest batch of emails released by the Department of Defense in response to a FOIA suit reveals evidence that the administration withheld from Congress during the impeachment inquiry and trial. Senior members of the Trump administration, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and then–National Security Adviser John Bolton had all advised President Trump to release the military aid to Ukraine, but the final decision was ultimately up to Trump.
The August 26, 2019, email from a senior career Pentagon official states that there was “no ongoing interagency review process with respect to USAI [Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative],” and states clearly: “Final decision rests with POTUS.”
“Critically, the email appears to contradict the White House budget office’s stated rationale for withholding the aid,” American Oversight states. Administration officials had been instructed to tell Congress that the freeze of aid to Ukraine was necessary to allow for an “interagency process to determine the best use of such funds.” The August 26 email clearly states that no such process was in action.
“Tonight’s document release is a reminder that before they lined up parrot the president’s line on Ukraine aid, senior members of the president’s national security team unanimously disagreed with his decision to withhold aid from Ukraine,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight.
An earlier email release revealed that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo fully coordinated with Rudy Giuliani on Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine and the ouster of U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch.
“We now know Mike Pompeo and his aides encouraged Rudy Giuliani to deliver his bogus 'dossier' smearing Ambassador Yovanovitch during a week in 2019 when Giuliani's henchmen were stalking the ambassador in Kyiv,” American Oversight executive director Austin Evers told Yahoo News.

The House continues Ukraine probe

The Foreign Affairs Committee is reportedly at odds with pro-Trump candidate Robert Hyde, who claimed to have former Ambassador Yovanovitch under surveillance. Chairman Eliot Engel, who is investigating the alleged surveillance and threats to the Ambassador, said in an email to Hyde last month that he was “dismayed to read yesterday that you have made statements to the media which greatly exaggerate the extent of your cooperation with this investigation."
"As you know, we have expressed repeated concern that the records you previously produced contain significant gaps," the House staffers wrote. They added that it was obvious Hyde hadn't turned everything over because his batch of materials was missing records that Congress already knows about because they were turned over by Parnas, who was on the other end of the texts.
Last week, six members of Congress led by Reps. Denny Heck (WA-10) and Jim Himes (CT-04) sent a letter to World Bank Group President David Malpass requesting information about his August meeting with Zelensky in Ukraine. The lawmakers voiced concerns that the meeting could be seen as a part of Trump’s pressure campaign that resulted in his impeachment.
The lawmakers asked Malpass to disclose when he decided to visit Kyiv, whether he coordinated his trip with non-World Bank officials, the “deliverables” of the meeting, the meeting’s impact on the World Bank’s plans in Ukraine and whether they discussed Hunter Biden, Burisma or Viktor Shokin, the former Ukrainian prosecutor general who was ousted under international pressure from leaders including former Vice President Biden. (The Hill)

Russia, Russia, Russia

Last week:
  • Trump accused House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff of leaking information about Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2020 election, dismissed the intelligence as “exaggerated,” and refused to acknowledge that Moscow was behind similar efforts in 2016. “Schiff leaked it, in my opinion — and he shouldn’t be leaking things like that,” Mr. Trump said without evidence.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi informed the public that the Trump administration “failed to provide Congress with a report on the ongoing attacks on America’s elections from foreign governments, which was required by the bipartisan FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act.”
  • It was reported that Senate Intelligence Committee Richard Burr warned Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley that their probe targeting Biden could aid Russian efforts to sow chaos and distrust in the U.S. political system.
  • The Washington Post reported that “U.S. officials are sitting on test results that may show how the Putin regime twice tried to kill a peaceful opponent whose close ties to the United States, and columns for The Post, are reminiscent of Jamal Khashoggi, the murdered Saudi journalist.”
  • A Russian court ordered former United States Marine Trevor Reed be detained for another six months on accusations he assaulted police officers in Moscow last year, a charge that his defense team has called “fraudulent.” Meanwhile, former Marine Paul Whelan has been in a Russian jail since 2018 on espionage accusations. Their treatment is a stark contrast from that received by celebrity rapper A$AP Rocky - when detained in Sweden, Trump dispatched his hostage envoy (and current National Security Adviser) to oversee the matter and secure Rocky’s release. No such effort has been made for the two former service members in Moscow.
  • Hopping the pond to look at Russia’s interference in the U.K.: The wife of former Russian Finance Minister and Putin-ally Vladimir Chernukhin made a £90,000 donation for a game of tennis with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “The donation comes as Johnson continues to delay publication of a parliamentary report detailing extensive links between his party and donors with links to Russia.”

Alleged Saudi and UAE funding for Trump

Lebanese-American businessman Ahmad "Andy" Khawaja told Spectator Magazine that officials from Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia illegally funneled millions of dollars into Trump’s 2016 campaign. As the CEO of an online payment processing company, Khawaja claims that George Nader obtained his assistance to disguise the money using stolen identities and gift cards as under-$200 campaign contributions that are not required to be reported to the Federal Election Commission.
He remembers Nader explaining why they wanted to fund the Trump campaign. According to Khawaja, Nader said: ‘I’ve been meeting with the Trump campaign people…we have a deal with Trump: my boss, His Highness, made a deal that if we help Trump get elected, he’s going to be harsh on Iran, he’s going to take out the nuclear deal that the Obama administration made. That will cripple the Iranian economy and will sanction Iran from selling oil again. It will make it very difficult for them to compete in the oil market. That’s worth a hundred billion dollars to us. That’s the reason we cannot allow Hillary to win at any cost. She must lose.’
Khawaja says he asked: ‘But you really think he’s going to win? I mean, this is crazy.’ And he says that Nader replied: ‘His Highness is not stupid, he will never bet on a losing horse.’ The money would come from the Saudis. The Emiratis would run the operation, using data bought from the Chinese. Khawaja says that Nader told him: ‘We have all the data already, we have 10 million US consumers’ data. And we have endless money.’ The Russians were ‘on board’ too: ‘He said, “Yes, I have met with Putin already and we have a green light from him. Because Putin is on the same page with us. He wants Hillary to lose.”’
Khawaja and Nader were charged with making false statements, obstruction, and allegedly making illegal contributions to Clinton’s campaign on behalf of an unidentified foreign official. While Nader is currently in jail, Khawaja is a fugitive in the Middle East.

Cuccinelli appointment illegal

A D.C.-based federal judge ruled Sunday that President Donald Trump's appointment of Ken Cuccinelli as acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, a decision that suspends two policies Cuccinelli implemented while leading the agency. (Politico)
Three weeks after assuming his new role, Cuccinelli issued a memorandum announcing a revised policy for scheduling credible-fear interviews, the first step in the asylum process, according to the court ruling. Under the revised policy, the agency reduced the time allotted for asylum seekers to consult with others prior to their interviews.
Under Cuccinelli, USCIS also prohibited granting asylum seekers extensions of time to prepare for their credible-fear interviews, "except in the most extraordinary of circumstances." The asylum directives must be set aside, Moss ruled. (CNN)

Eric Trump’s taxpayer-funded business trip

Eric Trump visited a Trump property in development in Uruguay from January 8 to 9, 2019, a two-day business trip that cost taxpayers at least $80,786. CREW obtained records through the Freedom of Information Act today that add to the massive bill of Secret Service protection related to the Trump family’s management of the president’s business empire. The 2019 trip brings Eric Trump’s total up to at least $178,616 in taxpayer funds to work on development of the Trump Organization’s Punta Del Este property alone.

Scottish leader calls for Trump investigation

Parliamentarian Patrick Harvie, a co-leader of the Scottish Greens party, implored the government to pursue a legal order forcing Trump and the Trump Organization to reveal the funding of its multi-million dollar Scottish land acquisitions, saying there were “reasonable grounds” to suspect the U.S. president has been involved in illegal activity.
Mr Harvie said that the House of Representatives had heard testimony which stated: "We saw patterns of buying and selling that we thought were suggestive of money laundering" - with particular concern expressed about Mr Trump's golf courses in Scotland and Ireland.
He added: "Trump's known sources of income don't explain where the money came from for these huge cash transactions. There are reasonable grounds for suspecting that his lawfully obtained income was insufficient.”
"Scottish ministers can apply via the Court of Session for an unexplained wealth order, a tool designed for precisely these kinds of situations." The orders can be issued by the courts to compel their target to reveal the source of funding, and are often used to tackle suspected international money laundering.

Roger Stone

District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson denied Stone’s request that she disqualify herself from his case for supposed “bias,” issuing a sharply-worded rebuke of the defense’s allegations: "At bottom, given the absence of any factual or legal support for the motion for disqualification, the pleading appears to be nothing more than an attempt to use the Court’s docket to disseminate a statement for public consumption that has the words 'judge' and 'biased' in it," Jackson wrote. “Judges cannot be ‘biased’ and need not be disqualified if the views they express are based on what they learned while doing the job they were appointed to do.”
Footage of Roger Stone’s interviews with prosecutors last month has been released… and the only word that can sum it up is “wow.” The entire archive can be found here, but if you are short on time Politico’s Andrew Kimmel made a supercut of the must-see moments that illustrate Stone’s true character: a narcissist who can barely control his anger at being questioned.

Stefanik broke fundraising rules

A constituent of Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik (NY-21) filed an official complaint against her with the Office of Congressional Ethics for using footage of House floor activities to raise funds for her campaign - an express violation of House rules. Stefanik has used clips of her questioning during the impeachment inquiry in fundraising emails, including one with the subject line, that read, “WATCH: I EXPOSED ADAM SCHIFF.”
In a letter sent on June 7, 2018, the House Ethics Committee reminded legislators that “rules specifically prohibit the use of footage of House Floor activities and committee proceedings for any partisan political purpose.”
“I think Rep. Stefanik’s use of video of the House hearing to solicit political contributions is a serious violation of that rule,” says Larry Noble, the former general counsel of the Federal Election Commission. “The rule is clear, and so is the guidance given by the House Ethics Committee.”
Donald K. Sherman, general counsel of the ethics watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington — a group that routinely opposes the Trump administration — agrees with that assessment. “House Ethics Committee guidance clearly prohibits Members from using video of committee proceedings for campaign purposes,” said Sherman, who was previously a high-ranking Senate attorney, “which Rep. Stefanik appears to have done nine times in the last six months.

Nunes’ lawsuits

Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit government accountability watchdog, filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics asking for an investigation into how Rep. Devin Nunes is paying for his six separate lawsuits against media companies and critics.
The complaint says Nunes appears to be in “blatant violation of House rules,” because he would have trouble paying for all these lawsuits solely from his congressional salary of $174,000 per year. The group argues he’d only be able to pay if he received legal services for free, at a discounted rate, or based on a contingency fee, meaning the lawyer would get compensated from Nunes’ winnings if he prevails in his lawsuits.
In all of those cases, the complaint says, Nunes must disclose the legal help he is receiving by filing a legal expense fund, otherwise it would represent an illegal gift given to Nunes under congressional ethics rules. Nunes has not filed a legal expense fund with the Office of Congressional Ethics.

Immigration news

  • Washington Post: A federal appeals court in California halted the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” asylum policy on Friday, removing one of the key tools the president has used to curb mass migration across the southern U.S. border. The ruling was in effect for only a few hours, however, as the judges later granted a Trump administration request for an emergency stay “pending further order of this court.” Justice Department lawyers said in court filings that 25,000 migrants have been ­waiting in Mexico and argued that they feared the ruling would lead to an influx on the southern ­border.
  • New York Times: The Justice Department said Wednesday that it had created an official section in its immigration office to strip citizenship rights from naturalized immigrants, a move that gives more heft to the Trump administration’s broad efforts to remove from the country immigrants who have committed crimes… Some Justice Department immigration lawyers have expressed worries that denaturalizations could be broadly used to strip citizenship.
    • The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights: "We reject any denaturalization task force that destroys citizenship as we know it and keeps every naturalized immigrant living in fear. Trump is weaponizing the DOJ to make naturalized immigrants look like second-class citizens."
  • Jurist: The US Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in Hernandez v. Mesa on Tuesday, holding that the parents of a Mexican child who was shot and killed by a border official have no right to seek a remedy in American civil court. The child, Jesus Hernandez, had been playing with friends in a dry culvert that straddles the US-Mexico border between El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juarez. Border Patrol agent Jesus Mesa fired at Hernandez from the US side of the culvert, and the bullet struck the boy on the Mexican side, where he died.
  • CNN: Secretary of Defense Mark Esper faced a bipartisan grilling from lawmakers Wednesday on Capitol Hill for his decision to divert military funding to pay for the US border wall as he testifies before the House Armed Services Committee… The top Republican on the committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry, also slammed the move saying it is "substituting the judgment of the administration for the judgment of Congress," adding "I am deeply concerned about where we're headed with the constitutional issue."
  • ACLU: The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a new lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s transfer of an additional $3.8 billion in military funds for border wall construction. Congress did not authorize the funds. “The president is doubling down on his unlawful scheme to raid taxpayer funds for a xenophobic campaign promise that is destroying national treasures, harming the environment, and desecrating tribal lands.”
  • Associated Press: President Donald Trump may not divert $89 million intended for a military construction project in Washington state to build his border wall… “Congress repeatedly and deliberately declined to appropriate the full funds the President requested for a border wall along the southern border of the United States,” [Judge] Rothstein wrote.
  • Today, Monday March 2, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case involving the Trump administration’s “expedited removal” of asylum seekers without allowing them a chance to take their application before a federal judge. For a detailed discussion of the case, see the ACLU and Lawfare.
  • Mother Jones: Melania Trump Got an “Einstein Visa.” Why Was It So Hard for This Nobel Prize Winner? Immigration attorneys say the Trump administration is rejecting highly qualified applicants for “genius” green cards.
submitted by rusticgorilla to Keep_Track [link] [comments]

Ideas for an India Rework 2

Ideas for an India Rework 2
Around two months ago I posted an outline for how I would do an Indian rework in Kaiserreich, this was in part due to Christmas boredom (given I was at home with neither my gaming pc nor my consoles which ere at uni). However, I was not happy with the quality of the post, it was insufficiently researched and the map was awful given I made it in map chart with modern state borders rather than realistic borders. This is an update to the same idea which I am happier with in terms of depth and realism.

Here's the altered mapblob:
https://preview.redd.it/j6zl1vnupbe41.png?width=608&format=png&auto=webp&s=13e0e830352e01e3213583d8df62293f53b45857
Before I move on to countries I would like to explain why I like the current outline of the lore, the biggest complaint in India I have seen is that the princely federation is unrealistic (the second is that it has a silly name but frankly I don't mind it as a name up until unification at which point it is silly). My issue with this line of argument is that the most realistic outcome is not the best for the mod, the most realistic outcomes are either the raj holding on the revolutionaries declaring a neutral left-wing but non-syndicalist republic but a unified India on day one would be boring and a collapse in 1936 I feel is contrived and more unrealistic; any dominant faction after winning a civil war would suppress their opponents making a second uprising harder. The three-way civil war between reactionary colonialism, conservative monarchy, and revolutionary republicans is far more interesting while being justifiable, but I will get to that justification below.

My altered timeline would start with the British revolutionary government declaring that all her former colonies are now free, with the exile government affirming the empire. This is taken by the INC as the moment to declare a free unified republic of Bharat in Calcutta, far from the imperial powerbase in Dehli, Rufus Isaacs (interestingly the highest-ranking practising jew in British history), rather than mobilising the troops, attempts to find a peaceful solution, this is a bad idea born of a poor understanding of the strength of the independence movement. In response to this, pro-independence princes Sayajirao Gaekwad III and Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV call a secret meeting between major princes primarily southern princes to determine how they should respond. This meeting leads to the major princes agreeing to mobilise their forces to fight the revolutionary forces and take control of raj territory immediately bordering their territory, but at this point, it is not an independence movement at the behest of Osman Ali Khan. But why is a princely movement in the south rather than in the north where there were more princes and weren't the princes pro British? The princes in the north (specifically in the Rajasthan agency central India agency) often governed no more than one city almost none of them had the clout to raise armies and the few that did are isolated and close to British strongholds, in my timeline, some northern princes defect to the federation and eventually lead puppets in the north, while southern princes often ruled large territories which allows them to raise armies. Also, the princes were often pro British because Britain defended them and secured trade, neither of these stand for a Britain which has been isolated from European markets, fallen to revolution and unable to stop a revolution in India, so a princely revolt is entirely possible. However, the military government which has replaced Isaacs sees the princes as a revolt and declares them rebels causing the princes to align with right-wing nationalist groups to defend their territory. Thus, the stage is set for the three-way civil war in which other things happen Kashmir declares independence, Burma secures itself against Bharat and Nepal seizes Sikkim to defend it from syndicalism. Onto the countries

The Dominions of India and Ceylon: (Auth dem, soc con, ma lib, pat aut)
My ideas for the dominion have changed the least so this is a slightly edited version of my last post the changed parts will be bold for people who read that last post.
The remnants of the British raj in India, now granted dominion status, is by far the weakest of the major powers on the subcontinent, a malcontent population, enemies on all sides, and a separatist Muslim population in the west of the state. However, she has two major advantages, entente military support and with the tacit support of Burma and control of Ceylon any war would turn into a two-front war for the enemy, also an alliance between the republic and the princes seems impossible so if the dominion can be stabilised then her opponents can be picked off. So perhaps the future for the dominion looks bright as long as nothing massively destabilises the administration. That's when the king dies. While the death of the king emperor isn't unexpected the implications this event has for the dominion are huge, while the king had allowed for the formation of a dominion in place of the raj this did not fundamentally alter the administration with voting still restricted to an elite few and several political offices appointed by white colonial officers. It is up to the dominion to decide if its administration will liberalise and create a true Indian democracy, as opposed to the syndicalist hellhole to her east, or if the colonial administration will be maintained to ensure stability, even some say that the new king feels that the dominion has failed and seeks to return to the former white minority rule of the raj. In 1937 the Afghans will make their move to liberate the Muslims of the Indus and create Pakistan, at the same time Ali Jinnah's syndicalist forces will rise in Karachi and join the national liberation struggle if supported by the UOB at the second Internationale, while the war should favour the dominion about a quarter of the time a free Pakistan should be created leaving the dominion with only a small sliver of land in kutch connecting it to the sea, perhaps allowing Gujrat and Gwalior to abandon the federation to try to conquer the remnants of the Delhi government and establish their Hindutava dream.
Politically the dominion should start Authdem to represent the colonial and elitist nature of its government, with routes to go socon, marlib and maybe in rare circumstances a white minority pat aut government if the current government collapses. The dominion is the outside bet, the British were deeply unpopular at all levels of society, with the people overwhelmingly voting for independence parties, princes and politicians holding pro-independence protests and in kaiserreich Germany and the Internationale having more industry and population with which to support her enemies. I would represent this through pp and manpower maluses but factory output and organisation buffs as well as having the best generals to represent the elite minority nature of the dominion.

(I will cover Pakistan later)

The Republic of Bharat: (Rad soc, Totalist, Syndicalist, soc dem, soc lib, soc con)
Same as above this will be an edited version of my last post.
The Republic of Bharat is an unstable coalition that is still deciding on the form its government should take, after ten years of socialist dominance in the parliamentary system the British and Dange are calling for full syndicalist union democracy in the European style while the moderates And popular radical Bose are calling for a presidential system for the republic to allow for the strong stable state necessary to win the coming war. It is this political instability which has prevented victory for the republic thus far, However Lala Lajpat Rai has declared that a constitution shall be written to bring unity to the republic, although this may be a move to stand down before his government collapses. This constitution should have a number of political battles, each with different boosts for party popularity, pp, or stability perhaps affecting spirits. The most surprising turn of events is Bose and the liberal wing working together to form a strong executive, while neither group is particularly fond of the other they both hold sway and must work together if a strong executive is to be passed in the convention. The constitution should have Three outcomes status quo, presidential democracy or union democracy, The first would retain the coalition between the reformist (rad soc), agrarian(soc dem syn aligned), and revolutionary (syndie) wings of the inc with any faction capable of taking the lead in the coalition but sharing a tree focused of cooperation and stabilisation; the middle option would lead to a presidential race between Bose and popular young Nehru (as one of the most radical members of the reformist faction he is the natural representative of the coalition) the liberals also field a candidate but can't win due to poor name recognition and having few allies, with Bose creating the people's communal republic of Bharat and Nehru keeping the republic but reforming the state to further devolop India so it is ready for full syndicalism; the last option would create the Bharatiya commune which could be led by Dange (syndie), Huq( rad soc) or Banerji (soc dem) with each now having the power to enact their reforms but also could be couped by the liberals and conservatives causing the republic and commune to fall to civil war where if the liberals win the rump right-wing of the INC can create a right wing republic of Bharat (Ghandi would still be in events calling for peace and hurting war support but him leading a rad soc party is terrible see my Bose post for more). Several opportunities may come for Bharat a revolution in Burma, or Pakistan under Jinnah, perhaps even a socialist revolution in Travancore, and with the largest army (though the least well equipped and trained), and the single biggest economic base (if the issues of inefficiency can be solved that is) though the princes combined are stronger, the republic is best placed to unite India. After the unification, it would be up to her between aligning with France, focusing on Asia or isolation is the best plan.
While the republic is split between Muslims and Hindus the all Muslim league should be weaker krtl having less time to grow and the republic demonstrating the possibility of Hindu-Muslim unity. However, the republic should start with a Hindu-Muslim tensions national spirit to show the issue, further harming Bharat's stability.
I do think the republic should be the favourite, popular support for the INC and Swaraj was huge, making them the popular favourite and with in-game opportunities for early army xp taking Sikkim from Nepal, and potentially encircling Dehli the only true threat for the republic in the hands of a player is a unified Federation. However, the republic should start unstable and weak with the possibility to snowball if given time but easy to take out if either of her neighbours can strike early
I have changed the agrarians to soc dem to demonstrate that they do not want to create syndicalism in India but rather agrarian socialism and Nehru is now a Rad Soc because while he was a soc dem in the 1950's he was definitely a leftist in the otl '30s and would be further left krtl, his and Huq's ideology of reformism a mix of development economics, syndicalism and sun yat sen's three-stage revolution which argues that India is not ready for socialism and needs to develop first I think gives a good ideological placement for more moderate let figures in India.

The Confederation of Indian Princes:
The Confederation is at a crossroads, currently led by the moderate (relatively) Osman Ali Khan Nizam of Hyderabad however the two other members of the triumvirate Sayajirao Gaekwad III and Krishna Raja Wadiyar IV have died and been replaced (both died a couple of years after 1936 so they either die in combat or stress causes them to die younger it doesn't really matter. This has led to Gujrat being ruled by Pratap Singh Rao Gaekwad a hedonist, a reactionary and put in the nicest way an idiot, his government is at this point almost entirely run by Hindutava radicals who want to create a traditionalist strong Hindu State. and Mysore is now run by Kanteerava Narasimharaja Wadiyar who is a moderniser and a constitutionalist who has extended the franchise to most of his people and calls for all other princes to do the same. Gwalior is aligned with Gujrat, but Jivajirao Sindhia is a more shrewd ruler and while he is still reliant on the Hindutva movement for a powerbase he has managed to keep the most radical figures out of power and secured a good chunk of control for himself, while Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma is considered not mentally stable enough to rule by his family and so a bicameral legislature is formed (this happened otl) to limit his power naturally aligning the state with constitutionalist Mysore. Finally, Madras with no major princely state in the region the weak Martanda Bhairava Tondaiman was hand-selected for the prince of Madras by Ali khan as a thinly veiled tactic to extend his power to the region his death in 1928 provided khan an even better puppet in the 6-year-old heir Rajagopala Tondaiman, now 14 he resents how little power he holds in his own kingdom and so may side with either the Hindutva radicals or the constitutionalists to spite khan but most likely his hand is forced to remain a puppet given a 14-year-old cannot technically assert royal powers.
The federation is also reliant on German support so would destabilise after black Monday which is the spark which leads to the civil war.

Hyderabad: (Authdem, Pataut)
Gameplay for Ali Khan is mostly focused on preparing for the likely civil war by either granting concessions left or right, keeping Madras in line and trying to court Travancore or Gwalior away from their allies any of these routes will force khan down a decentralised federal path where India is a patchwork of vassals. But a more ambitious player can declare the federation dead and attempt to form a centralised empire by force but that should be hard. The first path should focus on stabilising the council of princes and keeping Ali khans hegemony while the latter would see Ali khan create an Empire in the German style with subjugated princes beneath himself as emperor (\lthough those who rebelled against him would be replaced by more compliant pretenders). Ali khan would likely ally with the reichspakt

Hindutava princes: (Natpop Gujrat and Pat Aut Gwalior)
If the Hindutava radicals end up on top after the civil war (or claim Dehli) they will form a centralised Hindu state, while the patauts in Gwalior led by K. B. Hedgewar are willing to keep the princes as figureheads as long as he and his allies hold true power but the natpops in Gujrat led by Savarkar will remove the princes and declare a republic once they've stabilised whichever comes to prominence will annex the other but both would get events so a player can still choose to go nat pop if they're playing Gwalior for example but would tag switch to Gujarat. Both groups will create a united India with Muslim homelands in Pakistan and Bengal as puppets (think apartheid South Africa) with the radicals trying to create a new pan Hindu identity while the patauts would rely on traditionalism. This route would either make their own faction or join japan's pan Asian bloc especially given Hindutva thinkers often liked Buddhists.

Constitutionalists: (mar lib Mysore, Soc con travancore Soc dem and soc lib from later elections)
the constitutionalists if successful will either create a unified federation of Indian rajas actually similar to the German system but more democratic or a confederation which would have stronger buffs but would force you to release most of India as puppets. Mysore would have Mirza Ismail as head of government at game start interesting guy he was prime minister for three different Hindu princely states despite being an Iranian Muslim. and the guy I'd pick for soc dem candidate is Chinmayananda Saraswati Hindutva union organiser and independence activist.

Jammu and Kashmi Pakistan: (Pat aut, Aut dem, Rad soc):
again this is an edited version of the last post
If the Pakistan revolt is successful there should be an internal power struggle between Jinnah's leftists and the monarchy, if the leftists win then Jinnah could align with the republic in a show of Hindu-Muslim unity or could turn west to liberate his fellow Muslims, while if the monarchy wins they should either align with the Cairo pact (i would put a white peace event so whoever unites India shouldn't have to push to Africa if this happens) or declare a restored Mughal empire and push to Dehli but for either to do any of these they will have to win their independence from Afganistan.
Jinnah is a Rad soc because otl he moved right but krtl he is in Britain during the revolution and he moves left due to what he sees during the revolution and the support from the UOB to liberate his homeland, he's a reformist because I think it fits his personality. Also, his dissolution from Hindu Muslim unity is post POD so I've left it variable whether he pushes for a united India or an independent Pakistan.
I know Pakistan is anachronistic for 1936 but I can't find a better workable name.


This means every major player in India can either fall to civil war or avoid it, perhaps opening a someone who avoided civil war to capitalise on a neighbours weakness. Also a democratic dominion, right INC, and constitutionalist federation or any two should be able to peacefully unite via decision though obviously rare.

Other things, India should have more steel, India's iron deposits were and are very important, it has such little steel in vanilla for balance so the UK can't use it this should change. Also, post-unification I would have a set of focuses to establish India's policy on surrounding states like Bhutan, or Afghanistan as well as its policy on two-nation theory etc.

Sorry for the length.

edit: added map image became corrupted.
submitted by FabianTheElf to Kaiserreich [link] [comments]

Progress Report 42: Some damned foolish PR in the Balkans (Yugoslavia Pt. 1)

Hello and welcome to the first CBtS Progress Report about Yugoslavia. Today is December 1, 2019 - exactly 101 years after the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was established. I am Yellowone, the current Yugoslavia dev. Today I will show you the non-dynamic focus trees, shared by all of the possible Yugoslavias (at least, so far). However, prior to this I will introduce some historical background, the Yugoslavian starting position and some unique features. Also, big thanks to Entrerriano, Urukukhai and Polindus for their amazing work on the map and gfx.
This is the first of the planned Progress Reports on Yugoslavia. The other planned ones are:
One of the main features of current Yugoslavian development is that it’s not centered on a traditional “path” system. Rather, the player would gain access to certain blocks of content, depending on a number of previous events and decisions. One such “block” can be defined as a small path (or sub-path), loosely defined by the game period (early, middle or late). Make no mistake, Yugoslavia will still have a lot of content and plenty of variety.
Disclaimer:
Mod developers (and me in particular) make no claims of an objective representation of events that happened or could’ve happened. This mod is based on our understanding of historical events, which, like any human conception, is inevitably biased and limited. If you consider our opinion on certain matters wrong, feel free to express your views, as long as you do this in a civilized and constructive manner.
Historical background:
The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was created in late 1918, and included the pre-war Kingdoms of Serbia and Montenegro, as well as the former Austro-Hungarian territories of Slovenia, Croatia, Slavonia, Dalmatia, Vojvodina, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. This country was a parliamentary democracy, in which three political parties were dominant: the People’s Radical Party, the Democratic Party and the Croatian Peasant Party. Governments were short and debates heated, as political forces found it hard to make compromises with each other. Parliamentary democracy was over after the death of the Croatian leader Stjepan Radić (presumably after being shot by a Serb Radical during a parliamentary debate). The country was nearing collapse, and King Alexander decided to establish temporary personal rule over the kingdom. The country was renamed to Yugoslavia, and new administrative divisions were carved out with the explicit purpose of ignoring ethnic divisions. Political parties, most of which initially welcomed the changes, soon found themselves banned by the oppressive regime, which was later called the “6 January Dictatorship”. The only party to have government support was the Yugoslav Radical Peasants' Democracy, led by a strongman, Petar Živković. A constitution, promulgated in 1931, kept Yugoslavia as a unitary state, dropped the provision for a secret ballot, and gave significant powers to the monarch. The first parliamentary elections under the new constitution were purely formal, as no non-state party could’ve gathered the ridiculous amount of signatures required by the new electoral law.
Yugoslavia in 1933:
The Yugoslav Radical Peasants' Democracy still has control over the government. However, its position is rather fragile. As Slovenian politician Anton Korošec said, “by putting every royal supporter into a single party, one automatically sends the rest into the opposition”. The opposition is, on the other hand, divided. The Croatian Peasant Party (now led by Vladko Maček) has established a union with the Independent Democrats (split from the rest of the Democrats), and is now known as the Peasant-Democratic Coalition, or the Prečani Front (Prečani being the term for former Austro-Hungarian territories). The Radicals, the Democrats and the Agrarian Party formed their own opposition in Belgrade. Young political groups, such as the fascist ZBOR or the nationalist Yugoslavian People’s Party, failed to get a significant number of supporters, while the Communist Party has been outlawed since 1920. This is the state of Yugoslavian politics on the 1st of January, 1933.
Yugoslavia begins with these National Spirits:
Features
The nature of Yugoslavian ethnic composition is quite complex, and requires a detailed state map. A set of generals is available from the start as well. One special feature of Yugoslavia is the “National Policy” screen, which shows the attitude of various ethnic groups towards your regime.
Disclaimer: ethnic groups present don’t claim to represent the same level of ethnic classification.
A few words about naming conventions. The word “Yugoslav” is used in regards to ethnicity as viewed by integralist centralists (this is also why Albanians are not present in the screen: they are not considered to be Yugoslavs), and the word “Yugoslavian” is used in regards to the country. The same logic applies to Serb\Serbian, Croat\Croatian, Slovene\Slovenian and so on.
One more feature is the Parliament. In 1933 it is merely one instrument of the dictatorship. However, things might change in future.
FULL FOCUS TREE
Royal focus tree
The first focus tree represents the personal efforts of King Alexander. Its three branches let you promote centralism and crush national leaders (which will require a lot of time, luck, and stability), liberalize your regime and get foreign guarantees. This tree will be available as long as you keep King Alexander alive (which will be a hard, but possible, thing to do).
Regency focus tree
If you fail to keep the king alive until 1941, you will be presented with a choice. Letting the parliament choose the regent will result in either Nikola Uzunović or Petar Živković becoming the HoS, depending on who is the current Prime Minister. Thus, there are three possible regents, all of which will get a common focus tree. This choice will make a big difference further during the game.
Economy focus tree
This tree is your primary way to get out of the Great Depression. Some of the focuses will unlock a number of decisions, through which you will improve your economy.
Science focus tree
The tree is short and self-explanatory. Finishing it will reward you with a 4th tech slot.
Fortification focus tree
If you’re looking for defence, this tree is your best bet. Failing to solve the Croatian Question will reward you with a consolation prize: the ability to build a fortification line on the Sava.
Army focus tree
Divided into two branches, this tree will let you improve your army’s equipment and staff. A choice between keeping the Serb dominance in the army and letting other ethnicities into your High Command can become quite important in terms of dealing with ethnic sentiments.
Navy focus tree
Ever dreamed of siphoning your much needed resources into useless prestige projects? Or, perhaps, you sincerely want to drive the Regia Marina out of the Adriatic? This tree is for you!
Air Force focus tree
Aviation was one of the few parts of the Yugoslavian armed forces IRL, which, on the eve of German invasion, was decent (and, in fact, quite advanced). This tree will help you become victorious in the air.
Regional cooperation focus tree
This tree will let you deal with the Little Entente and the Balkan Pact respectively. To have access to those trees, you must have a corresponding treaty signed (which can be initiated by any of the pact members, provided all the other nations will agree). Yugoslavia can come up with initiative to create both of those factions via the Royal focus tree. However, to transform both the Little Entente and the Balkan Pact into proper HoI4-style factions, every potential member of the alliance must make an effort. Some of the focuses, however, will let you gain profit from existing pacts or even abandon them. It is important to notice, that Yugoslavian diplomatic options are not limited by this tree, as more paths will become available for different Yugoslavian political regimes.
Relying on the Great Power focus tree
Yugoslavia might not be the mistress of her fate, and can be dragged into an alliance by a Great Power. Or, some of its leaders might find it appropriate to join some existing alliance. This focus tree will let you get profit, if you already find yourself in an alliance with one of the Great Powers.
QUESTIONS
> If Yugoslavia dissolves will the newly independent countries be given content?
Yes, eventually.
> How will you show the military coup d'etat of March, 1941?
All the coup d'etat possibilities will be shown in the “Coups and post-coup Yugoslavia” PR.
> Will the German player only be able to invade Yugoslavia if they refuse the Tripartite Pact or they are couped?
It’s up to Germany to organize invitation of Yugoslavia into the Axis (and, consequently, give them a chance to refuse). However, an anti-Axis coup will provide Germany (or other fascist power) with a casus belli.
> How will the Independent State of Croatia be represented?
Depends on the conditions of its emergence.
> How will the rest of Yugoslavia be represented under German occupation?
If the game goes on exactly as IRL, Croatia will emerge as an independent member of the Axis, and the rest of Yugoslavia will either become annexed or occupied by Axis powers.
> Can Yugoslavia become democratic (not communist) federal republic?
Big tbd. Yugoslavia can certainly become democratic and federal, but a non-communist republic is quite improbable.
> Can Yugoslavia claim Bulgaria, Triest, Lower part of Austria that has slovene minority?
Those areas won’t be the primary expansion goals for sure, however, a victory in World War 2 can bring unexpected results.
> How will Josip Broz Tito appear in the mod? Can Yugoslavia go communist?
To see Josip Broz Tito play a significant role in the game, you must see Yugoslavia collapsing first. If the country falls into fierce ethnic infighting due to a civil war or foreign occupation, the Partizans may become a significant force. More details will be shown in the “Yugoslavia and War” PR.
> Can Yugoslavia Unite with Bulgaria?
After the war, sure (provided you have an appropriate regime, which is tbd). However, things become quite interesting in the Interbellum. Croats might find the Balkan Federation to be a solution for protection of Croatia’s national interests against the Serb dominance (as Bulgaria will become another power in a federal multi-ethnic South Slavic state). Some Bulgarian regimes would find a concept of the Balkan Federation attractive as well. No Serbian leader, however, would voluntarily agree on such a deal (as the new state would be even less stable and probably harm Serbian national interests). Hence, a Yugoslavian-Bulgarian union is possible, but it’s up to Bulgaria to create one.
> How is the tension with the Croats shown in the mod? Is there a possibility of the kingdom splitting before the world war?
The Croatian Question and prevention of the Kingdom splitting will take most of your time and effort before the war.
> What expansion possibilities does Yugoslavia have?
Istria, Albania and Thessaloniki are already shown in the focus tree, and some others may appear later.
> Are there any partisan mechanics for Yugoslavia?
Not yet. Paradox are re-creating the whole resistance mechanic in the new expansion, and we want to see how to deal with it better.
> Will you deal with post war politics? It would be interesting to see if a non-tito but communist Yugoslavia forms some sort of Balkan Federation.
For post-war content, you will have to wait until the “Post-War Yugoslavia” PR.
> How will different partisan factions be represented in German-occupied Yugoslavia? Will the Chetniks be represented in any way?
Tbd. It largely depends on the new expansion’s resistance mechanic functions.
> What will be the possible coalitions if Yugoslavia becomes democratic?
You will see a variety of possible coalitions in a democratic Yugoslavia. Wait for the next two PRs for details.
> Will Yugoslavia be able to remove all ethnic conflicts?
No.
> Will there an option for a yugoslav republic (no monarchy)?
Yes, a communist one after the war.
> Will Yugoslavia be able to in any situation just cede Macedonia to Bulgaria?
Macedonia is vitally important for Yugoslavia, as the only railway connecting Belgrade with the Aegean Sea lies there. Hence, not without a fight.
> Is it possible to screw up ethnic tensions so hard it devolves into a 1930's version of OTL's Yugoslav Wars? Like a miniature version of Kaiserreich's Mittleafrika?
No. One of the reasons the Yugoslav Wars happened the way they happened was a historical background of WW2 (when the peoples of Yugoslavia were involved in a fierce conflict against each other). However, you certainly can screw things up so hard it leads to a civil war.
> What possibilities will Croatia have?
Tbd. So far the planned paths for Croatia are a democratic republic, led by Vladko Maček and his Croatian Peasant Party, and an Ustaša dictatorship.
> Will the Greek-Yugoslav confederation or Balkan Federation be a possibility?
Balkan Federation is possible, but Greek-Yugoslav confederation looks far too improbable.
> Will Yugoslavia be able to join the Axis and then stay as a part of it, e.g the anti-Axis coup failing?
You can’t really make the coup fail, but you can prevent it one way or another (for example, not having your king assassinated by fascist-affiliated groups, or having a coup happened beforehand). You will see more details in “Coups and post-coup Yugoslavia” PR.
Rejected Titles:
God is Serb: The diary
For God, King, and Focus Tree!
A non creative title for a Yugoslavian PR
Jugoslavija je Srbija
Ugly Product of Versailles: how it works
Ugly Product of Trianon and St Germain
King of the Slavs
submitted by Yellowone1 to CBTSmod [link] [comments]

‘They are us’ – an urgent, uncomfortable call to action

"By Morgan Godfery | Contributing writer March 13, 2020
A proper reckoning with March 15 2019 demands that we take up a generations-long struggle to destroy all the exclusions that make up our society and produce the conditions we know as racism. An essay by Morgan Godfery.
This work is made possible by Spinoff Members.

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I was cleaning out the garage the other day and found an old Crusaders jersey. If I remember right it’s their team kit from 2005, the white knight sewn into the chest and the old Ford logo printed in the centre. The jersey itself is still as fresh as new paint, a novelty purchase from when we were passing through Christchurch on our way to Christmas in Oamaru. I was a year 9 in school and a Super 12 jersey was the kind of item you had, just so you could say you had one. This is about the same time it was still acceptable to whisper things like how the white players in the Crusaders were responsible for their team’s championship success, playing their footy with brains, and the problem with mid-table finishers like the Blues were too many brown boys who only knew how to throw their weight around.
I’m not quite white-passing, but my upper middle-class accent, generally preppy affect, and not-quite-pasty-not-quite-brown skin makes me ethnically ambiguous enough that people are happy to share their thoughts about big Polynesian units, Asian immigrants, Muslim terrorists, and the Jews. The first time I remember running into entirely casual racism was in Christchurch, on the way back from that Christmas in Oamaru, when a retail worker caught up with me on the street apologising for short-changing me in store. I didn’t realise or particularly care, but years later I thought about his apology. “Sorry, I just Jew-ed you”.
At the time it was nothing to me. In high school and later in my flat at Victoria that was just what people said. “Jewing” someone was a verb for ripping them off, taking an advantage, or just a way to give someone a bit of stick. In my experience it was especially popular with the Christ’s College boys, which probably has something to do with the city’s private schools inheriting their culture from Britain’s public schools. “A Jewish boy at a public school almost invariably had a bad time,” wrote Orwell in 1945. Things probably aren’t that much better in 2020. The other day I read an old mate – a private schooler too – on Facebook joking about how Jews are useless at sport.
I suspect for good liberals this is probably shocking. This isn’t language that ever sneaks through our circles. But outside of our cosy hermetic world words like coconut, boonga, fob, wog, gook, curry muncher, towelhead, the hundred variations on the N word, and “Jew” as more than a noun are common currency. The stains from that vocabulary seep into every part of the culture and society, and nothing much has ever been done to wash it out. The first time I remember encountering deliberate, menacing racism is on the rugby paddock when a white coach was yelling at my mate on the wing “run you BLACK bastard”. I thought about that moment when spectators in Christchurch were caught vilifying Fijian player Sake Aca in 2015, screaming from the stands “black cunt”.
Fandoms like to imagine their sports, multicultural rugby especially, as pure and independent realms (“a level playing field”) absent race, politics, or any disadvantage other than skill. It’s a seductive argument, I’ll concede that much, but it’s so self-evidently false it still surprises me every time someone insists on it earnestly. Sport? Not racist? In 2012 talkback callers and trolls went after then Blues coach Pat Lam and his family for the great crime of simply being Polynesian. In 2010 former All Black Andy Haden was put through the wringer for telling media the Crusaders only recruit a maximum three “darkies”, presumably to preserve the team’s famous brain-brawn balance.
Even in the laudatory histories New Zealand rugby was, and probably remains, a notorious nexus for down home conservatives, know-nothing administrators, and out and out racists. In 1960 the rugby union sent the All Blacks on tour to Apartheid South Africa, waving the team off without any Māori players or officials in a remarkable sop to the country’s colour bar. In 1976 the national team were sent back, this time defying international calls to cut sporting ties with the racist state. In protest at the tour more than twenty African countries led a boycott at that year’s Olympics, a moral stand that should perpetually shame New Zealand Rugby. Not racist? As if.
In an ideal world the Canterbury Crusaders would study this history, carefully considering whether their decision to retain the team name is another brick in rugby’s wall of shame. The managers might consider how “deus vult”, meaning God wills it, a battle cry from the first Crusade, and “Acre 1189”, a reference to a siege in the third Crusade, are URL shorthands and postscripts for white supremacist users constructing a historiography for their neo-fascist movement. The managers might also reflect on how real-life white supremacists in countries like Brazil, Norway, and Australia are adopting the Knights Templar, the Christian warrior monks who made up the crusading hordes, and the literal white knight that was formerly the Canterbury team’s logo, as their saints.
📷
CRUSADERS MASCOTS AT AMI STADIUM IN CHRISTCHURCH IN 2019. PHOTO: DAVID ROGERS/GETTY IMAGES. FEATURE IMAGE: FRIDAY PRAYERS AT AL NOOR MOSQUE ON MARCH 22, 2019. PHOTO BY SANKA VIDANAGAMA/NURPHOTO VIA GETTY IMAGES
As it happens the team’s managers, after kicking the issue to a “market research” firm shortly after March 15, made the call to save the name. It’s an unconscionable decision, for obvious reasons, but the team bosses seem cognitively incapable of reasoning through the issue and its implications beyond mere “branding”. In a statement announcing the name-stay the team’s PR people wrote “for us, the Crusaders name is a reflection of the crusading spirit of this community,” as if it’s possible to just reframe the holy war using a press release. It’s a cretinous thing to do when not even a year earlier an alleged shooter undertook a massacre at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques as part of his own “crusade”.
A28-year-old man is before the High Court facing 52 murder charges relating to the events of March 15. What we know about his life is little, save the things he was curating about himself online, which in this essay I treat with caution and scepticism. But it seems clear enough the Australian citizen was an obsessive for the Crusades, scribbling references to the religious war for the Holy Land across the weapon police accuse the man of using to carry out the massacre. Investigative reports note in his pilgrimage to Europe the 28-year-old – who pleaded not guilty to all charges – made particular visits to Christian-Muslim battlegrounds in the former Ottoman Empire, apparently as a tribute to the crusading warmongers he was so keen to match.
To outsiders the obsession with this particular historical episode is probably bizarre, if not creepy. But in the nether world this man and his neo-fascist comrades inhabit they imagine they’re acting out the thesis and title in Samuel P Huntington’s The Clash of Civilisations. In his 1993 essay the American political scientist argues that in the immediate past global conflicts were between warring ideological factions – capitalism and communism – but post-Cold War conflict will centre between clashing civilisations. The West vs the rest. Christianity vs Islam. The Crusades II.
In Huntington’s telling, and in the alleged shooter’s head, the West and the Islamic world are fated to compete. Yet that competition won’t centre over economic issues like stable oil supply lines, or even political issues like the territorial integrity of Western allies in the Middle East, instead the clash is meant to happen over Islam’s apparently regressive values and the West’s progressive tradition. It’s a striking thesis, especially for the generals and politicians who were hunting for cover for their military adventures in the Middle East and East Africa in the late 80s and early 90s. But it was always a notion that was impossible to apply, reducing the Islamic world to a series of stereotypes (it never had its enlightenment) and setting it against an equally reductive West (it did have its enlightenment).
The late Edward Said, the Palestinian scholar, cut right to the heart of Huntington’s argument in identifying it wasn’t an argument at all – rather, he was “a partisan, an advocate of one so-called civilisation over all others” who maps billions of people into “vague” and “manipulable” abstractions and then presents it as a true account of the world. “Thus to build a conceptual framework around the notion of us-versus-them is in effect to pretend that the principal consideration is epistemological and natural – our civilisation is now and accepted, theirs is different and strange – whereas in fact the framework separating us from them is belligerent, constructed, and situational.”
In other words, the thing separating the Christian us from the Islamic them, to the extent a clean separation is possible at all, is history – of colonialism, of Cold War power politics – and not immutable categories like “the West” or “the East”. That the categories exist at all are a function of history and political convenience, not a universal law stipulating conflict as the only end. Yet for the neo-fascists like the alleged shooter every thought they cherish orbits this particular rock: that the entire Islamic world is one dirty blob of terrorism, rape, and invasion, and that all its more than one billion members act with a single purpose and co-ordination unknown in the entire history of humanity.
But why commit to a dichotomy so obviously stupid at all? The 28-year-old grew up in Grafton, a waterway town in northern New South Wales, and in his time on the Eastern seaboard it seems unlikely he ever actually met many Muslim people at all. In his own family’s account they were just ordinary Aussies. It’s impossible to interrogate the claim – every family thinks itself the norm and we can’t penetrate their private lives to investigate how true it is – yet the family were probably ordinary in one sense. They were unremarkable. Just another white family. The alleged shooter’s parents were in traditional jobs. Mum a teacher. Dad a rubbish man.
The people who were closest to him – cousins, old school mates – pinpoint his OE to Europe as “the moment”. As RNZ reports in his manifesto the alleged shooter recounts his trip through North Korea and Pakistan, paying tribute to the locals’ kindness and hospitality (noticing the contradiction he explains he doesn’t hate the yellows and blacks who stay in their own “homelands”). Eventually he lands in Europe, road tripping France. In one passage he despairs that he can’t seem to find an all-white town or city. In another passage his travels take him, quite conveniently, to a cemetery for the European dead of the world wars. “I broke into tears, sobbing alone in the car,” he writes, mourning the apparent Islamification of Europe. “Why were we allowing these soldiers deaths to be in vain?”
He didn’t realise that the dead he mourned died trying to kill people like him.
In 2018 I wrote (presciently, without claiming too much credit for an insight this awful) that “white nationalism is, for the basement dwelling 4chaners, mouth breathing Redditors, and Youtube philosopher kings, nothing more than a desperate search for an alternative fatherland”. That search is what drove the alleged shooter from his Australian home. “The origin of my language is European, my culture is European, my political beliefs are European… most importantly, my blood is European”. To the alleged shooter his actual home was irredeemable. “What is an Australian but a drunk European?”
In each claim is a desperate narcissism, reaching for an imaginary identity when your existing accomplishments don’t match your personal ambitions. It’s tempting to extend that psychoanalysis. The alleged shooter’s fetish for imaginary “whites” is a cover for the trauma of being a nothing, disembodied. Or maybe the urge to order and rank the world into competing civilisations is a neurosis, like stacking your knives and forks in a row. Perhaps the pleasure he takes in trolling is jouissance, a momentary transgression in the service of briefly feeling. Yet those readings are weightless if they stand alone. The alleged shooter’s interior life is relevant, certainly so for a conviction on murder, but studying the actually existing politics that shaped his positions and actions seems more important than base speculation.
In The Invention of Tradition the historians Terence Ranger and Eric Hobsbawm argue that traditions, far from the ancient wisdoms of old, are often nothing more than recent beliefs that help foster a common identity when – to borrow from Said – “organic solidarities” like the family or village break down. The inventions are easy to spot in the courts and parliament where British ritual connects the two institutions to a pedigree and past that their move half away across the world broke. In the neo-fascist movement the inventions are slightly more subtle, taking actual historical happenings like the Crusades and pick-and-mixing the symbols (Knights Templar), battles (Acre 1189), and language (deus vult) that they can contort around the various anti-Muslim bigotries.
The idea that traditions are a kind of stand-in where old connections break down seems especially apt in settler colonies where the relationship to the past and a present community often amounts to nothing more than a shopping list of shared habits and references. Gumboots as culture. I appreciate that description could come across as banal, or even malicious, but it gets close to the impulses apparently guiding the alleged shooter: the search for meaningful political connections and political community. As he saw it Australia had no identity to offer. Instead he found his connection in an “imagined community” – in violent European nationalisms – and online.
“I am a racist”, the man writes in his manifesto. His neo-fascists comrades were too.

2

One of the first inspirations he cites is Luca Traini, a 28-year-old Italian neo-Nazi who, with a 9mm glock, went on a drive-by shooting injuring six African migrants in Macarata in 2018. The racist rampage lit a fuse under that year’s Italian general election. The left went after Matteo Salvini, the League Party leader, the same party in which Traini stood as a mayoral list candidate, for inspiring his violent work. In an ordinary election a political leader would make an immediate climb down, condemning Traini and his crimes. But Salvini, best known in the English-speaking world for closing harbours to refugees crossing the Med, was surprisingly consistent. He said the left had “blood on its hands” for packing the country with “illegal migrants”. The unspoken implication: Traini was doing his patriotic duty.
The alleged shooter, watching on from another hemisphere, found a brother in arms. The two men had built their identities around all the same hatreds and had clothed their boogeymen in all the same threads. One stitch for migrant “invaders”. Two stiches for liberals and Marxists, and a needle for the “race traitors” among them. But where the twin gunmen’s hatred really met, transforming from online big noting to a real-life passion, was in protecting “their” women. Traini undertook his crime as an apparent act of revenge against the three Nigerian refugees in court for killing 18-year-old Pamela Mastropietro.
In his manifesto the alleged shooter offers a similar provocation, taking 11-year-old Ebba Akerlund’s death as his red pill. In his self-mythologising, the Stockholm truck attack, a deadly terrorist attack that took Akerlund’s and four other lives, was his waking moment. “It was another terror attack in the seemingly never-ending attacks that had been occurring on a regular basis throughout my adult life,” he wrote. “But for some reason this was different”. What was that difference? Akerlund. An innocent. It’s a vile misuse – he doesn’t care for anyone or anything beyond himself – but the narrative demands an affect, the shooter turning in his coward’s rags for a knight’s armour.
For neo-fascists it’s essential to tell their origin stories through the opposite sex. For aspiring movement leaders like the alleged shooter it’s the fight to protect the “virtue” of “our women” against “Muslim rapists” that forces their hand. For lurkers, shitposters, and like-avores it’s the feminists and “Staceys” who never recognise the genius and vigour of their own race (plain meaning: “women don’t want me”) who lead them into fascism. Santa Barbara shooter Elliot Rodger, a martyr for beta males, undertook his crimes and suicide as an apparent act of “retribution” against women for denying him the sex and love he thought of as his by right.
This, not the customary declarations of love for the race, or even the thrill of sharing the same enemies, is usually the heart of online fascism – it’s a reaction against women.
In Male Fantasies the German sociologist Klaus Theweleit argues the fascist men who fought against the Weimar Republic from 1918 to 1933, and who went on to prominent positions and a political home in the Nazi regime, were in their heads and hearts afraid of women. For the “Freikorps” there were two womanly classes: White Women, “the nurses” representing order and servitude to men and country; and Red Women, “the communists” representing disorder, whoring, and the end of patriotic men. The latter were the women the paramilitary movement were under an obligation to kill. In one speech a general complains that when “a few old girls get blown up the whole world starts screaming about bloodthirsty soldiers”.
“As if women were always innocent,” he said.
This is why every fascist movement purges women first – metaphorically and actually. In Ruth Ben-Ghiat’s Italian Fascism’s Empire Cinema the American historian describes how films under the Duce’s regime “remove the Italian woman from the colonial space”, portraying the colonies as where men might find purpose through trans-national thuggery, and attacking women’s emancipation at home as a “corrupting” force and a check on the people’s success. The alleged shooter undertook his killings with similar illusions. That he could forge a new identity in gun fire and blood, and that liberated women (and Jews) were responsible for his personal and racial decline. In his manifesto the opening line is “it’s the birth rates”, repeated three times.
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THE WELLINGTON 15/3 VIGIL HELD AT THE BASIN RESERVE (PHOTO BY ELIAS RODRIGUEZ/GETTY IMAGES)
It’s easy to diagnose the same pathologies in his comrades. Game developers Zoë Quinn, Brianna Wu and media critic Anita Sarkeesian – the victims in 2014’s Gamergate troll – were made targets for harassment for no other reason than they were women crossing the border between a man’s stuff (the spacies) and a woman’s role (sex and housework). In New Zealand the death threats against Golriz Ghahraman, our first MP who arrived in New Zealand as a refugee, are so frequent Parliamentary Services ensures special protection for the Green MP. The critics go after Ghahraman for everything from fakery (her “CV” is a lie, she isn’t a “real refugee”) to acting as part of a globalist conspiracy to wipe out the white race. It’s impressively stupid, of course, but the point isn’t the truth in the charges. It’s that an Iranian-born woman sits in our parliament.
The same trolls go for the prime minister on Twitter’s #TurnArdern hashtag too, condemning Jacinda as a lazy woman (#parttimePM) who coasts along on nothing more than her femininity (“she’s a pretty communist”). That’s hardly out of the ordinary, of course. In the 2000s print commentators were comfortable enough to throw equally chauvinist slurs at Helen Clark, using “Helengrad” for Clark as the controlling woman and “political dominatrix” for ball-breaking the men around her. The difference is today’s trolls serve their sexism with Islamophobia on top. Last year activist Rangi Kemara found a telling correlation between tweeters of Turn Ardern and tweeters of Islamophobia. The Christchurch man selling MAGA hats – “Make Ardern Go Away” – on TradeMe once wrote he would destroy “mosque after mosque till I am taken out”.
Give me the misogynist, to corrupt an old saying, and I’ll show you the Islamophobe.
Simone Weil, the French philosopher, would recognise in the turn to Europe – and the turn against women – a classic “uprooting”. In almost every country material comfort and security often rely on cutting the cord between a person, the past, and a present community: removing Indigenous people from their land; separating citizens from their homes and families in one place for work in another; and reducing people to their supposedly “innate” categories (race, gender, etc). These uprootings, in Weil’s words, are a “sickness of the soul” that leave men especially vulnerable to demagoguery. In their search for past and present connections they turn to “false conceptions” like patriotism and national greatness, and at the core of each in 2020: hatred for and fear of women.

3

What’s notable about this neo-fascist movement isn’t necessarily its reach but its mode. Online, yes, but more importantly: politically free. Other than finance, the alleged shooter had no political or bureaucratic restraints. He could post all the tell-tale things he apparently did, and it seemed neither the police nor the spy agencies would ever flag it. He could acquire the semi-automatic weapon the Crown charge him with using with nothing more than a gun licence – and the seller was under no obligation to log the purchase. And he could move between Australia and New Zealand’s practically open borders with only a passport and a straight face for the eGate.
I hope you register the irony in this. Borders were the very thing the alleged shooter was desperate to enforce against the Muslim hordes. After moving to New Zealand, ostensibly to plan an attack back home, the 28-year-old found instead that “the invaders were in all of our lands”. Even at the bottom of the world in formerly lily-white Christchurch. “Nowhere was safe”, he wrote. The alleged shooter, in a bonfire of pomposity and self-regard, actually did think himself at the centre of a civilisational struggle between the out-bred West and Islam. In the mind of the manifesto writer, massacring Muslims would enforce the borders the supposed sell outs in government wouldn’t.
But in allegedly killing the innocent people he did he wasn’t taking on a powerful soon-to-be majority. Rather, on one side is the 28-year-old with all his political and social freedoms, and on the other are the shooting’s victims who were living their lives under significant political and social restraints. The spy agencies were dedicating their resources to “Islamic terrorism”, not the alleged shooter’s terrorism. Police commit more resources to “street gangs” – that is, Māori – and barely even bother with the alleged shooter’s brothers and sisters in white power. The immigration department, as any anecdote can confirm, focuses disproportionate attention on non-white entries, and the only people who move freely between borders are people like the 28-year-old.
In short: non-white people live their lives under scrutiny and surveillance.
The government’s official response to the Christchurch shooting is to extend that scrutiny and surveillance to, well, white people. Jacinda Ardern is leading reforms to gun laws and the rules governing how online users share violent, racist, and other objectionable material. Last month the country’s top spies told a parliamentary select committee that they’re keeping watch on dozens of suspect characters. Police, even a year on, are still making home visits to destroy illegal weapons and otherwise interview lurkers and posters. The changes, taken together, rightly remove the freedom and options the alleged shooter had, and make it almost impossible for his comrades to organise.
Yet as good and necessary as those changes are some of the structural conditions that produce the racial distinctions the alleged shooter holds so dear are left intact.
In organised debating one of the famous moots is the “balloon debate”. In it each speaker, usually arguing on behalf of someone famous, proposes why the others shouldn’t toss him or her over the side of a hot air balloon in order to save the others. It’s a riveting hypothetical, placing six people in disaster’s mouth and exercising the collective choice to doom one and rescue the others. But for anyone who understands how it feels to have their apparent merits and demerits subject to “debate”, with someone else drawing up a balance sheet in red and black, it’s horrendous. The idea is we’re born equal, but after that all bets are off. This is what women, takatāpui, Māori, Muslims, and other deviations from the “norm” deal with most days.
Are we worthy?
It’s the same principle that organises immigration to New Zealand: who’s worthy? In our system the government literally attaches “points” to the world’s hopeful according to their potential for improving the lives of the hosts. Good English? Points. A tertiary qualification? Add to the tally. Assets? You’re basically in. The system’s political champions admire this approach for its rationality. Unlike the US where immigration sometimes relies on a lottery – eg the American Diversity Immigrant Visa – or just keen racism – i.e. the Muslim travel ban – New Zealand immigration is hassle-free and non-discriminatory.
It’s a self-serving argument, of course, because an immigration system where the purpose and function is defining inclusions and exclusions (who’s in and who’s out) is never neutral. When Winston Peters calls for tighter English language requirements, for example, that’s really an argument for conferring an advantage on applicants from the Anglosphere over people with equivalent skills or greater need from other parts of the world. This isn’t explicitly discriminatory, at least in the sense the exclusionary threshold doesn’t depend on a person’s race, but the impact is racist in that one group of people (mostly white) enjoy an advantage over another group (mostly non-white) thanks to nothing more than the great good fortune of being born an English speaker.
It’s a perversity. Yet this is what border systems, including our points system, do: they force you to think about inners and outers. The threshold between the worthy and the unworthy. This is one reason the refugee-led campaign to end the “family link policy” was so important. In removing the rule barring African and Middle Eastern refugees from settling in New Zealand (unless their family were already here) the campaigners saw to one of the worst racial exclusions our border system made. If you’re an optimist you might hope the other racist exclusions in our border laws – like The Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act, the legislation stripping Samoans of their Privy Council-confirmed New Zealand citizenship – are but a campaign away from abolition.
I’m a pessimist.
I suspect most people imagine borders as objects, a line in the ground demarcating our country from theirs. Yet the American southern border, as one example, is notable more for “the Wall’s” absence than its presence. The northern border is even less dramatic, a largely wide-open space with fences here and there to pen in the farm animals. In New Zealand airlines usually enforce the country’s borders thousands of kilometres from our actual line on the map. Under the Advance Passenger Screening programme carriers only board passengers with the appropriate documentation.
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A POLICE OFFICER DEMONSTRATES ILLEGAL GUN MODIFICATIONS. (PHOTO: RNZ / ANA TOVEY)
It’s another marvellous technocratic achievement, appointing airline staff as de facto border patrol agents. But like the points system the screening programme’s impacts can end up perverse and racial making it almost impossible for refugees and asylum seekers from “non-visa waiver countries” (i.e. the developing world) from ever making it far enough to lodge a claim for protection in New Zealand. The programme, more than anything else, exposes borders for what they really are – a list of biased inclusions and exclusions – and the structural violence borders perform are in whom they include (the English-speaking, the educated, the wealthy) and who they exclude (the desperate, the poor, the mostly brown and black).
The alleged shooter and the neo-fascist movement understand a struggle is happening over the nature and function of borders. This man recognised new borders – the “balkanisation of the US” – as the only way to guarantee “the future of the White race on the North American continent”. His comrades, like the neo-Nazi who went on a stabbing riot on a train in Oregon, claim their end goal is smashing the US into competing ethno-states. For them – and their king in President Trump – reconfiguring the borders, whether as policy changes to the inclusions and exclusions or new border lines entirely, is the best way to guarantee their political supremacy this century.
Are borders by their very nature racist?

4

I took my last trip to Christchurch a month and a half after March 15. I had a speaking engagement with Network Waitangi Otautahi, the local tauiwi Treaty group. I thought about putting it off. Post-March 15 the only conversations that seem urgent and necessary are about March 15. Taking up space felt wrong, and even stepping off the plane felt intrusive. The city was grieving. Even the affect was off. People were unusually quiet in public spaces. In private one person I spoke to was literally in tears. We weren’t talking about March 15 at all but she was thinking about it every day. Even that felt like I was taking up space. Am I here to grieve too? I thought about Sam Neill breaking down in a taxi when the news broke, openly weeping, and how he took comfort from his Muslim driver.
Hmmm.
I spoke, in the end. Not entirely comfortably, but an intervention of one kind or another felt right after the racism debate went from “individual hate” to “firearms access” to “the internet”. Each is its own valid connection, sure, but it felt as if all the most important connections were missing. In the English-speaking world it’s fashionable to name private, individual acts as “racist”. The intolerant, unfair, or simply racial things that fall out of people’s mouths. Like “cheeky darkies” on the 7pm telly. But it’s unfashionable, of course, to name racist systems. Instead bureaucrats and opinion-makers opt for euphemisms like “unconscious bias”, reducing racism to a state of mind and not a systemic design.
This is why I thought it important to issue a reminder, in the very small way that I could: racism is a social relation. It’s the principle governing the relationship between coloniser – the people who took this land and built the institutions to control and profit from it – and colonised, the people from whom the land was taken and the institutions built to protect and exploit the founding theft. The same principle shapes the relationship between citizens – people who enjoy all the rights the state confers – and non-citizens, outsiders who must prove their worth through their contribution to citizens.
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These are the systemic conditions that produce racism – unequal power relations – and it’s what makes it so easy to condemn the Māoris or the immigrants or whoever else. When one people are up and the other are down, and the scales are apparently resistant to any remedial attempts to balance them with Treaty settlements or an increase in the refugee and asylum seeker quota, it makes it seem as if their disadvantage is a state of nature and not a centuries-long project to exclude certain people from prosperity. To the alleged shooter his victims were by their very nature irredeemable, abusing the West’s generosity, and he understood himself as enacting the same permanent exclusions his ancestors made, from the Crusades to the war on terror.
In this sense, the alleged shooter was an individual racist. Of course he was. But in another sense he was taking our exclusionary systems to their logical end.
Is there any response to savagery like this? The government’s reforms are one. I entirely support them. And yet they fall so short. People will still define their identity in different nationalisms, just like the alleged shooter did, so long as there are racist border system to enforce them. Neo-fascists will still define their identities against women as long as there is an unequal “domestic sphere”, an unequal workplace, and a society where one group – men – accumulate and exercise disproportionate power over another – women, trans people, non-binary people. That makes the struggle against the alleged shooter’s politics longer than his trial, his probable conviction, and his probable imprisonment. It’s a generations-long struggle to destroy all the exclusions that make up our society and produce the conditions we know as racism.
On my read Simone Weil’s original, vital insight is that as people and communities we find our identities in the obligations we owe – and in the obligations owed to us. In those reciprocal relationships we find meaning and purpose. In the give and take, in its delights and frustrations, and in the everyday work of making a home in these islands. This is where we find our roots, connecting to each other in different ways – whether as Māori or women or Muslims – but never excluding. “They are us” is an inclusion. They are us is an affirmation. They are us is also an urgent and uncomfortable call to action. As New Zealanders, it’s our responsibility to take on every exclusionary system, whether it’s racist borders or enduring gender roles. The memory of those who lost their lives on March 15 demands no less."
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Deathbound XX - The Valkyrie Ascends

Dangit. I keep making chapters that are too big. There is a small part that is continued in the comments.
First
Previous
 
 
Admiral Stephen Dai – Dimensional Plane of Earth – U.N. Headquarters, New York City, U.S.A. – 5 Years and 50 days since the Infernal invasion of Earth
 
Three days of working. Three days of furious activity to try and overcome the other lobbyists and entrenched vested interests who wanted their own cut of the supposed cake. Stephen was grateful for the EU’s full commitment and support to the plan they had to try and change the agenda, by basically doing a blitz attack at every meeting. It was something that Stephen couldn’t have accomplished with just his allotted U.N. staff.
In that sense it was serendipitous that the previous resolution was passed with such ease. Apparently, the EU, for once unanimously, was furious at China, Amerika and India, for pushing through the withdrawal of ships and troops to prevent an escalation of the gnome-halfling civil war on Pygmia. And now, faced with so many issues such as other civil wars, a devil who wants to defect, a new, modern, human God, and new magical firearms, the EU felt their influence slipping once again and decided to take initiative and for once let their voices be heard.
First, they successfully lobbied the African member states and Mars. Then they overwhelmed the meetings with man power, something that the EU could always easily do in thanks to its many seats, rather than just the single American or Indian team. And by the time the rest knew what was happening to the agenda, the EU had already gotten the approval of the agenda through. The next days there was a harsh push back, but ultimately the lobbying, the bias of the agenda, and a few particular arguments won the day and had gotten the new resolution passed.
By pushing Sam forward as a solution rather than a problem, the EU and Stephen could broker a deal. Sam would be ‘allowed’ to be worshipped by Arenal peoples. If anything, it was a good experiment on what would happen and what was possible. Fears were lessened by the fact that she was definitely not stronger than multiple nukes, let alone the Heavenly Dragon’s railgun, as various experiments and clashes with other Gods had shown. More importantly, she was young, abided by the rule of law, obeyed orders, and intimately understood humanity and its cultures. Her therapeutic issues were actually like to improve if humanity accepted her rather than rejected her.
Equally she could be a solution for other problems. She could intervene in various civil wars, and keep a realistic, less nuke-happy eye on the other Gods. She had also shown aptitudes for magical weapons in the past and could experiment with new designs that were already being drawn up, or serve as a viable, collateral damage-free method of countering the new magical weapons that were being produced in Pygmia. But most importantly, she was neutral.
Stephen hammered on this for three days straight. If human Gods were possible, and were a source of power, then human Gods were inevitable. That was just basic game theory. And would you rather have someone who listened to orders and served the U.N. and left Earth to be Earth, or have a religious arms race between the various super powers much like you had with the capital dreadnoughts that had planet cracking railguns?
In effect, Stephen presented it like the superpowers of old presented nukes. Everyone wants one and wants to prevent the other from having one. If someone will inevitably have the first one, best it be the U.N. that was legally the most restrained and beholden to the member states in almost every way possible. And as an added bonus they could observe and learn from Sam, whilst staying relatively blame free if something happened.
After three days of lobbying, debates, backdoor discussions and negotiations, the moment was finally here. “And with a counted majority of votes, the resolution passes.” The Speaker said as he hammered the gavel on his desk.
Stephen smiled. “Well, that’s a first.” He mused.
“Well, it’s about damn time.” Amanda said as she stood up and clapped. “It’s rare that things go our way.”
“Ah, just you watch, something bad will come our way. I’m just glad our subordinate didn’t get thrown under the bus for something she had no real control over.” Stephen replied.
“Oh, I’m sure some member states are already coming up with some nasty resolutions to try and use her for their own gain.” Vice-admiral Hank McDowell commented as he clapped from his seat.
“Let’s not forget the caveats that we had to agree to in order to prevent the vetoes.” Amanda said as she unsubtly glanced at the various representatives in the room.
“I know, I know. Deals aren’t made without a significant cost. Though I suppose these ones are bearable enough.” Stephen replied.
“Still though, letting the member states choose which conflicts to interfere with? I thought you went mad and had gone all Pragmatist on me.” Hank said as he leaned in closer.
“Well, one day you’ll have my job, and you’ll see what I’ve always said.” Stephen replied to Hank.
“Bad things always happen, best to let them happen when you have an advantage and can leverage it? That one?” Amanda said.
“Well, one day you’ll have his job, and you’ll see what I’ve always said.” Stephen said to Amanda.
“With all this upheaval, you’re sure that a civilian will get the position again?” Hank asked with a sly smile.
“Well, one day you’ll – “
“Oh, shut your yap, old man.” Amanda said as she laughed and sat back down.
Hank chuckled but continued the question. “Still though, those caveats.”
“A third round of negotiations, I suppose. I don’t doubt we’ll get our asses handed back to us. On these points the EU is too divided.” Stephen answered. “Northern and Western Europe want to rescue this ‘Souya’ first under the guise of intervening in the dimensional plane of Ljosalfar first, even if it risks an all-out war.”
“Yes, but the more religious countries still distrust the undead lich and naturally distrust him. Not to mention the newly U.N. appointed God that’s still possessed by a devil, even though that’s still classified. Gee, I wonder why they want them to prove themselves first a bit more before going to Ljosalfar.” Amanda commented.
“And since the African bloc is also quite religious, we’ll probably have to swallow a lot of crap first and go and end slavery in Draconia. I wonder why a historically oppressed continent has that as a preference.” Hank commented just as drily as Amanda did. “Not to mention that India and China are deathly curious as to what happens when hundreds of millions of kobolds worship a U.N. controlled ‘asset’.”
“And we’ll get all the blow back and criticism on how to deal with removing the old regime, dealing with divine and magical threats, installing a new order, and maintaining enough funds to handle the necessary infrastructure projects as well as building the vital education, law, health and just general ‘keep-society-going’ institutions from scratch, whilst fending off the neo-colonial impulses of all the newly elected Pragmatists out there. I know, I know, yet more overtime for everyone and we’re going to get yelled at a lot, by our peers, the media, the public, and our subordinates behind our backs.” Stephen sighed out.
Then he smiled. “But we’re one step closer to doing something good, and that’s a good enough deal for me.”
 
 
SpecOps Commander Sam Robinson – The Valkyrie – Dimensional Plane of Arenal – U.N. Base’s Main Drill Square, Ringtown – 5 Years and 52 days since the Infernal invasion of Earth
 
“And do you hereby swear to uphold the main principles of the United Nations of Humanity, and respect and obey the combined wishes and commands of its subsidiaries and member states, in order to defend humanity from threats both within and without?” Admiral Stephen asked as Sam kept her right hand on her heart and her left hand up, the elbow to the side and up in a ceremonial 90-degree angle.
Sam looked around at the massive crowd that was in front of her. Most were colleagues, various squads or military support staff. But in front there was the horseshoe of literally a hundred camera’s, all pointed at her. “I hereby swear to do so.”
“And do you hereby swear to perform your new duties in a manner that is conducive and compliant with humanity’s and the United Nations’ norms and values and keep to the law where applicable, and that you shall maintain the mission of defence first, never to take action aggressively against an innocent or to do so in an illegal, vicious and cruel, or otherwise disproportional manner?” Stephen asked.
That was a new section. People were, rightly so, afraid of her powers, but realized she was on their side. Sam was grateful for that. She knew she had a devil problem inside of her, but it was also the reason why she was now capable of this, floating in the air, glowing with power as she took her oath. “I hereby swear to do so.”
“And do you hereby swear to do so until the end of your life, no matter how long it may be? And continue to do so if you ever come back to life?” Stephen asked as a last question.
That last sentence had been a real issue in the media, everywhere. Sam swallowed as she once more stared at the thousands of people in front of her. The whole situation was strange. So real, yet like a dream. Like she had a massive burst of adrenaline in her but was running around in her sleep. She took a deep breath, then another, and answered. “I hereby swear to do so.”
“Then I hereby promote you to the special rank of Guardian of Order and Defense, of the U.N.S.D.F.’s Special Forces.” Stephen said with a smile. “May you prosper and defend us all.”
Sam smiled in return. She wasn’t getting any special medals or clothes. Instead, the admiral was handed a small wooden box that held her new rank in the form of some special chevrons. It was the symbol of the United Nations, surrounded by a pair of cupping hands, as though they were her hands protecting all of humanity.
As Sam shook all sorts of hands of various representatives and of course saluted the admiral, she couldn’t help but wonder what a strange journey it had been for her. She had been an emotional wreck for years and resented both the devil, the psychiatrist she had to work with, and lately the alcohol and information restriction she was under. But things were definitely looking up. It was good to have a sense of hope and receive goodwill, especially under such circumstances. Better yet, the meditations and other techniques and good habits that Karla was teaching her were slowly but surely working.
Sure, it still sucked to mandatorily have Vee present around her at all times and the devil inside her. But maybe the admiral would let her drink tonight, in celebration. Sam realized that for the first time in a long time, she felt better about herself. Not super good or anything, just not like she was in another rut or bad day. She could do this. She wanted to do this. Like he had always wanted. Even that felt less like a burden of a dying man, and more something that came from Sam herself. Maybe Karla was right, and she was finally moving on after all these years.
It’d be 8 years soon since she lost him.
“Hey, admiral, I’m allowed to drink tonight right?” Sam asked.
“Of course, just keep it celebratory.” Stephen answered with a wink.
 
 
Mage Arundosar – The Bastard of Naumdal – Dimensional Plane of Arenal – U.N. Base’s bar, Ringtown – 5 Years and 52 days since the Infernal invasion of Earth
 
“Oh, god! I juzz miss him sooo much, you know!” The G.O.D. Valkyrie, or Sam, said as she cried drunkenly onto the shoulder of admiral Stephen, while Arundosar, and the rest of the original Paladin squad looked on with sympathetic eyes.
“Oh, honey, we know. We miss him too. But… could you maybe stop floating upside down? It’s freaking people out.” Jacqueline said as she tried to somehow pet Sam’s head but had to do that in an inverted manner as well. It was like Jacqueline was weirdly cupping Sam’s upside-down head.
“Wuzzah? Oh, nooo. This way all the snot stays in my nose.” Sam answered. “I’m sorry I’m crying you guys! We should be celebrating!”
“Yes… we should.” The admiral awkwardly said as he desperately looked around crestfallen as his colleagues and subordinates all seemed ready to abandon him to a night of a wet and heavy shoulder.
“Perhaps no more drinks for… her?” The newly introduced Amanda Waters said. Arundosar had sometimes seen her before, but never met her. She seemed alright, though clearly, she didn’t know what she was saying with Sam within earshot.
“Wuah!? Nooo!” Sam said she floated towards Amanda and in a weird pose hugged her while upside down. It sounded like she was saying something, or perhaps Amanda was saying, but the only sound Arundosar could hear was a muffled sobbing sound.
“Oh, thank God.” The admiral quietly sighed out as he looked at the damage done to his uniform.
“I mean, I never met him, same as Alix, but all the times you’ve spoken of him, he always sounded like the nicest man ever.” Arundosar said.
“Yeah, and I am damn sure he didn’t want you crying right now.” Myrael said as he sipped a bit of his beer. “Come on, miss Gee-Oh-Dee, let’s celebrate while I pretend that my grandma didn’t call me five times today to try and condemn your new title and make me standup to my boss to get you a different title.”
Arundosar bursted out laughing as the admiral shot an awkward glance at Myrael, and then just shrugged. “Wasn’t my idea to call her that. It was one of the member states, and they all just went with it. You’ll want to blame Denmark.”
“Denmark. Great, now my grandma is going to rile up her church against Denmark. I bet she doesn’t even know where that is.” Myrael drily remarked.
“At least she doesn’t know about the other dude that’s sometimes at the steering wheel.” Alix said, prompting Sam to cry harder.
“Uuh, ah, crap.” Alix said as angry looks went her way. “My bad! Uh, Sam, want another drink?”
“Yes – “ Sam said as she instantly turned around and went for a hug with Alix as Amanda stood there, red-faced and paralyzed as various wet streaks glistened on her face.
“ – No!” Most of the assembled crowd of U.N. marines and officials loudly said.
Sam started to pout and sat down in a childish pose as she was still sort of sobbing while upside down. “Ah, oh, I know!” Alix said. “Let’s go watch the fireworks!”
“Fireworks? There’s fireworks?” Admiral Stephen asked.
“Haha, yeah, of course, remember!? Sir!?” Alix said in a badly acted manner as she elbowed Arundosar harshly in his arm.
“Ah, wha - ?” Arundosar asked.
“Well… I like fireworks. Okay, I guess.” Sam said as she stopped sniffling.
“Roger that!” Vee said as three massive armoured suits appeared out of nowhere and somehow grabbed Sam and pushed her like a balloon to outside of the bar.
Immediately Arundosar felt another heavy jab in his arm. “Just make some lights in the sky, you can do magic!” Alix quietly hissed in Arundosar’s ear. After all these years, humans were still so very strangely subtly unsubtle.
“Ah, oh, okay. Uh – “ Arundosar sort of stammered as he already got escorted outside by Myrael and Alix. “Just pretty lights, right? Uh… uh-oh.”
“Where’s the fireworks!?” Arundosar heard Sam shout as she started to fly higher and glow brighter, despite three suits clinging on to her limbs.
“Oh, that’s 9 tons of weight. I feel like alcohol-induced lowered inhibitions mixed with fireworks might’ve been a bad idea, lieutenant Alix Natarajan.” Admiral Stephen said sternly as he calmly walked behind them, causing Alix to poke and jab Arundosar harder.
“Shit! Somehow this turned into a career thing, fuck! Do something, magic drow!” Alix cursed and hissed as she accidentally jabbed him in the head instead of the arm. “Ah, haha, right on it admiral, sir! Fireworks and entertainment are coming!”
Slightly put off by the constant jabbing and various desperate pleas for help, Arundosar decided to fly away from Alix a bit. Still muttering his complaints, Arundosar produced a few balls of glowing lights that consisted of multiple smaller lights and a tiny delayed fireball in the middle. He pushed them out into the open night sky, but not anywhere near the spacedocks, the ring structure, or any of the high rises. Once the balls arrived, he started to explode them. It took some effort to do so many from 20 meters away, but it helped that they were small explosions.
As he felt most of the balls exploding, producing a slow falling shower of glistening lights of various colours that he had seen before in human shows, Arundosar started to make more balls to replace the ones that had been expended.
“Wooh! More!” Sam shouted as she drifted closer to the fireworks.
“Uh. Maybe you shouldn’t fly so close.” Arundosar heard Vee say despite the distance as many others started to join them outside to see what the commotion was all about.
Arundosar awkwardly glanced back at Alix as he saw the crowd quickly growing to hundreds of people, all looking and gawking at his improvised fireworks. “I don’t know how long I can keep this up! And I don’t know how to do one of those massive finales that I saw during your New Year’s ceremonies, without actually damaging the surrounding buildings!” Arundosar unsubtly shouted at Alix, deliberately within earshot of admiral Stephen.
“Ah, crap, crap, crap.” Alix said as she started to frantically pace in place. “Uh, oh, I know!” She shouted and started to run around like crazy, looking for someone.
Arundosar sighed heavily and imagined face palming himself at the sheer stupidity of Alix as he slowly realized what she was doing. After half a minute she found him. The small party of twenty or so armoured suits all surrounded a disguised Death and Sex God was walking around the edge of the terrain, not fully allowed in due to wanting to quarantine the Absolute Worst away from interesting social gatherings. And by association the lich, being the only one who could feasibly counter him without a lot of collateral damage. “Oh, no.” Arundosar muttered as he saw Alix worm her way through the suits and talking to the two of them.
“What is she doing!?” The admiral loudly complained.
“Digging her own grave? Should I start drafting the letters of reprimand and disciplinary actions?” Amanda suggested as she started to laugh.
Arundosar slowly stopped making new orbs and began to land, readying himself for whatever horrid images would appear in the sky. And as expected, just as his feet touched ground, he could see streaks of light shoot out from the group as they walked closer. The lights gathered in the night air, high above them. As it grew, it spiraled outwards, until more and more lights joined them, slowly forming an image.
“Boooh!” Myrael shouted as Arundosar looked on, not sure what he was seeing. It seemed like a star, or a starfish but with many limbs, but it was brown and –
“Booooh! You suck!” The magically enhanced voice of the Valkyrie came through. “Booooh, show something else!”
Then Arundosar quickly diverted his eyes and felt himself blush as he realized what he was looking at. “Ooooh, dear.”
He had expected the admiral to explode in anger, but all the old man did was sigh loudly and pinch the bridge of his nose. The admiral turned to Myrael and loudly gave an order. “Lieutenant Myrael Brown! Get your colleague under control!”
“Yes, sir!” Myrael answered with a heavy slap of a salute, and instantly started cursing and running towards the approaching suits group, now within shouting distance.
Arundosar didn’t dare look up, but all he heard was gasps and awes of the crowd behind him as their faces lit up by the lights in the sky. There were plenty of ‘wooohs’ as well as plenty of ‘booos’.
Then he heard cursing and short screams. Startled Arundosar looked up again and saw hundreds of darker and larger lights, displaying all sorts of horrid and rotting undead creatures like ghasts and wights clawing and scraping away the image of what seemed to be a panda in the midst of a sexual act.
“Oh, for the love of – “ The admiral shouted as he witnessed more undead horrors appear and a graphic dismemberment of the panda took place in the air above them. “Technical Lieutenant Þorgeir Steingrímursson - !”
“Yessir!” Þorgeir saluted instantly, not letting the admiral finish. But instead of going to the group, he instead grabbed a small pebble and threw it at Sam while he loudly cursed and complained. It was an instant hit that gently bounced against her back. “Oy, Sam!”
The Valkyrie slowly turned around, her attention clearly grabbed by the strange intermingling of graphic, horrid violence, and bestiality. “Yeah? Wassup?”
“Admiral here will buy you a whole bottle of the finest whiskey if you do a better finale.” Þorgeir shouted.
“What!?” Admiral Stephen shouted.
“It wasn’t my problem, it’s not my solution, sir!” Þorgeir replied as he saluted with a massive grin on his face.
As Arundosar witnessed the momentous occasion of the admiral facepalming himself, he got distracted by a loud and whooping cheer, coming from the Valkyrie. Arundosar looked around to see what she was doing and instantly gasped and recoiled as he saw her shoot violent jets of fire and blasts of lightning, all condensed in a whirling tornado of dark clouds ominously lit up by the light of the lightning.
The crowd gasped, but unlike Arundosar’s first reaction, they all started clapping. Humans were truly strange at times, they witnessed the raw power of a God and simply cheered like it was a quaint little show.
“Look, I can do it with two hands!” The Valkyrie shouted as she started to point one of her hands shooting fire at the undead lights, and the other shooting lightning at the depraved lights. It was nothing less than an apocalyptic sight as though an angry God was coming down to smite blasphemers. As the lights slowly died out, or rather, the other Gods understood the hint, the night sky got filled more and more with the Valkyrie’s lightning and jets of fire, casting a strobe-like effect on the crowd below, like one of those infernal human clubs Arundosar went to once.
“Wooooh! I bet I can do this!” The Valkyrie shouted as the violence stopped and instead Arundosar felt a heavy pressure coming from her. She was pouring energy into a ball, like he was, except much, much more than could possibly be safe.
“Ah, uh. I-I’m not sure if that’s a good idea!” Arundosar shouted up.
“Ah, shaddap. I got dis! I just watched you do it, it can’t be that hard!” The Valkyrie drunkenly shouted back.
“If we die here, you’re all fired.” The admiral slowly drawled out, yet he refused to move. More energy than Arundosar was capable of was pouring into that ball of energy that was slowly building, yet no human seemed to be alarmed. Why were they so confident, so brazen about it? What was wrong with them!?
“What’s wrong with you!?” Arundosar shouted as he put his barrier and poured his energy into it. “If that explodes here, we’ll definitely all be dead!”
No less than a second later the Valkyrie indeed exploded it. But rather than producing a massive world-ending blast, it simply shot upwards, like a missile. It accelerated fast, letting the intimidating blaze echo out across and against the buildings around them. It went up, faster and higher, until the white ball of pure destructive energy was nothing but a small pinprick, almost like a big star.
Then it exploded into a small fire. Then the small fire got bigger, and lightning appeared once more. Then it grew and grew until Arundosar hide it behind his hand. Then, thinking it was done exploding, it simply accelerated in its growth, causing Arundosar’s adrenaline to spike. A pulse of white light blasted outward and the cloud of fire and lightning mixed into a dazzling display of the worst violence nature could produce. It was then that Arundosar realized that she was indeed doing exactly what he was doing. Fire balls and lightning blasts stacked on top of each other, each blasting another outwards and producing a chain reaction of more spells activating, creating a red and blue night sky of pure destruction.
The spells grew outward until they finally swallowed the full nights’ sky. Arundosar heard the crowd oooh and aaah, cheering and clapping as they did so. But before it was over a heavy wind picked up and started to seem like the beginnings of a heavy storm and started to hit the crowd.
“Oh, yeah, I forgot about the shockwaves. We should go inside.” The Valkyrie shouted as she started to fly down.
“Hey, that was a great show, it was awesome! Don’t worry about a little wind.” Jacqueline had to shout to be heard over the heavy winds as the lights in the sky died down and the crowd started to move inside the bar again.
“Yeah, the admiral owes me a drink!” The Valkyrie shouted as she grabbed Jacqueline by the arm and started to fly inside.
Arundosar, still relatively calm behind his barrier, looked at the admiral. In his glance, Arundosar shared everything he could think of. “You humans are still very strange.”
“At least it wasn’t a nuke, and no one died. Could be worse.” The Admiral shrugged.
“Oh yeah, isn’t that how you lost your eye?” Amanda shout-asked as the winds continued.
“Wait, you survived a nuke!?” Arundosar shouted as he joined them into the bar.
 
 
Captain Grutak – The Yipping Rebel – Dimensional Plane of Arenal – Kobold Quarters, Ringtown – 5 Years and 53 days since the Infernal invasion of Earth
 
The humans were acting strangely. Grutak and his fellow kobolds had all jumped and celebrated with great joy as he heard that the admiral and their own God were going to visit them. Better yet, his lawyers told him that they’d bring good news and probably were there to discuss future plans of maybe helping free some slaves.
But when confronted with the impromptu show that the kobolds had frantically put up as a form of thank you, the humans all seemed to laugh instead of applauding. Their own God, the Valkyrie, even groaned at times.
“And so, I swear, by all that is holy, if I must, I shall sacrifice myself for the greater good of all beings! Not just humans, but kobolds too! And I shall do so with my own blood, sweat, and tears!” The acting kobold yipped as she briefly lifted the printed-out paper mask of the Valkyrie’s face to quickly sip from the holy whiskey bottle. Then she coughed violently as she pushed the poison down, a testament of her dedication to her craft and her God. But again, the humans laughed.
Those red curtains then closed, or rather, got pulled closer by multiple kobolds who were stacked on top of each other, as they couldn’t afford one of those fancy rail systems that the humans had in their movies and theatres. But for once the humans finally started to applaud.
The stage director came up and quickly yipped his rehearsed apology as the applause died down. “Ah, that was the end of act 1. We would have more, but we didn’t know you were coming so soon! Please accept my deepest and most sincere apologies, oh great defender, but if you give us a few more weeks, then we would probably be done with rehearsing the great battle scene and we could show you act 2, maybe even the final act where you defeat the great Draconic Tyrant!”
“Yeah, no, that’s fine. Take all the time you need. And you guys know that you don’t have to drink real whiskey on stage, right?” The Valkyrie said as her glowing face looked a bit annoyed in the front row. “In fact, I am pretty sure I told you specifically to not drink that stuff, it’s poison.”
“But you drink it. Why shouldn’t we?” Grutak yipped as he appeared from behind one of the curtains.
“Because… I… Just, do as I say, not as I do!” The Valkyrie responded with a huff, causing more humans to laugh around her. It was so strange, so very strange. She was their God, and Grutak and his fellow kobolds were doing their best to show her the greatest of respect and gratitude, for rescuing their lives and giving them their freedom. And yet her fellow humans were laughing in such a casual manner, as though they were used to such grand acts of devotion.
“What she meant is that while your dedication to her is definitely appreciated, it would be better if you found a less self-harming way of doing it.” Admiral Stephen said, also from the front row. “After all, the point of her sacrifice was to make sure you all stayed safe. It’d be a bit strange to harm yourself to thank another for saving you, no?”
“Ah, well, sure. It’s not like we are forcing people to drink.” Grutak yipped. “We just started doing it because she does.”
“But we understand your meaning and we’ll do our best to try and understand?” Gary said as his deep voice came in, grumbling from the outside.
“Well, sounds like she should voluntarily stop drinking as well then, no?” The admiral said as he shot a glance towards the Valkyrie. In response she groaned, and the other humans laughed again.
“Hey, zip it!” She said as she turned around and looked around angrily. She sighed and turned back to Grutak. “And you all do realize that I was just one of a handful who died trying to protect you all, right? Why can’t you show the others some respect!?”
“Wah!” Grutak yipped out as he reflexively flinched. Then he patted his own body in disbelief. “Still alive!? Oh, right, you’re not a slave master.”
Somehow this caused the humans to groan, including the Valkyrie. Not fully understanding why, Grutak continued yipping. “Well, yes, we are showing them respect, but praying to them didn’t really work because, well, they didn’t come back from the dead. You did. I mean, did you see your own guts spilling out and your blackened body, all charred and smouldering, somehow getting up again!? That was a real miracle! So, we decided to pray exclusively to you instead, since you can do magic.”
“Right… Great.” The Valkyrie seemed to sigh out.
“What she means to say is that she appreciates your displays of gratitude, but that you shouldn’t feel obligated to elevate her above others who had fallen for the same cause.” Admiral Stephen said. “If anything, it’s a good thing that you pray only to her, since it’s only effective for her, it just seems strange, as she, and all of us, are still getting used to a human being worshipped. We famously lack magic, if you remember. Still, perhaps we can talk about making a statue of the others to show our mutual respect for them.”
“Right, that’s a great idea.” The Valkyrie said in response.
“Of course, that sounds wonderful.” Grutak yipped. “Ah, but you were here for other reasons as well, yes?”
“Yes. Of course. This was a nice introduction and show you gave us, but I suppose it is high time that we all go and discuss some more important items.” Admiral Stephen replied. “Ah, where should we go to –“
Grutak started clapping and yipping orders back and forth. In rapid motion dozens of kobolds all started cleaning up things and packing up all sorts of theatrical items. In a dozen seconds or so, all that was left was a newly brought in table with plenty of kobold sized chairs, with the holy altar dedicated to the Valkyrie and her holy whiskey in the background.
As the theatre curtains were removed and the holy image of the Valkyrie was removed more humans started laughing, but this time it seemed they were more hushed and snickering, rather than the loud outbursts they had before. Still, another half a minute later and Grutak sat down on his chair as other leaders of the community joined him by his side. Hantak, Mantak, Fortak and some new faces joined them. Briefly Grutak was saddened that Zratak and Xroftak couldn’t be here, they had died in that big fight.
Grutak looked around and saw some empty chairs on his side of the table. He stood up and looked around until he spotted them. “Hey, you! Come join us! The best way you can help us is by sitting next to us, how else are we supposed to do those hushed whispers?” Grutak yipped at Jeannette and Selene, two lawyers that were assigned to the kobold camp when they applied for asylum.
Once again, he heard the humans groan and laugh. Jeannette complained. “Those chairs are too small!”
“I’m grabbing this chair!” Selene said as she started dragging hers along.
“Ah, I’m sure none of that is necessary. We were here mostly to tour around and only have a short preliminary discussion. I think most of the actual detail can be discussed further in more spacious rooms at the U.N. base in Ringtown.” The Admiral responded.
“Oh, nono.” Grutak yipped. “This is how we’ve seen humans treat their guests in your movies, so we naturally must return the favour of your gracious welcoming of us and our fellow freed slaves, as well as for your continued protection. Please, come, take a seat. As your gracious host, I insist.”
Admiral Stephen and some other people on the front row looked at each other a bit questioningly, and then decided to stand up and take a seat at the smaller kobold-sized table. But strangely enough, there were no chuckles this time. Human humour was evidently difficult to understand.
“So, I understood a bit from these gracious lawyers that you wanted to talk to us about possibly helping us free my fellow kobolds in Draconia?” Grutak yipped enthusiastically.
“Ah, yes. In specific, these are exploratory talks to see what you know, what needs to be done, and the gap inbetween that we would then make our strategy on.” Stephen answered.
“Excellent!” Grutak yipped, his excitement barely contained. “Well, for what needs to be done, it would be freeing all slaves in Draconia – “
“And freeing my own people from the indoctrination of the tyrannical elders!” Gary interrupted from outside of the room.
“Right! And as for what you need to know, well, ask me what you wish.” Grutak yipped.
“Right, so in the weeks that you have been in the university, have you and your compatriots learned a bit about human society? And how we govern?” The admiral asked.
“Of course!” Fortak yipped in her higher pitched bark. “It’s been very interesting to learn about all sorts of wonderful things like electricity and steel manufacturing, or – “
“Ah, yes. We’ve also learned about human society.” Grutak yipped, trying to keep Fortak and the others on point. “Things like democracies, and freedom of speech, and especially the minority rights, those we really like.”
“Yes! I am actually quite fond of a bicameral parliamentary system, based on an extensive constitutional foundation that lays out an independently appointed judiciary!” Gary growled loudly, scaring some of the humans in the room. “I’d like to be a judge one day. I think it’d be swell.”
“Right. But have you also learned the exact studies that precede such things? Have any of you actually governed?” Stephen asked.
“Ah, I’m the most experienced here. I’ve been leading warbands since I escaped slavery some two decades ago.” Grutak yipped. “So, if you are talking about political things, uh, maybe?”
“Right. But do any of you know how to create a new government, from the ground up? Let alone run one?” Stephen asked.
“Ah, maybe?” Astak, a village elder yipped. “It can’t be that hard though, if that is what you are asking. You educate one child, you know how to educate a village. If you know how to hold together a village of 200, then you can do so for 2000, as I have been doing now for this current group of kobolds.”
“So, you would also know how to do it for 200 million kobolds?” The admiral asked, clearly still not very impressed by their answers.
“Uh, it’s a big number, but perhaps, yes?” Astak answered.
“How long in the day did you need to govern a village of 200?” Stephen asked then.
“About a quarter of the time between sunrise and sunset usually.” Astak yipped, then she hesitated. “Ah. It’s taking me a full day now.”
“For 200 million, you’d need a lot of you’s, and you’d need a good sense of coordination between you all. I mean, if that is what you want, as that is what you would need for a bicameral parliamentary republic. If you choose to have small villages everywhere, then it’d be a decentralized nation.”
“No! That’s how the old stories tell of us losing our power and making us weak and allowing the dragons to conquer us, as our old Gods fought each other first!” Grutak instantly yipped. “That can’t happen again! We stand strong together and must stay together!”
“So, then we have one question answered so far.” Stephen said. “Next items you’d have to think about is the sheer structure of, well, everything that encompasses society. That means legislature, law enforcement, health care, judiciary, penal system, education, food supply, economy, logistics and infrastructure, finances and taxes, not to mention what you’d want to do with land distribution, housing, bill of rights, individual rights and national rights, as well as everything else I haven’t mentioned yet.”
“Uh… we thought maybe you could do that for us?”
“Do you want us to become your new masters? Do you want to rely on us for everything?”
“Ah. I see where this is going.” Grutak yipped.
“Yes. And since you have visited us, this was no more than a polite way of saying that you can’t help us.” Astak yipped.
“Oh, no, we can. And we will.” The admiral said with a slight smile, causing Grutak and many others to light up with joy. “But…”
 
 
Continued in comments.
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All-Party Parliamentary Betting & Gaming Group. Published - March 2019. Published - March 2019. YGAM were delighted to join the APPG last week for a topical debate around ‘Are children gambling, and if so, what can be done about it?’ Lee Willows, Chief Executive of YGAM joined Ben Haden, Programme Director for Insight at the Gambling Title. All-Party Parliamentary Betting and Gaming Group. Purpose. To act as a forum for the discussion of issues concerning betting and gaming in the UK. The Parliamentary All Party Betting & Gaming Group launches its Review of the Gambling Act 2005 Pre-empting the review to be launched by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport at some time in the future, the only All Party Group to support the whole UK gambling industry launches its own review, to ensure an evidence-based submission can be submitted to the government. Topic - All Party Parliamentary Betting and Gaming Group. 5 Results. Regulation | Betting and gaming APPG launches stakeholder-led review of 2005 UK Gambling Act. News 17 April 2020. Regulation | Operator shares tumble as UKGC CEO reveals August online stake limit introduction. All-Party Parliamentary Groups are informal groups of Members of both Houses with a common interest in particular issues. The views expressed on this website are those of the Group. Nothing on this website may be copied, distributed or re-published, without the express permission of the All-Party Betting & Gaming Group.

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