Saturday, 30 August 2008

Solidarity with the striking journalists

If you had thought the strike of The Age’s journalists would attract some sympathy from the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) you are wrong. On the ALP’s website you find an article concerning “Protecting rights of workers & promoting balance between work and family”, however, it has nothing to do with striking workers in Victoria. When you click, you discover that’s very old hat. The article "Fresh Ideas For Work And Family" dates of 17 October 2007.

Under the date of 28th August 2008 the ALP pats the Brumby government on the shoulder by reproducing a government press release: “Highest ever Victorian business investment - New ABS figures released today show Victoria outperformed the Australian average by attracting the highest ever level of private new capital investment in the past quarter.” The loss of 550 jobs at Fairfax media is not worth being mentioned. Obviously the ALP doesn’t want to upset the owners of The Age.

Monarchists have nothing to lose and nothing to gain from The Age, therefore I can easily declare my full solidarity with the striking journalists of The Age. I wish them luck in their fight against the further decline of what was once a quality newspaper for Victoria.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Freedom of the press

When Paul Sethe (12. 12. 1901 - 21. 6. 1967) was publisher of the German daily newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung he pointed out: “The freedom of the press is the freedom of 200 rich people to express their opinion.”

These days we in Australia see this grim remark come true. After The Age’s editor-in-chief was sacked on Wednesday, this Friday the Sydney Morning Herald columnist Mike Carlton had to go. According to the ABC Carlton refused to write his regular column for the paper's Saturday edition because of the current strike by journalists and editorial staff. “He was told that he would no longer be writing for the newspaper as a result.”

The Australian media who so freely criticise everything and everyone – especially our Royal Family and the institution of the Australian Monarchy – cannot stand being criticised themselves.

Paul Sethe was wrong only in one aspect: In Australia it is not 200 people who can express freely what they want. The number is closer to 20.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

The Age kicks out staff

Fairfax media, owner of The Age, announced the sacking of 550 people – 390 in Australia, 160 in New Zealand. About 90 journalists will have to clear their desks.

The announcement came just eleven days after The Age proudly printed: “Today we are able to report on our quarterly circulation and readership figures, which are among the best The Age has ever recorded.” On the Monday to Friday level, The Age announced an increase of 3,000 or 0.4% compared with the June 2007 figures, The Saturday Age was up 0.5%, only The Sunday Age registered a drop of 3,000 readers.

In terms of money, The Age of 22nd August announced a net profit of $386,900,000 (+ 47%), revenue $2,900,000,000 (+34%).

These figures are just rubbish when it comes to real profit: “Fairfax Media’s pledge to scrap 5% of its staff within three months was rewarded with a 5% jump in the publisher’s battered share price.” (The article was published on 27th August only in the printed version of The Age, I did not find it online.) Good for the author who confessed he owns Fairfax Media shares. The sacking of 550 staff will bring Fairfax media an extra revenue of $50,000,000 and the shareholders a higher value in shares.

Today’s Age had problems explaining the jubilant figures the paper published last week: “What has happened in the intervening five days?”, asks Mathew Ricketson. He has difficulties finding an answer: “It is not at all clear. Fairfax media, as I wrote last week after the results announcement, has been trying for years to navigate its way through the gradual dismantling of the business model that has sustained newspapers for well over 100 years.” And then he continues a swan song on the printed media, that totally contradicts the bright outlook The Age itself distributed on 15th August 2008.

The self-praise was then written by Andrew Jaspan, The Age’s editor-in chief.

It seems, he became the first redundancy: The Age sacked its editor-in chief on Wednesday morning.

“In a note to staff, Mr Churchill said the company had ‘decided that for this next critical stage of The Age we would have fresh editorial and executive leadership’.

"’The editorial leadership team have my highest confidence. I know they will excel in leading the editorial staff of The Age to ensure The Age's continuing success,’ the note to staff said.”

The Murdoch paper MX commented: "Age sacks editor - one down, just 389 to go".

I have often had reason to complain about the lack of quality journalism in The Age. The new development does not instil confidence that there is a chance for an improvement. With less editorial staff it must be feared that journalists will have less time to do a proper research and in-depth reporting.

We can only be sure that the fierce republican attitude of The Age will remain. And the paper's outlook into a bright republican future has as much credibility as the stories on The Age's success.

Monday, 25 August 2008

"Our President is now our Emperor"

US journalist Glenn Greenwald: A virtually omnipotent President is just an assumed fact of American political life, and the reason that there is such a fixation on the personality and "character" traits of the presidential candidates is because Our President is now, in essence, our Emperor, empowered unilaterally to do everything from attacking other countries to acting outside of and above the law. As Penn's analysis illustrates, our political establishment isn't bothered by that at all, but instead, just tacitly accepts it as the natural and desired state of things.

Since Pelosi and Reid took over Congress, the Congress has funded the Iraq war without even a symbolic condition. It has rejected every proposal to limit war spending. It has enacted one right-wing proposal after the next, from warrantless surveillance and telecom immunity to declaring parts of the Iranian Government a "terrorist organization." It passed a housing bill and "stimulus" package approved by the administration. It has done nothing to reverse the radical executive power theories and has done much to institutionalize them. If there is one predominant trait of the Congress over the past several years, it has been a willingness to grant every item on the the President's wish list regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans are in control.

I can hear Australian republicans say: "Well, that's not, what we want in Australia." But what kind of republic do they want? The politicians' republic was rejected in 1999. Will they offer an Emperor's republic next time?

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Making a stand for the Monarchy

A democratic competition of thoughts and ideas is a wonderful thing, Monarchists and republicans can easily agree on that. However, when it comes to the practical competition, they differ.

After 22 British MPs (out of 649) challenged the Oath of Allegiance and asked the Commons and the Lords to be allowed to swear allegiance to their constituents and the nation rather than to the Monarch, British republicans were in a jubilant mood:

I get urgent response e-mails from the anti-monarchist group Republic on a regular basis. The latest concerns the move to challenge the oath of allegiance which is being widely reported in the British media today:

"Today's Daily Mail carries a front page story on Republic supporter Norman Baker MP's Early Day Motion to give MPs the option of swearing allegiance to their constituents rather than the Queen.

"This is potentially a very big story so please take a few moments to comment on the article … Let's get the republican point of view out there!”

There was a Monarchist response to the republican frency, and I don't mean heaps of letters to the editors defending the Oath of Allegiance and the Monarchy: The UK-based Constitutional Monarchy Association put advertisements in political magazines and informed readers about the Association’s point of view.

In the eyes of the republicans that was a mistake. They called the ad campaign “a rallying cry to royalists to save Britain’s most ludicrous institution” and "a reaction against the insidious influence within the media of organisations such as ‘Republic’, and the growing number of treasonous hacks who would send our dear Betty Windsor into exile or worse". They give the impression, PR ought to be a republican privilege.

"Republic spokesperson Graham Smith told reporters:

"Republic's campaign against the oath of allegiance has clearly rattled these royalist-ultras. It is extraordinary to see the monarchy advertised in this way."

"The royalists clearly fear for their beloved institution, but I would be surprised if Buckingham Palace would approve of this sort of publicity."

Among the supporters of The Constitutional Monarchy Association the republicans spotted London Lord Mayor Boris Johnson. He was disliked because he “is descended from Württembergische Royalty”.

True, one of Boris Johnson's forefathers was King Frederick I of Württemberg (1754-1816), but Boris' ancestor connecting him with Württemberg's Royal Family was born out of wedlock and there’s no chance for Boris to claim the Crown of Württemberg for himself or his descendants. The King’s son, Duke Paul (1785-1847), had fathered a child with an actress called Friederike Margrethe Porth (1776-1860). Does this disqualify Boris Johnson (*1964) from being a Monarchist? On the other hand, the republicans never refused the assistance of the 2nd Vicount Stansgate, also know as Anthony Wedgwood Benn (*1925). I never heard this would disqualify him as a republican.

22 MP’s out of 649 – a 3.38% minority in the House of Commons consisting of the usual suspects. Only one Tory had signed the motion. Peter Bottomley, the former Conservative Transport Minister, said he would support a proposal for the oath to be made voluntary. The media hype was reversely proportional to the chances of the mood to find a majority in the Houses of Parliament.

However, I do not find it appalling to discuss the Oath of Allegiance. On the other hand republicans have to accept that Royalists will not give way without a fight. The advertisement of The Constitutional Monarchy Association is a good start to put arguments of both sides to the public.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Not my cup of tea

Barry Everingham’s newest attack on the Queen of Australia did not pass unnoticed. In The Age of 22nd August was another letter to the editor: “HOW Sad. Perhaps we should invite the Queen to Australia to have afternoon tea with our athletes?” This short statement was crowned with a cartoon ridiculing the Queen: “This is not my cup of tea.” In combination with an anti-monarchist cartoon the letter to the editor sounded rather pro-republican.

However, Adrian Jackson, who had written the letter, happens to be a Monarchist. Previously he had sent pro-Monarchist letters to The Age. How could he send in a letter that obvioulsy supported Barry Everingham? As a matter of fact, he didn’t. On my enquiry he replied: “The Age only published part of my 50/50 letter today as my critism of Barry Everingham was deleted by them and the letter twisted to sound a bit anti Queen. I rang The Age about this. I bet his letters don't get censored or amended.”

You cannot really be surprised by The Age’s bias, but this kind of censorship borders on manipulation. And for this kind of editing The Age claims to be a quality paper? Incidents like this demonstrate the lack of a quality newspaper in Victoria.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Tea with the Queen of Australia

For once Barry Everingham tried to be funny: “The Australian head of state is reported to have already asked members of the successful British Olympic team to afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace. Where is her invitation to her successful Australian team? Am I missing something here?" (The Age, 21st August 2008)

Yes, he is, but that doesn’t come as a surprise. I assume the Queen of Australia’s representative, the Governor-General will be very happy to receive every Olympic sportsperson and all the men and women in the background of the team as well. And I am sure, Her Majesty herself would like to receive them, unless, SHE is not invited. It is Her Australian Prime Minister who must sent notice that Her presence would be welcome. In a Constitutional Monarchy such as Australia the Monarch acts on Her Prime Minister’s advice.

Barry Everingham’s complaint goes into the wrong direction: He should blame Prime Minister Rudd that Her Majesty does not spend more time in Australia.

Or do I hear in his letter to the editor of The Age Barry Everingham’s plea for a resident Monarch?
Withdraw from Afghanistan - Re-establish the Monarchy!

It is very sad news from Afghanistan: “Ten French soldiers killed in Afghanistan ambush” reported the media on 20th August 2008, “the deadliest ground attack on foreign troops here since the US-led war was launched in 2001. The shock ambush also left 21 French troops wounded. President Hamid Karzai's spokesman however rejected suggestions that insurgents were closing in on Kabul.”

Why are young men and women sacrificing their lives in a war that is unwinnable? The politicians should be blamed who are sitting in air-conditioned conference rooms while they decide on Afghanistan’s fate. And on the fate of young people. More than 180 have died in Afghanistan in 2008. Most of the French soldiers killed were barely 20 years old. What utter nonsense of Sarokzy to tell the mourning comrades "your work in Afghanistan is essential for the 'freedom of the world' and must continue" (according to The Age).

Asking for more troops – as the US president likes to do – only shows that none of the Western politicians understands Afghanistan. Their soldiers are no longer considered liberators as they might have been in 2001, but they are seen as occupying forces. And they are treated accordingly. There is a reason why Afghanistan was never conquered.

When French president Nicolas Sarkozy with all his usual pathos promised to send more soldiers to Afghanistan, he did not consider the cost of human lives. After all, after the attack on the French soldiers he spent just 6 hours in the country. None of his sons has joined the French army to help fulfilling their father's military promises. They have comfortable lives in Paris, learning the trade of political intrigues, of which their father has been a master. None of them is a Prince Harry who spent ten weeks in Afghanistan.

From the start the basic problem in Afghanistan has been that the Western powers installed former UNOCAL"consultant" Hamid Karzai as president and ignored the wish of the majority of the Loya Jirga members to put King Mohammed Zahir Shah back on the throne. The best the internatinal community could do to keep the Taliban forces at bay is to declare Crown Prince Ahmad Shah Khan next King of Afghanistan.

King Mohammed Zahir Shah did not fight to be restored to the throne and had to be satisfied to play the role of godfather — "Father of the Nation" — to the new regime, which is, in a way, a pity. For such a particularly diverse culture as Afghanistan's, a Constitutional Monarchy could have provided a focus of national unity instead of stirring the factional passions that are rising and rising.

Spiegel online reported Prince Mustafa Zahir (44) claimed 1,347 deputies out of 1,500 of the Loya Jirga had voiced their support in parliament for his grandfather as head of state. “Who exactly pushed his grandfather aside, he won't say -- what he means is that the Americans wanted Karzai and no one else from the very beginning. ‘But as a normal citizen,' he says now, he has been 'disappointed by the Karzai regime.’” Prince Mustafa Zahir might be a King in waiting, at present he heads the Afghan agency for environmental protection, "the same rank as a minister".

Bombing the whole country has failed as well as stationing 50,000 soldiers from Western countries to bring peace to Afghanistan. "By extending its participation in 'Operation Enduring Freedom', Germany is not making the world a safer place, said Deutsche Welle's Nina Werkhäuser. Isn't it time Berlin jumped ship?"

After everything else failed in Afghanistan - why not try the King?

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Crown Prince Kardam and his wife Miriam

Bulgarian Crown Prince severely injured in car crash

The eldest son of the Bulgarian King Simeon II (71), Crown Prince Kardam (46) was severely injured in a car crash on 15th August. The car accident happended in a Madrid suburb. The Crown Prince suffered cranial fractures and lost both hands. He was flown by helicopter to the Madrid clinic 12 de Octubre. His accompanying wife, Crown Princess Miriam, suffered several bone fractures, but her life is not in danger.
King Simeon and Queen Margarita of the Bulgarians

The couple has two sons, Prince Boris and Prince Beltrán, and lives in Spain, were King Simeon had been in exile until he returned to Bulgaria as the country's Prime Minister.
Outside the Madrid clinic: Queen Margarita of the Bulgarians with her sons, Prince Konstantin, Prince Kubrat and Prince Kyril.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Royal Grace - Republican Disgrace
Sometimes all it takes is a little Grace” is a key sentence in the British black comedy “Keeping Mum”. Usually grace is connected with Royalty, republics are disgraceful. Do you want proof? Then notice the difference between Nepal and Zimbabwe.

Nepal’s King Gyanendra left the Royal Palace after the Constitutional Assembly had declared the Monarchy abolished. Media for Freedom called it a “graceful exit" and documented the King’s speech on a press conference on 11th June 2008. The Monarch said:

"I would like to inform everybody concerned that when seven years back because of an unnatural, unexpected and tragic incident while shouldering the responsibility of the Head of the State according to the national heritage and ages of old monarchical traditions, I had no other interests except considerations for the sovereignty, independence, national pride, territorial integrity, peace and the institutional development of democracy, and overall progress of all the citizens. In the Hindu kingdom of Nepal, the birth place of Buddha the efforts started, with the best of intention trying to ensure the peace and prosperity in the country were not successful overtime, which I have already accepted earlier. The chain of events and ensuing results are obvious to everybody like an open book.

Respecting Constitutional Assembly elections and the decision taken by the constituent assembly meeting on Jestha 15th, I am cooperating in every way towards the successful implementation of that decision. I have also not thought of leaving the country. I would like to live in my own Motherland and contribute in whatever way possible to greater good of the country and peace in this land. I believe that there will be support for this from all sectors."

On the other hand Robert Mugabe who has been in power in Zimbabwe since 1980. He has refused to recognize the results of the 29th March elections.

Instead he was “re-elected” as the Brisbane Times reported:
"Robert Mugabe was sworn on 30th June to a new term as Zimbabwe's president and called for dialogue between the country's political parties after a one-man election widely denounced as illegitimate.

"After taking the oath of office from Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku at his State House residence, the 84-year-old leader issued an appeal for "unity".
Mugabe was assured of a landslide victory after Tsvangirai pulled out of Friday's presidential run-off, saying rising violence had left nearly 90 MDC supporters dead and thousands injured.

"Tsvangirai won the first round on March 29 with 47.9 per cent of the vote against 43.2 per cent for Mugabe, just short of an outright majority.
Defying international and regional calls for him to postpone the election, Mugabe pushed ahead with the vote anyway, warning against outside interference in his country's affairs and shrugging off Tsvangirai's claims of violence."

And why is Mugabe clinging to the presidential chair? “Only God can unseat me”. Obviously he is thinking he was put in power “by the grace of God”.
LiveNews said: “His mother told Robert Mugabe when he was a child that he had been chosen by God to be a great leader.

No wonder he thinks only divine power - not elections, not foreign critics, not a crumbling economy or a much younger opposition leader - can unseat him.

In the mind of Zimbabwe's leader of nearly three decades, reality is summed up by a massive banner hanging in the entrance to the presidential offices: Mugabe is Right.”

Republican presidents have neither style nor a conscience. They are simply graceless. Long live the King!

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Prince Charles in defence of the small farmers

Prince Charles, the future King of Australia, has hit out again. To no one’s surprise he, the organic farmer, dislikes genetically manipulated (GM) food. Being no politician he can speak out freely and call it what it is: "a gigantic experiment I think with nature and the whole of humanity which has gone seriously wrong". Relying on "gigantic corporations" for food, he said, would result in "absolute disaster".

"That would be the absolute destruction of everything... and the classic way of ensuring there is no food in the future," he said.

"What we should be talking about is food security not food production - that is what matters and that is what people will not understand. And if they think its somehow going to work because they are going to have one form of clever genetic engineering after another then again count me out, because that will be guaranteed to cause the biggest disaster environmentally of all time."

Small farmers, in particular, would be the victims of "gigantic corporations" taking over the mass production of food.

The interview was given to The Daily Telegraph and was partly reported by The Age.

More Australian Context
Australia’s future King also refers to his realm: "Look at Western Australia," he said. "Huge salinisation problems. I have been there, seen it — some of the excessive approaches to modern forms of agriculture.

"If you are not working with natural assistance you cause untold problems, which become very expensive and very difficult to undo. It places impossible burdens on nature and leads to accumulating problems which become more difficult to sort out," he said according to The Age.

Prince Charles’ remarks are highly welcome in Australia. Victoria’s Labor government removed the four-year ban on growing genetically manipulated canola in November 2007 despite resistence in the Labor caucus. Premier John Brumby ignored the opposition of “about half of Labor’s 74 MPs” (The Age 27 Nov. 2007): “This is Brumby’s arrogance and cash-through style at play here, said a Labor MP who declined to be named. “He’s good at numbers but he can’t read people.” My local Labor MP to whom I wrote to ask her if she was among the opponents of GM crops did not reply to my letter. I can only assume, that she is supporting Mr. Brumby. Well, Ms. Barker, food lovers cannot support you in the future.

Australia is worse off than other countries, especially the EU, since there is no labelling of GM ingredients in food products. With Labor in power nationally as well as in all states you would have thought, protecting “Australian working families” would be a priority, but you’re wrong. It is still business that is protected by Labor. Why is it possible that food producers in the EU can include information on GM content in their nutritional information - and in Australia that is too difficult? Or too risky?

Good to have the heir to the throne who speaks out against GM food.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Chinese Communist TV gave Greek King and Queen the preference

The politicians in Greece who try to wipe out and re-write the country’s history of the past 100 years must have received a shock, when they watched the opening ceremony of the Olympic circus last week. The Chinese television showed the entry of the world teams, with the Greek athletes traditionally the first to enter the stadium. The Greeks received a roaring applause from the audience – and from King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie of the Hellenes, who were present in the stadium, cheering towards the Greek athletes. King Constantine II who won a gold medal for Greece in 1960, was visibly very proud to see his countrymen entering the arena.

The Greek royal couple were treated in the same way the Chinese showed pictures of head of states, royalty or prime ministers for other participating countries. Not a single moment was spared for any Greek politician – should they have been in the stadium. Who would recognize them anyway? Can you name the person who today calls himself president of Greece?

Strangely enough the tightly controlled Chinese television gave King Constantine and Queen Anne-Marie the honours some European countries deny them.

Did you miss the stadium scene? Send me an e-mail and I can help you out.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Coronation of His Majesty King Siaosi (George) Tupou V of Tonga
The Anglican Archbishop of Polynesia, Jabez Bryce, crowning the King of Tonga

The coronation of the King of Tonga, His Majesty Siaosi (George) Tupou V that took place on 1st August 2008 in the capital Nuku’alofa, cost the astonishingly low sum of five million Tongan US dollars ($A2.6 million). Nevertheless critics will say that the Polynesian Kingdom could not afford this expenditure.

Help me, when was the last coronation of a Tongan King? Yes, in 1967 the father of the present King was crowned. After 41 years the country could not afford a ceremony that would last in the memories of all those who participated or watched it on TV? In these 41 years ten US presidential inaugurations took place. France had seven inaugurations, and even if the latter one is not as ritualized as the USA’s presidential coronation, how much did it cost?

How much money is spent on any president’s taking office? Try to answer this simple question, then multiply the sum with the occasions that had taken place since 1967. And only if you can name a single republic, where the money spent on these ceremonies in 41 years is lower in proportion to the Tongan population, only then you are allowed to criticise the Tongans for having a colourful and memorable ceremony to honour their King.